Tabair dam amlaid, a Rí secht nime,
do serc im anmain, do grád im chride.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Damn. This one hits home. The “flesh”, the “world”, “sin”, even the “soul” are all terms that seem to describe that part of me which, in fact, longs for riches and praise.
I have many praise and riches receptors…
I am drawn to the metaphor of human physiology. Wherein, we are littered with all kinds of chemical receptors, their sole purpose to stand open and ready to receive some kind of stimulus. Once received, some response occurs elsewhere in the system.
Because of this, many modern drugs are designed to interfere or enhance the functioning of these receptors. So, clearly, this process of stimulus and response (and our ability to manipulate it) are crucial to human functioning.
“Lord, what are the praise and riches receptors in me? Where are they?”
“Lord, how do I block them?”
Are spiritual practices the way? Am I supposed to ignore/endure them – are they my “cross”? Is it simply a matter of trusting your Spirit to use them to grow my faith? Are they my “thorn“?
I grow so weary of this familiar battle against riches and empty, human praise. I experience moments of breakthrough. There are times of spiritual awareness when it feels as if I have arrived at freedom – when it seems there are no obstructions between God and me. However, in short order, I discover that just beneath the surface is another thin but stubborn layer of selfish ego, image keeping or greed that hungers for “input”, stimulation, recognition or sensation.
When I was young, I wanted to be a boy scout, mostly for the uniform. Not for the fashion of it, but for the image it portrayed. My favorite part of being on school patrol (crossing guards) was the fact that we got shiny helmets, badges and other markers that showed others we were special. I wasn’t really all that safety-minded. Young Dan just wanted the uniform – “man’s empty praise”.
“I just wanted the uniform.”
Whether this is a Pauline “thorn”, an epic spiritual battle, a daily cross or a Freudian shadow, I don’t know. But the truth about me is: even Old Dan still wants the uniform.
Lord, have mercy.