Monthly Archives: November 2016

Advent and the Interior

 

Nobody knows what time of year Jesus was actually born.

But we in our climate zone enter the season of wakefulness and watchfulness – Advent –the time of year when the energy of trees has been drawn down into the roots.  After catching photons from the sun all summer, broadleaf trees drop their photosynthesizers, and depend on the life and energy already inside them to sustain them through the winter months.

It’s a season of interiority.  Or, at least, it’s a season in which we are invited to pay careful attention to the life and energy within us.

In this sense, we are all Mary this time of year.  We were foolish enough to say ‘Yes,’ and now we’re pregnant with something we barely understand.  It’s growing in there, and it wants out eventually.  It is both you and not-you.  It is for you, and ultimately for the world.  I have no idea what it’s like to be pregnant, but Advent gives me a hint.

Raimon Panikkar refers to Christ as “the deepest interiority of all of us, the abyss in which, in each one of us, there is a meeting between the finite and the infinite, the material and spiritual, the cosmic and the divine” (Christophany, p. 189).

Paying attention to the interior doesn’t mean we go into hibernation mode.  It’s a good season to notice what kind of energy it is that is motivating us and propelling our actions.  Are we driven by fear?  By love?  What is the source of our confused living?  What is the source that will sustain us?

Our Advent worship theme is Drawn to the Heart of God.  It speaks to the ultimate interior of Reality to which we are being drawn.

 

 

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“Blessed”

Being ‘blessed’ is theologically complicated.  That’s what we more or less decided during our recent Sunday school discussion of Drew Hart’s book Trouble I’ve Seen: changing the way the church views racism. 

How many of our ‘blessings’ are simply consequences of injustice?

We are indeed blessed, although it’s up to us to better understand what that sentiment does and doesn’t mean for us.  This season of gratitude is a good time to reflect on the ‘blessings’ we are truly grateful for.  Gratitude can be the posture from which we receive from the Source of Being – from whom all blessings flow — and return the goodness in a way that helps it spread and multiply.

 

Stealing leaves. November, 2016.

 

I wrote this poem yesterday as another step in processing the moral climate of our country.

 

“Stealing leaves.  November, 2016.”

“This is the first time I’ve seen anyone stealing leaves.”

My neighbor had caught me in the act,

wheelbarrow loaded full with bags full

of leaves he had bagged, and placed on the curb,

the place unwanted objects wait for pick up.

He said it with a grin, and I grinned back.

This pick up was for the soil, I replied,

in our back yard, the garden.

His tree gifting us with free nutrients.

A good neighbor.

 

I carted and dumped and spread and ran those leaves

over and over with a lawnmower, which roared and moaned

like anyone enjoying a good meal,

the bits of leaves now resting

on the ground,

ready to absorb

and multiply this offering.

 

It is getting colder and darker,

and I need to know

that somewhere,

very near our door,

life is having its way with death;

that the spent earth is being replenished,

that the neighborhood is still intact,

held together by grins and gifts.

 

The trouble is…

 

I subscribe to a daily meditation through a project called Inward/Outward.  It’s nothing more than a short quote each day.  This morning’s quote was from Anne LeClaire from her writing Listening Below the Noise.  It said, “The trouble is, not knowing what to say, too often we say something anyway.”

There is good wisdom in these words.  There’s humility, even humor.  There’s a part of me that is speechless in the face of what we’ve been bombarded with over the last months, with last night, early this morning, as a massive, silencing, exclamation point.

“The trouble is, not knowing what to say, too often we say something anyway.”

Today I’m living between the counsel of these words, and a sense of responsibility to not be silent.  There is much that needs said.  There are voices we need to be listening to and joining in solidarity with.

If you need today to be a day of silence without the noise of commentary and social media, then please give yourself full permission to care for your heart and your mind.  Do your job well, smile at your colleagues, go home when you’re done, and eat some good food.  Retreat, get and give lots of hugs, do something that feeds your soul.  Take deep breaths and feel your feet planting firmly on the rich soil.  Take a nap.  Go for a walk and enjoy the beautiful fall colors.

If some of you feel the need today to be in public solidarity with those who are suddenly feeling an escalated sense of fear and vulnerability, there is an event planned you can attend.

At 4:30pm this afternoon at the statehouse there is a gathering of immigrants and refugees and those who wish to be in solidarity with them.  We’ll hear their voices.  They will be calling on Governor Kasich to stand with Ohio immigrants and refugees, but it’s also a chance for faith communities to express our commitment to standing with Ohio immigrants and refugees.

HERE is the Facebook event page that gives some more info.

Take good care of yourself and loved ones these days.  And if you can make it this afternoon, I’ll see you there.

Joel