Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Thursday, March 6, 2014
What is lent? What is the purpose?
Lent can easily become the opportunity for self-righteous self-sacrifice.
But I don’t think that we are meant to walk around with holy, downcast eyes, making clear that we have given up something wonderful because we are so much better than everyone else. That seems to be more problematic than helpful.
What is helpful to me is the belief that the world and all that is in it is infused with the Divine Presence. We are made in the imago dei – and the light-life of the Divine is burning within us.
Instead of self-righteous self-sacrifice, I find that the purpose of lent is to intentionally turn from anything that seems to be clouding the Divine light within us. It is to bring to justice our perception of the Divine in ourselves, in others and the world.
This is internal work that cannot be self-righteously displayed. And it can be done through sacrifice and/or through adding new practices to our lives. But our goal is to become more aware of the abundant presence of God in our lives.
It seems like it is really hard for us to tap into that reality.
The writer(s) of the Song of Songs seems to be fully connected to abundance and gratitude for it.
They savor using all of their senses:
the taste of honey and milk under a tongue
the sight of the beloved, ruddy and radiant
the sound of the voice that they long for
the smell of a lush garden
the touch of stately limbs, like branches of a tree
They write of the lavish beauty that they are encountering.
They write of excess, of being drunk with love!
They write of searching and longing for that abundance.
How the world is infused with the awe-inspiring Divine! And how the writer of the Song of Songs swims in that tangible Divine Presence.
May Lent be a time of giving up the things that skew our sense of the Divine filling our lives with beauty.
May Lent be a time of taking things on that focus our attention on the abundance of God’s presence.
The presence that is delightfully at the heart of everything.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
I am a SWF (single white female.)
I am straight.
I am an actor.
I am a climber.
I am a seminarian.
I am a Christian.
I am a New Yorker.
He is a SWM (single white male.)
He is bisexual.
He is a 7 on the Enneagram.
He is a fireman.
He is an alcoholic.
He is agnostic.
He’s a Californian.
We love these labels, don’t we? We could choose just one from a list and use it to sum ourselves up to someone else, or sum someone else up to ourselves.
Each category contains subcategories. For example, “I am a climber,” means that I love being in the outdoors. It means that I’m physically fit and that I’m up for adventure and activity.
One local restaurant capitalizes on statements like these, and I love going there. When I order my lemon and ginger tea I get to say to the server, “I am effervescent.” And for a moment… I am filled with the identity of effervescence. But when the server walks away I giggle because I am not entirely effervescent.
I just have my moments.
The Celtic theologian John Philip Newell discusses in his book “Echo of the Soul” that our core selves are in the image of God. Surrounding that core self is a lot of other stuff: our egos, our flesh, our labels, and sometimes our masks.
Yet, this life that burns within us at our deepest is the same life that comes from God, our Source of Life.
Our Source of Life can be called many things.
But primarily, God is mysterious. And therefore, we are also primarily mysterious.
As Newell says, “Our own being is rooted in the fathomless mystery of God’s being. Our truest identity is deeper than name and definition.”
It is as if the seed of God is planted deep within us and we are both gardens and gardeners. As Meister Eckhart says, “When I began to see the soul in this light, the important thing became not saving the soul but entering it, greening it, developing the divine seed that waits realization.”
I have cultivated my divine seed. She has been growing within me, and I have been so proud of her that I have built an impressive green house around her.
That way, when anyone approaches they will see that there is something truly profound inside. On the windows of the greenhouse are written pious prayers.
And yet, I am finding that my divine plant at the core of my garden is beginning to press against the roof of the greenhouse. A small crack has formed in the glass. I could make a hole through the top of the roof… but something in me says that it’s time to carefully dismantle this impressive structure and give my divine core some fresh air.
On second thought, could someone pass me that sledge hammer?