Spirit Category


The God Who Sees

The God Who Sees

Often times when I am reading my Bible, a verse or passage will jump off the page; stunned, I end up wondering how I missed it before, considering the number of times I have read it in the past.

Such was the case just recently.

I am preparing to lead a Sunday School class on Lysa TerKeurst’s, Finding I Am: How Jesus Fully Satisfies the Cry of Your Heart, which “explores the seven I AM statements of Jesus found in the Gospel of John.” Part of each lesson includes reading four to five chapters of the Book of John and answering reflective questions.

I have not gotten very far . . .

. . . I am still in the second chapter with Jesus at the wedding in Cana.

According to the author of the Book of John, this was the first of Jesus’s seven signs and the first miracle of his public ministry.

With much merriment and dancing, typical Jewish wedding celebrations lasted five to seven days. While there, on a Tuesday we are told, Jesus is informed by his mother that they have run out of wine. The story continues starting with verse five:

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now six stone water-jars were standing there for the Jewish ceremonial washings, each with a capacity of twenty or thirty gallons. Yeshua told them, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. He said, “Now draw some out, and take it to the man in charge of the banquet”; and they took it. The man in charge tasted the water; it had now turned into wine! He did not know where it had come from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew.

Well? Did you see it, hidden amongst the symbolism?

“. . . but the servants who had drawn the water knew” . . .

. . . the first witnesses to the first miracle!

WOW!

What was their reaction? Did they run off and tell their family and friends or did they keep it to themselves? Did this knowledge change their lives? If so, in what way? Or did they just return to living their normal routine? Who were they? Why did Jesus entrust them with this miracle? Did he know them prior to this celebration? Did they come to trust in Jesus as John said the disciples did?  Did they ask themselves how could this be so?

So many unanswered questions not the least of which is . . . why did this verse stop me in my tracks?

While lying in bed reflecting on the above, the answer came to me . . .

. . . because He saw them!

Hagar in Genesis 16:13 said it this way:

So she named ADONAI who had spoken with her El Ro’i [God of seeing], because she said, “Have I really seen the One who sees me [and stayed alive]?

Unable to conceive, Sarah gives her slave girl, Hagar, to her husband Abraham “to build a family through her.” Hagar becomes pregnant and difficult feelings quickly arise between Sarah and Hagar with Sarah mistreating Hagar so badly that Hagar flees into the desert where she meets “the angel of ADONAI.” During this encounter, Hagar is encouraged to return and submit to her mistress.

The thought of going back could not have been easy . . . many questions must have run through her mind including “How” . . .

. . . but that’s the thing, isn’t it?

Being seen can be empowering!

Those beloveds with whom I am most open, are ones that truly see me and as a result I find myself doing things I never dreamed I could (like writing this blog). We may never know, but hopefully the servants who had drawn the water felt this same emancipation.

Strength seeing Strength; Compassion seeing Compassion; Love seeing Love. God knowing all the qualities of Herself through that which He created. We are each seen and intimately known whether we recognize it or not. Awakening to this kind of Sight brings healing and wholeness to a hurting world.

He sees me . . .

. . . He sees you, beloved!

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice

Speaking of the Winter Solstice . . . “But now the light slowly slips into the depths of the cave, begins to open our eyes … We are being pulled out, into the open … The season of soft revelations is upon us.”  John Fridinger

Bibles

Bibles

The Complete Jewish Study Bible

Rabbi Barry Rubin, General Editor

Of the seven different versions of the Bible that I have read from cover to cover, The Complete Jewish Study Bible, has made the most lasting impression upon me so far. In “Illuminating the Jewishness of God’s Word” as proclaimed on the cover, my experience of the scriptures has been fuller and richer.

Each version I have read—Revised Standard Version (RSV), New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation (NLT), The Message (MSG), and English Standard Version (ESV)—has been an important part of my faith journey; and not one of those versions is any better than any other version.

What made reading this version particularly alive was the context—insights into the history of the times about which it was written and through which it was written, explanations of misunderstood words, use and pronunciation of Jewish names, and the perspective and purpose of Jewish festivals.

Other versions of the Bible may have those kinds of features as well, but this Jewish experience seems to have filled an intense yearning within my spirit while further deepening my awareness of God.

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.

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!