Well manicured grave plot

Jesus said:

“You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something.

“You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.“ (Matthew 23:25-28, The Message.)

That reading is set down for Morning Prayer today. As I read it, and prayed about it, I felt that I should write something about it.

Between about the middle of 2004 and the end of 2005, my life fell apart, really. The repercussions of the collapse continued to reverberate seriously until around the end of 2006. There are still ripples in the pond of my life from the events of that time. What happened was not particularly edifying, but was my responsibility, and an expression of my broken-ness at the time. It was really about me being like a ‘manicured grave plot’ – nice on the outside, but a mess on the inside. There are various reasons for the mess – some come from the outside and some from the inside. In the end, however, the things that happened were to a lesser or greater degree my choice, and ultimately my responsibility. Although, at the time the breaking apart of my life was devastatingly painful, it was not destructive. In fact, it was a gift of healing and wholeness. It was only when the abscess within my soul was lanced, opened up, debrided, exposed and allowed to heal, that I could begin again. If all of the ‘stuff’ remained hidden in the dark it couldn’t be dealt with.

So I’m thankful for the breaking apart and the being put back together again. I’m thankful for those who worked with me, forgave me, accepted me, loved me, punished me, stood up to me, called me to account, pointed towards the truth.

It is only when you see the reality of yourself and your situation that change and growth can occur, and that’s what Jesus is saying – we’re all broken, we all fall short of the ideals we set for ourselves. But living in the truth means allowing that to move from the hidden parts of our souls to the outside, where it can be dealt with and healed.

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