Do Everything With Love

love

Do everything with love.

This was the word from Spirit today.

So, in the two subsequent hours, I prayed, cleaned the kitchen, ate breakfast and folded laundry in love.

Then I totally failed. I became frustrated and LOUD at the robot who answered when I made a phone call.

But I recovered when – finally – I was connected with a human. I even remembered to wish her a quick return to health, since I could hear that she had bronchitis.

Do everything with love. Everything. Everything.

Everything.

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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.

Sacred Scripture – Inspired Word or Blasphemy?

_DSC5692What makes a written work ‘sacred’, and why are certain works elevated above others?

Please bear with my scholarly tone for the next few paragraphs. Eventually, I’ll make a case for ongoing revelation as opposed to set scripture (see – there’s a payoff coming!) But first, I need to set the ‘sacred’ scene. Here we go!

Most religious traditions have a fixed and unalterable set of written work that is ‘official’ or canon (i.e., sacred.) All subsequent writing is considered supplementary and of lesser authority.

The reason for canon is to unite followers around a common understanding or set of rules, thus reducing the chance of misinterpreting or altering the understanding of their Divine’s communication. It also enables the community to pass on their beliefs to subsequent generations.

For example, the Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads are Hindu canon. Called Shruti, meaning ‘heard’, they are understood to be received directly from the Divine. Everything after is called Smriti,’remembered’- contemplations upon Shruti._DSC5694

Theravada, or Way of the Elders, is Buddhist canon, and Mahayana, or Greater Vehicle, is the inspirational supplement.

Judaism’s canon, the Tanach, is supplemented by the Talmud and the Midraash.  Christians accept the Tanach (the Old Testament) as canon, and also include the New Testament. Catholic Christians add writings (Apocrypha) that are considered merely inspirational by Jews and Protestant Christians. These gathered writings are known as The Bible.

Canon, then, is an expression of the conviction that Divinity speaks to a given group only for a discrete time. During this period, revelation is received, and then held as God’s final word. The problem is, this assumes a group’s behaviors and understandings – their culture – does not change through generations.

And this assumption runs contrary to history. Cultural norms DO change, and dramatically. For example, Judeo-Christian ideas about equality, about slavery, about consequences for trangression – even about what constitutes transgression – are markedly different than they were 4000, 2000, 1000 or even 100 years ago. How can a religion remain relevant in the face of canonical rigidity?

_DSC5695Christians today are caught in this dilemma. In light of canon that teaches that men should not shave and women should not speak, that slavery is acceptable and despots are God’s judgement on the faithful, Christians today tend toward one of two perspectives:

1) Evangelicals, who accept canon as the unalterable Word of God, but focus heavily on certain passages and ignore others. This pick-and-choose fundamentalism requires mighty mental machinations to navigate.

2) Mainliners, who consider canon as a reflection of the time in which it is written, but continue to incorporate outmoded interpretations into their worship. (I.e., virgin birth, original sin, human sacrifice.)

Both approaches are problematic – in the exact same way. Because new revelation is not allowed, Christians are forced to shoehorn antiquated perceptions of the Divine into their modern understanding.

It is error to relegate God’s voice to the ancient past. Divine revelation in one moment becomes blasphemy in the next if people hold rigidly to it rather than embracing ever-unfolding epiphanies. Today’s movement of Spirit is not supplementary, it is primary. It is as canonical as were the transcendent whispers in the ears of our ancient mothers and fathers.

In my next post, I’ll talk about candidates for a current canon. Post your ideas here, too!