THE UNBROKEN WORD

There are few times in my life when the specter of fear has been more evident than during the past year. Our most recent experiences with the Capitol Riot and the self-examination that accompanies it cause us to look into the deepest places in our psyche and soul.

I don’t intend to dive deeply into the happenings further here but rather examine its impact on our spiritual disposition. Richard Rohr, Franciscan Friar, and author makes this insightful observation.

“Brain studies have shown that we may be hardwired to focus on problems at the expense of a positive vision. The human brain wraps around fear and problems like Velcro. We dwell on bad experiences long after the fact, and spend vast amounts of energy anticipating what might go wrong in the future. Conversely, positivity and gratitude and simple happiness slide away like cheese on hot Teflon.” Rohr, Richard. The Universal Christ (p. 63). The Crown Publishing Group.

Rohr notices that we tend to hang onto the negative problems and let them accumulate like Velcro in our hearts and minds. Indeed, this explains why we often have a visceral response to this issue as they continue to “work within us” until we decide to let them go and clean them out.

This same observation was made by the Desert Fathers such as John Cassian in the 3rd century that we let these things go and not collect like “dirt” in our minds. His strategy was to “squash those thoughts like a bug” and move to something positive. However, that, as we know, can be hard to do.

So we need to connect the psychological reaction to negative thoughts and problems and our spirituality. If we go back to the Velcro for a moment and see it works.

“Velcro works by having two strips of material, one with lots of tiny hooks, and one with lots of thinner loops that the hooks can cling to when the two elements are pressed together. This mechanism of sticking was inspired by the way tiny hooks on the seeds of burdock, known as burrs, attach to animal fur and human clothing.” Source: sunny skyz

So when we hang onto each element of those negative thoughts and problems, we limit our ability to think positively or involve God in the process of resolution or letting them go. Each small hook links up to its neighbor hook, making it more difficult to release them. When fastening something it is a good thing, when trying to let go of negative feelings and problems, less so.

The following image found on the beach recently in CA, sums up some of the issues, at least from my perspective. The universal Christ, who is with us, is always surrounded by the world’s actions, many of which seem to be trying to obliterate his message. Let us spend this next week seeing this message front and center and letting go of the mass of negative Velcro thoughts we have amassed and seem unwilling to release.

For it is only in this release that we can let the true nature of God shine. And, it shines from within us!

The Cosmic Christ

The Cosmic Christ

THE UNBROKEN WORD

This week seems like an unlikely place to enter into a discussion on dialog, love and the Christian Way. Our democracy is being tested in a crucible of dividedness while a pandemic ravages the nation. It is like we are at war with all but the declaration, filling many with a combination of sadness, anger and confusion. If the financial and health impacts of the worldwide pandemic weren’t enough, this past week we had to deal with a physical attack on the equivalent of the Holy Grail of democracy for the world. The United States Capital.

I am going to go no further in what this may mean for us, partially because I don’t know exactly what it does mean for us at this time. It’s hard to write history as its happening. And also, because I think at times like this we are being called to the core of our spirituality and Christian Faith. It is these topics I want to examine today in a meaningful and prayerful way. You, along with the Holy Spirit can determine where this is taking you, and perhaps us all in this future.

I am doing to try and examine one subject in this precious time we have together today. And the subject is Love. Our nation has a wonderful tradition of freedom. There are few examples of countries who have offered themselves up to maintain the freedom of others. Perhaps the most essential expression of the greatest love. To lay down your life for another. Many thousands of American citizens have died for the love of their fellow man. May God Bless them all.

Blessed John Duns Scotus, the thirteenth-century Franciscan theologian, expresses God’s greatest gift to us is our freedom and our free will. This is the way we can show our alignment with God in all our actions or words. Or not as the case may be. We have the option to use our free will in whatever form we want. Only to be moderated by the law.

Scotus continues to illustrate with this with blinding simplicity, if our choices are based in love, then they are from God. So, patterns of love are exercised if we align ourselves with God, and therefore do His will with this in our heart. All other actions are not of God.

This simple message is best communicated in Jesus’s words on the Sermon on the Mount, in the beatitudes. Here, and thoroughly, the Way of God is illustrated in all parts of our lives.

The word beatitude means “supreme blessedness.” How beautiful is that? Today, I need this blessedness to guide me during my days and weeks. And I will use them on Monday as I make decisions to determine who I feel is most aligned with those instructions from the Sermon on the Mount.

I also pray the divisiveness which permeates the country, communities and even families will be dissipated soon, washed away in the Blood of Christ and the community we celebrate together today.

Here is a reflection I have used to deal with my own feelings when challenged. Appropriately called oversensitive. May God Bless us all, and God Bless America.

Oversensitive

When the pain comes in from those who dislike you,

Or what you have done,

Or seems you had done;

The fork in the road rushes up. 

 

To vilify and engage in debate,

Shredding their argument,

And then their clothes;

Until they are left naked, and your work is done.

 

Or listen and pray,

Perhaps then, we might hear what is behind the words,

The critiques, the noise,

And learn what is in their heart.

 

Which may tell us what is in ours.

Beach 2 yes DSCF4318

THE UNBROKEN WORD

The Crucible of Ownership – Part I

“I am yours and you are mine.” These words ring out in song, scripture, and in many commitment ceremonies over the decades. The Song of Solomon and Isaiah 43 are two places where I find these particular words calling out to us.

For many, these are scary words. I don’t think I ever thought of them as scary, but certainly hard to understand. For me, this was because of distance or boundaries to God made clear by the nuns catechizing me as a child. Every time I had an experience of God’s love, it was complemented by the knowledge (instructions) that God was to be feared, and I was to behave if I had any chance of even meeting Him in the afterlife. There was little discussion of God’s continued presence in the world and, in particular, Sr. Rosario’s classroom. (Humor intended).

The separation between God indicated to me I had to keep God on the pedestal, just like the statues in the sanctuary at St. John’s in Trowbridge, England. I was to keep my distance and have reverence in all things when in the sanctuary, and then we could let loose a little when back in the playground behind our school.

There was a duality taught to me, which is still perhaps present today, but more importantly, I was conditioned in another way. God made me, (Baltimore Catechism), but I didn’t own God, and God didn’t own me. My relationship was to be at one level alone; adoration and obedience. All else was forbidden; even if it was not verbalized, it just was not taught.

So moving to the next level, the idea of a God of fellowship and friendship was not easily attainable to me; after all, I could not be friends with God, could I? Now, I don’t want you to get the idea that the Church in the 1960s was preaching a God of fear alone, it wasn’t, but the point for me was I was being told I could not attempt to get too close to Him.

As it happens, this was juxtaposed with my experience of God. At my First Communion, I had a mystical experience (I didn’t know what it was at the time), where I truly felt the physical presence of God inside my body. It assured me that despite all the teaching that I could not get close to God, they could not prevent God from being as close to me as it gets—being inside me!

So, I am going to return to the title of this reflection—the crucible of ownership. If I am yours and you are mine is a true statement (which I believe it is as it is written clearly so many times in scripture); then what does that mean for my relationship with God. Do I own God? Does God own me? Do we own each other?

Ponder these questions during the week, and we will continue to examine this question further in another seven days. Have a blessed week.

The Crucible of Ownership – Part I

What do I own?

My health,

My home,

My car,

A motorcycle,

Furniture.

Perhaps.

What do I own?

Relationships,

Shares in organizations,

Shared activities.

Not really.

What do I own?

Love,

Courage,

Humility.

No. I don’t own them.

What do I own?

Inner peace.

No. But I know what it feels like.

What do I own?

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