Waltz music is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever composed and played. Because Waltz is so rhythmic and easy to follow. Step two three, step two three. Each time I think of waltz I think of the Lendler dance from the sound of music, which I have only watched 200 times with my daughter. Each person knew exactly what step to take and where to go and how one can go on perpetually. It is always beautiful, always in harmony, always predictable, but it can be dull. Because it is so predictable. Waltz is not truly the dance of the raw human life.
Joseph and Mary had less than a Waltz moment in their life. For that reason for Elizabeth and Zachariah. Let us look at it.
Elizabeth was late in age, old enough not to conceive a child. So you can imagine how that will be. Angi and Me are proponents of having children at an age when one can actually do something with them, rather than tired all the time, and read to go bed when kids are like ever ready bunny. But then look at Mary and Joseph. Mary was less than the age one should be officially pregnant. There is no waltz there either.
For Joseph and Mary, for Elizabeth and Zachariah, life was less than perfect and less than predictable. It was a mess and all that happened in their lives were a mess. An old lady getting pregnant and becoming the laughing stock of the world, a man of God doubting the revelation of God and the message from God, a teenager getting pregnant without a husband and a poor carpenter scared for the life of his would be wife. Not over yet, now there is even more.
He is having some dreams about how in the world his fiancé got pregnant and then he was told that the child in the womb is the son of God. If people thought he was poor before, now they are sure he is out of his mind. He seems to believe in dreams and quiet in facts like most men are. Well.
Then all of a sudden he learns that his child, the so called son of God is being hunted by the powerful man in the land, the king himself. There is murder all over the place and he has to run for his life.
I don’t think their lives were any different than ours. Was it? What happened from one day to the next was so different and unpredictable, they had to take one day at a time.
The reason why they were able to face uncertainties of life were because they knew where God was in all of what happened, or believed that it was all their job to figure things out. They lived one moment at a time and trusted God with the next. God was near and they knew in their hearts, God was near.
This so called awareness is what I want to call “The Thin Place” of spiritual life.
The Isle of Iona in Scotland is a tiny, windswept place in the western Hebrides off the western coast of Scotland. It’s a skinny little island, only about 3.5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. Only about a hundred people live on the island, given its remote location. And while it’s a beautiful place with emerald green grass, old stone buildings, and a landscape dotted with sheep that far outnumber the people, it’s also a place where the rain and wind off the North Sea can drive right through you no matter how good your rain gear might be.
And yet, there’s something mystical about this place — the place where Saint Columba landed sometime in the sixth century to establish a monastic community, having fled his native Ireland. There the monks welcomed many visitors who came to the island, searching for something missing in their souls. Celts called it a “thin place.”
A think place is a place where God is so near and so close, one can sense him or her through the fiber of ones gentle faith. Thomas Merton would say, “Life is simple. We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent, and God is shining through it all the time … if we abandon ourselves to God and forget ourselves, we see it sometimes … the only thing is that we don’t (let ourselves) see it.” We miss those glimpses of the kingdom of God, breaking in on the earth, which is ironic given the fact that Jesus taught us to pray that we might see the kingdom come “on earth as it is in heaven.”
My dear brothers and sisters, “God is not somewhere else, but right here … there are two layers or dimensions of reality, the visible world of our ordinary experience and God, the sacred Spirit.” When we figure that out, then we will learn, we are in the thin place. We are in the middle of perfect order of God, that looks like Chaos, but it is orderly, beautiful and predictable. God does know the Waltz and that God wants us to learn the dance.
When we recognize only a thin veil separates us we will seek ways to lift it and behold God. As was in the case of Iona in Scotland, so is with each and everyone of here and now, that we are in the presence of God who is separated by our unbelief and nothing more.
So, today let us walk in the shoes of Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and Zachariah who had a hard time to fathom the mystery of God, but trusted with all their hearts.
God loves Waltz, for in it is the rhythm of life and it can go on in perpetuity. We just need accept that we are in a thin place and God is simply on the second dimension of reality. Let us lift the veil and God is here with us.
(c) Fr. Jos Tharakan