Living with our self and with life abundant John 10:1-10
Some people just seem to hate themselves and do anything to run away from themselves and throw themselves into all sorts of activities and busyness: into drugs, alcohol, sex, work, another relationship. Here we are (many of us) for perhaps the first time in our lives, or in a long time, that we have so much more time on our hands; time for our minds to think deeply and broadly about life, about meaning, about ourselves, about our lives. Yet at the same time through the internet our minds have access to something that can divert our attention from perhaps the greatest opportunity we have had to think more deeply about everything. I guess while the internet is very helpful in keeping us in touch with one another it may also be the continuing barrier for us to get in touch with ourselves at a much deeper level and perhaps at points where we may begin to like ourselves more and accept ourselves and even love ourselves more.
In one of my favourite verses from John’s Gospel (John 10:10) Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John emphasises that Jesus came that we might have life. The abundant life that Jesus invites us to is not simply a belief in our mind about who Jesus is, nor a belief about his death on the cross, nor a belief about the next life, but an invitation to us, to all of us, to the whole world to have life and to have it abundantly. Who could the thieves be that steal and kill and destroy life? What steals our life away? Who steals our life away? Could we also steal our own life away? Could we deny ourselves life? Could we go through the whole of our lives without truly living? Could we be tricked into living a life that is not really life?
The only person we spend all of our life with is ourselves. All our running around will not lead us to ourselves somewhere out there. All our running away will not be able to leave the self we don’t like behind. All our running around will eventually lead us back to ourselves, back to stand still and then down into ourselves, into the mystery and wonder of who we are, into the mystery of our uniqueness, to letting go of all that we dislike about ourselves, to let go of all the memories that give rise to self-loathing; and to acceptance of ourselves, of our life so far: of our circumstances and mistakes, of our achievements and our dreams; and from that point of stillness and letting go and acceptance, from that little death within, we can begin to live, to experience the life that really is life and then rising again in acceptance of others and life as it is; and with eyes seeing and with all our senses breathing in that abundant life. This is where Jesus goes before us and invites us to follow.
John O’Donohue in his book Anam Cara says, To be natural is to be holy; but it is very difficult to be natural. To be natural is to be at home with your own nature. If you are outside your self, always reaching beyond your self, you avoid the call of your own mystery. When you acknowledge the integrity of your own solitude, and settle in its mystery, your relationships with others take on and new warmth, adventure and wonder. Through my reflections I have been encouraging people to go and sit in nature, to observe the natural world and our place in it. Do not be afraid to sit with your self, alone for a while.
Prayer: May you find that life, that abundant life which Jesus lived and of which Jesus spoke so often. May you be lead into life in all its fulness. May that life come to you. May the whole world live in abundant life. Amen.