Saturday, November 24, 2018
Stop, listen, think
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. AND You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. The prophet Isaiah
For some reason this passage resonated with me this morning
Oh yeah, I read the news
I opened Facebook
I saw tweets from the twitler
And it all felt like a starvation diet
But here, we have abundance
Here we have peace
Here we have joy
Ah! But how do we get there?
It seems obvious that we are not there
If anything we are not only starving ourselves
We are hacking away our very souls
How do we get to joy?
I believe that to get to joy we must understand that we are standing on sacred ground.
We must believe that God is present, and at work now!
We must understand that the key to joy is not to be found in the eschatology of progress, not found in a bigger bank account, a nicer car, or a better job. Not even to be found in a more attractive body, or healthier body
Joy is to be found in knowing that each moment of each day we are standing on sacred ground - because we are immersed in sacred mystery, and all that is sacred is gifting us.
Our problem is that we miss this because we are so busy looking ahead, so busy making it about us, and so busy COUNTING THE WRONG THINGS.
During WW II Britain was trying to figure out how to look at how things were going economically. They wanted to know what resources they would have to fight the war. They came up with a method where they combined the values of all goods and services bought and sold in that year, and used that figure to calculate the overall wealth of the nation. This method, this measurement is what we now know as the Gross Domestic Product, or GDP.
We often, in our way of looking at ourselves, at our lives, use a measurement that is much the same. Kind of a personal GDP. Have I increased my wealth? Have I spent my money wisely? Have I improved my looks so as to be more successful? Have I become more proper by cutting back on how much I drink, or dropping the habit of smoking?
But really people. Are those really the things by which to measure life? Are those the targets we should aim for in our “resolutions?” Is focusing on such things the way to find happiness? Become satisfied people?
Wayne Muller puts it this way. “Consider” he says, “a woman in Somalia who rises early to walk two miles to the nearest well to get water for her family, returns to feed her children and ready them for school, spends the morning working the soil of the family garden, the afternoon tending to the sick and infirm of her village, then in the evening cooks and sings songs to her children and nurtures them to bed. As measured by the theology of progress this woman has no value. And yet - can we say there is no value in that life?”
So often we fail to understand what truly brings value. And we look in the wrong places. And we try to find satisfaction in the wrong way. So I have a radical idea…
That we stop counting. Think about it! You can count lbs, drinks drunk, cigarettes smoked, money saved, net worth, toys accumulated. But how do we count friendship or laughter? How do we count the value of honesty or bread from the oven? How can we count the sunrise? The trusting grasp of a child’s hand, a song, a tear, a lover’s touch?
We should stop counting, and make room in our lives for what can only be called Sabbath moments.
What is a Sabbath moment? An old Jewish Rabbi once, when talking about the Sabbath talked about Moses at the burning bush. “Why” he asked “was it important for Moses to remove his shoes?” Not, he said, as a sign of subservience.” No, the Rabbi insisted it was simply because it was Holy Ground, and Moses needed to feel the ground directly through the skin of his feet. He needed direct contact with the divine. He needed to be grounded.
We need to take time to place our feet on the ground. We need to recognize that in this moment, in every moment we are standing on holy ground. And we need to stop our rushing and our working, our striving – stop, and listen, and look, and settle into the mystery (call that mystery God if you want) and experience that grounding