Advent: God through us
‘The human soul is an emanation of the Godhead’
- the mystics
There is something about the human condition that can profoundly surprise us when we live fully. Our intrinsic capacity to emit a transcendent-like fruitfulness says a lot about our image bearing selves.
One of the great biblical writers the apostle Paul describes the fruitful spiritual life as an array of graces that transcends the natural law. In his letter to the Galatian church he describes spiritual fruitfulness as Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self control.
While his list is not exhaustive, it gives us a glimpse into the mind of this mystical writer who is reaching beyond the limitations of the law and charging us to live a new divinely mandated way. When I committed this list to memory I found myself constantly confronted by and reminded of the importance of why these traits are essential to our well-being.
For me kindness has always been King, a quintessential character trait that can profoundly change our disposition, and greatly affect our interaction with others.
In the Talmud, the central text of mainstream Judaism, ‘deeds of kindness are equal in weight to all the commandments’ Kindness has the capacity to rescue us from our self-absorbed worlds and turn us into magnanimous people.It has the power to lift us out of states of anxiety, offering cheer to our heavy hearts.(Prov 12 v 25).
On face value the acronym ARK can conjure up for us visions of divine rescue, an ancient tale of epic proportion that reminds us of a divine providence that believes in a holy purpose for humanity. Perhaps it is also about Acts of Random Kindness, an invitation into a more spontaneous way of being that can transform society. While we all bump into situations that present us with the opportunity to extend kindness to others, I have recently come to believe that people are strategically placed in our lives to move us from random moments of kindness to a ritualised culture of kindness, an evolving world of contributive possibility.
My gym has become a place where I no longer just go to exercise my body but also grow my character and practice kindness in a way that helps others. A fellow gymnophile has been my invitation to learn the art of kindness. The benefit has been hugely mutual and as the Dalai Lama said, ‘Kindness has truely become my religion’
Advent is the season of arrival, the baby Jesus who becomes for us the archetype of this new humanity that replicates kindness to others.
In this Christmas season there is often a lot to be anxious about so let’s make an effort to be a voice a cheer in the midst of it all.