There are many stories about the conflict within us which blocks our way "to make the paths straight" as John the Baptist calls us to do in the Advent gospels.
There is the old Cherokee teaching to his grandson about life...
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
and then there is Evelyn Underhill's beautiful description of the essence of human nature in anticipation of the birth of the Christ Child.
Human nature is like a stable inhabited by the ox of passion and the ass of prejudice; animals which take up a lot of room and which I suppose most of us are feeding on the quiet. And it is there between them, pushing them out, that Christ must be born and in their very manger he must be laid – and they will be the first to fall on their knees before him. Sometimes Christians seem far nearer to those animals than to Christ in his simple poverty, self-abandoned to God.
Source: Watch for the Light
and then there is the gospel story about letting the weeds and the wheat grow together.
(Matthew 13:24-30). When a student asks Jesus if he should pull out the weeds, Jesus says to “let them both grow together until the harvest” (13:30).
Richard Rohr says, "Then, at the end of time, God will decide what is wheat and what is a weed. In a certain way, he is saying it is none of our business to fully figure it out. This is really quite risky of God—and it takes tremendous courage on our part to trust God and ourselves here."
We are a mixed bag of good and not so good...anger and benevolence, prejudice and passion, weeds and wheat. We are not perfect and will never be in this life. If we are blind to our imperfections, they will destroy us. And if we are blind to our goodness, we will destroy ourselves. Richard Rohr sums it up so beautifully.
"The only true perfection available to humans is the honest acceptance of our imperfection. This is precisely what Divine Perfection can help us do; only God in us can love imperfect and broken things. By ourselves, we largely fail."
Perhaps in our search for a new and different birth of the Divine, we can pray for God's love to allow us to accept our imperfections and that Divine Perfection, aka "the peace that passes all understanding."
This year we might be searching for the "simple poverty, self abandonment to God." Now that is a really counter cultural approach to Christmas!