Is there a time you remember when something happened or someone said something, and suddenly the lights turned on and everything went to color? I picked the artwork below just for the colors. When do you feel alive like this? Is there room in the kingdom for the untidiness of this?As I reflected on my own spiritual journey, I couldn't help connecting such epiphanies to Jesus' promise of abundant life ... and the contrast of soul-withering experiences of dead religion. The former were usually messy interruptions of joy through those the world regards as 'least' ... especially the wee ones on the margins of society: little children but also friends who live with disabilities or addictions.
By contrast, the colorless phases were often self-inflicted, but others were also imposed by religious cultures that could not abide coloring outside the lines ... if color were involved at all. I have had many marvelous moments in the context of loving faith communities. But I've also known what it is to be strangled by the need to maintain "a testimony" by what I can't do, where I can't go, what I can't eat or drink, what I can't wear. I've known the mini-martyrdom of sitting straight in wool slacks on wooden pews in stifling heat in order to 'be good' ... but happily, also the explosive exuberance of cross-cultural worship or chain-breaking revelation. Clearly, two very opposing spirits are at work ... sometimes even in the same setting!
It's not just a case of casting off all restraints and doing whatever I please ... I tried that and found it too can become its own form of bondage. In fact, these wonder-moments never seem to be generated by me at all. Not even my own striving for greater freedom. Rather, they represent the intrusive grace of God ... a breaking in of Love that shakes us loose and lifts our chins and may even move our feet. Jesus called this the kingdom of God.
Suddenly, the blind see ... our eyes are opened to the truth that even in this life, there is more going on than we know. I can't make this happen. The best I can do is to wash the mud from my eyes and wait for the next flurry of light, sound and color.