As an extension of the “practicing resurrection” theme of Circle of Hope this Eastertide season, we’re using this week in Daily Prayer: Water to reflect together on the Christian path of finding our true selves in God alone. We’re using a marvelous children’s story by Mercer Mayer to illustrate the path. Welcome to Herbert the Timid Dragon.
There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace, and my happiness depend: To discover myself in discovering God. If I find [God] I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find [God]. — Thomas Merton
Today’s Bible reading
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. — Galatians 2:20-21 (NKJV)
More thoughts for meditation from Mercer Mayer’s Herbert the Timid Dragon
Herbert doesn’t know himself very well yet. He doesn’t really understand the depth of his fear. But he still decides to take action, to go out and discover who he might become. Herbert decides to face down his fears and sets out to explore his longing to grow into who he longs to be. He bumps immediately into an opportunity to learn more about himself. He tries hard to act brave. He learns right away how misunderstood he can be and how scared he is. In fear, he grabs the princess, hoping to save her, and then jumps right back into his old patterns. He runs home and has to face the reality that he has a False Self, a way of being in the world that doesn’t match who he wants to be. Herbert asks himself: What have I done?
Suggestions for action
To discover our true selves and to draw close to God (intertwined actions) we, too, need to learn through taking new action, meeting failure and fear, and starting to identify our patterns of living (like running to hide) that may need to change. It’s a conflict. What have I done? is the inevitable question we all ask as we seek to know God and ourselves. On this journey within, we first discover how we are not who we think we are, and we are surprised in the process. Many spiritual seekers have called this, the discovery the False Self: the habits of thoughts, feelings, and choices we make unconsciously, trying to make ourselves safe and happy. (For more on this, see Invitation to Love by Thomas Keating).
Pause now and ask God to help you see beyond your current understanding of yourself. Let yourself remember failures you’ve known or times you have felt misunderstood by those around you. Instead of dwelling on the pain/guilt/shame of these memories, see if you can catch any patterns that those failures or conflicts might reveal about how you “do” life or how you pursue happiness. Jot down whatever floats into your awareness.
This week’s breath prayer (carry it with you today):
(inhale) Show me You; (exhale) show me me.