Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Absorbing vs. Resisting

I have a Tibetan singing bowl. When I strike its exterior, it has a soothing, long lasting tone that helps me focus my mind for centering prayer. I have discovered that if the bowl is sitting on a table the tone does not last as long as when the bowl is sitting on the sofa. That discovery surprised me because I would have thought the hard surface would have transmitted the tone for a longer time than when the bowl is on a padded surface.

As I considered the difference, I realize that the soft surface absorbs the vibrations of the bowl while the hard surface resists them. I’m no physicist so there is likely some scientific explanation of what I’ve experienced, but I see a spiritual lesson in this observation, a lesson that Holy Week brings into clear focus.

Jesus absorbed our sin. In Daybreaks: Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter Week, Ron Rolheiser, OMI  says that Jesus took away sin by absorbing and transforming sin, much in the way a filter purifies water. “The filter takes in impure water, holds the impurities inside itself, and gives back only pure water. It transforms rather than transmits. . . [Jesus] takes in hatred, holds it, transforms it, and gives back love; he takes in chaos, holds it, transforms it, and gives back order; he takes in fear, holds it, transforms it, and gives back freedom; he takes in jealousy, holds it, transforms it, and gives back affirmation; he takes in Satan and murder, holds them, transforms them, and gives back only God and forgiveness.”

Like my singing bowl, which has a clearer and longer tone when sitting on a surface that absorbs the vibrations rather than resisting them, following Jesus means that I too am called to absorb when I am struck, literally or figuratively. When I absorb the pain, it is transformed, and gives back the enduring true tone of love. When I resist, striking back when I’ve been struck, I am failing to follow the example of Jesus, and the tone I transmit is one of discord, not the pure and lasting sweetness of Christ’s mercy and forgiveness.

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