12th day of Lent.

What does being fully alive look like? For Christians the answer is easy, and hard: Jesus. That’s easy because what we see in the life of Jesus is a life we’re called to live. We’re to live like him. The bracelets from the 90’s come to mind (WWJD). Hard, because we don’t look at Jesus as a person like ourselves. That’s natural. The closest I get to a miracle is convincing one of my kids that even though they’re not ready for a major test they still have to go to school!

While Christians believe Jesus was fully God and fully human, in practice it’s hard to understand what that means. If he was fully God, he must have known what was going to happen to him every step of the way. If he was fully human, there’s no way he could have. It’s a mystery. In practice it’s easier to think about as closer to what we see in a film when an alien possesses a person, than as a union of two “natures”. Natures? Hunh?

I think it’s helpful to think about the union of Jesus’ humanity and divinity as something like a marriage. In the best marriages two people are completely themselves, and share a life together. I often quote Rilke who said that

“someday there will be girls and women whose name will no longer mean the mere opposite of the male, but something in itself, something that makes one think not of any complement and limit, but only of life and reality: the female human being.” and so love “consists in this: that two solitudes protect and border and greet each other.” ~ Rainer Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, #7.

Two solitudes that protect and border and greet each other. I love that. It’s not one person completing the other. It’s two people who are complete, sharing a life together. When a couple in a relationship like that are in sync it’s a beautiful thing. When they’re not? Sometimes a person has to get away. Sometimes that looks like a walk around the neighborhood. Sometimes you have a beer with a friend, and sometimes you hike up a mountain. The time away helps you discern the forest from the trees. You get perspective on what’s important, and you return knowing–or with a better sense of–what it is you need to do.

Being fully human, Jesus’ life wasn’t black and white, and required that same discernment of what to do and how to be, amid all the grey. That’s why he climbed Mt. Tabor–traditionally accepted as the site of the Transfiguration–“he went up the mountain to pray” (Lk 9:28).


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