Yesterday, I went with some very dear friends to do some wine tasting in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. It was a beautiful day and we tasted some exceptional wines! Our last stop was at a distillery. In their tasting room, there was a window that looked into the distilling room. It was filled with all kinds of equipment for the distilling process - metal and copper, gadgets, and a little spigot at the very end of this long line of vats and equipment.
I was curious what the distilling process was all about. The definition essentially means “...any process in which the essence of something is revealed.” I see it as a process of making something more pure and exact.
Today, I see Jesus leading us through a bit of a distilling process. “Be merciful, just as
your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”
I believe we are being asked to distill out of ourselves the parts of us that are not pure, that are not exactly us! I hear Jesus saying, “You know, Mark, in the process of growing up and becoming an adult, you have some parts of you that just need to be filtered out. They’ve attached themselves somehow along the way. We need to remove them so that you can come closer to who you really are. You are not these things.”
Stephen R. Covey, in his book, “The 8th Habit,” has this quote: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and our happiness.”
I might add that in that gap lies our holiness and authenticity. When I am in reaction mode, I am very judgmental, critical, and unforgiving. When I can put the gap in between stimulus and response, and can dwell in that place of distillation, I become more of who I truly am. I see people as relationships. I see myself as more than just a mass of reactions. In that gap, something essential gets revealed….the authentic me. The me who can only give what has been given to me - unconditional love, mercy, and forgiveness. Those elements remain through the distilling process. They are purely and exactly me.
Might today be a day where you and I, when provoked by someone or something, allow ourselves to enter into that gap space of being distilled into a more purely, authentic us? Don’t automatically react. Wait for the One to come and begin the process of revealing the pure and essential you!