We’re born into the mini tribe of a family. We grow and become aware of the larger tribe of our extended family.
As we become adults, we brush up against all kinds of other tribes. Tribes made up of favorite shoes, food, parishes, YouTube channels, and colleges. We immerse ourselves and swim between them with in a chameleon-like fluidity.
Our challenge as we mature is to identify the tribes that matter most. The memberships that make the best sense of our lives. The groups that have the right to demand our time, love, and lives.
But this is still only the beginning.
The mature must give way to the mystical.
Some lessons have to be learned so that they can be unlearned.
The mystics are those who have stepped beyond the well-trodden paths of human normality. They step off the spinning, black-and-white dualism of tribe and not-tribe.
They begin to scry the harder, greater truth that there is a single human family.
We are all flitting like moths toward light, slowly becoming more solid, more translucent, harder and heavier and able to take on more responsibility.
Being Catholic is more than a membership to a group. We who can see only the line between ‘inside and outside’ are like children learning to swim.
Spiritual maturity answers the call to stand on the water like Peter and Christ, and tread the gale-girt chaos of the bright storm.
Then can we ‘look down’ at the world and realize how things truly are put together.
Like a tapestry, we often see life as glimpses of tangled, twisted threads. That’s the backside. Heaven sees the panoramic view from the front, a cosmic version of the Shroud of Turin, only smiling and alive.
Being Catholic is a commitment to all of reality, as it is.
Its beyond any tribe, or any group. It’s to want to engage with the all merciful and creative genius of God pushing through life and culture and moment and movement.
And its not something we can demand, or grasp at.
This kind of understanding is the paving stones of Heaven’s doorway. Its the beginning of Wisdom. It’s the fear of God that ignites an arousal for living. It isn’t gifted until we’re on our knees, in a state of humility.
Only the ‘penitent man’ will pass, who kneels before God.
The spiritually awake start to walk the thin, winding road of the mystic. It goes ever on and on.
And a Catholic author is like this.
We may not yet have this gift, or this awakening. But maybe we can imagine it.
We can dramatize it, fictionalize it, poke at it in a million ways, and see what happens in us.
Perhaps the way we walk the shadowed path of the star-browed is to dream it. We dream it and write it down. And others then begin to glimpse a thing more deeply.
Further up, and further in.