Did you notice that my quest to find the kingdom of God that is said to lie within began and ended with denying one’s self for love?
When God’s Son, Jesus, said NO to His own desire to keep walking around this old earth with His friends, healing people and amazing them and He sweated blood thinking about being hung, He denied Himself to do what His Father sent Him to do. That is to die for love of humankind, for our immortal life in the kingdom of God.
After wandering the face of the earth and my heart seeking God’s kingdom, I suddenly remembered that the only time I had ever glimpsed such an amazing place was when I decided to do what I knew would make me unhappy for the sake of love. It was an itsy bitsy, teeny weeny crucifixion but it opened the gates to a spectacular kingdom.
God loves circles.
Aspiring immortals who love God so much more than we love ourselves, our pride, even our opinions, are the ones who are invited to experience the kingdom of God within and the future one. My sad realization was that I can only possibly experience the inner kingdom if I end my search for it and instead spend more time yielding my will to God’s Will even if it kills me.
Even though the kingdom of God is surely within me, I am not allowed to go in and out of there whenever it pleases me. That sacred city, like a holy altar will open its gates to me when the Lord allows it to. Not a minute before.
Meanwhile, at the center of the inner kingdom of Evangeline also dwell other people and I am sure even a few fairies and angels. So, for now I can visit them whenever I want. Every night this week, when the sun has gone and darkness lets me rest, I have visited my father.
Jesus and I have this in common. We love our fathers.
My father led a life rich in love and suffering. His intimate relationship with suffering probably began on that cold February evening when he was a boy of ten who had just learned that his adoring mother, who went to buy them cupcakes, was killed by a car. I didn’t know that boy, but I know that his own strong and holy father taught him how to live when life was severe, and how to love the Lord. Day after sorrowful day young Charley listened to his father’s songs coming up from the basement kitchen, love songs to his departed wife, songs his dad composed as he cooked for his family of eight. My father told me that when he was a teenager he studied character, and how he measured up. No wonder Dad became such a strong and beloved man.
The Charley I knew was also a single father because of my mother’s psychological illness. How he suffered from her disease, bitter conflict and loneliness; so tormented was he that he even lost his business and his fortune. Rather than relieve himself of his obligations with bankruptcy, Charley shut down the business and worked for others to pay every last debt while his wife was in institutions and his teenage girls at home depended on him.
When cancer was his last torturer, dad wanted to keep on living, even if it meant to keep on suffering, for love of his girls. I’ll never forget the distressed look on his face when he realized that he would have to leave us and his fear that we would need him and he wouldn’t be here for us. He must have been remembering the bitter grief of his own mother-loss. The many times I did indeed need him and he wasn’t here, I had that look to remind me that his wish and will was not granted, so I went to Our Father who art in heaven for help.
It took me several years after he died to cry, so relieved was I that his suffering, not just the disease had finally ended. Dad tried to teach me how to deny myself on several occasions when I thought the fair thing to do was the thing I wanted most. He said the fair thing to do was what the other person wanted. And so on my first father’s day without him, my gift to my dad was to give away something that I wanted very much to keep.
My father didn’t just tell me that he loved me, he showed it. He showed me the value of suffering and the importance of reaching out to those you love. My dad is a worthy immortal who died to self over and over and over again. And so when seeking the inner kingdom of God, near the sacred and shut gates I spend time precious time with my father within. Thank you Dad.