Saturday, February 4, 2012
February 4 – Of Skulls and Skill
If only . . . we could walk this life with one foot in heaven! If only we could see what’s going on up there, understand the vision and purpose, see the glory, anticipate our reward, see Jesus’ face on occasion! What better Christians we should be! Think of all the books, and the popularity of the books, that have been written to tell us what has been seen by people who contend that they have visited heaven for the stretch of a few earthly hours.
On the other hand, considering that we have been given all things pertaining to life and godliness, by Him who called us to glory and to virtue, and by great and precious promises, we are here and now become partakers of divine nature. (2 Peter 1:3,4) The Scripture does not say, “by Him who called you to heaven,” but “by Him who called us to glory and virtue.”
So, to the skulls that stare back at Carmelite nuns, on the high table in the refectory and in miniature on their desks . . . these are meant to be an everlasting reminder that life is fleeting, that heaven is around the corner, but it comes through death.
We are able to see the difference between the daily reminder that while heaven awaits . . . and in their worship, they certainly keep that hope alive . . . it is by death that each shall possess life. Every day the Carmelite monastic remembers that she will one day be placed in a casket and lowered into her spot on the grounds or in the church cemetery. Daily she remembers that she won’t live forever, that dust will return to dust, and somehow, day by day, she begins to live for that day, not to take out of it all she can get, not to live for heavenly joys alone, but to make her life count while she may.
Slowly perhaps, but inexorably, she begins to want to make each day a celebration of the real life she was meant to live. It is possible that the nuns’ ability to live in the moment may tend toward their overall good health. In any given moment, we only have the breath God is giving us. It takes great skill to learn to live immediately, with the hope of glory, and not that of a heavenly home, but of the pleasure of being alive and housing the Spirit of God. THAT is Cor Unum; that is the reason we have cloistered ourselves here, with our Lord, in the monastery of the heart.