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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: End (02/13/06)

TITLE: End of self
By Jonathan Turnbough


My first thought about "end" was "END TIMES." My second was a little more complex and a little closer to home. Perhaps something I jotted down a few weeks ago will enlighten my further musings: "Every step I take toward the end of myself brings me one step closer to the throne of grace." I like it. That whole "throne of grace" business evokes memories of worn religious lingo, but there is still meaning there. I'm trying to recall just what the circumstances of that particular day were; what was it that led me to think that? I suppose it was during the early afternoon hours, as the sun makes its way over our duplex and starts to show across the back patio. It was probably brought on by that subtle urgency I tend to feel as "my time" sadly wanes and "time to go to work" comes, that hour I'm forced to leave my comfortable little cocoon of thinking, writing, and watching the squirrels to venture out into the world "they" inhabit. "They" are other people. I have learned, at this point in my life, that there are two groups of people: I, and them. It sounds rather simple, I know, but I've spent a lot of time coming to grips with this. I have my suspicions about them. There are a few that I have allowed myself to trust and love, but on the whole, I seem to have an aversion to them. The problem is, when I'm "out there," with "them," I tend to think about myself a lot more. Oh, not noble and deeply self-searching thoughts, but more like, "I wonder if he thinks I'm nice?" I dislike this whole scenario because I weary of being mindful of myself. One thing I have noticed, and that with some frustration, is that too much self-analysis becomes a burden; one longs to be free of the grinding awareness of "me." Well, I think that particular day may have been the day I looked up "poor" in the concordance. I also looked up "spirit," just to be sure. I really appreciate the Sermon on the Mount, but I often get hung up on the first line. It has always come across as rather simple and straightforward--most weighty statements do. What does it mean, though? I have read a number of good translations of that verse, yet clarity on what Christ was saying seems to elude me.
So I probed a bit. The Greek word often translated "poor" also carries with it an idea of mendicancy (I had to look it up...). Beggars. That's what it means, people in the throes of a poverty so severe that they are reduced to begging. Now that helps some, I thought. I also looked up "spirit," just to be sure. It can mean "wind," or "soul," but seems to convey the inner person, even the heart, perhaps. I thought as much. These probings led me to a new translation of this opening Sermon line. I jotted it in my Bible, right above the typed version: "Happy are the spiritual beggars, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." I like it. It seems like something I could maybe do. I think spiritual mendicancy is a deceptively attainable goal, however. I think it will typically involve a lot of difficulty, tears, and failure, at least where I live. It must be hard for a self to come to its end. But when I stand, bewildered, at the utter end of that proud and lonely path called sufficiency, when I have glided along that narrowing trail until it has narrowed to a humiliating halt my feet, when I have known deeply the struggles and yearnings of my own torn soul and tasted fully of my utter impotence in meeting my own needs, then I might just raise my gaze above the crippled landscape of myself to ask for help. And that is a start. Indeed, it may be much of a finish. I looked up "beggar" in the dictionary, just for a little more insight; it is "a person who lives by asking for gifts." I want to live like that. I hope you do, too. I think a deep awareness of one's desperate need for the Almighty lives right next door to the piercing perception that there is all the grace needed to meet that need, all the grace in the universe.

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This article has been read 508 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 02/21/06
Try to avoid references to the topic word as a word--and avoid definitions. There's a reason people don't read dictionaries! It's better to just share your insights, and use the topic more naturally, as it unfolds in your storytelling. You've got some great insights here--thanks for sharing them.
c clemons02/22/06
I only read the first three lines and I must confess I did not finish. It was very hard to read no breaks (paragraphs my friend). I am your audience so you want to capture my attention and make it comfortable to read.