Sunday, September 13, 2009

Beyond Me, the peregrination of a pilgrim

This was supposed to be an essay about my experience at Mount Saviour Monastery. For days after my return I struggled with the right words, beginning essay after essay, hoping to capture the essence of my time there. I told myself that I wanted to convey to you, the reader, every sensation and feeling that I experienced in order for you to fully understand how the entire weekend changed me. But then I realized something.

I wanted you to read about My weekend, My journey, My experience. I wanted you to be impressed beyond words by My words. Ultimately I wanted Me to shine through.

I wanted to write of the unspeakable beauty that surrounded Me and enhanced My encounter with The Divine. It was my intention that you know that I – Me -- was changed by the prayers and the silence and the moment of Epiphany where it all came together for Me. I wanted to write of the sweet smell of nature and the beauty of seeing a friend I had not seen in nearly a decade. I wanted to give you a glimpse of God through My lens.

And while all those things are true they are in no way Truth for they are in no way what my experience truly was. Unlike the endless church camps in high-school and junior high where I left “on fire for Jesus Christ” ready to “spread his word” and “get some people saved” , feelings that surely dissipated as quickly as they developed, I left the monastery with more questions than answers, more wonder than joy, more a sense of the Divine than a sense of My sense of The Divine.

I left tired and broken, with a paradoxically confused understanding that I will never arrive, that the thirst for God is an unquenchable thirst, that the more I enter fully into the presence of holiness the more sullied I appear. I realized that My mask, the mask I wear so no one sees the real me is so easy to wear but so difficult to pull off. And I realized that the first person I wore the mask for was Me so that upon seeing My reflection I would never have to see the real me, the authentic me that is still just as mysterious to me as it has been for nearly 33 years.

Ultimately I realized that I had to get off the cross and instead nail My mask to it. And begin anew the journey, ever aware that I -- Jon-Marc McDonald -- am just as much a mystery to me as God is to me and the more I explore the spiritual realm the more mysterious it all will be.

Renewed but not refreshed, faithful but not void of doubt, lifted but not buoyed. And above all else, seeking, panting, yearning to find myself in the presence of The Divine, with the sad realization that Myself -- the masked Me -- must die in order for me to move closer to the Porta Coeli – the Gate of Heaven – requiring even still the full understanding that the destination is as elusive today as it will be tomorrow and beyond time to the hereafter.
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