Chameleon: 1. a type of lizard that can change the color of its skin to look like the colors that are around it 2. a person who often changes his or her beliefs or behavior in order to please others or to succeed (Merriam Webster)
In the first post of this series I suggested that we are a complex composition of persons or identities or even realities. We have parts of us that are very attached to the temporal nature of things. In our innermost being there is something deeper and richer and eternal. Many very smart thinkers have wrestled with these multiple dimensions to the human condition. Some have used terms like the “Ego” and the “Id.” We all have been taught about the conscious and the subconscious. Merton and other contemplative writers speak of the false self and the true self. Merton says we are the product of the animus and animas and spiritus. Even the Christian bible says we are spirit and flesh, temporal and eternal, zoe and psyche. For the purpose of this journey and these posts, I want to suggest a very simple but very powerful way of seeing ourselves and understanding our purpose. I believe we can break down our nature into a Trudy and Judy and Lena.
In previous post I described Trudy as our innermost being. She is our divine connection. She is the spiritus or spirit of us. She is a wave in an ocean where the ocean is God. Judy is our judge. Judy’s proper role is discernment to keep us safe in a world that can be dangerous but in a fallen state Judy is something else altogether. When Judy is feasting on the forbidden fruit she is the source of guilt and shame and condemnation. She is quick to judge and inject opinion. Fallen Judy often doubts Trudy and her “too good to be true” outlook because Judy “knows” it is never that good.
Lena is our newest character. Lena is our learned personality or identity. Lena is a chameleon. Judy is constantly telling Lena “the way things are.” Lena learns from Judy and the world how to adapt so that she feels wanted and included and appreciated. Lena wants to be accepted by others because her identity is found in other’s opinion of her. Lena does what it takes to survive. She knows how to get stuff and maneuver in relationships and situations to find safety or pleasure or satisfaction. Lena has learned well in her years of interacting with a world of other Lenas.
Lena and Judy aren’t “bad.” They just are a product of what made them. Lena is created by the world and adapts to the world. Lena is necessary because there is a world. What she is made of is what is important. When Lena is loved by Trudy, then Lena loves like Trudy. When Judy is loved by Trudy, then Judy doesn’t judge anymore. She discerns instead. When Lena is not judged by Judy, then Lena doesn’t judge. When we are healthy and whole in our person we are in union with our intended reality. When we live as one with the divine, then we are healthy and whole. Lena then becomes Trudy to the world. Judy then becomes a discerner that benefits us and the world. When Lena’s colors are those of Trudy then Lena is a chameleon that reveals God.
The problem we face is in our false perception of internal separation. When we think there is a separation between “spirit and flesh” then we believe there is a separation between man and God. The truth is we are one with the divine and in union with the creator and a child of our Abba Father. We are not apart or separate from Him in any way. We have never been apart or separate from Him in any way. We are three in one as Trudy and Lena and Judy.
The Lena chameleon of the world is a chameleon of shadows. The spirit is not separate from the flesh and the world is not separate from the divine. The flesh is a product of the spirit. The world is a manifestation of the divine. Our insistence on separation is our fallen mindset and our original sin. Our broken thinking that projects separation into a reality that has no separation is what the Bible calls darkness. When we see ourselves as independent creatures living independent realities we have moved from light to dark. We are in the shadows and are missing the Kingdom of Heaven. When Lena lives from the false reality of separation, she is a non-being. She is based on shadows. She has no substance. She is not eternal.
Our purpose in this life is to live from a resurrected Trudy with her love bringing wholeness and light to our Lena and Judy. The shocking reality of a God who loves all of us and is willing to die to prove it, that kind of defibrillator brings our Trudy to life and removes the condemnation from Judy and brings healing to Lena. This is our walk. This is our spiritual awakening. This is our contemplation. This is our Kingdom reality. This is our eternal life.
More about LJT in the next post…stay tuned.
For if we depend on our own ideas, our own judgment and our own efforts to reproduce the life of Christ, we will only act out some kind of pious charade which will ultimately scare everybody we meet because it will be so stiff and artificial and so dead. (Thomas Merton, “New Seeds of Contemplation”)
If you are joining us late, we are on a journey of discovery about our identity. Humans are in union with the divine in our innermost being but most often we live apart from that identity. It seems as if we are trying to learn who we really are. We are trying to discover who God has made us to be. Jesus came to reveal this union and our inclusion in the divine family. Still 2000 years later we are all over the place looking for something we already possess. We are struggling to obtain something we already own. We are trying to work our way to a place we already reside.
In the first post of this series I introduced three characters that I think will help us “see” this reality that is deep within all of us. I call these characters Trudy, Judy and Lena. In the last post I tried to expand a little on Trudy. I believe Trudy is the center of our innermost being. She is like a wave in the ocean where the ocean is the divine. At the core of us is God. We aren’t all of Him but like a wave we are all the substance of Him and have access to the all of Him. Trudy is our Adam or Eve from before the fall. Trudy has always been a part of our human construction. Jesus came to reveal Trudy or bring her back to life in all of us by the shocking revelation of a God who loves enough to let His creation kill Him on a cross and not raise a finger. That is a cold slap in the face to a comatose patient or defibrillator paddles used to resuscitate a dead person.
Judy is the next on the scene. Judy is a product of the good-bad fruit. She is the judgment side of us that is supposed to keep us safe but instead has been poisoned by bad fruit and lives in condemning judgment. Judy uses the evidence and the data to make a judgment. She is always looking out for number one. She knows what is good for her and what is bad for her. She is quick to share that info with Trudy and Lena. Judy is like our conscience but I don’t want to get too deep into the psychology, and I am not a psychologist, so we will keep it simple. Judy is our judgment center and most often she is like Judge Judy on the TV show.
Judy also has powerful opinions based on her data and judgment and history. Judy is why Adam and Eve hid in the garden for no good reason. Condemning Judy was flooded with data and logic with the ingestion of the forbidden fruit. She assessed the situation and even though she had no experiential evidence, she concluded circumstantially that “God is angry because we suck.” Judy is famous for infusing a situation with guilt and shame and projecting fear into the future. Most of us have a “glass is half empty” Judy that assumes the past will repeat itself in the future. Here favorite phrase is “I told you so.”
Judy also isolates Lena from Trudy. Trudy is the childlike one. She is solid and confident and full of faith. Judy however has plenty of worldly evidence to counter Trudy. Trudy tries to reason with Judy but at some point Judy wants proof. Judy sees what happens around her and thinks Trudy is too optimistic. Judy often tells Trudy her optimism is too good to be true. Over time Judy listens to Trudy less and less. If the world has been hard on Judy, then Trudy is effectively dead to Judy. Judy is stubborn and insistent on being right. Judy always wants more evidence to change a precedent.
OK, so I have painted Judy in a pretty negative light but there is hope. Jesus had a Lena and a Judy and a Trudy. The Judy of Jesus was not a judge in the penal judgmental way. Judy in Jesus was the right kind of judge…a discerner of things. Judy in Jesus wasn’t motivated by self or opinion or offense or disappointment. When Judy is healthy and not subsisting on forbidden fruit, she is a good discerner. She warns us of danger. She tells us falling off cliffs will hurt us. She remembers food that made us sick and elevates our senses when we could be in harm’s way. A well-adjusted Judy really helps us cope with a world that can be dangerous.
In the next post we will take a look at Lena.
The “spiritual life” is then the perfectly balanced life in which the body with its passions and instincts, the mind with its reasoning and its obedience to principle and the spirit with its passive illumination by the Light and Love of God form one complete man who is in God and with God and from God and for God. One man in whom God is all in all. One man in whom God carries out His own will without obstacle. (Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation)
Who is Trudy? As we travel this road of spiritual enlightenment, we will be traveling as three in one. In the last post I introduced Lena, Judy and Trudy. In this post I want to take a deeper look into our Trudy.
Trudy is our innermost being. She is the place where the infinite meets the finite or the unseen meets the seen. She is the horizon between the known and the unknowable. She is the doorway to the cloud of unknowing. Trudy is the point of transcendence between spirit and flesh or divine and man. Trudy is our connection to God and is the same substance as God. Jesus had a Trudy. Jesus lived from the wisdom of His Trudy. Jesus saw what the Father was doing and only did what He saw the Father doing in His Trudy. Jesus meet the Father in prayer in His Trudy. Jesus knew the Father and saw the Father and communed with the Father in His Trudy.
All of that is very contemplative and “deep.” Thinking of Trudy can seem a bit abstract but in truth Trudy is a greater reality. When we “see” the “world” all around us a shadows of a greater reality, we know that Trudy knows that greater reality. Like I alluded to in the last post, Trudy is a wave in an infinite ocean. She is the substance of the ocean and nature of the ocean and character of the ocean. She is salt water. The ocean is salt water. Still, Trudy is not all the ocean. She is a manifestation of the ocean. She is the observable part of an infinite reality. Trudy is the same as the deep water but only knows the deep water as it is made apparent to her. She has a sense of the waves crashing on the white sandy beaches but she only knows the white sandy beaches in the depths of what she can’t know.
OK, maybe I have fried your brain with seemingly abstract thinking but lets look at Trudy from another angle. Trudy is our childlike innocence. Trudy believes in Santa and fantasy and the stuff of imagination. For Trudy the imagination is not different from what we observe as “real” because she knows what God knows. She knows that imagination creates and God creates by first imagining.
Trudy is Love. She is the substance of Love. Trudy works only from Love. Trudy loves unconditionally. Trudy has no judgment at all. She doesn’t observe and assess and decide. Trudy loves first. Trudy sees a man in an orange jump suit with shackles and chains and says “what a cool outfit.” But don’t be confused. Trudy isn’t stupid. Trudy is wise beyond our comprehension. Trudy just operates from a greater reality. She understands the perspective of things and the importance of things and the value of things. She may have the simple faith of a child and the innocence of a child but she is not oblivious to the things of the world. Trudy just isn’t controlled by the things of the world. Trudy sees all things but is not bound by all things. Trudy is in but not of the world.
Trudy is Adam and Eve in the garden before the forbidden fruit. She lives in peace and assurance. She knows she is loved by God. When she is loved by God, it is God loving Himself. Trudy is so sure of her place in God that any thought of a place outside of God is nonexistent. There is no reality outside God. There is no life outside the garden. There is no food other that God. There is no sustenance apart from God. He is the bread and the water. He is the truth and the life. Trudy is not confused at all about her union with God. She doesn’t exist apart from Him because God cannot be apart from Himself. Trudy is our Jesus. Trudy is our way. Trudy is our innermost being.
In our journey of “life” we are trying to root and ground ourselves in our Trudy. We feel a pull towards Trudy. We sense something greater than our Lena calling to us from the depths of us. We are drawn to the simple faith of Trudy and the carefree innocence of Trudy and the childlike joy of Trudy. We see what she sees in our dreams of fantasy. We are pulled by the “too good to be true” feelings that bubble up from our Trudy reality. Trudy is the essence of the excitement of Christmas morning, the feeling of coming home, the transcendent love of holding a newborn baby, the intensity of a first kiss, the butterflies of a first love. Trudy is what we ache for so often but just don’t know what it is we are aching for. She is the warm embrace of a loving father and the sweet bliss of a hot drink next to a warm fire on a snowy morning. You know Trudy because she is a part of you.
But…and there are way too many buts…. We deny our Trudy. We kill our Trudy with our Judy. We reject Trudy because of circumstance or experience. We ignore Trudy because we have suffered or been rejected or felt so terribly alone. We don’t believe in Trudy because we haven’t known assurance or acceptance or inclusion or love. The “world” creeps in and Judy and Lena take over. Often our “religion” steps in and actually denies Trudy. Religion, when it implies a separation from God who is a judge and subject to cosmic justice (the human kind) and will bring retribution on all who are not on His team…and so on…kills Trudy. When religion puts that image of God in our brains, those images kill our Trudy. The only hope is resurrection. Resurrection power is Love. Love looks like God becoming a man and letting man kill Him and Him loving us and forgiving us while we killed Him. That image of a loving God brings Trudy back to life.
More to come. Stay tuned.