Bursting the bubble

I am still, after all the years of my life, trying to get a grip on myself. I should be getting better at it but it is still a struggle. My age helps. I can no longer dream the dreams of a young man. A year ago, less, that bothered me and I often wallowed in nostalgic ‘if only’ day dreams. No longer. I have caught a glimpse of the greatest goal of all and, unlike the adventures of youth, this one is within my reach. 

All my life it seems I have been pursuing God in one way or another. And many times, like the Zen parable, I have caught a glimpse of the ox. But it has always been my pursuit, my journey, my goal. Self has always intervened so that even the most self-sacrificial acts were in fact a disguised form of self-aggrandisement. This is why they all came to nothing. Now self has nothing to look forward to except diminishing faculties and eventual extinction. This was once the nightmare I could never bring myself to face. Sudden death? No problem – to be welcomed even. After all I believe in life after death. The gradual decline into the obscurity of senility – that was the nightmare. But now I know that (to paraphrase St. John) I must decrease so that He may increase. Self is the greatest obstacle to God realising himself in our humanity. The self is like a bubble, an inflated skin empty inside. It is often beautiful, with shifting iridescent colours. Dancing in the air above the waves it can rejoice in its freedom and think itself sufficient to itself. It does not realise that it came from the deep sea and that soon it will burst.