By Ernesto Tinajero
What does it mean to be fully alive? The most important spiritual question is: what does it mean to live the good life? When Jesus says in the Final Discourse that he is the way, truth and life, he was providing the answer to this very question. The fact that he told his disciples on the night he was to be betrayed what was most important… loving each other as Jesus loves them, reveals the truth of the Gospel. It is important that on the night he taught his most important lesson, he hardly talked about heaven. He talked about the glories of love, the coming of the Holy Spirit and loving others. In Jesus we find great love. Only in great love can we be fully human like Jesus.
We taste the fullness of human life when dip our cup into the living waters of love. When we love, the world suddenly turns brighter and even the food we eat tastes better. Maybe not brighter and better, rather our senses awake to the beauty of life and the glory of God’s creation. We can look and join God in declaring that it is good. Rather than simply bringing a ticket to heaven, Jesus brings the fullness of life. We awake to the fullness of life. I witnessed this reality again as my son attended the Greek Fest at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church this past weekend. My son, who at 5 years old, still embodies Jesus’ command to be like a child to enter the kingdom, walked past the area where the children of the church performed the traditional Greek folk dances. Even at 5, my son has a history of being mesmerized by the child dancers of Holy Trinity. So when he walked by, two girls remembered Tito, and shouted with joy at the sight of him“, Tito, Tito, there is Tito!” They quickly surrounded him and hugged him. They embraced him as Jesus embraces us.
This is the Kingdom of God the church has largely ignored for a version that emphases the ticket to heaven and the get out of hell card. God the father pronounces the world good as he speaks existence into being and we with Jesus can join in the chorus. Seeing my son so intensively watching his friends dance — friends who he sees only once a year dance their passion — I understand the way, truth and life Jesus promises and we so conveniently ignore. I understand it in the intensity of Tito’s clapping in support of them. Between their sets, he would run around, filled with the breath of life that God breathes into us to make us come alive.
Why have we forgotten this truth or downplay it? I think humans don’t trust love. We, even in the church, no longer trust love. We look at human history and our history and see nothing but pain, pain born of the sins of violence and pain, and we can’t believe in love. The church is in decline because it too has given in and no longer believes in love. Yet, Jesus rises to tell us life is good and that great love is at hand. He rises to proclaim the power of sin can’t overcome love. Will we listen to the children as they dance.
Art, says Ernesto Tinajero, comes from the border of what has come before and what is coming next. Tinajero uses his experience studying poetry and theology to write about the intersecting borders of art, poetry and religion.