I have been reflecting a lot today, as I write up my project, on what it means to take a contemplative stance. I know that I can be guilty of thinking I am doing well at just being in the presence of God, only to realize that in fact I fill my life with righteous activities to convince myself I'm good with God. I could not have got the whole thing more backward!!
I rediscovered this great quote from Irenaeus, the second century bishop from France.
"It is not you who shapes God, but God who shapes you. Await then the hand of the artist. Offer God your heart, soft and tractable. And keep the shape in which the artist fashions you. Let your clay be moist, lest you lose the imprint of God's fingers."
It sounds so easy, yet it is so difficult. The more I try to get it right or be more 'holy', the drier my clay becomes. When I relax and just rest in the Presence, somehow God's fingerprints seem closer than ever. It certainly goes against the grain to stop striving and yearning for more. I wonder how much of my life is spent trying to shape God, rather than letting God shape me.
You can't blame me really! Shaping God is the safest option. I am in control that way and don't need to be vulnerable. Letting God shape me only leads me into an unknown mystery. These words from Iranaeus are a real challenge. What does it mean for me to let my clay remain moist? What do I need to do to avoid losing the imprint of God's fingers? But see, I have missed the point again. Iranaeus says, "let your clay be moist". All I need to do is allow it, not get in the way with my own plans - Stop shaping and allow myself to be shaped.