Meditations Category


Terror

Terror

“Jesus’s primary intent is to produce in sinners a terror of eternal hell—a fear that would drive them toward repentance and faith in the gospel. Knowledge of that fear should motivate believers as well.” John MacArthur

WHAT? People don’t really believe that, do they?

I wrote a HUGE, emphatic NO with multiple exclamation marks in the margin.

I could not believe I was reading this in a book written by a well-respected Christian author on the parables of Jesus, that I am using to teach a Sunday School class at the church I attend.

The author uses the following from 1 Corinthians 5:11 King James Version to support his thesis: “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”

Then, after finishing Sunday morning breakfast with my father at our usual diner, a local pastor was conversing to anyone who would listen about his upcoming sermon on Leviticus 19 and having good morals. His opinions continued to the effect that people are just not afraid of God and this lack of fear is what is wrong with our society.

In our culture this misinformed and harmful belief is fundamental to why so many people are traumatized through abusive relationships, and why so many have a difficult time believing that God is Love.

The fear these pastors are perpetuating does not motivate or move anyone toward lasting, loving and trusting relationships with beloveds, much less with God. Their brand of fire and brimstone fear is instead a means of controlling behavior by manipulating the mind and emotions. The fact that people continue to propagate this devastating lie is in many ways central to what is wrong with our culture.

Here is the truth . . . the word “terror,” or “fear” in some translations of the above verse and elsewhere in the Bible means “divine or reverential awe.”

Being awestruck . . . the end of separation, Creator and created as One . . .

. . . like when you view a rapturously colored sunrise or sunset . . . or listen to a moving piece of music that envelopes your soul . . . or are mesmerized by artwork that captivates your senses . . . or the fresh scents of a long walk in the woods . . . or experiencing the miraculous birth of a child . . .

. . . this is how we are to be motivated to trust that God is Love and that He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

There is much more lack of knowing in the quote that begins this essay than can be explored here with these few words, but it is the misinterpretation and misunderstanding of what has been translated as fear that ignites my ire.

I don’t know where I read this next, so can’t give rightful credit for it:

“You hear a text from your own level of development and consciousness. Punitive people love punitive texts; loving people hear in the same text calls to discernment, clarity, choice, and decision.”

Or as Marianne Williamson says,

“Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learn. The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back in our hearts. Love is the essential reality and our purpose on earth. To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life. Meaning does not lie in things. Meaning lies in us.”

To this I say, Amen.

Palette

Palette

Autumn is my favorite time of year!

I love harvest reds, golden yellows and pumpkin oranges that appear as the waning chlorophyll finishes its job for the season. Then the leaves begin to fall and give way to a skyline highlighted by chocolate browns, burnished bronzes and dull silvers against a backdrop of mossy-green pines, azure skies and the tawny tans of harvested corn fields.

All of these hues and tones arouse my Taurus earthiness. Even as the tapestry of colors herald the beginning of a deep cyclical slumber, I am feeling vibrantly alive as if the Master Artist has created all of this just for me.

On my way to church recently it was as if the painting was being created right before my eyes—like a three-dimensional, interactive work of art in which I played a dynamic role.

A light fog hugged the rolling hills and hollows like a down comforter on a warm, toasty bed. Sunshine glimmered through the water vapor producing pulsating columns of sunbeams.

As I crested a hill, four large black birds gently swooped down just above and in front of me in precision formation. Their leisurely flapping seemed to pull my truck along like a Roman chariot through brilliant murkiness. After a short while, they gently broke free of the reins and calmly—almost as if in slow motion—swept up and away in balletic unity.

With their departure, the magical moment ended but left a feeling of Oneness in my being . . .

. . . the Creator and Created as One.

Our lives are the palette of colors and our actions are the brushstrokes coeval—synchronous– with, in, and through God.

This aesthetic knowing is something my Yoga teacher, Lisha, intuitively celebrates with each class she teaches. Leading her yogis through contemplative poses, our energy is meditatively yoked inspiring a harmonious pictorial of grace and peace.

What hues of prismatic light and what brushstrokes are you using in this universally creative process?

Whether it is singing or dancing or painting . . . whatever the creative process . . . we are more than labels, we are a Community of One.

Justice

Justice

In no other experience have I grown more in my spiritual journey than in and through my interactions with clients at the food pantry; which is why these encounters are a frequent topic of this site . . .

. . . as it is with this entry.

Homeless, diabetic, confined to a wheelchair due to the loss of a leg below the knee, missing teeth, hygiene issues and a food pantry regular. This 26-year-old man who had been a student at the middle school where I once taught died recently.

In school I did not have any direct contact with him because he was in the BD (Behavior Disorder) classroom, but I knew of him. He lived a difficult life, more challenging than I could ever imagine on my worst day.

We had absolutely nothing in common and yet I am very grateful for his life!

I learned so much from him. Justice taught me what it really means to not judge someone. I do not know and cannot see what is in a person’s heart. Neither do I know the rest of his or her life’s story, nor do I need to know—God knows and that is enough.

In serving Justice, I got to serve Jesus and learn the real value and fullness of love. Matthew 25:40 says . . 

The King will say to them, ‘Yes! I tell you that whenever you did these things for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did them for me!’

Loving one person is loving all people and loving all is loving One.

And . . . I thought I was a compassionate person—not even close! Thanks to Justice, I learned compassion like that of the good Samaritan . . .

But a man from Shomron (Samaria) who was traveling came upon him; and when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. So, he went up to him, put oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them. Then he set him on his donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day, he took out two days’ wages, gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Look after him; and if you spend more than this, I’ll pay you back when I return.’ Luke 10:33-35

Jews and Samaritans had no dealings with each other. Their ancient enmity grew out of favoritism, abandonment, deception and wars. Prior to the Samaritan stopping to care for the Jewish man, two others—a priest and Levite, both Jews and both well versed in Jewish law—intentionally crossed to the other side of the road to avoid helping the victim of a horrendous crime. The man had been beaten, robbed, stripped and left for dead. This is one of the reasons the actions of the Good Samaritan are so remarkable.

Recognizing the suffering of others is not enough, one must take action. Actions that can be financially costly and possibly time consuming; not to mention inconvenient and maybe uncomfortable. Actions that are sacrificial. Actions that are more concerned for the welfare of another, than for oneself. Actions that look beyond the labels of race, religion, sexuality, politics–any ideas that serves to separate and divide. Actions that recognize suffering as universally endured.

One need not believe in God to practice this kind of empathy, kindness and mercy. We are all neighbors while we share this time and space on planet Earth.

Justice called this out in me and I hope you hear him calling it out in you too.

Fear

Fear

Within the last year or so, three beloveds–one being my father–have told me that they think I am courageous. Each time I was taken aback. I do not see it.

In fact, after a recent incident with a friend and her daughter, I was confronted with just how much of my life has been and is driven by fear. Fear of being judged, fear of disapproval, fear of confrontation, fear of displeasing people, fear of not being loved, fear of not being worthy to be loved, fear of making mistakes, fear of being helpless, fear of not being smart enough or pretty enough or good enough . . .

. . . my heart races, doubts assail me and I look for a way out by staying under the radar.

And so . . .

“Pray for my daughter. She’s walking to work.”

“That’s a long way, what happened?”

“She doesn’t have a ride and she doesn’t need my help.
I told her I would take her but I was going to tell her
boss she doesn’t have transportation. (Part of the conditions
of her employment is to have transportation.) She said no
and walked out the door.”

Imagining the worst that could happen to this beautiful and intelligent 17-year-old woman walking over six miles to work on shoulder-less roads and through sketchy areas, I hopped into my truck in search of her. Luckily, I found her not too far from her home and she willingly accepted a ride.

As we drove, she received a text from her mother, “Don’t come home.”

Even though my insides were in an uproar, I remained as outwardly calm as I could, so that I could support the daughter through this traumatic event. When I dropped her off, there were tears in her eyes as I gave her a hug.

After I got home, a text conversation with her mother made me realize how my fears had informed my friendship with her and how the advice I had given her over time was not completely truthful or helpful.

During some quiet time, I reflected on the gutsy girl who walked out of her house not knowing the outcome of her decision yet remaining true to herself.

And then, remembering some of my past . . .

“You better not get pregnant!”

I was barely 19 years old when my father called me to his office in the basement of our home and spoke those words to me–fearful himself, I’m sure.  I’d just started college away from home, was with my first serious boyfriend, and I was beginning to explore some alternative activities and ideas that were in direct contradiction to some of the conditioned ways I was raised.

My father’s stern and strict methods of discipline still left me fearful and confused but I was determined to “walk out the door.”

The rest, as they say, is history. (See my Home Page for some of the highlights.)

Gutsy and courageous? I don’t know, maybe. Will I still make decisions based on my fears? Probably, but hopefully less and less as I allow those fears to fall away in the light of God’s Love and Grace.

. . . it could be as simple as making the best hand with the cards I’ve been dealt.

John

John

Visiting from Oregon, my cousin, a spiritually enlightened and gentle soul, was asked if he believed in Jesus. Sincerely and honestly, he responded, “No.” Perplexed, the questioner asked again, “You don’t believe in Jesus?” To which my mystically wise kinsman simply replied, “No.”

Had the questioner delved deeper, he would have found that my cousin KNOWS Jesus.

Isn’t this the purpose of meaningful relationships? Isn’t this the message of the Bible? Isn’t this what Jesus meant when he said “Before Abraham was, I Am?” Isn’t this the heart of all Jesus’s messages, parables and healings? Wasn’t this the purpose of the crucifixion of Jesus?

I do not ‘believe in’ my dad. To believe in my dad is to be separate from him. To know my dad is to have a mutually loving and trusting relationship with him. In lighter terms, when children ask an adult if he or she believe in Santa Claus, the adult—with a twinkle in his or her eye–can truthfully answer, “no, I know him.”

“To know in these ways Jesus points to, is to realize that the truth of all of us, prior to all belief, is this most simple knowing that knows itself.”  In other words, “The Christ in me greets the Christ in thee”  which is God’s intimate knowledge of Herself, in and through that which She created out of Herself—sacred, holy Oneness.

Isn’t this what Jesus had in mind in John 14:9 when Philip said to Him, show us the Father, and Jesus responded, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Or in John 10:27 when he said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

The pharisees and sadducees believed in God, and Jesus countered their claims of piousness with, “Woe to you hypocritical Torah-teachers and P’rushim (Pharisees)! You go about over land and sea to make one proselyte; and when you succeed, you make him twice as fit for Gei-Hinnom (Hell) as you are!” Matthew 23:15.

To ‘believe in’ Jesus is to remain lost in illusion. Time and again Jesus illustrated the futility of the belief in separation, or what the Bible calls unbelief—lack of trust.

The story of the man with the demon-possessed son exemplifies this perfectly. A father, at his wits end, brought his son to Jesus to be healed. Tormented since childhood by a spirit that often tried to kill him, the boy was unable to speak. The story continues in chapter nine of Mark with the father begging Jesus,

“But if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Yeshua said to him, What do you mean, ‘if you can’? Everything is possible to someone who has trust!” Instantly the father of the child exclaimed, “I do trust — help my lack of trust!”

I am not saying that Jesus’s words and actions cannot have other significant meaning. Everything He said and did has infinite revelatory purpose. Additionally, I am not saying the word ‘believe’ does not appear in the Bible. I am saying that perhaps the word ‘believe’ would better be rendered as ‘trust.’ Multiple verses from the book of John in the Complete Jewish Bible are translated in this manner.

Don’t let yourselves be disturbed. Trust in God and trust in me. John 14:1

Yeshua declared publicly, “Those who put their trust in me are trusting not merely in me, but in the One who sent me. John 12:44

Yeshua answered, “I am the bread which is life! Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever trusts in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35

Whoever trusts in the Son has eternal life. But whoever disobeys the Son will not see that life but remains subject to God’s wrath.” John 3:36

For God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed. John 3:16

After Adam and Eve ate from The Tree, God reassured them they were not separate from Her by calling out to them, “Where are you?” Obviously, He knew where they were and they knew too; as do we.

My intent here is not to debate semantics but to suggest that knowing and trusting someone–in this case God–delves more deeply into relationship, cosmically.

Love knowing Love, Truth hearing Truth, Beauty seeing Beauty—in other words, the Grace-filled dance of the Trinity which encompasses all of life.

This is the eternal now message.

Namaste.

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.