Often, I tend to intellectualize my spiritual life too much. This tendency then gets me into difficulties like the problem I have with the Parable of the Talents. So God Has given me talents, is He really like an accountant or a manager who will demand an accounting of how I managed His assets? What is the acceptable ROI for Him? What if I just gave everything away for free and not made any profit? Would I also be thrown into “the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth?” I do not want to be doing good in expectation of a reward, like “There are others I know who in piety go
because of a Heaven to follow.” I hate it when I am asked to rate my own performance. And neither do I think highly of those who would rate their own work excellently.
There is also a rebel streak in me that is adverse to authority and wary of authority figures. I usually hate being told what to do. If someone wants me to walk a journey with him, let him be my friend and I will walk to the ends of the earth with him. If someone wants me to do something, let him paint me an exciting vision of what it is we will do together, and I will give without counting the cost, labor and not ask for reward, toil and not to seek for rest until the project is accomplished and done in an excellent manner.
Fr. Abe used to share with me that the spiritual life can be likened to the ocean. I imagine myself adrift on the ocean in a boat, with no land in sight and surrounded by nothing but the blue waters and the blue skies. I look over the horizon – the ocean just seems to reach up and to meet the sky. And I am one with the scene. No reasoning. No intellectualizing. Just being part of the vastness and beauty of the spectacle. I have need for nothing else.
Or, better yet, I imagine myself simply immersed in the endless waters of the ocean. The water envelopes me. I simply look at my talents and I am washed over with feelings of gratitude for such gifts. I enjoy seeing my accomplishments and I am flooded with feelings of humility and fulfillment for the gift of being able to share in God’s creative activity. I imagine all the people I have done these achievements with and the people for whom I have done them, and I smile and am filled with love for having been blessed to be able to do good with, for, and by others.
I thank God for my talents. I shall not let them go to waste. I thank God for the people in my life for whom the talents have been put into service and I will explore still other ways of doing so. I thank God for His generous outpouring of gifts, blessings and talents on me and doing it all because of His great love for me. And whatever and everything I do with these talents, I will do to reciprocate that great love I have been shown and given. And where there is love, there is no need for any accounting.
Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master’s money.”