Friday, January 4, 2008

Puzzling about preference and virginity

Christ prefers me, calls me, in a discreet and urgent way. This fact is clear to me and is backed by all kinds of evidence in my life.

I am also impressed with something Angelo said in his witness, something I have repeated to myself, maybe thousands of times, in an effort to understand and make it truly my own:

  • You start really to love -- 2 aspects of this love: 1) you have been preferred, and 2) precisely because you have been so preferred, you recognize that the other is infinitely other.
  • What was existing in me was the reactions others provoke in me.
  • My reactions to others are one billionth of what they are.
My reactions to others are one billionth of what they are. Understanding this notion truly does allow me to love, and to love in a way that opens up my life to miracles.

I want to quote something from Clairity Daily:

[Intervention:] I come to the question: relating to someone by looking at the Mystery that is in him is beyond one’s role or social mask; it is giddying and leaves us naked, disarmed, without psychological defenses. How can it become a normal attitude, without defense and fear of losing your position prevailing? Can we live without masks? ... My problem is how to keep this attitude of openness toward the other.

Carron. For us, content and method coincide. There is no “how” separated from the content. The fact is that we can stand before the mystery of the other if we ourselves live this intensity in perceiving the Mystery. Otherwise, we reduce our “I” and reduce the mystery of the other. So, the question is: what constantly reawakens this perception of the Mystery in us, what makes us aware of our mystery, what brings us out of our obtuseness and makes us aware of this? It is reality, as we have always said; and the most real reality of all is the presence of Christ here and now. In so far as we have this perception of ourselves as mystery, we can–as I sometimes say–“take off our shoes” before the mystery of the other. Otherwise, we are like a bull in a china shop, we reduce the other to a mechanism we can interfere with as we like. But this would be nothing but violence, and above all it is useless, because the other, if he wants to, can leave us on the doorstep–thank God–by exercising that freedom which is a weapon against any presumption of power (pp 21-22, from Friends, that is Witnesses).


What is hard for me to understand is when CL people sometimes tell me that they have a preference for me, or a preference for someone else. Is that Christ calling to me in a particular way through that person (expressing His preference in this way)? Or is it something else? I've heard CL people talk about their preference for one person over another, and it seems to work contrary to the attitude of virginity -- acknowledging that each person is relationship to the Mystery. Are we not called to have the same preference for each person placed in our environment? Of course, I don't -- I have a far greater preference for my husband and my children than I do for others, the checkout lady in the supermarket, for example. Or am I using the word "preference" incorrectly? Because I do know that I'm called to be as open to encountering the Mystery when I'm meeting a stranger in the grocery store as I am when meeting someone in my family. That notion doesn't trouble me.

I know that Christ's preference is open to all my brothers and sisters in Christ, according to his grace and the particular gifts he shares out among us. But among us, when one has a preference for another, how does that keep from devolving into cliquishness and clubbiness? I know that my relationship with my husband continually opens me up to others, and each of my children has brought me out and made whole worlds available to me (and I to these worlds). Perhaps this is a definition of preference among persons that can help me understand: just as Christ's preference for the apostles generated them to go out into all the world, perhaps any human preference we have participates in the preference of Christ to the extent that it generates us, sends us out on His work?

1 comment:

Freder1ck said...

This is a great question. My love for my wife does not entitle me to keep her all for myself. I must share her with the kids. For the kids, it's so much harder for them to realize that their love with their mother is not exclusive, but they have to share mom with me and their siblings. We may be open to many people, but that doesn't mean that we're equally close to all people: we're not hippies!

Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."