OUR INNER GARMENT
OUR INNER GARMENT Many things divide us: language, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, politics, ideology, culture, personal history, temperament, private wounds, moral judgment, it’s hard, in the face of all this, to see people who are different from us as brothers and sisters, as equally important citizens of this world, and as loved and valued by God in the same way we are. And so we often live a certain distrust of each other. Sadly too often demonize each other, seeing danger where there is only difference. We then either actively oppose someone or simply steer clear of him/her and caution our loved ones to stay clear as well. Consequently, we are staying in the world, where various groups stay from each other: liberals Vs the conservatives, protestants Vs Catholics, Jews Vs Arabs, Arabs Vs Christians, Moslems Vs Buddhists, blacks Vs white races, pro-life Vs pro-choice groups, feminists Vs traditionalists etc. what we fail to understand is that these are all differences that represent outer garments, things which are at the end incidental to our real selves. We wear more than physical clothing to cover our nakedness too with a specific ethnicity, language, religions, identity, culture, political affiliations, ideology, set of moral judgments, and a whole garment of private wounds and indignation. These are in essence our outer garments. But we also have an inner garment, our real substance identity and capacity to act with larger hearts lies underneath. What lies beneath our outer garment? In the gospel of John 13:2-5 when he describes Jesus taking off his outer garment, it means more than just the stripping of some physical clothing, some outer sash that might have gotten in the way of his stooping down and washing someone’s feet. In order to let go of the pride that blocks all human beings from stooping down to wash the feet of someone’s different than oneself, Jesus had to strip off a lot of outer things (pride, moral judgments, superiority, ideology, and personal dignity so as to wear only his inner garment). What was his inner garment? As john poetically describes it, his inner garment was precisely his knowledge that he had come from God, was going to God, and that therefore all things were possible for him, and including his washing the feet of someone whom he already knew had betrayed him. That is also our true inner garment, the reality that has deeper beneath our race, gender, religion, language, and personal history (with all its wounds and false pride) What is most real is that deep down beneath these other outer, things we nurse the dark memory, the imprint the brand of love and truth, the inchoate knowledge that like Jesus, we too have come from God, and therefore are capable of doing anything, including loving and washing someone else’ feet different from us. Our inner garment is the image and likeness of God inside of us. Its only if we realize this that liberals and conservatives, Arabs and Muslims and Christians, black and white wounded in different ways can begin to stop demonizing each other, begin to reach across to each other, begin to feel sympathy for each other, and begin, together, to build for the common good beyond our wounds and differences. Mostly it’s only in the face of mutual helplessness and sorrow, at funeral, that we are capable of forgetting our differences, putting away our outer garments and seeing each other as brothers and sisters. In the biblical story of job, we see that it’s only when job is completely down and out, when he is shown of every outer thing that he can cling to, that he finally sheds his outer garment and utters the timeless line: “Naked I came from mother’s womb, and naked I go back!”We need to be careful what kind of clothing we put on so that the pain of job is not required to remove it. Coping with divine fire within Our life is short sometime in expectation, a time in which sadness and joy kiss each other at every moment. There is a quality of sadness that pervades all the moments of our life. It seems there is no such a thing as clear-cut pure, even in the most happy moments of our existence we sense a tinge of sadness. In every satisfaction there is an awareness of limitations. In every success, there is fear of jealousy. Behind every smile, there is a tear. In every embrace, there is loneliness, in every friendship, distance. And in all forms of light, there is the knowledge of surrounding darkness. We have to look forward to the day when hearts will be filled with perfect joy that no one shall take away from us. Henri Nouwen wrote that the older we get the more we experience its truth. In this life there is nothing such as a clear cut pure joy, but doesn’t make our lives less-worth living, it simply changes our perspective. Karl Rahner said “in the torment of insufficiency of everything attainable, we learn that here in this life, all symphonies remain unfinished” we aren’t restful creatures who occasionally get restless, fulfilled people who. Occasionally are dissatisfied, serene, people who occasionally experience disquiet. We are restless people who occasionally find rest, dissatisfied people who occasionally find fulfilment, our headaches and emotional feelings, heartaches have their roots in what is best in us than in what is worst in us. It’s difficult to live in this world and be satisfied, humble, chaste, and not jealous of others. No wonder they are so many wars, jealousies in this planet, we often many times see others as rivals, given in rage and murder each other. It is not a simple thing to carry infinity in a finite body and finite world. Augustine summarized it all. We are restless Lord, until our hearts rest in thee.