Life Guidance

Wednesday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
September 7, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Paul gives a little “life guidance” to the neophyte Christian community in Corinth. One might get the picture of him sitting, grandfather-like, in a lounge chair by the Korinthos Bay, thinking his instructions out loud.

You know, if you’re a virgin, that’s good.
– on the other hand -if you’re not, well that can work too.
And if you’re not married, great.
But – on the other had – if you are married,
hmm, you’re gonna suffer,
but you can still find a way.

Renee’s Translation of the passage below 🙂

In regard to virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord,
but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.
So this is what I think best because of the present distress:
that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is.
Are you bound to a wife?  Do not seek a separation.
Are you free of a wife?  Then do not look for a wife.
If you marry, however, you do not sin,
nor does an unmarried woman sin if she marries;
but such people will experience affliction in their earthly life,
and I would like to spare you that.

1 Corinthians :25-28

I can picture myself sitting in that crowd, turning to a companion to say, “WHAT the heck is he talking about!?”. And hopefully that companion would be tuned in enough to say, “He’s talking about life and how hard it is to truly appreciate what life is all about before it’s too late.”

I think that is the key and precious tidbit in this reading:

Life in Christ is the inverse of worldly definitions.
It is a heartbeat humming under appearances,
between the layers of our experience,
which renders them infinitely more grace-filled
than we might perceive.

I tell you the time is running out.
From now on, let those having wives act as not having them,
those weeping as not weeping, 
those rejoicing as not rejoicing,
those buying as not owning,
those using the world as not using it fully.
For the world in its present form is passing away.

1 Corinthians 7: 29-21

We need deeper vision, a blessed listening to perceive this Sacred Heartbeat.

We need a peaceful courage and holy insight to enter it, to sing with it. Paul, in this reading and Jesus, in our Gospel, invite us to step into the spiritual counterpoint of God’s song.

Counterpoint is a compositional technique in which two or more melodic lines complement one another but act independently. The term comes from the Latin punctus contra punctum, which means “point against point.” Composers use counterpoint to create beautiful, complementary polyphonic music.

Paul’s lesson isn’t about being a virgin or not, being married or not. It’s about finding that sweet spot in your life, between the layers, where you can best hear God breathing within you and open your life, in counterpoint, to that Eternal Song.

Jesus says we will have found that sweet spot when we understand and live the “inverse richness” – the “counterpoint” of the Beatitudes which are offered in a perhaps less familiar form today by Luke:

Blessed are you who are poor,
for the Kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.  

Poetry: The Layers – Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives, some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

Music: Inside This River – Gary Schmidt ( more great counterpoint)

2 thoughts on “Life Guidance

  1. Donna Mannarini

    Counterpoint, a beautiful metaphor and accompaniment to The Layers and songs of my own heart in search of this Sacred Heartbeat. Thank you, Renee, your posts and wisdom are such a blessing. Via Pulchritudinus

    Liked by 1 person

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