There is a poem by Paul Murray titled, Know Yourself:
There is a world within you
No one has ever seen,
A voice no one has ever heard,
Not even you.
You are your own seer,
Your own interpreter.
And so, with eyes and ears
Grown sharp for voice or sign,
Not to these words
But to that inward voice,
That impulse beating in your heart
Like a far wave.
Turn to that source, and you will find
What no one has ever found,
A ground within you
No one has ever seen,
A world beyond the limits
Of your dream’s horizon.
This writing reminds me of yesterday’s gospel reading from John, chapter 20, where the disciples are locked up in the upper room, afraid to move. Jesus appears to them, but Thomas is not present. We hear Thomas protest that he will not believe unless he gets to “...see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side….” Thus, he becomes known as Doubting Thomas.
We might think that Thomas and the others were in a privileged position because of being physically with Jesus. That physicality made for a deeper, and maybe easier, connection with Jesus. Their beliefs were rock solid….or were they?
Thomas didn’t come to believe because he saw Jesus and was able to “put his finger into the nail marks.” In fact, there’s no mention of him even doing that. His beliefs became solidified not through the physical Jesus, but the spiritual Jesus. He had an Aha moment, as we might call it. He remembered the words and actions of Jesus that were speaking deep within him. Those were calling him to deeper belief and deeper relationship with the risen Christ, not the mark of the nails or the resurrected presence. In this case, Thomas is no more privileged that we are.
As Paul Murray reminds us in his Know Yourself poem, true spiritual AND self development come when we list with all of our senses (those on the surface and those within us) to the inward voice, the voice of the risen one who speaks deep in our hearts, minds and souls. That’s where we find new life. That’s where we find our beliefs. That’s where we find the nourishment, the consolation, the intimacy, the love and relationship that our very heart and soul are craving.
Maybe Thomas can be a reminder to us for when we are doubting, are confused or perplexed, or are having difficulty finding our way, we can turn to the same place that he did - the very inner core and spirit of our being, where all of life resides. If we want to find the very presence of our higher power or God, we need look no further than the voice that is beckoning us from deep within. In a moment of sheer desperation, Thomas cannot rely on the physical. He must go to the spiritual truths that lie deep within him, maybe dormant. It is a moment of awakening to something more than a physically present resurrected Christ. It is his moment of realizing the truth of who he is and who Jesus is. His physical presence is now enlivened with the Spirit of Life! His life, now enfolded into the life of the risen Christ, now takes on new meaning and goes beyond the limits of life as he has known it. He, and we, are now sailing into the deeper waters of new life.