“Often, as we conclude a retreat at Dayspring, someone will say: This has been powerful. I hope I can hold onto it back in the real world.” But the “real world” is not the one to which we are going. We return to the “unreal” world where the culture is distorted and trapped in pretense. The “real” world is the one we were just in, where our hearts were opened and we gave inner consent to rest in God.” N. Gordon Cosby, Seized by the Power of a Great Affection, June 20, 2018, Daily Quote, Inwardoutward.org
What an amazing concept that Gordon Cosby, the founder of Church of the Saviour in Washington D C, brings to us this morning. Real means not artificial or imitation. Real is genuine, not fake. Unreal is not living out of our true self, our core of love, the divine within us. Seeking power over others is artificial. Connecting to God, the power greater than ourselves, is real. Humility is real. Arrogance is imitating something we are not. Holding a newborn baby in our arms is real. Having that child we love taken away from us is unreal. The white sands of the gulf are real. Oil stains on the beach are unreal.
Living with the fruit of the Spirit, peace, joy, kindness, patience, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) is real. Living in fear is living in an artificial world, another world, not the real world that God made. This is a constant message from Jesus. “It is I, do not be afraid,” is Jesus’ message to his disciples as he walks on water towards them in a storm on the sea of Galilee. (John 6:20) “Fear not” are the first words all the angels say that God sends to us. That’s how we suspect the presence of angels and even God when we hear these words. Making choices out of fear is not real. It is not the world of the God of my understanding.
Phillip Newell frequently writes that a major premise in Celtic spirituality is that our core is good, is love, as opposed to western or Mediterranean spirituality that tells us that our core is sinful. So many of us live a life wearing many masks to prop ourselves up to hide our sinfulness. At other times we become so overcome by our sinfulness that we are paralyzed, we live in a mechanical trance, going through the motions. This is not a real life. We have become discontinued from the love within us as well as the love of God and our neighbor.
So what do we do? We change the world and ourselves by connecting to the core of love within us, the Christ within us, by trying to put ourselves in position to know that love. For many this means learning to live by a rule of life. We begin by trying to connect and spend time with our loving God. We try to love one person at a time, including ourselves.
When we are confronted with fear, we say our prayers. My mind keeps reciting the old saying, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” The answers will come. We will begin to know and desire only what is real. It goes by the name of love.