We Are Who We Are

This is JUST what I needed to hear today. It’s a quote from a book, but I converted it to poem format, because…well, because that’s how it spoke to my heart.

rain

 

Maybe one day we’ll grow weary of whining 
and instead celebrate 
the rain, 
the manna, 
the half-filled glass of water, 
the little gifts from heaven that make each day bearable. 
 
Instead of cloaking ourselves in the armor of pessimism, 
maybe we’ll concede that 
we are who we are: 
capricious, 
unfortune, 
wonderful, 
delicate, 
alive.
 
Forgiven.
 
— Mark Collins in On the Road to Emmaus
 

Collins’ book is available here: On the Road to Emmaus

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Wisdom of the Dalai Lama

dalai lama“As long as space remains and as long as sentient beings remain, until then may I, too, remain and help dispel the misery of the world.”

The Dalai Lama closed this morning’s conversation at the Washington National Cathedral with this prayer. I wrote down some of his statements (as best I could) – and I present them here without commentary.

  • Genuine harmony must come from the heart. Too often, we put on the externals of a pleasant face and appropriate gestures, but true harmony must be rooted at the heart level.
  • All religions carry the same message, the same practice, the practice of love. That includes forgiveness and tolerance. Anger and hatred comes from a religion with a self-centered attitude. Also greed, jealousy and mistrust. All religions teach contentment & simplicity.
  • Buddha’s own mind was not very certain. He would tell one group this, and another one that. He deliberately created confusion among his followers, because it is necessary to have different practices, different beliefs. Seven billion people need a variety of methods to promote love and compassion.
  • As a child carries some of her father’s genes, so too each creature carries the spark of God.
  • Buddhists believe in no creator, no causality. They believe in oneself as creator, through our experiences and actions. (Karma.) If we do good action, we benefit. If we do bad action, there are negative consequences. If we do not behave well, no one can save us. It is a great responsibility.
  • Even among believers (there are one billion who believe in no religion in the world) there are mischevious believers, with a lack of conviction about moral ethics. Moral ethics are very important for happiness and peace in ourselves, our community and the world.
  • We need an approach to moral ethics that is acceptable to everybody, including the non-believer.
  • Science tells us a happy mind is important for a happy body. We must cultivate a happy mind. We have too much stress, too much worry. Those who receive maximum affection as a child are happy inside. Those who do not are filled with fear and mistrust. So we have to extend to each other maximum love, to give trust to those who fear.
  • If certain religious teachings go against scientific findings, we have the right to reject those teachings.
  • Western knowledge of psychology is at a kindergarten level compared to Indian psychology.
  • We must always look at the human level. This is the fundamental level. We are all human. We tend to be too concerned about the secondary level – position, education, faith, nationality, etc. When relating to others, we must relate at the human level. Sometimes we must access the secondary level to make a tough decision, to access the resources there.
  • We must have sincere motivation and the object of our dream must be realistic and noble. Our approach must also be realistic. If there’s too much desire in our motivation, then we can’t see reality.
  • Anger is attachment, and it is destructive because then emotion comes and we can’t see reality.
  • We need constant effort to promote religious harmony.

The Holy Messiness of Matter

dunnforest 0001John Scotus Eriugena, the ninth-century Celtic teacher, in reflecting on the ‘seven days’ of creation in the Book of Genesis, taught that it is not a chronological account of the making of the earth. Rather, it is a meditation on the ever-present mystery of creation….and this is the desire that countless numbers of people in the Western world are becoming aware of: the desire to reintegrate our lives and our spirituality with the mystery of creation.” – J. Philip Newell, The Book of Creation: the practice of Celtic Spirituality

I remember an evening a decade ago, driving through the Van Duzer corridor in the Coast Range. I felt lost and alone. God spoke to me, saying, “Child, look around you. See the trees? See the night sky? Wrap the rich cloak of creation around you and feel my love. Anytime you feel cold and lonely, wrap yourself in the warmth of my world and know that you are loved.

From that moment, I knew I was connected to tree and hill, stone and star via the M-brane of God, which is Spirit. To say that either I or the world around me was subject to original sin (i.e., imperfect at conception) would be to say that Spirit itself was fallen or failed.

Clear back in the ninth century, Eriugena understood this. He taught that Genesis was written to bring us into the mystery of creation, not to dictate its parameters. He saw Genesis as a parable that showed our inextricable link to creation through God’s presence which permeates all. For a millenium, Celtic spirituality (of which he was a part) embraced the holy messiness of matter – and of spirit – instead of trying to sanitize one or both by denying the innate holiness of the corporeal.

I think that’s why certain liturgical churches are seeing an upsurge in attendance by younger people. The teachings of these churches harken back to Celtic thought, embracing the earth and eschew separatism. That’s good news to a generation that wants connection with the world around it.

 

The Place of Our Resurrection

http://www.tenwomengallery.com/index.php/montana-ave-store/70-karyn-raz
Art by: Karyn Raz

 

As you know (if you’ve been following my blog) I’ve been reading David Adam’s work,  A Desert in the Ocean. This little book is dense with Spirit inspiration.

Today, I was struck by the third-century Celtic perspective about resurrection. They didn’t focus on a post-death experience. Instead, from their perspective, the place of their resurrection was when they found their life’s purpose and entered into it.

It is an affirmation of my belief that we are called to the place where our greatest passions meet the world’s greatest needs. In that crossroads lies our vocation, our joy, and according to the Celts, our resurrection.

 

 

 

 

The Place of My Resurrection

Holy Awen
breathe me
to the place of my resurrection.

Hang me in the crossroads
a gangly, grinning scarecrow
to draw the volt of raptors
whose dirty talons
claw
infecting healthy souls

with fear
of failure
of sorrow
of pain
of poverty
of sickness
of death.

Let the disease-ridden wake
land on me
for I’ve faced this flock
and their beaks have lost their pluck.

Let them land
for they will not feast
upon the chortling mad woman
hanging on her cross.

We Don’t Do Karma

Jacob Wrestles the Angel, by Arthur Sussman http://www.arthursussmangallery.com/
Jacob Wrestles the Angel, by Arthur Sussman
http://www.arthursussmangallery.com/

It’s been more than a month since I last posted. I moved both home and office in September and October. I experienced financial tribulation. (I’m always so optimistic about how much it will cost to move. This is one scenario where pessimism might a better choice. Although then I might never go anywhere at all.) While I reconnected with some of my loved ones, I said goodbye to others. I traveled and I worked. Stress abounded.

My prayer practice was irregular. It would have been easier to maintain a center if I’d been more disciplined about altar time. Wish I could really LEARN that lesson. Still, in the midst of the maelstrom, I found myself, like Jacob, on the road wrestling with God. I emerged not with a limp, but with a renewed commitment to pursue ordained ministry. Why? Because I was reminded that my life centers around my desire to reach out to others and show them the Divine in the universe and in themselves.

After searching my heart and soul, looking at other denominations and other faiths, I am certain of my call. I am ridiculously in love with with this guy who walked the earth 2000 years ago. Call me polyamorous, because I want to share him, not in a “have-you-found-Jesus-as-your-personal-savior” way, but in a “OMG-did-you-hear-what-he-said-isn’t-he-dreamy” way. Ewwww. Saccharine. I know. But there it is.

It makes me sad that because of well-meaning but theologically incorrect Christians, many people are turned off even by the mention of his name. That’s heartbreaking. It’s like being turned off by the mention of Buddha or Mahatma. Like them, Jesus had game-changing ideas.

His best one is forgiveness. In Episcopal and Lutheran churches, we do this ritual every Sunday. Put simply, it’s called DO-OVER! (AKA confession and forgiveness.) You see, guilt and shame cripple us, prevent us from being our best selves. But Christianity (another touchy word) says, “You’re forgiven. Let it go. Move on.” It’s a do-over. Christians don’t do karma. We do love and forgiveness. That’s radical.

Speaking of love, Jesus  had some pretty interesting ideas there,too. “I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you…just as your heavenly Parent shows love to everyone, so must you.” When someone irritates me, hurts my feelings, doesn’t appreciate me – my response can be, not anger or irritation, but love. Jesus says, “Someone’s hurt you? Love anyway. Love especially.” How is that even possible? But when I take his words to heart, my life is transformed.

I’m sometimes asked, “How can you possibly believe that? And why would you want to?” My response is that my life is better for believing.  If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I’ve talked about what I DON’T believe with regards to traditional Christianity. I’d been trying to decide if this disqualified me from pursuing the priesthood. I’ve been reminded that it’s not my decision, so I’ve placed the call and I’ve committed to preparing the paperwork. We’ll see what happens next.

Current Canon for a Contemporary World

adam“For life to be lived to the full it has to be adventurous. I believe that God calls us to adventure.”

So begins David Adam’s book A Desert in the Ocean – God’s Call to Adventurous Living. *  It heads my list of new canon, because virtually every sentence impacts me, makes me want to run out my front door – to act and to be.

Adam posits that adventure does not take us out of the world, but more deeply into it, and not just into the physical world, but into the spiritual as well. For the Celtic view is that there are not two separate worlds – the mystic & the mundane – instead, heaven and earth are inextricably interwoven, so that exploring one leads us naturally into the other.

Adam states “A slight shift in where we stand and the world beyond reveals itself to us.” I’ve found that to be true. I have seen ‘the other side’ – usually only glimpses, but sometimes a clear, if fleeting, view. I can’t describe it, of course, not directly, because human language is inadequate. It’s not about the input of eyes, ears, nose or hands. It’s about what the heart sees. What the soul sees. What that part of us that extrudes beyond the mere physical experiences and explores.

I find myself speaking in metaphor or in parable, trying to describe what I’ve seen. Jesus did the same. Now I understand that he wasn’t trying to be abstruse. He was doing his best to communicate as clearly as he could. Where direct description finds itself mute, poetry and other lyrical language may successfully speak.

Adam’s book is a call to action. It even includes exercises at the end of each chapter to help us to open ourselves to God’s call to life adventurous. It exhorts, it inspires, it pushes us in the direction of the divine. The loopy script of Spirit clearly flows from Adam’s pen. Just like all Scripture, it is inspired and inspiring, current canon for a contemporary world.

* Its American tagline reads: The Spiritual Journey according to Brendan the Navigator. I got my copy at Iona Island in Scotland.