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Beloved

Beloved

“Listening to that voice with great inner attentiveness, I hear at my center words that say:

‘I have called you by name, from the very beginning.  You are mine and I am yours.  You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests.  I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb.  I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace.  I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child.  I have counted every hair on you head and guided you at every step. 

Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch.  I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst.  I will not hide my face from you.  You know me as your own as I know you as my own.  You belong to me  I am your father your mother, your brother, your sister, your lover, and your spouse … yes even your child … wherever you are I will be.  Nothing will ever separate us.  We are one.'”  Henry J.M. Nouwen  Life of the Beloved

Unity

Unity

The following is an excerpt from ushistory.org about the Pledge of Allegiance:

“The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth’s Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.

In its original form it read:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added. At this time, it read:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower (a Republican, by the way) encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy’s daughter objected to this alteration. Today it reads:

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

What does this covenant mean to you? In light of the fact that Mr. Bellamy wrote it to “be used by citizens in any country,” shouldn’t there be a deeper more enlightened interpretation than simply devotion to one’s country?

There is a lot of talk about “unity” these days … unity and healing.

Both of these concepts appear to be the go-to sentiments since the 2020 election results were called for Mr. Biden by the Associated Press just a week ago. After a bit of research, I found the word ‘unity’ is a fairly common term in presidential inauguration, acceptance and concession speeches especially after particularly contentious campaigns and close election outcomes.

After all, we are the United States of America.

In light of the way so many people vehemently support the Pledge of Allegiance, how can those same folks say “America, love it or leave it?” Also, please note, right-wing Republicans and fundamental Evangelical Christians, that this oath that is at the very heart of your patriotic nationalism was written by a “socialist minister.” How is that for irony?

I have few enough friends on Facebook that it is very easy for me to tell when someone has unfriended me. As a result of my outspoken support of truth in the face of Mr. Trump’s lies and Mr. Biden’s win, I lost several of them in recent times. They felt, it seems, they could no longer associate with me due to, what appeared to them, as my supposed “hatred” of Mr. Trump.

And that’s just the thing …

I do not hate Mr. Trump. I do not hate anyone who supports him. To do so would be to believe they are not also children of God, and that is simply not true. Furthermore, in this very shared, interactive and interdependent world of ours, we cannot ever for very long disassociate from “our enemy” as some bloggers I have read suggest.

Jesus is adamant about how we are to respond to our enemy. Over and over again, His mandate is crystal clear in stories like the Good Samaritan and in the message of the Sermon on the Mount.

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Matthew 5:44-47

If you do not believe him, perhaps the wisest king in Hebrew history can persuade you. Solomon said:

If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire on their heads, and the LORD will reward you. Proverbs 25: 21-22

To “heap coals of fire” on the heads of our enemies means to choose to act out of generous, selfless love rather than vengeance and retribution.

This is not easy! Just ask Malala Yousafzai or Corrie Ten Boom or Martin Luther King, Jr. or Gandhi or Nelson Mandela or Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

As I write this, I am looking out my front window through my neighbor’s yard to a house on the next block that has a blue Trump banner flying on the front porch. I have never met the person(s) living in that home but I could certainly make assumptions about them.

What good would that do? The anger, frustration and, yes, hatred toward them that fills my heart as I look at that pennant only hurts me!

And just because I have not been formally introduced to them, does not mean that I have not stood in line with them at the grocery store, or sat beside them at the doctor’s office, or had some kind of interaction with them in the course of one of my days.

Whether we know who are enemy is or not, we are called to treat people the way we want to be treated.

Perhaps this the true spirit of awareness Mr. Bellamy was calling forth in all God’s children.

Love is who you are. When you don’t live according to love, you are outside of being. You’re not being real. When you love, you are acting according to your deepest being, your deepest truth. You are operating according to your dignity. —Richard Rohr

For further perspective on this topic, please visit: https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/14/europe/nazi-grandfather-store-scli-intl-grm/index.html

For more on the meaning of “heaping burning coals,” please visit the following site:
https://free.messianicbible.com/feature/time-heap-burning-coals-enemy-2/

Waiting

Waiting

I’m waiting.

Among the Oxford Language definitions for the word wait is: “used to indicate that one is eagerly impatient to do something or for something to happen.”

“Eagerly impatient.”

‘Eagerness’ and ‘impatient’ are not two words that I often associate with one another. For me the word eager implies happiness and joy, while the word impatient implies disgust, worry, and/or anxiety. Putting these words together seems like an oxymoron.

My father and I often joke about his helping me with my math homework as a child, particularly word problems. I just did not get it and he was not patient. We can kid about it now, but at that point in time, it was not funny. I think I can honestly say that my dad was not eagerly impatient, waiting for me to understand, he was pretty damn frustrated, as was I.

Depending upon on whom you are voting for, you may feel eagerly impatient.

I have often found myself caught feeling anxious, concerned, and frightened while I wait for November 4th to get here. Do Trump supporters who are afraid of the “radical left” feel those same emotions worrying about Biden winning? Is this why I see campaign signs on FB and in front yards that read “Jesus 2020?” I do not see this slogan on the FB pages or front yards of Democrats, that I know. Does that mean we do not love Jesus like Republicans do? Do Republicans somehow believe Jesus would support Trump or is that their way of saving face in light of voting for a tyrannical twit?

Are Trump supporters as worried as I am about the acrimonious and contentious nature of our divided nation? Do they believe that the feelings of hostility and hatred will just disappear should Trump be re-elected?

As a child, I waited with great anticipation for Christmas wondering what Santa would bring and place under the tree. In high school, I waited for my learners permit to arrive in the mail. When I was a young adult, I could not wait to leave the nest and once married, I could not wait to have children. When my teenage sons began driving themselves, I could not wait for them to come home safe and sound.

Waiting … waiting in long lines at amusement parks, the movie theatre or the grocery store, waiting at the airport for a loved one, waiting for election results, waiting for tests results, waiting to be healed, waiting to die, waiting to live, waiting for universal restoration.

Whether we like it or not, we are in a perpetual state of waiting.

This year in particular appears to be defined by eager or anxious impatience, depending on your perspective, as we wait for a safe and effective COVID vaccine. I personally am having a very difficult time waiting to hug my grandchildren and other beloveds.

What is your state of mind and heart as you wait?

Isaiah 40:31 says:

but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

In the Complete Jewish Bible translation, it reads:

but those who hope in ADONAI will renew their strength,
they will soar aloft as with eagles’ wings;
when they are running they won’t grow weary,
when they are walking they won’t get tired.

Waiting it seems is not a passive activity, but one filled with eager anticipation as the Oxford definition suggests, and one filled with hope.

Waiting with hope, how awesome is that!

It doesn’t mean we will not have doubts or questions. It doesn’t mean we will not act rashly. It doesn’t mean we will get what we want or think we should have. It does mean that we can trust in the One to whom we all belong.

My childhood pet was a dog named Dolly. She was my best friend and definitely a member of the family. When we came home from being out, she would be at the door waiting, dancing around with her tail wagging so hard it looked like it might fly off. This is what I imagine our hope looks like while we wait.

No matter who wins the election, there will still be beloveds sick and dying due to COVID and other diseases. There will still be people who are homeless and unemployed. Fires, hurricanes and earthquakes will continue to rage causing untold damage and destruction. Some things may change because one man is elected to office but it is not about that one man, it’s about us.

The question is not about how you will respond on November 4th, it is about how you are responding now. Do you know who your neighbor is now? What are you doing for your neighbor now?

Yes, we are waiting, but that waiting is being held in the hope of now.

The following quote from Mr. Rogers is our calling: be a helper, now.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Unfathomable

Unfathomable

The word du jour is unfathomable.

As defined by Oxford Languages, unfathomable means “incapable of being fully explored or understood; (of water or a natural feature) impossible to measure the extent of.”

“Impossible to measure the extent of” …

The number of dead due to COVID-19 is unfathomable, as is the number of those infected with the virus.  Those numbers do not include the innumerable grieving family members nor the completely exhausted front-line workers–utterly unfathomable.  Mr. Trump’s stupidity, sheer volume of lies, and depths of degrading debauchery is unfathomable, as is the fact that there are still individuals willing to vote for him.

Is the election only two weeks away? This also seems unfathomable considering it was just eight months ago that this pandemic began and four years ago that he was first elected.

I was still teaching at the time and I distinctly remember sitting in a curriculum meeting with my fellow Social Studies teachers commiserating over the election results—the majority of us having voted for Mrs. Clinton. In her shock, a colleague noticed how calm I was and asked how I could be so “Zen.” Naively, I said, “we made it through eight years of Bush.” In retrospect, my lack of awareness and understanding of the consequences of what had just occurred is unfathomable.

I could not then fully imagine the extent of the complete desecration and destruction the US and the world would endure in every respect —globally to individually, microscopically to cosmically, in all conceivable ways–under Mr. Trump’s presidency. Our circumstances appear unrecoverable.

Yet …

I went outside very early this morning hoping to catch a glimpse of the Orionid meteor shower. As I watched the sky turn from deep shades of royal blue to aqua to turquoise, I noticed the darkened silhouette of a bird on the ridge of my neighbor’s roof. He was majestically facing east, honoring the sunrise. Then in one swift moment, he elegantly and decisively dove off the roof like a breathtaking cliff diver and flew out of sight.

I was undone by the unfathomable beauty of creation and wept from complete joy.

In his Good News narrative, Luke writes about the encounter between Mary and the angel Gabriel, where He explains to her that she will be supernaturally impregnated with a son and that her relative, Elizabeth, is also pregnant. Elizabeth is described as an “old woman” who appears to be reproductively challenged and well beyond normative child bearing years. After telling Mary this, Gabriel’s last statement is, “For with God, nothing is impossible.” Luke 1:37

Nothing is impossible because I Am is … unfathomable.

The following poem seems to sum up what I am trying to express today.

Before being born into the world of time,
The silence of pre-existence was all absorbing.
The transition from eternity to time
Is full of sufferings, fears, and little deaths.
But, in the transition from death
To eternal life,
The silence of pre-existence
Bursts into boundless joy.
All that can be manifested emerges
From the endless creativity of
That Which Is.
But
The Secret Embrace
Of
The Source of all creation
With
Infinite Transcendence
Can
Never be revealed.

—Thomas Keating, “The Secret Embrace”

Beloved

Pathway

The pathway through which infinite awareness assumes the form of the finite mind is the same pathway, traversed in the opposite direction, through which the finite mind loses its limitations and stands revealed as infinite awareness. – Rupert Spira