Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Grasping and Running

RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) classes are the means by which inquirers seeking to learn more about the ancient Christian Church discover what Catholics truly believe. I am already fully initiated in the Catholic Church, but I received so much from being in the classes before my initiation and helping in them after my confirmation on Easter 2012 that I continue to go still. It's my mom's night out, the place where I can go to talk with adults about my absolute favorite subject: God. Unfortunately, talking for me can be a problem. I speak far too much in these classes, laugh too loud, and add my opinion when completely unnecessary. I am supposed to be helping, but my assistance is not needed by the intelligent, professor-like priest who leads the class. He has a far better handle on theology than I do. It's an exercise in humility for me and an exercise in restraint. Learning to curb my tongue can do me nothing but good, so I am trying to do my best to listen and learn. As is true with the life he gave to us, when it comes to God, learning never ends.

In one of the classes we watched a segment of the excellent and beautifully produced Catholicism with Fr. Robert Barron, a very charismatic priest with a wonderful ministry, in which he spoke about the human condition and the story of Adam and Eve. When it comes to God, he said, some of us are graspers and some of us are runners. We either try to grasp God and explain him in specific, well-defined terms, or we try to flee and hide from him.

I knew right away what I was. I'm a grasper. I don't run from God. I'm chasing him. I am trying to get him to fit in this big box I hold in my hands. I want understanding so badly; I don't have time to just sit around and wait for it.

But we cannot grasp God. He is a Mystery. Not the kind to be solved and explained, with parameters marked out and nifty equations to memorize for future use, but the kind that pulls us deeper into a profound truth, deeper into Himself. (Yes, I learned that in RCIA.)

Long ago my dad told me something about myself I have not forgotten - that I would be the one to read all about a great invention, study it, memorize how it works, and then claim that I had invented it. I don't think that was unfair. As I recall, I needed to be put in my place that day. Well, often I treat Scripture as a God manual, trying to figure him out. But that is not how Scripture should be read, as a device to support our theology or our personal ideas. Margaret Nutting Ralph, a writer of a guide to understanding Scripture, suggested that we pray while reading the Bible, and instead of asking if the words supports our own ideas, we ask, "What is this passage trying to teach me?" It is a much more fruitful and humble question, I think, and therefore likely to provide insight.

As for being a grasper, I am not merely that, I know. I'm a runner, too, but in a good way. I am running toward God, because I want to know him. I want to meet him in person someday, and the truth is this marathon is a gift. He is the One pulling me. He is my Creator; I was made by him, for him, so it is natural for me to run toward him even when I think it is unreasonable, even when I get exhausted, even when I sit my behind in the weeds, whine and think of turning back. By his grace I get up and run on, and he grasps my hand.