Whilst freestyling with ideas as is my wont, I remembered the movie Flat World in which three dimensional objects move through and interact with a two dimensional world (I don't remember if there ever was such a movie, but I remember a cartoon of that name?? - Well I had had a LOT of coffee to drink that morning!). Anyway I used this as an illustration of how the Life of the Spirit of Christ gives such a richness to life that it takes on an utterly new and beguiling dimension - that although invisible, this Life had a profound impact both upon the one who bears it, and upon the world through which he or she passes.[Actually, I didn't say much of that and have just made it up - freestyling again - why do all the best ideas come either in the dead of night when no-one's listening, or after everyone's gone home??]
U2 capture something of this Life in their music - as a good friend once said to me after I'd recommended their music, 'They really get it!' - and the song in question is crammed full of allusions to the Life we may know in Christ and the two dimensional life we experience without Him. Interestingly the song opens with an allusion to James' Joyce Ulysses, possibly the most detailed description of an Ordinary day to be found in literature - with some 'snake oil' salesman coming to the door at 9.05 on 16th June to offer something which will help "if I want to stay alive a little longer", but goes on to the chorus, where Bono belts out "there's nothing you have that I need, I can Breathe." Full of the Spirit, Full of Life - he doesn't need things to put death off, 'staying alive a little longer', but rather has already in Christ discovered the LIFE that is eternal, the fulness of life of which Jesus speaks in John 10. [It is perhaps as Brian Eno suggests, the best song the band have ever produced and with this theme ringing through it, it is little suprise]
As I left the school after the assembly I pondered, "what if one of my somewhat captive audience had been caught by this idea of this Life, rather than the rather distracting thought that at the end of the assembly the holidays would begin - and wanted to know, How might I know this life, and How might I live it? What might I have said??"
Of course the answer to the first is simple, the way to receive the life is to receive the one who is Life, the Gloriously Alive One - 'everyone who lives and believes in me will never die'. So the first step is belief in Him, but the second - live in Him . . . what of that?
Recently a good friend who patiently reads and listens to many of my witterings, suggested I should try and write more from my heart and it came to me that this was the answer - live from the heart. The only problem with that, being precisely the problem of the heart - for we are taught in our Christian tradition not to trust out hearts, and this leaves us in a bind - believing, but fearing to live the Life poured out for us and through us to the world. (Perhaps we are all too often the last servant in the parable of the talents??) So what to do??
A few years ago I passed through a bit of a wilderness time, a time when my own internal inconsistencies so reared their heads as to make the whole business of life too much for a while. Difficult though it was, it opened the door for me and gave me time, time to listen and to learn, and from that grew an awareness that the only way the heart could be healed was to be open to the Healer. As one of my brothers kindly pointed out, Having got myself into the mess , I was hardly in a position to get myself out!! And it came to me then that there was truly nothing new under the sun - it was all there in that first Word or Command - Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength - that is Live Open heartedly before God in every moment of Life - He will Heal your heart. 'Practising the Presence of God' as one wise old Saint put it - being continually present to Him who is eternally Present to us
But it also came to me that this also was the key to living the Life of Love of neighbour, for it seems that the heart has but one door - as John reminds us 'how can we say we live God whom we do not see if we do not live our brother whom we do?'. Jesus ties the two commands together Love God AND Love your neighbour - and they are inseparable, for to truly Love God, to be directed towards Him, to be Open to his Life, the door to our hearts are therefore Open and not closed and thus his Life can flow into the world. In other words if His Love is not flowing out into his world it is because our hearts are closed to Him who is Life.
This requires Practise - we are trained in infinite distractions from the Life of God - a million and one things compete for our attention, the 'three things I need you to know' seeking to seize our hearts and bar The Door, but 'these days are better than that'. The treasure of Life is More than worth the effort of living open heartedly of living in each moment - present to Him and thus to the world, and U2 get this, too
'Ev'ry day I, die again and again and'm reborn,
Ev'ry day I gotta find the courage to walk out into the street
with arms out, gotta Love you can't defeat, neither down nor out . . .'