August 2019 Archives


Mystical Union

Mystical Union

I do not know from where you may be reading this meditation, but here in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia the weather is absolutely beautiful. The low humidity, cool gentle breeze and diamond-like sky have made my heart seemingly burst with Truth, Beauty and Love.

Reverend Forest P. Reynolds, a gentleman preacher—having long ago moved on to glory—was very much in my awareness and presence as I walked this morning.

A friend of my parents, I vividly recall the day he sat at my kitchen table listening intently while I unburdened, what I believed at the time, were my unpardonable sins. Believing myself lost in pain, fear, and in the grip of darkness and death, I spilled my guts. Never once did he bat an eye in derision nor raise an eyebrow in disdainful judgement. He was completely present as God’s tangible Grace when I most needed Her Light, Life and Love. Had he not shown such genuine and authentic acceptance, I do not know how long I would have continued walking in suffering and hell.

He and many other beloveds have played and continue to play an essential role in my life as God extending Herself to Himself—the calling for all of us, one to another.

Paul explains it this way,

From one man he made every nation living on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the limits of their territories and the periods when they would flourish. God did this so that people would look for him and perhaps reach out and find him although in fact, he is not far from each one of us, ‘for in him we live and move and exist.’ Acts 17:26-28

Or to paraphrase Alexandre Dumas,

All are one, and one are all, eternally unified in Truth.

This mystical union, or if you will—non-dual theology—is ever present throughout scripture whether literal, allegorical or both in nature.

For example, in Ephesians 5:28-30 . . .

This is how husbands ought to love their wives—like their own bodies, for the man who loves his wife is loving himself. Why, no one every hated his own flesh! On the contrary, he feeds it well and takes care of it, just as the Messiah does the Messianic Community because we are parts of his Body.

. . . and John 15:5 . . .

I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who stay united with me, and I with them, are the ones who bear much fruit; because apart from me you can’t do a thing.

. . . additionally, Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 goes to great lengths to express . . .

But as it is, there are indeed many parts, yet just one body.

Whatever your spiritual practice may be, my hope is that you have at least one person in your life to whom you can turn for peace, healing and comfort.  Perhaps one day you may, in turn, be that one person for someone else in compassionate acts of endless reciprocity.

Thank you, Rev. Reynolds.

What if

What if

If darkness is the absence of light and death is the absence of life, what if wrath is the absence of lovingkindness? What if wrath is not necessarily anger and punishment?

What if wrath means being brokenhearted, consuming passion, feeling deeply betrayed, or consuming grief (keseph, charah, chemah and aneph in the Hebrew respectively)? Suppose it is human beings that regard the word wrath in terms of anger and punishment and not God?

One of the many lessons I learned in counseling over the years was that anger is a “hard” emotion that covers the “softer” emotions. We get angry for many reasons, but that anger—a superficial reaction—is a cover for other vulnerable and deeper responses.

If God is love as the Bible says He is,

“Beloved friends, let us love one another; because love is from God; and everyone who loves has God as his Father and knows God. Those who do not love, do not know God; because God is love.” 1 John 4: 7-8

. . . then would not this alternative perspective make God’s lovingkindness clear and obvious? Would it not give a more accurate picture of God as a loving parent as pictured in the parable of the prodigal son or a lover as portrayed in the Song of Solomon or a husband as depicted in Hosea?

“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion.” Hosea 2:19

We are the ones who ran away from home, broke the engagement while running after another lover and divorced ourselves from Him. Adam and Eve chose to believe The Lie—that God’s perfect love was not true; that Atonement (at-one-ment) in Life was an illusion. We traded truth for deception. We chose to believe we were separate from God. We determined to turn away from Light and Life.

Imagine that the mocking, beatings and whippings Christ endured was not God’s anger, but my own, your own, our own anger that we inflicted on Him due to our erroneous beliefs, our mistakes, our missing the mark?

What if Christ’s crucifixion was not a punishment of our sin, but rather evidence of the deprivation of Love?  What if the animal sacrificial system of the Old Testament was not about satisfying God’s wrath, but about illustrating there is no separation in an impermanent way—pointing to the permanent way?

Could the crucifixion and resurrection be God sacrificing Himself—His expression of what separateness from Him truly looks like and in His resurrection revealing we are not separate at all?

“As you gaze upon the crucified Christ, the great turnaround happens – it’s not we who have to spill blood to get to God, we have God spilling blood to get to us.” Richard Rohr

What about “spare the rod and spoil the child” as an example of God’s anger? What if our viewpoint was instead “thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me?”   What if the rod is not used to punish but to protect?  The Shepherd used his rod to safeguard the sheep from their enemies and to gently nudge those in his charge in the right direction.

What about “vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord,” the seeming warring God of the Old Testament, the doom and gloom prophecies of the books of Daniel and Revelation?

Rather than a punitive God, could those teachings possibly point to the picture of God as a parent taking a stance of “tough love?” The parent uses the seeming absence of his or her guidance and love to draw attention to the perils of the child’s choices.

Likewise, God, paradoxically uses the absence of Light to illuminate just how dark is separation from Life, revealing the truth of at-one-ment.

What if we stop beating others over the head with an angry God and truly loved as Jesus taught us to love?

“Here is how love has been brought to maturity with us: as the Messiah is, so are we in the world. This gives us confidence for the Day of Judgment. There is no fear in love. On the contrary, love that has achieved its goal gets rid of fear, because fear has to do with punishment; the person who keeps fearing has not been brought to maturity in regard to love.

We ourselves love now because he loved us first. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. For if a person does not love his brother, whom he has seen, then he cannot love God, whom he has not seen. Yes, this is the command we have from him: whoever loves God must love his brother too.” 1 John 4: 17-21

Did you notice? Not judgement in the sense of fear and punishment, but one of love that brings about a turning from darkness and death to Light and Life.

Or if you prefer the words of John, Paul, George and Ringo . . .

There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown
There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be
It’s easy
All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is…

 

Greatest

Greatest

“We are one in the bond of love,
We are one in the bond of love;
We have joined our spirit with the Spirit of God,
We are one in the bond of love.”

I was deeply moved by a recent interview of Stephen Colbert by Anderson Cooper (which can be found on YouTube) and their discussion of grief, loss and their mothers. In it, Mr. Colbert expressed, what I believe, are exceptionally profound insights:

“. . . we’re asked to accept the world God gives us and to accept it with love . . . if God is everywhere and in everything, then the world as it is, is an expression of God’s love—you have to accept it with gratitude because what’s the option . . . this is it, the bravest thing you can do is accept the world as it is . . . it is a gift to exist and with existence comes suffering, there’s no escaping that . . . if you’re grateful for your life, then you have to be grateful for all of it . . .”

His statements along with past and recent moments in my life . . .

. . . my mother, dying, wrapped in mine and my father’s arms–all being, all awareness, totally encompassed in the aliveness of the bond of Love . . .

. . . “I miss you” . . . “I miss you, too, Mom” . . . my three sons—one very close to home, two much farther away . . . no distance, time or space in the bond of Love . . .

. . . serve to remind me the only thing that matters is Love.

Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:13 states it this way,

“But for now, three things last—trust, hope, love; and the greatest of these is love.”

An awakened heart serves as a prism for Love which shines with infinite possibilities and in infinite manifestations.

For example, my friend Sherry who has endured more than her share of sufferings in this world, but remains one of the most truly joyful people I know . . .

. . . or Ingrid, who has also lived through excruciatingly painful life circumstances while staying genuinely loving through and through . . .

. . . or Mary, the most trusting and faithful soul, amid chronic health issues that would have made me give up long ago.

These women, and many, many other dearly loved beloveds, allow themselves to radiate and point to that which is truly “the greatest” . . . Love.

“Let us sing now, every one,
Let us feel His love begun;
Let us join our hands that the world will know
We are one in the bond of love.”

Otis Skillings “The Bond of Love”

I am so sincerely grateful “for all of it,” I hope you can be too!

Light and Life

Light and Life

“Mackenzie, evil is a word we use to describe the absence of good, just as we use the word darkness to describe the absence of light or death to describe the absence of life.

Both evil and darkness can be understood only in relation to light and good; they do not have any actual existence. I am light and I am good. I am love and there is no darkness in me. Light and Good actually exist.

So, removing yourself from me will plunge you into darkness. Declaring independence will result in evil because apart from me, you can draw only upon yourself. That is death because you have separated yourself from me: Life.” 

from The Shack by Wm. Paul Young

You Matter

You Matter

“Mack, if anything matters then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will ever be the same again.” from The Shack by Wm. Paul Young