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Archive for the ‘2009 Lenten Blog’ Category

Here, in this very big lap of God, we are awaking.

And there is no place else to go, no place else to be.

And we arise,

to go in peace

to love and serve.

Thanks be.   Thanks be.   Thanks be.

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” . . . the tomb . . . spices and ointments.”

Haven’t we all been in a tomb at various points in our lives, literally or figuratively?

Dead in some way, buried by the very forces of life, immobilized, paralyzed, disgorged, disheartened, diseased, disoriented, dissipated, dumped and delivered from a prior life?

So, we’re in the story.  This day, this week, is our story too.

And then some messengers from the “forces of life” bring some spices and ointments.  Some women, those who bear and give birth to new life, from their womb (tomb), they bring some spices (of life), some small salve, to soften the blow, of death by life.

And we rest.  We rest there.  We rest in the arms of life and death, in the arms of women, in the arms of life’s spices and ointments, in the arms of quiet, and in the arms of the music of silence, . . . .

And we rest.  We rest there, right there, in the tomb, where there is no other place to be.

And, some time later, one eye opens, we awaken a bit, and we rest some more, even as one eye surveys the lap of God, wherein we are held.  It’s a big lap.  A very big lap.  Huh, look over there.  Even the tomb is part of it.  Indeed, as far as we can see, there it is.  Here it is.  My God, we have never been anywhere else!  We have always been in this big lap.

And there is no place else to go, no place else to be.

And we arise.

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” You will all become deserters . . .”

” . . . But somehow, they change.  . . .  We all have the capacity for change.”

The worst and the best of humans, and their potential, right here  —  from dastardly deserters to inspiring instigators and founding followers.

The worst and the best of human potential, right here, in us.  And we too have the capacity for change.

Change (real change) is one of those “cheap words,” and far more “challenging actions.”  If and when it occurs, sometimes in a flash, more often very slowly, we are, . . . well, changed.  And there is no going back.  We live from a different place, march to a different drummer.

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… but what good are these for so many?”

So, there may not be enough to go around.  Could be trouble.

Scarcity or abundance?  A perennial question.

“Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.”  “This is as good as it gets.”  And so on.

Well, if we consider our basic “needs of the body,” and compare ourselves to the rest of the world’s human population, we have abundance, right here in Maine.  — Time to give again to ER&D! —  If we consider our basic “needs of the spirit, the heart,” and compare ourselves again , we have, ahhh, we have, well, you answer — we have whatever you have each day, each week, which is probably some scarcity and some abundance, some panic and some peace, the typical human state, oscillating between them.  — Time to give again to ER&D! — since when we come from “abundance,” we have more of it; when we help our brothers and sisters, we are helped; when we give, we receive.  Tried and true, no?

OK, all of this may be familiar ground, and it may even be mostly true.  Yet it doesn’t necessarily address or solve or resolve that little grain of sand, that little bit of grit that is in our shoe, or on our mind, or in our heart.  That chronic bit of angst or dis-ease, of unknown origin and unknown dimension, that continues to plague us, that we can’t shake.

Well, try this.  Give it away.  Give it to God.  Give it, not through ER&D but directly, to our brothers and sisters, to us, and to your fuller, truer self.  Make it “your gift” to all (since usually our gifts, our pearls form around the little grains that we have been carrying and working for years).  This may be too hard right away, but start in the conversation with God, and consider that your gift just may be a gift to others, an opening for others, a shining example of truth, of abundance and fullness, generating “peace and compassion.”  What could be better?

Maybe some small miracles will occur, maybe not, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Is this perhaps the gift of Lent?

[Hey God, yeah, yeah, I know, I’m just talking to myself, about myself, and you’re just sitting there, listening, accepting.  Thanks for that.  Well, what do you think, can I, shall I . . . . ?]

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Awe – plus 41 – Wednesday

Well, well, can you believe it’s been six weeks now since Ash Wednesday?

The words of the reading today are ones that I’ve heard many times before, but I have no real point of engagement with them.  They seem pretty arcane (downright weird) to me, and anything close to a literal interpretation leaves me feeling cold and alienated.  So, that’s usually a good time to blow it apart and think metaphorically, symbolically, figuratively, think “story,” think translation.

One translation, that might work for me, is set forth below (and for a little background or amplification of my sense of some of this, you can refer to the writings, especially #2, in the P & C – additional resources page, by clicking on that link above). 

Translation: This beautiful baffling and sometimes brutal bruising Universe, which in some confounding contortion gave birth and mirth to each of us, offers up a daily smorgasbord of stuff, which can be selected and ingested as nutritional nuggets or perplexing poison, as divine dining or devilish distractions.  Somehow, our attitude, our posture, our approach to each moment can make a big difference as to which “food and dining” experience we have.  The more we open our arms and our mouths to embrace and drink in this utterly earthly and utterly divine experience of life, the more we are blessed with a sense of abundance, the more we experience eternity in the “now” and the “wow” of each moment.

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AWE – plus 40 – Tuesday

As singer Joan Baez said, “We can’t chose how and when we will die; but we can chose how and when we will live.”

Or at least I think we have some ability to “chose” and to influence the “how and when” of our living, but that ability may be a lot less than we often think, and perhaps that is partly why and where the notion of repentance (from the reading) comes in.  That is, I am usually trying, trying to do my best, and yet chronically I seem to fall short.  I can’t seem to help myself, as I do similarly regrettable things from time to time.  [And etymologically, “repent” comes from the French penitire, “to regret” and the Latin poenitire, “make sorry,” so it is a simple sense of regret and sorrow that constitutes repentance — it need not be some shivering fright before a mysterious external terrorizing force.]

So, perhpas I am “returned to the path” by this kind of repentance, by entering into that simple sense of regret and sorrow, and by not assuming that I can do it all myself, by turning it over to God, by extending my hand, to ask for and to accept help.  Because I can’t do it all by myself.  But with a LITTLE help from God (knows what), I can then “chose how and when” I will live.

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AWE – plus 39 – Monday

” . . . I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world . . .”

Well, the first thing that occurred to me upon reading this is the feeling that I have at times of feeling separated and different from the rest of the world (no longer in it, or at least not the same world in which everyone else seems to live).  This was addressed a bit in yesterday’s entry (e.g., that feeling of being misunderstood and left alone by the forces of fate).  [I realize that this is not the context of the reading or the commentary, just the first feeling that I had.  Perhaps some other folks have a similar or different reaction.]

But in some way, mightn’t we relate to the current (and annual) chapter in the story of the life of Jesus of Nazareth partly because some piece of us may feel similar to the way we imagine he felt?  Misunderstood, unjustly judged, beaten up and baffled by the winds of change, by the fate that befalls us, thrown to the mob as some sacrificial lamb (“Abba, Abba, why hast thou foresaken me?”), and then that part of us is crucified, nailed to the irredeemable situation, dies, gets buried and then may turn into some vaporous (spiritual) part of our being that may come alive in a new way and inform our lives thereafter?

Is it partly our basic loss of childhood innocence?  The inevitable bruises that life deals us?  Things just hurt sometimes.

Once, when I was celebrating my 9th birthday by playing a baseball game dressed in my brand-new official uniform, my father called me out when I tried to stretch a double into a triple.  I was crushed.  He died 3 years later, long before I could have someday told him, from a different place in my life, “Thank you.  You were right.”

Once, when I was about 10 years old and dressed in my train-traveling best gray flannels and overcoat, en route to my grandparents, probably for Easter, I was running outside South Station, carrying my large duffel bag on one side.  I tripped over a big curb and fell face-first flat on the pavement, scraping any exposed skin.  Ouch!

Yet, while we cry, “Ouch! Abba!”, we also don’t want to lose all of our childlike innocence.  Isn’t that where hope and faith are rooted?

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