I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
What does it mean to “go deep”? (No, I’m not talking about a football pass.) Depth is a hard thing for many of us to master. Depth takes time. Depth takes patience. Depth is allowing oneself to essentially go beyond where one is comfortable standing. So many in our culture tend to be content to sort of skirt along the shallow surface, always in a hurry, always trying to move forward, never standing long enough to be able to sink into the depths that call us forth. Standing in shallow waters feels safe, controlled. But going deeper gives one insights into newness. It is a return to the place from which we came.
Think about the earth. Its surface is beautiful, more beautiful than any of us can even articulate. But beneath that beauty is oh, so much more. Just dig into the earth a bit. That hard sun-bleached dirt on top gives way to that first level of top soil. It is darker, more full of nutrients. But dig a little deeper. Dig into the rich dark earth that rests below that, capable of holding what is good longer, capable of holding water long past any drought. It’s the reason that deep watering systems are so optimal. The slow watering drives the water down deep into that rich soil underneath that is capable of holding the water. And the slow watering encourages the roots of the plants to go deeper, to rich down beyond themselves, beyond what they were initially capable of doing, to be watered continuously by the deep, dark earth. But there is more beneath that. Beneath all that dirt are layers upon layers from which we have learned to extract nutrients and fossil fuels that give us energy and much, much more than what we could ever obtain from the surface that we see.
Our life is no different. What we see is beautiful but it’s just the surface. We need to go deeper, to delve into the rich, dark earth that brings us life. I have to admit that our religious traditions often do not encourage us to do that. We seem to be more worried that the church service might run a little long. So there seems to be some level of contentment at just skirting along the surface of the meaning of faith. Maybe it’s because it’s easier. Maybe it’s because it’s safer. Maybe it’s because deep down (pun intended), we’re all a little afraid of the unknown or the questionable or the difficulties that deep discussion brings about. Maybe we’re afraid we’ll be left with more questions than answers. (ACTUALLY, I can tell you that will probably be the case.) And I don’t really think that we should shy away from going deeper for fear that those new to the tradition will not “understand”. I think we all want to be challenged. We want to learn. We want to traverse the never-ending nuances that make up our faith, the pathways that lead us to God. But it takes time. It is not a really good sermon or an overnight retreat project or a short-term study series or even 36 weeks of Disciple I. It is rather a lifetime of swimming downward into the deep waters of one’s soul. There is no bottom but rather an infinite depth that we are called to traverse, growing as we go.
The Lenten season is by its very nature one of descent. It is one of going deep, journeying deep within oneself to a place that is often successfully hidden from view. It is the way of transformation, a search beyond what we know. When I was little, I think I had this image of God high above me, looking down. I assumed that I was supposed to rise above where I was. I have now realized that I must go deep. God has in all of us a deep well of living water. We are called not to just perch on its edge and look down into it, but to plunge deep, immersing ourselves in the questions of faith. Our finite minds cannot truly wrap themselves around the unfathomable depths of God’s love. So we have to live it, breathe it, become it.
Every question in life is an invitation to live with a touch more depth, a breath more meaning. (Joan Chittister)
On this Lenten journey, think of those places where you are just skirting the surface of life. Do not hold back. Go deep, dive into the deep waters of God.
Grace and Peace,