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Category Archives: Reverse Polarity

Spirituality of Letting Go:”The World”

From: Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

Living in this consumer-driven world, we are all deeply infected by what some call “affluenza,” a toxic and blinding disease with the basic assumption that more is always better and more of self is always good. It is fair to say that such invisible assumptions of any culture are as toxic and as blinding as the so-called “hot sins” of drunkards and prostitutes, though they are much harder to recognize as “sin” because we are all inside the same agreed-upon bubble.

John’s Gospel uses the words “the world” in precisely this way. John does not mean nature or creation; he means “the system”—as humans invariably construct it—which is all about security, status, pleasure, and power. These are not bad as such, but they are only limited goods, and most people let them become absolute goods—and that is when they do us in! They become gods or “idols.” John writes: “God did not come to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved” (see John 3:17).

This is indeed why so many of our saints speak about “leaving the world” or the normal systems of illusions. This dramatic beginning invariably ends up being much more subtle and difficult in real life. We finally have to learn to be “in the world but not of the world.” That is, we must compassionately accept the strange way we humans choose to operate and be willing to work inside it, but never really buy into it. We must see things for what they are and also for what they aren’t. Unless we in some way “leave the world,” I think we can safely assume we are utterly beholding to it.

Mature spirituality creates willing people instead of willful people. We slowly unfold in response to love and grace and freedom, rather than in mere reaction to the illusions of others. Without this insight, religion largely creates rigid, unhappy, and judgmental people. When we try to take charge of our own “enlightenment,” when we try to be fully in control of our own “purity” and superiority, our attitude becomes pushing and demanding—ego assertion, even if it looks like religious ego assertion. I think is what so many people rightly dislike and mistrust about religious people: in the name of the good, will power creates a well-disguised bad. Jesus was a master and genius at recognizing this problem.

Immature religion creates people who know what they are against, but have a very poor sense of what they are for. They are against sin, always as they narrowly define it; but they are seldom for love or actually for anything except the status quo where they think they are in control. This is indeed “the world” and will never get them very far if they are trapped within it—unless they recognize this same world as pervaded with heaven. For me, this is the genius of the Gospel. The world is good in its wholeness, but our little portion of separated parts is never the whole, so we must leave our addiction to the system to discover the Empire of God. We must always let go of full control over the parts to love and accept the whole.

Gateway to Silence:

Let be. Let love.

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Please Forgive Him!

Five for Five by Brendan C. under Creative Commons License 2.0; Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/brendan-c/5536285460/in/photolist-9rdUMA-39p7Hj-faCoWC-wRWkfM-cyrFgm-pB6G22-aY7PT2-5s3wDn-ahsRVf-cWzXNS-7AoKFK-wbqgZi-5xuTd5-dRqNuF-ayg4m6-pvAtG9-9EQLnf-rfymR8-9fT9tH-8y6YMi-rRugd-mgioUt-evu6n-cv8VGW-7qS37A-brPrfq-eqonTq-6XSNjo-bv9T52-6yW3GR-7G2es1-aFHjbB-hZFWpE-n99svN-oYi4J-n7j6nt-mPv8Un-btqsVy-9GBMYG-eqVuhP-irFqq4-bZHsQU-kue8JM-dBEZyK-tHx8SA-99tqDR-aaTzvB-nuNods-5kanqy-oHwcRN

Five for Five by Brendan C. under Creative Commons License 2.0; Source

“How could he DO that! It’s not fair! It’s not right! This just hurts too much! How can he say he loves me, when this has hurt so much?!”

Have you ever felt this way, Gentle Reader?

We look at these words and we see a hurting heart. Hearts break when we feel betrayed, when we expect to be treated one way, when we expect one thing to happen, and something entirely different… hurtful… painful… traumatic… happens instead.

Looking at this so far, we think of the times people, loved ones, friends, family, lovers, have disappointed us. Trauma… whether physical, mental, or emotional… can rupture relationships. Love is impaired in a ruptured relationship. When trust is undermined, there may still be love, but the flow… the expression… the freedom of that love is slowed. Sometimes, it can even feel like everything about the relationship has just… stopped.


A short while ago I posted In Love We Trust discussing some parallels of intimacy between our human relationships and the incredible Divine relationship. In that post we touched on forgiveness for just a moment, how we cannot completely trust those we do not completely forgive, and we cannot completely love those we do not completely trust.

So, for just one moment, let’s discuss the question of completely forgiving the Divine.

What???

“How could I?”             “How dare I?”             “How can you even think such a thing?”

Yet I can, I dare, I think… because I am REAL and these are real feelings in a real relationship. Our relationship with the Divine can be as real and immediate, as deep and as passionate, as any relationship we’ve ever known… perhaps even more so. King David, a man after God’s own heart, poured his passions out in song and poetry to the Divine that man has yet to equal. The Psalms sing of jubilation, lament, fear, worship, exultation, remorse, and every other emotion imaginable between a child and their Divine Parent.

God delights in transparency. God HONORS transparency. Anything less than transparent honesty is DIShonesty… and that NEVER belongs in this relationship. Dishonesty undermines trust. David did not always like the way God managed affairs, and expressed his feelings and concerns openly before Him. Yet, David always acknowledged God’s RIGHT to manage affairs in His own way, for God is/was God, and David is/was His servant and son. David chose to trust, even when he did not like or understand God’s will.

Jesus did the same. And so we, too, are challenged in the present day.

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Rather than go through a lot of Scriptural examples, I just point to the Psalms, or the Garden of Gethsemane for the biblical supporting texts, and pose a few simple ideas and questions for your consideration.

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Idea One: Countless wonderful Christians that I know, have gotten stuck in a rut, stopping their forward progress and growth in the intimate knowing of God, the drawing closer of relationship with Him. They get “so far, and no further”, because they suffer some terrible trauma in life, they come to realize the utter sovereignty of God, and they simply CANNOT bring themselves to forgive Him for their pain.

Idea Two: They cannot forgive Him, because they dare not admit (even to themselves), that they hold Him in offense. They are too programmed, too domesticated, too Christianly-trained to admit that they are angry with God (regardless of how reasonable it seems to be angry with Him)… and therefore they do not know that it is right to, or the manner in which, to approach Him and resolve the conflict in their spirit.

Idea Three: To deny one’s sincere feelings, reasonable or not, reverent or not, “acceptable” or not… with regard to one’s transparent sincere and intimate relationship with God, is to introduce a subtle “falseness”, a “lie”, between the self and God. This lie is progressive and toxic, ultimately makiing distance between the heart and God, and can stop our growth in Him.

Idea Four: True intimacy, love, and trust requires transparency. Honestly to share with the Divine that the heart feels wounded and wronged, is NOT the same thing as accusing the Divine of having wounded and wronged the heart. One can state “what is”, without assigning blame or passing judgment.

Idea Five: “Forgiveness” has nothing to do with assigning blame or passing judgment. It is a decision of the will to release offense and bitterness, restoring trust to the prior state, making way for the further growth of love.

Idea Six: The two areas where we are the most likely to “blame God” or “hold offense”, are the two areas we acknowledge as least in “our own control”, and most “totally in His”. Those are the areas of “birth”, and “death”. If there is ANYPLACE we acknowledge the pure sovereignty of God, it is in the matter of the family, culture, lifestyle into which we were born (well beyond our control)… and all matters of the death of those we love (also beyond our control).


“Well, all well and good, Little Monk, but what are you saying here? What do we DO about this, to get past this roadblock and grow in intimacy?”

Well, three things, Gentle Reader. Call them a “Prayer Experiment” if you like…

  • Think of all of your life as you grew up… all the suffering you knew… all the things you wish had been different… all that you endured before you reached adulthood and your decisions became your own responsibility… and forgive God for all of that. You are who you are right now, you have and use the gifts you have, you know what you know and you’ve come to THIS place with the Divine… as a result of every single thing you’ve lived through up to now. The painful moments of your childhood, the fears, the disappointments, the injuries, the betrayals, the wounds… all play a part in the redemptive and transformative work God has done in you, making you capable of ministering to and healing others.

Ask yourself: “If God could remove any of the hurts and wounds you knew as a child… but in so doing, you would lose some of your compassion and ability to heal and comfort others now… would you have Him remove them? Or would you prefer to stay as you are, and leave your past as it was?”

If you would stay as you are, then THANK HIM for your past, and embrace it. ALL of it. Because it is ALL part of His gift in making the you that you are now.

  • In trials of great grief, in grave illness or injury, or death of a loved one, know that the sadness and tears we experience are the very PRESENCE of the Comforter. That He is with us, He enfolds us, He feels all that we feel of our sadness and loss. But know also, that He sees what we cannot. He sees our beloved’s glorious resurrection in Him, He knows and feels their joy as well. We can trust Him in all of that. We can express our displeasure at the loss of relationship here and now, yes. But in trusting Him, in forgiving Him for “taking them”, we can come to know His peace and even (in time) the joy of knowing their ongoing life in Him. We need not understand it, comprehend it, or deny the real pain we feel. We can trust Him by choice, and over time, watch our hope in Him become concrete reality in our lives and hearts.

Ask yourself: “If God Alone knows the perfect time, the perfect moment, in the complex weave of all of Reality, for a soul, a beloved child of His, to leave the body and return to Him… If He Alone knows and controls the moment for the shell of this life to burst forth into the fullness of the life He has for us in Him… would we really want to change that timing, even from the mist of our own pain of loss? Can we trust Him who gives breath to our bodies, to know precisely the right moment to give wings to our spirit beyond this?”

If so, then even embracing our own pain of loss, we can forgive Him for the death of those we love. We can embrace the truth, the faith, the hope that here and now we dwell in the midst of death, being overtaken by Life. And even bereft and sad as we are, we can trust and forgive Him for granting those we love the freedom of the fullness of His Life. AND, we can know that He embraces US, fully, in our sadness… as we recover and move on from this temporary period of loss, until we are reunited with those we love.

  • In ALL the traumas and tragedies that we meet in our lives and our days, illness, financial reversals, tribulations, challenges of loved ones, divorce, whatever we encounter… when circumstances are beyond our control, it is natural to look towards the Divine with a heartfelt lament of… “Why, O Lord?” or “How long, O Lord?” There is nothing wrong with voicing such lament… that is being honest with Him, with ourselves, with life.

But the challenge becomes, “What if He declines to answer? What if He answers, but we cannot comprehend or hear His words or His heart? Can we accept the fact that GOD IS ALWAYS AND ONLY GOOD? That He weaves the tapestry of life ALWAYS to redemption and transformation from defeat to triumph?”

Can we… Will we… CHOOSE to TRUST Him, to embrace, to thank, to praise… simply for Who He is, not just what He does, or how we feel, or what we expect to get out of it?


Here is the challenge, Gentle Reader. The challenge is to “Forgive God”… openly, freely, rapidly. Here is where trust lies. Here is where intimacy and love lie.

It is not easy. It is, in fact, exceedingly hard. Perhaps the hardest thing we are ever called upon to do.

But it is simple. It is a choice, a decision, not to take offense into account. Not to DENY the sense of “offense”, but simply refuse to take it into account in the relationship.

Nothing I know, so consistently derails the spiritual growth of generous, loving, good-hearted Christian brethren. Try this… be transparent and honest, with self and with Him. Forgive Him for hurts (past, present, future), whether the sense of offense is “reasonable” or not. Do not be dissuaded by religiosity or pompous reverence. A child doesn’t have to be “reasonable” or “right” to express respectful displeasure at the decision of a loving parent. They just have to be truthful.

And then, embrace all of it… the was, the is, and the shall be… as though all of it were blessing.

(Because, Gentle Reader… all of it IS. One way or another, all of life is grace.)

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2015 in Quiet Time, Reverse Polarity, Sermon Seeds

 

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In Love We Trust…

ring-for-wedding“I still LOVE him/her, but I just can’t TRUST her/him anymore…”

So often I have heard these words. So many tears, so many hearts broken when trust and love become sundered from one another.

Why is there such anguish? Why is there such pain?

Because this is impossible. Because people cannot do what cannot be done. We cannot love what we do not trust. We cannot trust what we do not love.

When we try, we cram the heart and soul into a contorted dimension, a false condition, a form of self-denial, that does not fit and never can. Like trying to wend our way through the stairways of an Escher Drawing, we pass through some mobius portal of feelings that leave us turned inside out, vulnerable, and exposed.

When we first begin to fall in love… that’s SO scary.

Why? Why is that so fearful?

Because we risk. We risk such anguish, such disappointment.

What if we finally acknowledge that we have “fallen in love”, that our hearts are now in the hands of another… and they do not feel the same way?

Who will be the first to say, “I love you?”

Who can’t recall the incredible gush of relief when we find the beloved DOES love us back?

That is a tremendous moment in life.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

But then… what about the NEXT layer of trust? The NEXT risk taken? Not just to risk trust to the “unknown”… but to trust in the “committed unknown”?

It is one thing to trust to love when there is not yet a commitment, but there is another whole layer, a whole dimension, of trusting to love when there is commitment, a covenant to faithfulness, that involves what we cannot see.

Here is where many relationships stumble… “I just worry all the time, Dr. Monk. What is he/she doing when I’m not there? Sometimes I call and there is no answer.” or “He/she calls or texts me 20 times a day, wondering where I am, who I am with, what I am doing… It’s driving me crazy!”

There is no “trust” here. There is the ongoing need for “control” here. There is only the “safety of being in charge” or of “ownership” here… Not “love”.

How do we “trust” to what we cannot “see” or “control”? How do we grow to love that much?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And then… there’s the last layer… the final layer that sunders us from all that “makes sense”, all that is “rational”, all that is “clearly apparent”.

How do we “trust” in the face of apparent and obvious “betrayal”?

It is one thing to trust to the unknown without commitment. It is another thing to trust to the unknown WITH commitment. But it’s a clearly different thing indeed to CHOOSE to trust, in the face of an apparent KNOWN of untruth, infidelity, in a covenant relationship of commitment.

To be frank, most people consider this simply impossible. So many, particularly Christians, will say they “forgive”, but cannot “forget” and therefore cannot ever restore “trust”.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So… “What’s going on here today, Little Monk?” you may ask. “Have we dropped through some warp from The Postmodern Mystic to an episode of Dr. Phil?”

Nope.

This post follows up from the Sizzling Bacon, and addresses the question… “How?” A few weeks ago I was intrigued by  “A Challenge”, written by Don Merritt,  wherein a listener came up to him after he had delivered a truth-filled sermon and asked, “Why don’t we believe you?” This addresses that question as well. Last, but not least, this post addresses a discussion I had with Susan Irene Fox one evening (about Don’s question), where I proposed that the answer was that “we refuse to surrender control… we are selfish”, and she disagreed, believing that, “people are simply fearful, they’re afraid.” (OK, so now you know, Susan is a kinder, more charitable, person than I…)

That conversation, those questions, kept mulling in my brain as I could sense truth in all of that, but could not put my finger on it…

Then, along with “Can You Hear the Bacon Sizzle?“, Jesus highlighted the piece I was missing… the issue is “Trust”.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Few of us have trouble relating to love, trust, romance, in the terms that open this post. But now, for Christians, the transition to our relationship of intimacy with God can be a bit more tricky. But think about it, Jesus has “wedded” us, we are at a Marriage Feast, we are His Bride (NOT just “corporately” as part of some anonymous “herd” or “flock”… but individually as well). To attain eternal life is to KNOW the Father, and the Son, with the intimacy of a spouse…

What is the “limit”… the “constraining factor”… the “conditional boundary” of our “Intimacy” with God?

Our decision to limit our Trust of Him.

“But I DON’T ‘limit my trust’ of Him!” one would protest! “I trust Him UTTERLY!”

I can say that. I can truthfully say I have done so always. BUT, at the same time, I have NOT.

I can only “trust” to the extent that I see the challenge to trust, acknowledge that, and make a conscious choice to do so. (And most of the time, reacting to situations moment-by-moment as I do, no such thing happens).

So let’s take our romantic illustration above, and apply it to our intimacy with God for a moment…

Trust to the Unknown without Commitment: “Who will be first to say ‘I love you’?” The risk of that, the daring to the unknown of that. Consider…

18 Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He *said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. [Matthew 4]

I propose that we see “trust to the unknown yet uncommitted” here. Bold trust. Daring trust. Yet, all unknown as yet. So much of relationship to be discovered, uncovered, committed to.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Time goes on, commitment grows (both directions in relationship), fealty is exchanged. There is now the “expectation” of fidelity. We see that in human romance. But how do we remain assured and at peace with what we CANNOT see, what we DO NOT understand? We see the Gospel of John highlight such a moment when Jesus speaks of eating His flesh, and so many disciples fall away. Their orthodoxy… their religion… all those rules about blood, and flesh, and what is holy and unclean… They can no longer trust Jesus. Jesus is speaking of unclean things, of abomination, of cannibalism. They can no longer walk with Him. He has ventured into the unknown, the untrustworthy. And yet… yet there are the few, there is Peter in their midst…

66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” [John 6]

They trust in the midst of the unknown. They CHOOSE to trust, they DECIDE to trust. They could have walked away, but they did not. They simply loved Jesus too much for that. They loved Him beyond their ability to understand or know… this is Trust.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

But… But… What about the third case? What about “betrayal”? Jesus never “betrayed” them, did He? Well, no. He did not. He never did, He kept His word(s) always… BUT… it certainly did not SEEM that way to them, did it? The “facts” of the matter, the “evidence”, the “appearance”… certainly lined up a convincing case that He had abandoned them, leaving them to their fate at the hands of the Pharisees, did it not?

I mean, think this through. Palm Sunday, triumphal entry into Jerusalem… “Hail! Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!”

What a high!

Then, to the Temple… driving out the money changers and animal sellers!

O My!

Then this week of controversy in Jerusalem. What confusion did they know? Prophecies and rumors of assassination plots against Him. The acclaim of the people. People giving livestock, goods, meeting rooms “because the Master has need” of them. Then… that mysterious Last Supper Passover meal… then the Garden… all His promises… “I will never leave you for forsake you… I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am you may be… I lay down My life, no one takes it from Me…”

Confusingly, He tells them outright that He is going to die, but that because of that they will live. That they are His, in His hand, and they need not fear. That they will be scattered, but… He challenges them… TRUST Him!

And then… He dies!

This.. this… Messiah. This Son of God. This Resurrector of the Dead. This Healer of the Sick… Caster out of demons… Feeder of the Thousands!!! Dead! And they… were… left… alone! And scared. (Now, lest we cover this over with a “gentle Sunday-School haze” of… “well, yeah… they were alone, but, after all, they KNEW better… they KNEW He’d be back… and there was nothing to be anxious about…”)

19 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, “Peace be with you.” [John 20]

These people were clustered together behind locked doors, locked in by fear. John speaks of fear of the Sanhedrin, but can we even imagine the other fears that flowed through their hearts in those days? A bit further in that passage, John tells us that they came to believe only when He showed them the wounds in His hands and feet!

They knew doubt. They doubted the reports of the women from the tomb. They doubted their own eyes until they saw His wounds. Thomas doubted even THEIR report, until he plunged his own digits into Christ’s side.

So… if even THEY doubted, what made them so special to Jesus? What sets them apart, has always set them apart, as disciples then Apostles? What are we, here and now, to see and realize from their ever-so-human frailty and relationship with Him?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Disciples did not know, they did not understand, they did not feel “confident” or “holy” of “faith-y”. None of that! They were scared, and lonely, and felt betrayed. But still, they did not CHOOSE to QUIT!

They remained. They remained in relationship with (as they thought at the time) a Dead Christ… buried and stolen. They CHOSE to TRUST, even in the face of evidence contrary to all they thought possible. They chose to remain, and to continue to love Him, continue to fellowship together, continue to encourage (literally) one another… even if He had lied to them, and had now abandoned them as orphans.

(Please understand… I know full well He HAD not…. that He ALWAYS keeps His word, and NEVER abandons us!) But realize, the Disciples had no EVIDENCE that attested to that as they huddled behind those locked doors, and frankly… you and I go through many days in our lives, where we can seem just as alone as they thought they were.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And look what happened…

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. [John 20]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Do I “trust” God? Do you? Yes, assuredly we do. And, to the extent that we trust Him, we love Him and experience His love for us.

But true though that is, I can testify to the fact that over time my “trust” has grown! Not because I ever intend to withhold trust from Him, but simply because until challenged by fear, I am not aware that there is greater trust to be had. Does that make sense?

I have discovered that my best “response” to fear… any fear… all fear… big, little, petty, grand… is “Trust”. He is there (here), He is perfect, He is powerful beyond any measure of adequacy, and He is dedicated wholly and totally to my good! I can trust to that, whether I understand it or not.

But it is only when that trust is tested…. only when circumstances seem to belie the safety of my trust… that my love and trust can grow.

It is only when I “seem” to be betrayed, wounded, lied to… when the “evidence around me” would indicate that I CANNOT trust someone… that I can freely CHOOSE to trust them, and the love of God (Father, Son, Spirit) fully flow through me. THAT is freedom! That is grace!

And, by the way, THAT is how God loves US in the first place… regardless of how much we betray Him, wound Him, or lie to Him… or even, to ourselves.

Amazing… grace…

Love = Trust = Love = Him

 
5 Comments

Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Quiet Time, Reverse Polarity, Sermon Seeds

 

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I Believe… I Can Fly!


When you were little, didn’t you have great dreams? Great ambitions? Great hopes? The line blurs for a child, between “dull reality” and “vibrant creativity”, whether one sees a professional athlete, or astronaut, or the greatest singer EVER, or a knight in shining armor conquering dragons and saving those in distress!

But then, we grow up… We learn… There are limits to the possible. We learn to build our boxes. We learn the myriad of things we “cannot do”. We learn the bumps, the bruises, the batterings of the world and people around us. We learn… all there is… is this. Just little, dull, mundane, me… and you… and them… and this! (With a decidedly NOT “capital T” in “this”.)

But then, one incredible day, Jesus enters our own little, dull, mundane, me-and-you world. And He says things like… “To what shall I liken the Kingdom?” and somewhere, deep inside, there is a heart stirring… a tiny leap of hope… a whisper (too small, too timid, even to be fully “heard” or acknowledged, but still really there)… the child’s heart whisper of… “Maybe… just… maybe…” And old dreams, forgotten dreams of Kingdoms, and knights, and deeds of unrelenting courage and adventure rouse again deep inside…

Beyond this, on just as incredible a day,.. At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said,Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’” [Matthew 18:1-4]


What if….

What if your Father were King of the Universe?

What if He had crafted and designed you, from before the beginning of time, to live fully as Prince/Princess in Him, and your perquisites and authority came into play as you learned to embrace and wield them with grace, love, and wisdom?

What if all those “heroic dreams” of your childhood were not simply aspirations TO Him, but hints to your actual nature FROM Him?


What if all the greatest dreams you ever dreamed were the barest inkling, just the slightest hints, of what you truly are and can embrace right here, right now?

Because… I have come to believe that all those dreams of greatness, heroism, adventure… are simply true. I believe I can fly. I believe I once allowed the truth of my humble childhood to be dashed and devastated by those around me who taught of limits, and boundaries, and boxes for Our Father and His embrace. That those same people BELIEVE in “limits”… that there’s only “so much to go around”, and that for ONE person to acknowledge the reality of Infinite Grace… that must somehow “diminish the availability” for others!

This was the error of the disciples noted above. This was what they needed to learn to “see another way”, to “be converted” from…

They wanted to know… “Who would be greatest in His Kingdom?” Because for the answer to be “ONE” of them… the answer could NOT be “ALL” of them.

Little children do not worry about such things. Little children don’t think such questions.

Little children just ask, “Am I? May I be? May I have?”

They haven’t yet learned the shrewd and measuring “sidelong look” at others around them, and begun the calculation that… “If He gives ME this… then THEY won’t get it!”


Can you find and release your Inner Child?

Can you believe?

Can you fly?


He only awaits your testing your wings, for He’s always holding us up, saying… “Trust Me.” We LIVE in the fullness of His Kingdom, called and equipped to rescue, to seek and save, that which is lost. The greatest adventure any can ever know!

Joy and grace to you!

The Little Monk

 

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Whom to Love?

I woke this morning with this song, this recording, playing inside my head like an earworm.  I had to go find it when I got up, listen and let it wash over me for a while with coffee. (It’s just that kind of recording… one of those “wash over” kinds.) Acapella is a wonderful vocal form, but to realize this is a “Solo Acapella” just fills me with wonder.

Simple, isn’t it?

Simple, yet wondrous.

All I want to share this morning is one other “Simple, yet wondrous” Truth.

It’s about “loving all”. Jesus command it, yet we resist. Jesus did it, modelled it, demonstrated in His walk among multitudes, and then accomplished the greatest act of love imaginable as He redeemed the very Cosmos… All of Creation… with His death on the Cross.

Simple commands He left us with, right? Love God the Father with all we are. Love our neighbor as ourselves. (When the “clever folk” tried to debate Him on “who is neighbor”, it came down to being our own responsibility to show compassion to those in need… “who was neighbor to the injured man?” The fact that a Samaritan was, by definition of the time, a sinful, depraved, unclean, idolator and pagan… just didn’t strike Jesus as meaningful.)

Here’s this “simple wondrous” thing that has struck me… Jesus tells us to love, countless times. He never once tells us to hate anyone. Friends, enemies, allies, family, strangers, pagans… anyone… everyone… love them. Simple.

Humanity doesn’t really like to hear that, in general. We want clear identifiers, lapel pins, labels… “love her, hate him”… “love them, hate these”… all according to our tribes and divisions and classes and colors and languages and cultures and how we perceive and respond to God.

Do you imagine we often make Him weep?

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” [Luke 6:25]

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; Though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:6-8]


I close with just this thought today.

Look at what the Apostle Paul wrote right there. Recall that in his own mind, his own memory, when he says “ungodly”, or “while we were yet sinners”, he speaks from his own earlier career of persecuting Jesus and killing His followers.

It’s all a matter of the “sequence” you see. GOD loves the “enemies” FIRST. (In fact, WE were “enemies”.. “ungodly”… use whatever label we choose.) Grace, love, relationship, the voice of Jesus the Shepherd somehow reached through our own darkness and shadow to melt our hearts and open the eyes of our heart with His love and embrace.

I, for one, am rescued by Grace alone, despite my own worst efforts. Jesus says that I have been given Life through Love by the boundless Grace of God. And, as His child, He wants me to do the same… just love… embrace… don’t judge, don’t sort, don’t label, don’t “fix”… just love. When I do that, He assures that He will take care of the rest.


The Father loves Children. That’s what He is, that’s what He does. He loves First and Best.

He sent His Son to seek and to save that which was lost.


Have a wonderful day, Beloved Brother/Sister! Go love somebody, and let the Joy touch and wash over you!

Blessings and grace to thee!

The Little Monk

 

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Before the Beginning — Pt 7 — Our Rescue

Our Rescue

I knew, had known, that Our Creation, Eve’s and Mine, were to be fulfilled in our acquisition of the Name(s) He had declared to me as time went on. And despite – or maybe because of that day, that serpent and that fruit – I knew that We had somehow been destined take on His Name(s), and utterly to realize – to make real in Creation – His Image in Us. We were not only to know His Name(s), but entirely to make them our own. The Name(s)? “Lover”, “Beloved”, and “Love”.

And I knew that we had torn that destiny asunder.

God’s words to Eve sadly declared her reality. She was my beloved, but would now be “ruled over” rather than simply cherished and treasured. She was my lover, but would now yearn for me and desire me, without the total satiation we had known until now. That perfect security, knowing… and knowing that she knew, that I love(d) her utterly and completely… that security would now be gone. The doubt in her, this mistrust, the possibility of deception, would now forevermore taint our relationship. And the pure love that she would have known as mother, as we brought forth children as painlessly as she had emerged from my own side… that would now be tinged with pain and revulsion, both in the bearing and even in the raising of what should have been pure expressions of our mutual trust.

God’s words to me were no more harsh, but more encompassing. We were to have been, in and with Him, in and with all His/Her/Their Name(s)… deathless and perfect “lover”, “beloved” and “love” in and throughout the Cosmos. Nothing would have rivalled the co-creation possible in the harmony among man, woman, and God as time extended through space and fate.

But now, all that weave was undone. The loom was fractured. I was mortal. I was fractured. I had divided my consciousness between Reality as it Is in Him, and unreality and denial of Him. I had begotten the terrifying chimera of darkness, dissonance, self-alienation. The fear, the terror and shame that I had known over these hours…

God’s words were not so much “curse” to me, as “relief” and “rescue”. He spoke of death, of returning to dust, which would be a most welcome relief to what I was presently feeling. For in a realm like this, a place of pure consciousness and the immediate pulsing of life… dissonance, lies, deceit, alienation… are tangible things. They burned like acid. These were the things from which we needed to hide, to which we were vulnerable. One does not think of “shame” as creating palpable pain. Let me assure you, in a realm like that Garden, the pain is direct, indeed.

In violating His words, His instruction, I had violated my relationship with the kingdom. They would no longer honor my care for them, my protection of them. They would now oppose me. The soil would reject me, as if it could sense my deceit, my doubts, my fears. The soil would yield me vegetation as twisted as my heart had now become.

And death, the vibrancy of pulsing life, that Radiance that had poured forth from Him into everything and everyone around Him… that pulse would slow, then ebb, then cease in my body. The life He breathed into me… that went with my destiny, His Name(s)… which I had now lost my claim upon. There was darkness to me, stain in my heart, that no longer would admit my proper Name(s)… His Name(s), “Lover”, “Beloved”, and “Love”.

I knew somehow, that I yet would experience them in a veiled way, in a muted and lesser way. But never again would I know that immediacy, that transparency, that intimacy that I’d enjoyed before. Never again could I access my name(s) directly.

I had the very distinct, yet mysterious, conviction that somehow to take these Name(s) into me directly, in my current state, would kill me… that I would cease to be. They would overwhelm my frame in their sheer power.

I could “sense” all of this, though not all the words were as clear as I’ve just stated. It took a long time for these thoughts, these realizations, to gel within me. But even there, even then, I knew that God’s next actions were not punishment, but blessing. I knew that somehow He was protecting us, nurturing us, aiding us, even as He took His final actions towards us in the Garden.

The God made garments of skin for me and my wife, and clothed us, and said – as if to Himselves — “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—

I knew, somehow, that for us to eat of that fruit would have trapped us forever in our fear, our shame, our misery. Time did not flow in the Garden as it could elsewhere. Our misery may have become eternal. The Lover, the Beloved, and Love could not allow such a tragedy to overtake us.

Therefore the God sent us out from the Garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which I was taken. So He drove us out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed a terrible being with a flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the Tree of Life.

Why “Our Rescue” I hear you ask?

Have you yet to hear my words, sense what I sensed, know what I – what WE – had? See what we both lost? Do you still not know why this is what it is? Do my words not yet make sense to you? Have I failed in even this?

My child, you must see, must know, what WE are meant to be.

Thus, He/She/They made way, over time, for me and my children to rediscover our True Names one day, and thus return to the Kingdom of His Garden.

We were always saved. Always!

Now do you see?

[The End (of this story)… and the Next Beginning (of life in our world)!]

 

Before the Beginning — Pt 6 — When “Death” Became a New Word

When “Death” Became a New Word

Once we caught our breath and our hearts stopped pounding in our ears, the panic seemed to abate, but the fear did not. We even found ourselves looking upon one another with suspicion. It seemed that where I had ever gazed upon Eve with wonder and joy, now I felt a vague disquiet, a form of fear, and just a tinge of revulsion. I did not want to look at her, nor to have her look at me. We found ourselves, for the first time, walking apart from one another, seeking our own sheltering places within the trees where none would see or observe us. And for the very first time I had no idea what she was thinking, and for the very first time things were out of reach – everything was “Not Good” – and for the very first time everything around me paled.

How does that happen?

Everything inside me burned – my own heart and mind became filled with an utterly new word… “dread”.
The day progressed without further incident – other than Eve and I becoming more and more filled with “dread” – and in the late coolness, God entered and walked abroad. The air filled with birdsong and fragrance, and the gentle snuffling and jostling as creatures descended upon Him from far and near. His perambulations always brought such a sense of comfort, joy, effervescence with Him that He was constantly nuzzling, patting, petting, or otherwise caressing one or another of the beasts. Birds played tig with Him, or alighted upon His shoulders, as small furry things scampered about His feet. Everything chattered, buzzed, snuffled, tail-wagged, and buffeted Him lovingly as He passed.

But above all, He came to visit us, His precious children Adam and Eve, and this day we were nowhere to be found. He grew concerned and called out for us.

None can, or could, resist that summons… and so, dread-filled or not… we came forth at His beckoning call.

He could see at once that something was terribly wrong. For one thing, His innocents, His natural born babes, had draped greenery about ourselves. That, and that we would not meet His gaze, we’d not look into His face, His eyes. He had always loved best looking into the eyes. The eyes are unspeakably important windows into the heart and the mind. That we hid our gaze made His heart sink in His breast. We could feel the sorrow, atop all our other misgivings.

As we approached, I volunteered, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”

In anguished tone, God replied, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

I was filled with confusion, with shame, with dread. I cast about me for words.

Simply to say “yes” somehow did not seem an option. I needed to have a reason, a rationale, an excuse! I had to have someone, anyone, someone ELSE to blame! “Blame”, that was an entirely new word as well. I cast my darts close by.

I said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”

There! It wasn’t MY fault. It was the Woman’s fault! She gave me the fruit to eat. And it was His fault! He gave me the woman! I was an innocent victim in this, not a wrong doer, but wrong was done me! Yes!

Sadly, God then said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

Eve, also so filled with dread that she sought an escape, said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Her answer claimed that it wasn’t her fault, either. She was deceived, misled. The Serpent did the wrong, not her, not us!

Ah, me, the tragedy of it all! We had learned the Serpent’s craft all too quickly and easily. We had learned to speak accurate facts, and paint false pictures, just as he did. We had learned to lie, just as he did. God asked us if we disobeyed Him. We threw up many words to say, “No, no we did not! We are not responsible!” When the simple truth would have been “Yes, yes we did.”

Did we speak any false facts? No. But did we lie? Yes. And, in that precise moment, that kind of lying was nearly the worst thing we could have done. (Worse, of course, would have been to deny our actions all together.)

God then turned to the Serpent and spoke Truth as it now would be. Bringing about our catastrophe would not prove a boon to him, but a burden. His life, his posture, his diet, and his destiny… all had been changed in his cleverness and intrigue. The entire course of the Cosmos would now bend to his very defeat. And so the Serpent was dismissed.

But then, those awful eyes, that pain-filled countenance, turned to us. It was not so much anger that we saw, though we had seen that flash across His features while speaking to the Serpent. We saw anguish, sadness, pain of and in His heart, as He pronounced terrible words into our lives. Some of these were new words, but I could see and hear the “sad” and “alone” word in His voice, though, if anything it seemed not so severe as the torment we were presently experiencing.

Since fleeing into the trees, we had felt a heart-hurt, a kind of aloneness, a kind of darkness and sadness, that we had never before imagined. We were… “separated”… Eve and I… with a barrier, a boundary, of mistrust and fear that we had never conceived of before we ate the fruit. We not only “knew” Good and Evil in a theoretical, cognitive, way… but it seemed to flash through us, as if we could experience all of whatever evil is, as though it were a palpable substance of our being.

There is no way to describe the feeling except to say if you were ever to imagine your very worst nightmare, a sense of hanging hopelessly from a cliff’s edge with no possible rescue, or be lost in the utter emptiness of a Cosmic void, or to be fearful of all that is… even yourself. If you can imagine that, then perhaps you can imagine what those hours were like for us. It was torment beyond words.

Perhaps we came to His beckoning call as much out of a sense that He could grant us relief, despite whatever else He may choose to do with us. Perhaps, in responding to His call, we had discovered the barest inklings of a new word we had never needed until that afternoon… the word “hope”.

He then turned to Eve, saying, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”

Somehow, even through these terrible words, I could see the changing threads of destiny here.

But then He turned to me, and spoke further, saying, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face You will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

I could not comprehend all that He said, but I could see the threads of destiny, of the currents of life flowing differently because of our actions. Mistrust, defiance, to bring into being “Not Good” as real and palpable evil, in this place through our will, our power, our authority… was like having loosed a poisoned stream into a great river, yielding death, dying, pestilence where it touched.

[To be continued…]

 
 
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