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Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning



Saturday, September 24, 2022

slightly wrinkled


 It is early fall, late September

I should have Advent on my mind, but instead, I find myself thinking about resurrection

 

It is Easter morning, and Jesus stands there in the garden

Not glowing

Not an angel without wings

But a scruffy dude with dirt under his nails

Who looks more like a migrant worker than the King of Kings

 

It is later, in the upper room,

and Jesus enters, not with magnificent wholeness

but will pierced hands a feet

and hole in his side so big you could stick your hand in it.

 

Later still there he is

Trudging down a dusty road

And later still, smelling like smoke and fish

Cooking breakfast

 

What does it mean to be raised to new life?

That is the question that lingers as we move from

The vibrant energy of summer into fall

And creep our way toward the cold death of winter

 

I would like to think it means we

emerge from the tombs of our own making

without spot or wrinkle,

whiter than snow,

new

fresh

 

but I suspect that when we are born from above

we emerge from the tomb (like Lazarus)

slightly wrinkled

with our resurrected selves in rough shape

 

Jesus was raised with his scars

and the dirt of the garden (or tomb) under his fingernails

 

we are raised to newness

but the old clings to the fabric of our beings

 

this does not mean

that we are not new

it does not mean Love has not claimed us and transformed it

 

It means that the Sacred (God)

does not remove us from our messy lives

but joins us in those lives

and loves us through them

 

even as we stumble forward

carrying, sometimes, ugly pasts

carrying our wounds

 

even as we put one foot in front of another

awkwardly

still making mistakes

sometimes tripping

sometimes falling flat on our faces

 

sometimes doubting

sometimes wondering

sometimes being stunned into the silence

by the wonder of it all

Thursday, September 22, 2022

pass it on

People will do almost anything to not feel pain, including causing pain and abusing power;

          Brene Brown

________________________

 

pain is part of life

we all hurt in one way or another

 

in this age of my decrepitude

everything hurts

and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work

 

shoulders, back, knees

and yes, even toes

twinge and throb as I wander through the mundane motions of life

 

my mind hurts

struggling to remember appointments and names

fumbling facts and concepts

clumsy

 

my heart and soul hurt too

those deep places that have become

a dump in which all kinds of garbage junk and debris have been tossed

by a negligent and uncaring world

 

hate and greed

lies, repeated and repeated again

fraud

abuse of power

violence

 

we run from pain

running we get lost

and wander through the days

as disembodied souls

unable to connect with our own self

and with others

 

unable to find our way back

to original blessing

to Sacred childhood

unable to find out way back to community

 

this is a place we cannot abide

the very fabric of our being cries out in protest

helpless we rage

 

sometimes we strike out

futilely grasping for power in a vain attempt to stop the pain

creating pain to avoid pain

 

sometimes we seek only to numb

wandering into the coldness of detachment

 

we become destructive or hopeless

 

this is no way to live

this is not living

this is not reflecting the imago Dei

our Sacred nature

 

There is more to us than our pain

Woven into the fabric of our being are love, hope, joy, and peace

 

how then do we live?

we live aware, noticing and accepting the pain

(and all our other emotions)

we live expressing, naming and claiming the pain

(and the love)

we chose rather than react

overtly creating meaning, and sculpting our responses

choosing what we live out, what we pass on

 

Jesus faced pain

The pain of rejection

The pain of watching those he had taught forget everything

The pain of physical torture and torturous death

 

He chose his response

Abba, forgive them

 

He chose to pass on his love, not his pain

 

This is how we find our way back

This is how we rise

This is how the kingdom comes

This is how we live as carriers of the image

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

forgiveness

Forgiveness

I heard somewhere that there are three types of forgiveness

exoneration,

forbearance and release

 

when we exonerate another we wipe the slate clean

and start over

perhaps we see the person truly just made a mistake,

or perhaps was too young to understand

or, perhaps, we sense true repentance

 

and so we wipe the slate clean and start over

 

with forbearance, there is still caution

we “forgive” but don’t “forget”

we don’t quite trust?

 

Perhaps the other hasn’t really acknowledged the pain they have created

or excuses it

we stay in the relationship, and we function “normally” with this person

but…

 

and then there is release

Release does not exonerate the offender.

Nor does it require forbearance.

It doesn’t even

demand that we continue the relationship.

But it does ask that we stop defining our life in terms of the hurt done

We let go of our preoccupation with the hurt, with the event, the person

 

Release does something is that is critically important:

it allows us to let go of a painful, heavy burden

that keeps us from joy, hope, that keeps us from moving forward

 

It is a refusal to let those who have hurt us live rent-free in our minds

 

I struggle with forgiveness

I struggle to forgive those I think are truly (for lack of a better word) evil

To forgive those who abuse, and harm others

To forgive those who are predators, and abusers

 

What do I do with those people who beat up their children?

Or pack a gun into a school and kill innocent people, including little ones?

Or fly a plane into a building?

Or lie about elections and destroy our democracy?             

(I struggle to forgive myself too, but that is another story for another day)

 

It doesn’t matter if the harm is to one or many

I struggle to forgive such people

In part because forgiveness of such people feels like enabling

Like I am simply say, treat us like $hit and we’ll totally forgive you…

 

So keep doing it!

I don’t really want to be a holy doormat

 

and yet there it is

in this faith system I embrace

forgive

forgive 70 X 7

turn the other cheek

love your enemy pray for those who persecute you

 

and then there are those haunting words from the cross

Father forgive them

 

the problem is that retaliation doesn’t work

not really 

you attack me, I attack you

you hurt me, I hurt you

 

there might be a certain satisfaction in retaliation and retribution

but the sad reality is there

hate leads to hate, violence to violence

and in the end, if we can’t really harm those who harmed us

we harm ourselves, and those we love

 

in the end, without forgiveness

we become what we hate, we become like the one who harmed us

 

Jesus went around cutting people loose from their pasts

Their sins

In doing so he offered them the freedom to step away from whatever it was

That was hurting them and others

He was giving them a chance to live life a new way.

 

We can’t bind people to their pasts with unforgiveness

We can’t bind ourselves to evil with unforgiveness

Or hate and bitterness will metastasize in our souls

 

we have to let go

how we do that without enabling?

 

that is when it gets complicated

Jesus did it by putting himself, his body, his life on the line

he stood between us and evil

between us and hell

and he stands between us and the hells of our own making

 

what does it mean to offer forgiveness

and yet stand in the gap between evil and those evil would harm?

 

it means, I suspect to protect

perhaps to help the abused spouse to leave and find safety

and to face the abuser with firmness (you will not do this again)

but also with love (I believe you can be better than this)

 

I have no complete answer

Some will think these words mere drivel

Some will see them as foolish accommodation

Some will be affronted and will quickly point out that one has “do something”

 

Ah, the foolishness of the cross

 

Jesus has given us a model of how to combat evil

It is a rough road, asking us to stand up against evil

While at the same time not giving evil power within ourselves

Asking us to reject harm, without rejecting the “other”

 

I can’t do it (at least not well)

Perhaps I can only echo the words of Jesus

“God, Sacred One, you forgive them”

(and I’ll do my best to follow along)