Day 40: Generous Poverty
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.“Abba , Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:34-36
Suffering is a regular part of life. Jesus said that unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it cannot produce life.
We might think our greatest suffering is in death, but reality is, ultimate death is experienced in living without the awareness and reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the cross of Jesus, we find meaning in our suffering. Jesus’s experience in the Garden of Gethsemane shows us that we are not alone in this world when we suffer. Jesus knows our pain. He has been there, and he empathizes with our experiences of loneliness and abandonment.
As Christians we know the anguish of suffering and we also know the hope of standing before an empty tomb in a garden of promise and hope.
Sometimes we feel persecuted– like Jesus who was nailed to a cross. Jesus has truly been persecuted. We have gone places we do not want to go, as our Lord was led to places he did not want to go– to the cross and pain and death.
If we imagine a garden scene and these themes of suffering, picture a tree that breaks out of rocky ground above timberline, against the wind… or a cactus thriving in a desert. Think of compost that provides nutrients for growth out of waste and trash.
Gardeners find hope in the possibility of transformation and growth in adverse, if not impossible, conditions.
There are reasons for poverty and suffering in our world. Our choice is to understand that we are not alone. We can reach out and recognize God in family, friends, our heart/minds, our church, strangers and our personal experience of God in prayer and daily life.
In the Christian faith, there is no way to joy except through the cross and resurrection of Jesus.
Generous poverty means the voluntary emptying of self, which leads to utter transformation. This is the essence of Christian spirituality. In our reality, there is no such thing as utter darkness. The sun always rises. All wounds are ultimately gifts. Salvation is offered to every person under the sun. We will be saved.
Sit silently. You are not alone.
If at all possible, sit in this silence for 15 minutes. Reflect on your inner poverty. All you have is Jesus Christ. All else is meaninglessness.
How can you share your life with others through your wounds and poverty?
Add your own words to this prayer of Holy Communion:
Break me of…
Give me as…
Did you miss the intro? Start here.
[This six-week devotional is based on a daily life retreat by Pegge Bernecker and her book, Your Spiritual Garden: tending to the presence of God. St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2006.]