Monthly Archives: October 2022
Richard Rohr understands justice as loving solidarity with those who suffer:
“We must not separate ourselves from the suffering of the world. When we’re close to those in pain, their need evokes love in us. Very few of us have the largess, the magnanimity to just decide to be loving. Someone has to ask it of us. We have to place ourselves in situations with people who are not like us, outside our systems of success and security, so we can read life from another perspective. The needs we witness will pull us toward love, toward generosity and compassion.
I think the icon of the cross does this on a spiritual level. The bleeding body pulls us into itself and into bleeding humanity, too. I experience this pull when watching the news, witnessing the suffering of people all over the world. I realize much of the broadcast is superficial and even biased, but it takes me out of the protective bubble of my little hermitage where I can live far too peacefully and comfortably. It makes me more aware that right now there is a woman in Syria or Ukraine carrying her baby and running for her life. I must take that in and be in solidarity with her in whatever ways I can, witnessing what she is going through: the anxiety, the pain, the fear. That’s what teaches us how to love. That is the pain we must allow to transform us and inspire us to act somehow.
All of us are called to the work of justice, which will look different for many people. My primary work is to send prayer and love toward those who are hurting. I do believe consciousness is the deepest level of reality. I also use my voice, through my teaching and writing, to awaken others to the reality of suffering and injustice in the world.”
“If it is true that solitude diverts us from our fear and anger and makes us empty for a relationship with God, then it is also true that our emptiness provides a very large and sacred space where we can welcome all the people of the world. There is a powerful connection between our emptiness and our ability to welcome. When we give up what sets us apart from others— not just property but also opinions, prejudices, judgments, and mental preoccupations—then we have room within to welcome friends as well as enemies.” Henri Nouwen
This resonates with my experience of Covid’s quarantine. During that time alone is when I began to understand those I disagree with. Memories of life experiences, of studying and working with the Myers/Briggs Type Indicator in the past, and of people I love who are different from me all came together when seeking God and the grace to understand our broken world. Eileen
I have my issues with face book, but it was a great blessing for me during Covid quarantining. I was cut off from everyone except one son, Steve, who worked at home, stayed quarantined, and got tested before every visit to see me. The first year of Covid wasn’t too bad for me, because I looked ahead and went on a low carb diet, exercised with U tube videos for the elderly, and began to write short articles about the humor in aging and some more serious ones about the grace in aging. Then I got them published in two county newspapers. So, I kept busy, got healthier, and had a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
The second year, I kind of ran out of humor about getting old. And getting to be with family and friends in the short break between Covids made the return to quarantine much harder. And for some reason a lot of us older friends even stopped calling one another. I don’t know if we didn’t want to whine to others or we were waiting for each other to call. But the break made me remember my old lively life with family and friends. So, I struggled with overwhelming loneliness. And I had to fight daily not to just watch TV at night and sleep through the days. My connection to the larger world was through my blog and to my church and friends through zoom and face book. Writing helps me hear myself, to get in touch with my own feelings and ideas. The isolation even pushed me into seeking self-awareness. It often wasn’t comfortable, but the goodie was it increased my willingness to try to understand others. Once we begin to recognize our own flip side and accept that God knows and loves us anyway, we can stop clinging to our need for someone we can consider inferior and accept our shared humanity, both the good and the not so good of it.
So, one of the “goodies” for the “baddie” of quarantine was that wrestling with the violence and divisions of our times with prayer and humility opened my eyes to my own contribution to it. And freed me to begin seeking understanding of the people I love who see the volatile issues of our times differently than I do. My twenty years of working with the Myers/Briggs Type Indicator gave me insight into the variety of inborn differences in people. But even more, growing in both understanding and love for a man who was my total opposite in every area of personality helped open my eyes to the potential for good from our seeing things differently. Human beings are born with minds that see and respond to life drastically differently. We did NOT get a vote on that. I have begun to get a strong hint that God created us different for a purpose. We can accept and care about others without understanding them, but to make a connection that generates a deeper grace giving love, takes understanding. And I believe that God can use even Covid to push us into trying to not only understand our differences, but to find a way to use the gifts differing of all of us to make this a better world. I realize that my idealism is both my gift and my weakness. It makes me dream what may be an impossible dream. But it also gives me enough hope to try to help it come about. Because, I have lived long enough to see that the Love of God can accomplish miracles. And they usually happen in response to the hardest challenges.
Matthew 21:22: And whatever you ask in Prayer you will receive, if you have faith.
This one is tricky. First of all, faith is a gift. Secondly, this isn’t heaven and if everyone lived forever here, it would be standing room only! Thirdly, when sweating blood and asking God to save him from the suffering he saw coming, Jesus recognized that suffering was part of his spiritual journey for the good of all and he accepted that. It’s part of our journey also. Fourth, we may still just have the faith of a mustard seed, but when we focus our mustard seeds of faith together, it can make a difference. Fifth, I have witnessed impossible instantaneous healings and experienced healing myself, but I helplessly watched my mother die by inches for fourteen years with Alzheimer’s. I once was in a prayer group that had been praying for a young husband/father fighting cancer. He would get better and then get worse over and over for a year or more. At a prayer group that had been praying for him, something told me to let go and put him in God’s hands, when I said this, several others confirmed that they had gotten the same message. So, we prayed that way. We learned later he died at that time. When early in my walk with Jesus, older people in a prayer group would pray “Your will, God, not mine,” I’d cringe and think, “Don’t you remember what he let happen to His Son?” But Jesus incarnates both the Love of God for all his creation and children, but also the spiritual journey of all of us which becomes “Your will, not mine” when we have grown free to love more than need and to trust God no matter what.
Life is NOT about winning.
Life is NOT about needing.
Life is NOT about fixing others.
Life is NOT about accumulating things.
Life is NOT about accumulating money.
Life is NOT about avoiding all pain.
Life is NOT about power.
Life is NOT about control.
Life is NOT about laws.
Life IS about growing from needing to loving.
Knowing the love of God up close and personal frees us to grow more loving throughout our lives.
Jesus is NOT JUST the Love of God expressed for humanity and all creation, but the spiritual journey of Jesus also fleshes out the WAY for all of us.
The SABBATH is the time we spend with God: for healing, for spiritual refueling, for learning, for intercession for ourselves and others, for being grateful, for connecting to God through praise, for discerning the stages of Jesus spiritual journey in the Scriptures, for being transformed by the grace of Love. The Sabbath can be anytime and can grow to be most of the time over our life span.
The TEN commandments, were to enable us to live together for the survival of all. They are the MINIMUM.
Jesus is a turning point from survival of the fittest to caring for one another. The BEATITUDES are the next level for that. And that’s a whole different ball game.
This was written for my trans grandchildren who have rejected current Christianity because of the hate and prejudice. It’s very hard to find Jesus in many religions today. I found Jesus when I was rejecting religion. So, my hope is for those who are having trouble finding Jesus would read this and seek Jesus in conversation with him and reading the New Testament.
Human beings are born different through genes, become more different by their family’s influence as children, are influenced by the culture they are born into. Human beings are unfinished, both humanity as a whole and each of us. We all have blind sides, even the best of us. We all need to know we are loved and that strength, courage, wisdom, and love are available if we are open to them. This is called grace. There’s a good side and a bad side to everything: forms of government, even democracy and even religion. The key thing about Jesus is that he was open to growing and changing in every area of his life. He started out thinking his people had a monopoly on goodness and God. He learned to love the heretics, the outcasts, the Pharisees who made a God of law and took the love out of religion, the conquering Roman soldiers, even eventually those that tortured and killed him. He realized that they were blinded by their fear of what was different. And that power corrupts because human vulnerability gives us a need to control life. He didn’t come this wise or strong. He grew. His mom taught him compassion for others. He learned from watching his best friends struggle with a desire for power and prestige. He wept for his people and over their rejection of him. He lost it in anger with his best friend when he himself was still struggling to accept that he was not going to have power, but would suffer instead. He sweated blood when the time for his suffering had come. But he had a source for wisdom and courage in a God of Love that he spent time seeking over and over for grace to keep on keeping on. Jesus was human in every sense of the word, but over and over he was open to growing in love, because he found the source of Love he could turn to. Jesus became the Love of God expressed for ALL of us. He has been my friend for fifty years and I found him outside of any religion. His life was an example of “Seeking justice, valuing kindness, and walking humbly with his God by being open to learning and growing in both wisdom and love.
As human beings we are all different in many ways and we come as dependent needy babies. Need and love are opposites. Life is a spiritual journey of growing from need to having the capacity to love. We will never be perfect and only God knows the hand we were dealt, so only God can judge us, not even ourselves. God’s love has no small print. It’s unconditional and when we become mature enough to recognize our flaws, it’s that Love fleshed out in the journey of Jesus, that heals and frees us to keep growing in the capacity to love ourselves and other unfinished imperfect human beings.
We need that love up close and personal to become the unique person we were created to be.
The Fourth Core Principle of the CAC: Practical truth is more likely found at the bottom and the edges than at the top or center of most groups, institutions, and cultures. Father Richard explores the power of this prophetic position:
The edge of things is a liminal space—a holy place or, as the Celts called it, “a thin place.” Most of us have to be taught how to live there. To function on the spiritual edge of things is to learn how to move safely in and out, back and forth, across and return. It is a prophetic position, not a rebellious or antisocial one. When we are at the center of something, we easily confuse essentials with nonessentials, getting tied down by trivia, loyalty tests, and job security. Not much truth can happen there. When we live on the edge of anything, with respect and honor (and this is crucial!), we are in an auspicious and advantageous position.
In the Gospels, Jesus sends his first disciples on the road to preach to “all the nations” (Matthew 28:19; Luke 24:47) and to “all creation” (Mark 16:15). I’m convinced he was training them to risk leaving their own security systems and yet, paradoxically, to be gatekeepers for them. He told them to leave their home base and connect with other worlds. This becomes even clearer in his instruction for them “not to take any baggage” (Mark 6:8) and to submit to the hospitality and even the hostility of others (Mark 6:10–11). Jesus says the same of himself in John’s Gospel (10:7) where he calls himself “the gate” where people “will go freely in and out” (10:9). What amazing permission! He sees himself more as a place of entrance and exit than a place of settlement.
The unique and rare position of a biblical prophet is always on the edge of the inside. The prophet is not an outsider throwing rocks or an insider comfortably defending the status quo. Instead, the prophet lives precariously with two perspectives held tightly together. In this position, one is not ensconced safely inside, nor situated so far outside as to lose compassion or understanding. Prophets must hold these perspectives in a loving and necessary creative tension. It is a unique kind of seeing and living, which will largely leave the prophet with “nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58) and easily attracting the “hatred of all”—who have invariably taken sides in opposing groups (Luke 21:16–17). The prophet speaks for God, and almost no one else, it seems.
When we are both inside and outside, we are an ultimate challenge, possible reformers, and lasting invitations to a much larger world.
(Me: Had to read carefully to understand what he is saying in this. But, when the light came on, it really resonates for me.)