I’ve been slowly making my way through The Hidden Life from the Collected Words of Edith Stein. Quite uncharacteristically and quite providentially, I actually read the editor’s introduction. And I came across a lil’ gem:
Edith Stein possessed this gift that Gabriel Marcel appropriately calls ‘creative fidelity,’ which means making ourselves interiorly open and transparent. Being ready to give, we experience the mysterious reciprocity between free action and ready allowing.”
Again and again I read this: interiorly open, transparent, ready to give, free action, ready allowing – creative fidelity… WOW. What a fantastic list of words!
Again, quite providentially, someone shared this link with me. It’s the podcast of The Bishop’s Hour, with guest Fr. John Muir. Father mentions who else but Gabriel Marcel! And he unpacks this idea of a creative fidelity, or a creative vow. It is well worth a listen (and the rest of this post may not make complete sense without listening to the podcast!). His reflection is just brimming with wisdom. To summarize all that goodness in one sentence (not an easy task): Fr. Muir speaks of how a father, in making a creative vow to overcome distance, makes this leap of love across a chasm of needlessness…a leap out of the self-consumed ego and into self-giving creative love.
To be honest, beyond the quote from Edith Stein and the mention on this podcast, I am pretty unfamiliar with Marcel’s notion of creative vow or creative fidelity. So I am writing this blog as a beginner not as a proficient! But…from the little I know and from my own pondering of what it might mean…well, I am pretty excited! Love. Creative Love. Fidelity. Interiorly open. Transparent. Ready to give. Free Action. Ready Allowing. YEEEEESSSSSSS!!!!!! It’s the journey that all of us – in our deepest center – wish to make…the great adventure of love, a love wholly free from self-seeking and self-reference, a love wholly given over to the Other, a love that is life-giving and new.
In the midst of my ruminating on this, my watch broke. Long story short, it was irreparable and my parents asked if they could replace it. Gratefully I accepted their offer and the great watch hunt continued for some weeks, until finally a box came in the mail with my name on it. Yay. Inside was a lovely unique watch! Right above 6 o’clock, is written: Love. When I saw this watch, immediately I thought: “Oh, how sweet! They must have gotten this so that I will be reminded how much they love me.” But the reasoning, in fact, was somewhat different.
Mom explained: “When I saw this watch, I knew it was ‘the one’! When you look at it, may you remember how you are to respond each moment of the day: Love.” Wait! What? You mean this isn’t about me receiving…but about me giving?! It’s meant to be a command, not a proclamation. Love. Even my watch is an invitation to get on the road of self-giving love, to leave behind the way of the self-consumed greedy ego.
It’s been about a week since this new command to LOVE has been sitting on my wrist. When I look down at this watch, perhaps in the midst of an irksome situation, that word calls out to me (with the voice of my mom): LOVE. Sometimes seeing LOVE as invitation to give has a sweetness to it. Other times it is definitely more of a challenging command.
Even a cursory glance at the lives of the Saints allows us to see how they lived this command of love with a marvelous creative fidelity. They made the leap of love. And I would venture to say, they never regretted it.
The ultimate creative fidelity comes by way of our Savior, of course. I mean, think about it: The Incarnation (talk about leaping across a chasm), the Crucifixion (creative love that saves), the Eucharist (creative love that stays, that overcomes the distance!).
Whether we have a watch to remind us or not, let us ask for the grace to learn how to creatively make the daring and life-changing leap of love.