As I did the Exercises these last couple of weeks, I've remembered what it's like to receive this gift. These are the mystical moments for me when everything falls away and I am one with Christ. (Sounds kind of 'puffed-up,' doesn't it? -- "I'm one with Christ." Ha! No, it's OK. As always, it's paradox at the heart of truth.)
These experiences don't happen often, but their "effectiveness" certainly endures. They are now my foundation, the steady ground upon which I always walk, even when I'm otherwise feeling some vertigo! (that is, letting old fears motivate my behavior).
As I remembered all this recently, something else occurred to me. I think the spiritual growth I've experienced these last few months is an outgrowth of the inevitable fecundity of these mystical moments, these pure "grace gifts." I hadn't put that together, but being a "fool for Christ" linked it in my mind.
When my church protested the American Family Association's sponsorship of the political prayer rally in Houston last August, it got some news coverage. Since then I have been a target (albeit a tee-tiny one) for some people who seem unable to tolerate the tensions involved in the true spiritual freedom Christ offers and living the Christian life. I've received some emails that took me to task for not believing the Bible, that called me un-Christian, that question my worthiness as a leader. One of the emails I received came months after the event and was from a man who apparently supported the guy who shot the doctor for performing abortions a few years back; he warned me against supporting the "homosexual agenda."
There was a time, not too long ago, when that kind of vitriol coming at me would've upset me, concerned me. But I don't care so much anymore what other people think about me in this regard -- I can be a "fool" in their eyes because the pure "grace gift" continues "working" in me. Its fecundity is everlasting. So powerful, yet such true humility.