GOD ACROSS THE CHASM (Luke 16:19-31): 26 September 2010 (26th Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Last night I had a weird but powerful dream. I was with an old priest (Fr. Jim Reuter, the famous columnist and playwright, no less!) and a friend from high school. For reasons I don’t remember, we decided to pray together. When it was my turn, I closed my eyes dutifully and prayed. All I remember is beginning the prayer with “Dear Lord…” and then it happened.
My eyes burned with tears as I found myself praying in a way that I had been unable to pray in a very long time. When I woke up, I lay in bed shaken and disoriented, my heart pounding, until I slowly realized it had all just been a dream. I felt both disappointed and grateful. Disappointed because I hadn’t experienced something so intensely spiritual for a while now. But grateful because somehow, even as I lay there staring at the ceiling, there was no doubt in my mind that my dream was an authentic experience of the Sacred.
For a while now, I’ve felt that God has been elusive. For some weeks now, I’ve been having difficulty praying. Blame it on a busy lifestyle, a life too crowded with activities, too cluttered with all sorts of gadgets for distraction. If I’m not working with people, I am creating a presentation, catching up on my email, or simply stalking friends on Facebook.
I used to desperately look for time for prayer. Used to. I hate to admit it, but with all the noise around me and inside me, I’ve pretty much given up. These days I’m too tired even to pray. For the past weeks, I’ve felt separated from God almost as if there were a great chasm between us. And the frightening thing is: I’m getting accustomed to this separation, to His absence.
Today’s Gospel story about Lazarus and the rich man strikes me because it talks about the unbridgeable chasm between these two. Their lives on earth could not be more different: One feasted, while the others starved. Their afterlives were likewise classic studies in contrast. After a life of wealth and selfishness, the rich man found himself tormented in hell. When he raised his eyes and saw Lazarus at the bosom of Abraham, he begged Lazarus for some momentary comfort–a request that Lazarus could not grant precisely because of the chasm between them–a great division that prevented anyone from either side to cross to the other.
Almost immediately, I thought of my separation from God, and wondered if it were as hopelessly unbridgeable. But then I remembered my dream, that dream of a powerful and moving prayer experience, where I was, with no effort on my part, swept away in my sleep with an overwhelming sense of God’s real-ness and nearness. There and then I knew: God crosses the chasm between us. He bridges our separation.
Ours is a God in pursuit. Even in our sleep, He pursues our restless hearts.