No distance by Theophane the Monk
I stumbled upon this story from Tales from the Magical Monastery (1), which has been helpful to me for my spiritual journey. It is told as a parable, and, in it’s peculiar style, raises questions about our response to Jesus’ coming to us in this Christmas season.
The story, told by Theophane the Monk , begins:
“I asked each of the monks I met this question: ‘What great blunder have you made?’
One answered, ‘There was a stone in my room and I did not love it.’
Another said, ‘They called me a Christian, but I did not become Christ.’
I asked the first, ‘What do you mean? I don’t understand. You didn’t love that stone….’
‘I just didn’t love it. I was so close to redeeming the whole world, but I looked down on that stone.’
I asked the second, ‘You did not become Christ? Is one supposed to become Christ?’
‘I kept putting distance between myself and him — by seeking, by praying, by reading. I kept deploring the distance, but I never realized that I was creating it.’
‘But,’ I insisted, ‘is one supposed to become Christ?’
His answer: ‘No distance.’ ”
Christmas is about God’s coming to us. Born in Bethlehem, He offers us a great intimacy. Thus, he closes the great distance between heaven and earth. He comes to live with us.
But do we respond? Do we come to him? Can we love even the stone in the room?
Or do we just become complacent Christians from afar? Do we continue to live at a comfortable distance, Christian in name only, but not as Christ?
Can we renounce what keep us apart, in order to accept this great intimacy?
But are we supposed to become Christ?
(1) Theophane the Monk, Tales from the Magic Monastery
Crossroad Publishing Co., New York, 1981