As the Word in the word slowly transforms us we come to live in kairotic ways; the time behind time, the spaces between the words in which God works mystical wonders in us. In abandoning ourselves to this encounter we become incarnational shadows of Ultimate Reality. This cannot be the case if we approach holy writ as mere text; God reduced to a subject of textual dissection. In so doing, we deny the Spirit in the text access to an available and willing subject for the healing scalpel of God. God wants not to be a concept for us to master. God invites to submit ourselves to the revealing light of the Logos, witnessed to in Scripture, whereby we are laid bare before the One with whom we have to do.
If, as Bob suggests, the Scripture is to be approached as a place for transformative encounter with God this presents a most baffling dilemma. We must place ourselves before the text as we would our spouse, in utter love, humility and surrender for understanding. As Wesley insisted, we must come to the text in the same spirit in which it was inspired and recorded. It can then do its deepest work as a living entity; alive because of the Life dwelling both in and outside its pages.
Experiences like a January Residency would feel more sterile and less dynamic were it not for the communal context in which we may, together, seek. It is one thing to speak of love. It is quite another to see it at work and be the object of the same. Such mysteries beg description like setting to words one’s first kiss or hearing the needy cry of one’s newborn child. Few things feel so jarring to the soul as the dislocation one experiences in the shadow of the Mount of Transfiguration. The memory of fellowship, still ripe with nuances and hope-filled déjà vu can seem a mockery when trying to retro-fit ourselves for life in the low places. Says the Psalmist, “I think of God, and I moan; I meditate, and my spirit faints. You keep my eyelids from closing; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.” Although spoken in a spirit of anguish, the Psalmist here outlines the bemusing distress of his own spirit before Yahweh.
This perfectly describes my post-Residency anguish. It is my fifth; my third as a student. In none of them have I walked away so utterly undone as this one. Was it the fact that, for our cohort at least, it was the last one? What was so different this year than other years when all of the elements that make these residencies so magnificent were just as present? What were all of the intersecting points between who they are to me and who I am becoming?