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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

In the beginning the Ancient Story was under-told

In the beginning the Ancient Story was under-told.  Subtleties to be captured, then awed upon, went lost.  Then the Ancient Story was summarized, translated, and further under-told.

            It may be useful to reflect upon the Ancient Story as “under-told.”  That it was under-told is not to suggest that few told the Story or that the Story was rarely told.  No, nothing could be further from the truth, for many told the Story, and they told it often, but when they told it, they under-told it.  And by under-telling it, they eventually mis-told it.

            In the beginning the Ancient Story was under-told for a purpose.  It was under-stated, subtle, sublime, and mysterious.  In subtlety, the Ancient Story guarded its deepest secrets.  Sages meditated in awe for hours upon a single nuance, a single word, even a single letter.  Regular story-tellers, meanwhile, missed the sublime and carried the Story forward in its abridged version.  They summarized the Ancient Story, then further under-told it, then they translated their summaries, and then under-told it even more.

            Eventually, in their under-tellings, and summaries of under-tellings, and translations of summaries of under-tellings, they lost the punch lines.  Some of the story-tellers wondered what the punch lines were, and they debated among themselves about what the punch lines may have been.  But many of the story-tellers didn’t know they had lost any of the punch lines, and they kept under-telling the Ancient Story without any pauses or musings about why the Story was missing its punch lines.  Still others, whether conscious or not, one cannot know, perceived the punch lines were missing, and they added their own.  Now the Ancient Story was both under-told and mis-told.

Some of the Sages tried to rescue the Ancient Story from the story-tellers, and they tried to correct some of the errors had that arisen.  But the story-tellers hated the Sages, and they slandered the Sages and spat lies against them and called them every manner of rogue and scoundrel.  The story-tellers roused the people against the Sages, and they called for the murder of the Sages, and the people complied, and they killed the Sages.

In the beginning the Ancient Story was under-told.  In the beginning “the” was the Alpha and the Omega.  In the beginning God created “the” heavens and the earth.  In the beginning “the” was Aleph-Tav, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last.  In the beginning God created the Alpha and the Omega, the heavens and the earth.

In the beginning the masculine and feminine powers – in plural, “Elohim,” created the Alpha and the Omega.  “Beginning” created “Elohim,” the Alpha and the Omega, the heavens and the earth.  In the beginning the Ancient Story was under-told.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Eve's story

Greetings to all.  I know you haven’t seen me lately, and I miss all of you too.  It is not that I am not writing.  It is that I am working on a much larger project, a book that follows Eve from a modern, new, and more biblically accurate perspective -- though that perspective challenges the very tenants of the traditional churches in North America.

The Bible admits, for example, that men ruling over women a curse.  It is the third curse noted to Eve in Genesis 3:16.  Few know the curse, “he will rule over you,” even exists, and if they ask about it, they may be told the “curse” expresses what was intended.  Few carry out the line of questioning to its logical end, “if ‘he will rule over you’ describes what should be, then why is it expressed as a curse?”

If we Christians recognize and face the biblical expression that men ruling over women is a curse, then we can begin the process of transcending that curse.  And is that not why Christ came? To set us free?

Between the well-known curse to Eve of pain in childbirth and the chilling final curse that the man would rule over her comes another little-known curse, “your yearning will be for the man.”  Few are aware of this curse either, and fewer understand it.  But when we think about it, does this little phrase not express extraordinary truth?  Little girls dream of marrying a prince while little boys are thinking nothing of girls, let alone marriage.  Teen girls hit a crisis if they don’t get asked to the prom, an event for which most teen boys are still shrugging their shoulders and rolling their eyes.  

The story continues, and we’re all familiar with it.  It is a story that is not universal, but common: the teen boy goes, but his true hope has nothing to do with the prom, but the sex he craves after it.  The girl, who we’ll call Eve, gives it, not because she wants the sex, but because she wants to go to the prom.  She keep giving it to keep her boyfriend.  Then she gets pregnant and hopes for what she really wants: marriage.  But the boyfriend doesn’t want marriage.  He wants abortion. 

Eve’s story can take many turns at this point, but it began with something very simple: the girl yearns for the boy.  And she is not yearning for him sexually.  The scripture is very clear: she yearns for “the man.”  The man himself.  The person.  She wants him to complete her because she doesn't feel complete on her own.  Whatever choice Eve makes at this moment in her story, her life is impacted by this seven-word curse in a great myriad of ways she has never considered: the curse steals five hours of her week on her favorite soap opera and twenty hours on other sources from celebrity magazines to romance novels to fashion tips to social networking sites revolving on her obsession with romance.  Much more of her time is also spent on less direct associations with her obsession, including shopping, which steals not only time, but money.  Her wardrobe, her cosmetics, and her hair styling appointments add up to a great deal more money than her boyfriend’s attire.  Were she not living under this seven-word curse, she would likely still spend more on her appearance than her man, but not many times more.

The seven word curse deceives Eve into a relationship before she’s ready, to abuse, to enabling risky behavior, and into many choices she would make differently were not she unconsciously driven by a thread woven into the feminine structure.

Again, Eve’s story is not universal, but it is common.  In my book, I will express awe at the insightful nature of the biblical writer to not only describe – very perceptively -- what has been written into the expression of feminine humanity, but also to call these expressions “curses.”  The biblical writer carried remarkable foresight to state that men ruling over women is a curse, and, remarkably, the biblical writer even perceived that women yearning for men is also a curse.  Today, in our twenty-first century, we don’t even see what has been written in the Bible for what it is, let alone carry the foresight of this biblical author who recognized these two expressions of feminine humanity as curses.

Today, in the Christian scriptures, we also have a solution to our curses: the Christ, the Savior, who came to set us free of our curses.  In Him, can transcend them.  In fact, the clear antidote for a curse that a woman will yearn for her earthly man is by completion of her yearning by her heavenly Man.  In Him, she is complete, and, therefore, her yearning for her earthly man has been transcended.

I hope to post updates on my progress and on the story here along the way, though posting may be less frequent. Meanwhile, feel free to check in.  I’d love to hear from you.  I miss everyone.  Meanwhile, please join me in praying for insight and clarity from the Spirit on the progress of this book.  It’ll rattle a few cages, and that’s giving me some writer’s block.  I’d love your prayers. 

Thank you and blessings, 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Awakening to the Divine Voice

 “’My Father is working until now,
and I myself am working.’
For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking
all the more to kill him,
because he not only was breaking the Sabbath,
but also was calling God His own Father,
making Himself equal with God”
(John 5:17-18)

            Even more radical than calling God his own Father is to call God Father of us all.  The Jewish leaders leaped to interpret this as “making himself equal,” but, rather, it suggests intimacy with the divine.  We forget such intimacy was not part of the Jewish way of thinking.  After all, every year, in this very season, in almost every other place we look, we see lovely scenes of the divine, laying in a manger, surrounded by a family, kings, shepherds, and even sheep, cows and donkeys.  In this intimate scene, people and animals alike are all lovingly adoring a little baby who represents the divine intimately sleeping among us.

            But in the day of that divine child, to consider the divine, God, in terms so intimate, not only as a baby among us, but even as our “Father,” was a radical paradigm, a threatening one, in fact.  It was made even more threatening by Jesus’ implied claim to trump them: “You think you have the authority to tell me what God wants of me?  No, God is my Father, and I listen directly to Him.”

            Understandably, the Jewish leaders saw a great threat in this, especially with Jesus’ growing ministry.  They perceived that if he were not stopped, soon everyone would be getting their directions from him, not them.  Even worse, they must have wondered what would happen if he were to teach that they could also have God as their own Father?  Worst of all, what if his followers also learn to hear God for themselves?  What would happen to them?  Wouldn’t they lose all their authority, their power, their jobs?  This Jesus had better be stopped.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming
and now is when the dead shall hear
the voice of the Son of God;
and those who hear shall live.”
(John 5:25)

            If the Jewish leaders were not already sufficiently incensed, one can barely imagine their ire while listening to His discourse that begins, “the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing” (5:19) and ends with the critique, “For if you believed Moses, you would have believed Me; for he wrote of Me.  But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (5:47)

            In the middle are portions that suggest what may have been their greatest fear: that Jesus’ followers could also learn to hear the voice of God.  Consider the statement above in verse 25,” the dead shall hear”: until one hears, one is “dead.”  Genuine life, what Jesus terms “eternal life,” only commences upon the hearing, the believing, and the trusting in the Son.  Prior to that, one is not alive, but “dead.”

            Prior to that moment, the divine is like the lovely image we see in the Nativity: the divine sleeping among us, and within us.  When it wakes, we are no longer dead, but alive.

            What Jesus says just before this is also revealing: “he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (5:24).  We think of passing from life to death, but Jesus says the one who hears passes from death to life.  This suggests we are born into death and then pass into life.

            Once we do, then we, too, can hear the voice of the Father and find authority straight from the Father.  It’s a process: “an hour is coming and now is.  The voice begins with hearing the red-printed statements in the Gospels and through the church’s teachings.  The more one searches the scriptures, the more clear the voice becomes.

            In time, often while reading the scriptures, surprising insight comes through the Holy Spirit. This voice of the Son is growing ever more clear.  Then, in prayer, the voice comes through again.  Then it comes while one is walking, showering, gardening, cooking.  The voice is becoming a friend.  It’s the voice I’ve named this blog: “whispers of mystery.”

            By the time one consciously perceives that this voice is less about the person Jesus and more about the divine voice, “the voice of the Son of God,” the process has lasted so long, one knows not when the voice actually emerged.  Even if one had a significant encounter with the Holy Spirit, the voice emerged, nevertheless, through a process.

            At the beginning, when our flesh rules much more than our spirit, external forces are essential to guide us forward.  Hence, no matter how much we may critique what I and, I’ve since discovered, others call “Churchianity,” the external force of the Church is a critical ingredient in getting this process moving forward.

            The instances when we may be critical of the Church are in those moments when it quits moving the process forward and actually stunts the process: “Don’t go any further.  That’s dangerous territory.”

            Usually, the Church stunts the process at the same point that the religious leaders tried to stop Jesus: when one claims he can hear the Father for himself.  When this occurs, once again, the church leaders can be threatened to lose their authority and power.  The Church’s job is to bring us to the point where, though we may choose to continue fellowship and service, we no longer need the Church for our own personal growth.  At this moment, some churches rejoice.  Others churches do not.

            Whether or not we may be participating in a church that rejoices with us, the good news is we are the ones to hear the divine voice and to follow its guidance.  Our intimacy can be even deeper than the lovely image of divine within a baby sleeping among us.  Instead, it can be of the divine voice awoken within us.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

"God is Spirit"

“An hour is coming and now is,
when the true worshipers shall
worship the Father in spirit and truth;
for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers”
(John 4:23)

It’s a worship from within, in Spirit, tapping into this inexplicable knowledge, truth, a deep form of intuition that goes beyond intuition and into knowledge of truth.
            Next, Yeshua says something revealing: “God is Spirit” (John 4:24).  While this statement does complement the traditional concept of the Trinity, it doesn’t fit into our popular concept of God.  Yeshua’s own depiction of God as “Father” fits the way we perceive God as a much larger and far grander version of us humans.  But, here, Yeshua clarifies that the Father uses the names Father, God, and “spirit.”  In verses 4:21-24, Yeshua uses the names Father and God interchangeably as He who is worshiped in spirit and truth, so Father = God = Spirit.

“God is spirit,
and those who worship Him
must worship in spirit and truth”
(John 4:24)

            In the full statement, Yeshua suggests we cannot worship God unless we worship “in spirit and truth.”  Religion is not worship.  Rituals are not worship.  Adherence to doctrines is not worship.  Going to church is not worship.  These things can be done, and perhaps they’ll be of some benefit, but they are not “worship.”  If we consider this full discourse, with living water “springing up to eternal life” in the one who receives it and worship “in spirit and truth,” then it seems “worship” is more akin to deep prayer and meditation than most of our usual concepts of “worship.”  It can take place corporately, but likely cannot occur unless it also, and most importantly, takes place privately.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

To Believe or to Know

“He who comes from above is above all,
he who is of the earth is from the earth
and speaks of the earth.
He who comes from above is above all.
What he has seen and heard,
of that he bears witness;
and no man receives his witness”
(John 3:31-32)

The repeated refrain of Yeshua to Nicodemus in the Gospel of John, poetically expressed as a wrap in verse 31, “He who comes from above/heaven is above all,” sounds curiously akin to a few statements in the Gospel of Thomas, where they are applied to any of the special few men and women who find their way into the kingdom.
Next we see that he who is “above all” knows, for “what he has seen and heard, of that he bears witness” (v. 32).  This one does not merely “believe,” he knows, for only one who knows can “bear witness.”  However, the manner in which he knows is quite distinct from that of men in general, “for no man receives his witness.”  This is because men, in order to “believe” (let alone “know”) must have empirical evidence or a “sign” the people kept demanding.  Men need to see, touch, hear, and taste in order even to believe, let alone know.  However, he who comes from above knows without that empirical evidence because he has evidence that goes even deeper than the empirical variety.
Often, the knowledge begins with empirical evidence, some miracle that should not be chalked up to “coincidence.”  These are moments for which I mock the skeptics: It takes more faith to believe this statistical impossibility was due to random chance than to believe in a divine miracle.  Sometimes a series of such clues coms forth to boost one’s faith, and once one’s “faith has made [himself] well,” one moves beyond belief, trust and faith, and into knowledge: “I don’t believe, I know,” as Carl Jung has famously answered in response to whether he believed in God.
            At this point, one knows not from empirical evidence, but from some remarkable and inexplicable knowledge from within.  It is akin to the knowledge of babies and toddlers that defies any scientific understanding: How do babies learn how to walk and talk?  Frankly, scientists are baffled and admit they don’t know.  So Noam Chomskey coined the term, “Language Acquisition Device,” known by its acronym the “LAD,” to provide, at the very least, a definition of this mystery and a term for the convenience of researchers, psychologists, pediatricians, educators, and others who work with children who may have a weakened “LAD” in contrast to those who have a healthy “LAD.”
In essence, what is the LAD?  A divinely placed mechanism into humans that teaches us to talk, read, write, and communicate.  Neurologists still haven’t found it, and they won’t, for it is not biological, but a divinely implanted system of knowledge in the human mind.  Others have likened this knowledge to knowing a sunset is beautiful.  How do we know?  Because beauty has been divinely written into our hearts, so when we encounter it, we know.
            Likewise, those “born from above” have another divinely placed mechanism within their mind by which they “know” things others don’t.  Psychics, remote viewers, and those with ESP have such unusual knowledge that’s inexplicable to those without this knowledge.  Those who are spiritually infused with special knowledge, who have been “born from above” and are publicly acknowledged to have spiritual insight are called “prophets.”  Others may lack this public acknowledgement but nevertheless maintain such a divinely placed gifting of inexplicable knowledge.
            Given that such knowledge is inexplicable, “no man receives his witness” (v. 32).  “How are we to believe you?” men ask.  “Just because you say so?”  “What evidence do you have?”  “Show us a sign.”  It cannot be done.  Attempting to explain this knowledge is an exhausting and exasperating trial in futility that thoroughly frustrates both the one trying to explain it and the one trying to understand.  Most who have received such inexplicable knowledge have stories of their own futile attempts at explaining it, often to receive mockery, scorn, and diagnoses of psychological disorders.  Eventually, the wise ones learn to shut up and accept that “no man receives his witness.”

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Labor pains: Birthing into Something New

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you,
as though something strange were happening to you. 
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ,
so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed”
(1 Peter 4: 12-13)

Every Christian circle has a few taboo topics.  Here we are on the first day of a new year, and I’ve decided to take one of them on.  Hmmm, I may be asking for a dangerous year.  But it’s time to live bold.  This topic is critical, and when Christians ignore it, they lose what could be one of the most significant opportunities of their lives – because they don’t know how address it.  It’s a pattern that comes forth when spiritual development is on the brink: obstacle, prayer, victory.  If we don’t know the pattern, we may miss the victory.  What do some call this pattern?  “Spiritual warfare.”

If I am to address such a topic, why would I choose to do so, of all days, on New Year’s Day?  Shouldn’t this be a day of celebrating what is new?  Why talk about something that sounds so evil?  Even demonic?  First, it will become clear that I see this pattern as neither evil nor demonic, but purely natural, as natural as labor pains, and, like labor pains to new birth, surprisingly appropriate for discussion as we begin a new year.

I came into the Christian Family at the age of 15, through a church that loved me into the healing I needed.  A year later, I joined my first mission trip to build houses for the poor in Mexico, which touched a passion in me and began a decade of many more such mission trips.  There was an understanding at this church that “spiritual warfare” often accompanies mission trips.  Invariably, they’d warn us, the van may break down on the way (and do just fine on the way back, by the way), or the luggage won’t make it, or team members will get sick, or some other unexpected and obscure hitch will present itself that delays the mission or threatens it altogether.
My church group never expressed that such obstacles derived from some sinister entity, but explained the pattern as one permitted by God to strengthen our faith.  Sure enough, the obstacles came.  Thankfully, because our group was prepared, we knew what to do: circle up and pray.  We didn’t let the obstacles discourage us, defeat us, or hold us back.  Instead, they emboldened us and brought us to prayer, bold prayer.  Then we watched the Spirit move in remarkable ways.  I learned the pattern: obstacle, prayer, victory.

Meanwhile, I and my biological family traveled extensively for study and pleasure, I also noticed that such obstacles were less frequent and less intense on travels for other purposes.  Such hitches did come for those too, but less often and less intense.  And, please, before casting off these observations as unique to my experience, ask a handful of seasoned missionaries if obstacles are more likely on travels for missions than they are for other purposes, and the knowing ones will smile, nod, and say that obstacles, especially on the way, to mission trips defy the statistics.  Seasoned missionaries know the pattern: obstacle, prayer, victory.

The pattern taught me that it held for moments beyond mission trips.  When a spiritual development was on its way, so were the obstacles.  And I understood the proper response: prayer.  Bold prayer.  To meet with triumph, I learned from this church that it takes bold prayer that calls upon a Great God to do Mighty works against any obstacle in the way of what the Holy Spirit is doing.

Thank goodness it was this church that led me into Christ.  Thank goodness this church had prepared me for a spiritual battle many years later that was misunderstood by everyone around me and that otherwise could have led to the very breakdown of my marriage.  Thank goodness this church had taught me about spiritual warfare and about bold prayer.  My gratitude can no longer remain silent.  Let me share my own battle.

During a 3 ½ month period of time, occasionally hinted at on this site, I lived through what I now affectionately call my “summer in the twilight zone.”  I wasn’t calling it that then.  The nightmares were terrifying, and my toddler was waking with them at the same time as I was.  I’d wake in horror, sweating, heavy breathing, wide eyed and shaken, and seconds later, my toddler in the next room over would let out a blood-curdling scream, waking from her own nightmare.  The sicknesses, the lost passports the day before they were needed, the for-a-separate-post trials facing our marriage, the subsequent wedding rings both my husband and I lost, the story I (Karina) shared here, the car accident, which was separate from but later in the week as the story just linked, and other bizarre trials hit heavy over a matter of six weeks, during which I was also awed by extraordinary spiritual glory.  (See again the link just noted.)  As I’ve expressed before, my “summer in the twilight zone” carried a remarkable mix of glory and terror, and it truly was the time of my own Awakening.

It wasn’t until I faced these battles that I discovered how ignorant most Christians are of these forces that come at peak spiritual moments in our lives.  To everyone around me, all of the bizarre circumstances were chalked up to an odd mix of coincidence.  Be they my Christian friends or my spiritual leaders, were the available during this time, they all found me to need psychological help and gave no credence to my cries for bold prayer against the forces terrorizing me.

I say “were they available during this time” because some friends and leaders were out of the country or otherwise inaccessible during this time, but once my twilight zone had passed, the Spirit blessed me with quite a few who understood.  One, after hearing a litany of craziness, stopped me at “car accident,” cast her index finger out, and exclaimed, “That’s spiritual warfare!”  I breathed a sigh of relief.  Thank you.  Finally, someone understood and gave it a label it deserved. 

I had been so exhausted trying to find anybody who could understand, both for the emotional support I longed for and for the prayer team I desperately needed.  My friends could see that my marriage was in danger, so on their own, they prayed for that and probably for my psychological health, but they weren’t willing to pray with me.  They wanted me to stay put at home at a safe distance from them, while they reported they were praying for me on their own.

So I truly had to learn what I heard Christ whisper and often repeat, “I am with you, My daughter.  Come to Me.  I am with you.”  So I came to Him and I prayed, and I prayed boldly.  I saw the pattern: obstacle, prayer, victory.  I met the obstacles, I prayed, I kept meeting obstacles, I prayed more boldly, I still kept meeting obstacles, I prayed even more boldly, and I found victory.  I still kept meeting obstacles.  This is an important point.  The obstacles persist even when prayers are uplifted, and even if we consider them bold, but victory sometimes comes only after we send up more prayers that are more bold than we could ever imagine to be necessary.

Obstacle, prayer, victory.  I had learned the pattern, and I implemented it when it became necessary.  Tragically, not all Christians understand this pattern.  They see these obstacles at very pivotal moments in their lives, at moments when they see all the signs that the Spirit is about to do a great work in them and through them, and they think the obstacles are a cruel coincidence.  And they moan, groan, and whine over the obstacles.  And then the obstacles defeat them, and they cry, and they cry hard because they had “thought” they were on the brink of something great, but the obstacle held them back.

I have sat and listened in grief to such tragic stories of other Christians.  To me, all the signs were clear: the Lord was about to do something great in them and through them.  “So did you pray?” I’d ask.  “Of course,” they’d reply, insulted.  “No,” I’d say again, “Did you PRAY?”  Then they’d look at me more insulted and shake their head, not at my question, but at me.  I got my answer.  They hadn’t prayed.

Obstacle, prayer, victory.  It’s a pattern noted often throughout the gospels and epistles and in a few Christian circles.  In these circles, it is a pattern that often comes under a label that seems to repel other Christian circles, “spiritual warfare.”  I can see why the label doesn’t work for many.  It conjures up images of angels and demons sword-fighting in Christian sci-fi novels.  I get it. 

Further, in some circles, the concept of “demons” is associated with the pattern, and I’d like to acknowledge here that this concept of “demons” can be a helpful way of perceiving it, as imagining “demons” can embolden people to become the very prayer warriors they need to be in order to have victory.  The way I see the pattern, however, is neither sinister nor demonic, but natural.  Perhaps we need a term that is less off-putting and more precise.

Labor pains.  Isn’t that what is happening?  We are on a path of birthing something new and, just when we’re on the brink of birthing it, obstacles and suffering come forth.  We are laboring to birthing something new.  Very little that is truly meaningful comes without labor and without hardship.  So when we see the obstacles, may we not be defeated.  May we not groan at what we’re told to call “coincidences” and, therefore, lack the boldness to fight.  May we name the moment, perhaps as “labor pains” or the simple pattern of “obstacle, prayer, victory.”  By acknowledging the moment for the pattern it carries, we prepare ourselves to pray with boldness and declare victory.

May any labor pains in our New Year usher in New Birth.  May 2014 be a year of bold prayer and great victory.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Celebrating Birth

Christmas blessings!
Today, we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child, and we can reflect on this birth as a birth for each of us as well.  So on this day of birth, I’m reposting The Birth of the Mystic:

Many of us here began in a tradition that filled us with awe.  In time, we found ourselves conflicted.  We began to “wrestle,” ignorantly thinking that no question is a bad question – only to discover some questions are off-limits.  Why? we wondered.  Isn’t God big enough to take any question?  If we posed this one aloud, we may have drawn out special aggravation, as the answer is clear and implies the next question: Sure, but is the church?

Some of my own questions stemmed from the discord between the God I had discovered within my own heart and spirit and the one described by my tradition, as well as the one described by the scriptures, as interpreted by the religious.  Why, I wondered, did God harden Pharaoh’s heart?  Why would Jesus have prayed for Peter, but not for Judas, when Satan was “sifting” all the disciples as “wheat”?  ("Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.  But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail" ~ Lk. 22:31-32)  And the big stumper: why would God command Joshua to commit genocide?

Posing the big questions can be dangerous, not only for the persecution it might bring from external forces, but even more for the internal persecution it can bring from our own internal forces.  Hence, we hear Dumbledore’s wise admonishment: “Curiosity is no sin, Harry, but one must exercise caution.”  Jesus blessed those who were willing to persevere in this trial: “Blessed are they who have been persecuted within themselves.  It is they who have truly come to know the father” (Gospel of Thomas, 69).

For a time, we wrestled on our own, posed our questions to the Lord in private, and pretended conformity within our tradition – only to betray our non-conformity from time to time.  We did not yet know we were mystics.  We were like “mystics in the womb”: yet to birth what was inside.  So in this season of Advent, we can celebrate not only the Birth of the Christ, but also the birth of the mystic.  This is the moment when the long nights of wrestling and struggling birth themselves into the daylight.  We awaken out of our human construct and into our identity as mystics, recognizing our divine spirit within.  We begin to trust the Light within, follow it, celebrate it, and live into it.

But as newly birthed mystics, we face a new question: as we follow the Light within, do we remain with our tradition as well?  Our tradition, after all, did point us to this Light.  Our tradition taught us the sacred, hinted at the mysteries, and directed us to the scriptures.  Meanwhile, our tradition had also set itself up like a boat with the mission of carrying both the sacred contents and the sacred souls into eternal life.  But once the mystic-in-the-womb is birthed, he discovers holes in the boat.  Using basic logic of cause-and-effect, he sees the ultimate end for the boat: it will sink. 

Upon such a discovery, many leave the tradition entirely – not only the boat, but everything in it.  Some here have done so for a time, and even those of us who haven’t, know many who have.  When some of my friends ask my opinion about those among our mutual tradition who have left, I sometimes return their question with another:  Is it better to embrace or reject a false Christ?  Oops, another “off-limits” question that is usually followed by the critical one: who is the true Christ?

Most of us here are attempting that challenging, narrow, center path: embracing the sacred within the boat, releasing our need for the boat, and expressing love for the boat in spite of its holes. 

I am reminded of St. Paul who foresaw the sinking of the boat he was in and received a promise from an angel that while the ship would be lost, all lives on the boat would be saved.  Regardless of the future of each religious tradition in its outer form, the contents within – the worshippers and the mysteries: found within the worshippers, the scriptures, and the sacred rites – will forever live on and ultimately harmonize into a radiant Bride.

While we celebrate the birth of Christ today, may we also celebrate our own birthing into the Light.

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