The author, Jon Kabat-Zinn, is an American doctor who operates a “Stress-Reduction Clinic.” Once I knew about his clinic I was hooked and opened the book.
The first paragraph fluently expresses the general theme of my blog entry yesterday.
“Guess what? When it comes right down to it, wherever you go, there you are. Whatever you wind up doing, that’s what you’ve wound up doing. Whatever you are thinking right now, that’s what’s on your mind. Whatever has happened to you, it has already happened. The important question is, how are you going to handle it? In other words, “Now what?”
The remarkable thing about the action of God two thousand years ago, is that God started to use a ‘new method’ in relating to the human family.
Throughout the Old Testament the people knew that God lived in the heavens, where humans did not live. The task of humans was to ‘climb the mountain of the Lord’ (through prayer and good works) in order to dwell with God.
At the moment of the Annunciation God entered human reality in a remarkable and unprecedented way. Previously a god (of the Romans or Greeks) or the God (of the Jewish people) was by definition not human.
Now, in the womb of Mary, and nine months later in a shepherds cave in Bethlehem, God, in Jesus, took on everything involved in being fully human.
This is the shift in divine method: now we no longer need to ‘journey to God’ since God has come to us.
Our task is to be where and how we are, and to desire that God will find us in the personal ‘stable’ of our stress.
As the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Vatican II) begins:
The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.
This reality is the heart of the Gospel, and the ultimate stress-reduction technique.
When we accept that where we are, is actually where we are, that what we are thinking is what we are now thinking, and that all has happened is the reality of our unchangeable past, then we are truly ‘where we are’.
The greatest journey of all time is not the human journey of a mountaineer, the polar explorer’s trek to the ends of the earth, or even the mission of the astronaut to the ‘heavens’.
The greatest journey of all history is the mission of God, in Jesus, into the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of stress-filled people.
And this is why we call our faith Good News.