Saturday, December 15, 2007

Taking and Receiving


by Troy Chapman

There are some things that are known by us all, things we’ve never been taught and which perhaps are impossible to teach. I think that what I’ve been calling communion in these posts is one of these things.

As I've explored the idea of communion mentally, I don’t feel like it’s a thing I’m discovering except in the literal sense of "dis-covering." That’s more what it’s like — remembering something already known.

And as I've written about communion, I feel that the most I can do is remind you or call you to seek what you already know about it, so I've talked about the times I’ve rediscovered it and tried to keep track of what was happening in and around me as I have had these “openings,” as Quakers call them. But what are the ingredients, the prerequisites, to communion?

Einstein said when he worked on problems, he’d work to the point of exhaustion then give up, and he thought that both the working and the giving up were necessary. He would keep a pad of paper and pencil on the stand by his bed and would often wake in the night with the solution he couldn’t find earlier. The same thing happens when I can’t remember a name. If I just give up it won’t come to me, but if I keep pushing… it won’t come either. If I try and try then move on to something else, it pops into my mind.

This seems to be Spirit's preferred rhythm of communicating with us in all matters, and it’s the rhythm by which I often enter into communion and remember what I know about this state.

Communion is a process that calls me to move beyond myself, to see beyond the frustration of not being able to force things to happen on my own timetable, the frustration of feeling like it’s all a waste of time. It also forces me to receive rather than take this gift. If I could make it happen, I wouldn’t recognize grace, so Spirit is wise in this way.

I guess what I want to say is this: You know about communion. You possess the knowledge of it in the deepest part of yourself. Don’t feel abandoned when you try to see it and nothing happens. And if it’s dark, don’t think “what’s the point of trying to see?” The trying is a knock on the door of God’s house. But also wait after knocking and let Spirit invite you in.

So often, Spirit brings me gifts and I try to take them. They always turn to smoke when I do, so I’ll try to remember that communion certainly must be received and not taken.

Sketch by Troy Chapman

2 comments:

Sid Leavitt said...

You know, before I read this essay, I never thought about the difference between taking and receiving. And there is a big one. Thank you.

Richard said...

I like the topic you wrote about. God often allows us to proceed with a project, and give it our best, and then when we see it's just not
working out the way we had hoped, we have to let it it go. Not in
despair, but disappointment. I remember one such situation where I took something as far as I could, then had to completely let go of it. It seems like God had been watching the whole episode, and when I had to 'throw in the towel' at days end, it seemed like God had pity on me, and seemed to say, in a wordless way of course,... You did your best Richard, and I know you are disappointed with the results, but take heart, and just look off to the east, instead of the west, where you were focused, and I'm sure you will be delighted ... I did do that and was totally delighted by what I saw. It was a wonderful present ... And it made my day... 35 years later, I still recall that 'gift' with awe.
....... Richard