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Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Birth of the Mystic in the Womb

The scriptures were written by the mystics, but interpreted by the religious.

Many of us 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 stumper for me: 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.”  According to the Gospel of Thoma, 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” (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 children who have discovered the great mystery: Christ in us. 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.

Upon such a discovery, many leave the tradition entirely – not only the boat, but everything in it.  Even those of us who haven’t done this ourselves 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, a clearly “off-limits” question, which is usually followed by the more gentle, more deeply felt, critical question: 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 worshipers and the mysteries: found within the worshipers, the scriptures, and the sacred rites – will forever live on and ultimately harmonize into a radiant Bride.

While we celebrate the birth of Christ during this Advent season, may we also celebrate our own birthing as mystics in the womb into mystics awakening into the Light.

Friday, November 25, 2011

In the Beginning (full story)

For friends to read the full story from beginning to end, without commentary, I've decided to post it in full here:

In the beginning, Mystery created the heavens and the earth.  He created man in his own image and it was good.  Then he created him from dirt, named him “Earth human,” and permitted him to name the animals.  But he was alone and it was not good.

From the man’s own flesh and bone, Mystery created a partner for the man and called her “Lifesaver.”  Having learned from Mystery how to name the animals, Earth human gave the woman a parallel name: “Life-giver.”

Mystery gave Earth human and Lifesaver bountiful abundance in a garden of harmony, where delicious fruits of all colors were at their bidding. Two special trees were planted in this garden of harmony: the tree of life and the tree of knowledge.  But Mystery forbid Earth human and Lifesaver from taking what he would later command them to seek: knowledge of good and evil.  If they ate the fruit of this tree, Mystery told them they’d receive the opposite of the other tree's fruit: death. Like any child who desires only that which is forbidden, Earth human and Lifesaver ate of this tree.

For Earth human, Mystery proclaimed the consequence of toil at work. Thorns and thistles would rise up for him whenever he tried to work the ground and make a livelihood for himself and his family.  Mystery cast the man and woman from the garden and then permitted the man to grow deeper and deeper into his curse.  Soon, he was not only battling thorns, but he was also nodding and staggering in a windy land.  In time, he battled thorns not only for his own livelihood, but also for an oppressive king who enslaved him.

Meanwhile, the man reduced the woman’s name from Mystery’s “Lifesaver” and even his own  Lifegiver” to a bewildering new name – “Helpmeet.”  This new version of “Lifesaver” confused the man so much that he further mistranslated her name as “Housecleaner,” “Cook” and “Secretary.”

Forgetting her original identity, Lifesaver toiled beside the man and for the man.  When her toil of the ground was done, she returned to continue her toil in the home.

But Sly Mystery knew in advance Lifesaver’s name would be forgotten.  “He will rule over you,” said Mystery to Lifesaver.  Mystery even knew his words to the woman would reinforce the curse.   “As it should be,” the man said.  “If Mystery said man will rule over woman, then man ought to rule over woman.”  Lifesaver balked, “But it’s a curse!” Still, the man didn’t catch Mystery’s ironic humor, even, or perhaps especially, when it was pointed out to him by the woman.

Even once Lifesaver caught Mystery’s irony, she still could not muster herself out of it.  After all, cunning Mystery was one step ahead of her and preceded the final curse with another: “you will desire your man.”  Lifesaver desired her man so much, she went to great lengths to capture him and keep him, and she found herself in a never-ending game of hide-and-seek.  Frustrated, Lifesaver turned to fairy tales, romance novels, and soap operas. Meanwhile, she spent herself into debt on clothing and  cosmetics to lure her man into staying with her.  But she never lived happily ever after.

In time, Mystery revealed his secret to Lifesaver: “Love me with all your heart.”  Jealous Mystery wanted Lifesaver to love him more than her man.  If she did, she could break her curse.

But Mystery was no quicker at romance than the earthly man he created.  “Love me,” whispered Mystery and then hid far in the distance, seemingly never to return.  Even the man could pick up a telephone more quickly than Mystery would send a wink.  “Who are you, Mystery?” Lifesaver asked.  “How can I love you if I can’t see you or know you?”  At least, if she chased him persistently enough, she could see her man, listen to him, touch him, and, best of all, be touched by him.  But Mystery went into hiding.  How could she love a being so inaccessible?  And how could Mystery possibly expect her to love him above her physical and ever so handsome man?

Lifesaver wasn’t the only one to wonder who Mystery was, where she could find him, how she could love him, or who she herself was.  While Lifesaver toiled to catch Earth human in her own forgetfulness, Earth human continued to toil the ground in his.  In much sweat, Earth human toiled the ground, battled the thorns, and bent down to remove the persistent weeds.

Exhausted, Earth human longed for a break.  He spotted a tree that looked familiar, with fruit that reminded him of the tastiest fruit he had ever eaten, the fruit of the tree of knowledge.  Afraid he’d certainly die this time if he ate of this twin tree, he dared not eat.  Instead, he sat beneath it, hoping to be sufficiently delighted by the mere scent of the delicious fruit.  Then something amazing happened: a fruit dropped on his head!  This time, without even eating it, the fruit gifted him with yet more new knowledge: gravity! Delighted in this new-found power, Earth human allowed this remarkable force to impart its full strength upon him.

Though initially delighted over his discovery, Earth human found he could not master it.  Gravity held a mysterious power over him, and he found himself drawn nearer and nearer to the ground.  The more he toiled, battled the thorns, and bent down to remove the persistent weeds, the gravity of the earth pulled him from an upright walk to a crawl. The more he drew to the dirt, the less he lived with the earth, and the more he crawled as an animal, the less he walked as a human.

Of dust he had been formed and to dust he returned.  Dust he ate and dust he believed he was.  No longer did he see himself as Earth human, but now he called himself “Dust animal,” made, he believed, of dust and darkness.
Initially, he found liberation in the new name he gave to himself.  By forgetting the divine breath of light within him and remembering only the dust which had formed him, Earth human felt released to live at the ground where gravity had drawn him.  “I’m only Dust animal,” he sighed and freed himself to live as such.

But Earth human could not live as Dust animal without suffering.  Indeed, he could live as Dust animal no more than an orange could live as an apple.  So his toil, misery, dissention with Life-saver, and conflicts with other men he also called dust animals continued to strengthen.  The more he toiled, battled thorns, fought the weeds, and warred with others, the more power gravity exerted upon him.  Finally, he called to Mystery to release him to transcend gravity.  Sitting in silence for some time, Earth human vowed to pester Mystery day and night for as long as it took.

One day while toiling and crying, Earth human heard a whisper through the breeze, “To transcend gravity, you must die.”  The message of the whisper perplexed Earth human.  Knowing not what to do, he continued in his life of conflict with Life-saver and with other men.  By living in his new name, Earth human also despised himself.  Still, he did not wish to die.  Groaning, he wondered how he could transcend gravity, love himself, and live too.  Earth human continued to cry for a way out.  Another whisper startled Earth human one day: “To love yourself, you must know yourself.”

“Now we’re talking,” thought Earth human. “I’ll be happy to ‘know myself’ as long as I get to live.”  So Earth human registered for a series of self-help and self-knowledge seminars, where Earth human was told he is great.  He was also advised to tell himself often that he is great, that he should make life choices as if he is great, and that he should undertake life with the expectation that he will be healthy, happy and rich.  Should he sufficiently believe it, he was told, then it will be so.

So Earth human tried to tell himself that he was great, he tried to make life choices as if he was great, and he tried to believe that he would live healthy, happy and rich.  And Earth human felt better.  But he made Life-saver mad, and his conflicts with fellow men also increased.

Whatever was the answer?  Could he ever be released?  Once again, Earth human cried to Mystery, and, once again, he waited.  At an unexpected moment in the field, Earth human heard another whisper: “To be released, you must die.”

“Die?!” Earth human exclaimed.  “Here we go again,” he groaned to the whisper, “your talk of dying.”  Frustrated, Earth human tried to reason with the mysterious voice: “I want to live!  I want to love myself!  I want to be released from gravity, and I do not wish to die!”

This time, the whisper replied immediately, and then left Earth human to ponder its final words: “To love yourself, you must know yourself, Earth human, but to know yourself, you must die.”

While Earth human contemplated his willingness to die, Lifesaver continued to wait for Mystery to romance her.  Both were doubtful, but desperate for Mystery to set them free from the power of gravity.  Meanwhile, Earth human continued to think of himself as Dirt animal, and Life-saver continued to live as a second-class helper.

Still separate and in conflict with one another, Earth human and Lifesaver nevertheless lived a parallel life, both confessing their distress to Mystery and crying for freedom.

Finally, Mystery presented the two with a glorious tree.  This one appeared to be a perfect mirror-image of another embedded deeply in their memory, one that held tasty but dangerous fruit, one that had brought them knowledge, but also duality and gravity.

Earth human had been longing for a twin tree, one that would bring the glorious complements of the former.  In place of knowledge, duality, gravity, Earth human dreamed of one that would bring wisdom, harmony, and transcendence.  “Could this be that tree?” wondered Earth human.  “It is that and more,” voiced the whisper.  “It is the Tree of Life.”

Was this tree also prohibited?  Could they safely taste of this fruit?  The tree, glowing in a warm, welcoming light, seemed to suggest they were invited to come.  The two walked closer, hoping for a chance to try a bite.

Suddenly, two great Warrior Angels, towering into the heavens, appeared, flashing swords of fire with the might and skill of Great Sword Fighters.  All strength left Earth human and Life-saver, and they fell heavy into sleep for days.

Upon waking, Earth human and Lifesaver observed that all was still.  The tree stood, but the Warrior Angels had departed.  The two were silent for some time.  “I guess this fruit is prohibited too,” teased Earth human.  “Guess so,” nodded Lifesaver, and they both laughed.  In unison, they chuckled, “We just laughed together!” and then they laughed again.  Finally reuniting, the pair locked hands and prepared to depart.

Just then, a warm breeze passed over them and carried a surprise: a fruit from the tree landed in the pair’s held hands.  Awestruck, they gazed at the fruit and then they gazed at one another.  “Is this Mystery romancing us?” wondered Lifesaver.

Taking a bite together, they opened their eyes wide with delight and surprise, and found themselves circling into one.  The uniting pair was stunned by the miracle of this gift.  They deserved it not and had done nothing to acquire such great wealth other than let Mystery know they were desperate.  Nevertheless, they were gifted with an extraordinary treasure.  Was this Mystery’s way of saying the fruit was theirs to eat?  Could they return for more?

Encouraged by the miracle, the pair took slow, cautious steps toward the tree.  Once again, the great Warrior Angels, girded with sword and fire, appeared.  “Wishful thinking,” sighed Earth human.  Quietly retreating, they took one careful step backward at a time.

The breeze picked up again and the pair heard the voice of the whisper, “Are you forbidden to eat of this tree?”  Almost coughing at a question so absurd, they exclaimed, “Of course!”  “Who says?” asked the whisper.  “Fire, Sword, and Warrior Angels do,” the two replied.  The whisper answered, “Then confront Fire, Sword and Warrior Angels.”



"Confront Fire, Sword, and Warrior Angels?” asked Earth human, astonished.  But the whisper remained silent.

Dumbstruck and terrified, the two slowly approached the Tree of Life and drew nearer and nearer to the Warrior Angels.  With each step, they lost more strength, began to stumble, and finally fell into a crawl.  Their faces were so flushed with the intense heat of the fiery swords, they appeared to one another to be glowing.  Within themselves, however, they felt part sick and part elated.  As intense as the fire was, they found themselves compelled to keep moving toward it.

Meanwhile, the Warrior Angels, fierce and terrifying, raised their swords high for battle.  Earth human and Lifesaver looked upon the swords in terror and then saw themselves ungirded for war.  “If these are Warrior Angels,” said Earth human, “then we must go to war!”

“No,” breathed the whisper, “you must love!”

“Is this how we are to confront Fire, Sword and Warrior Angels?” asked Earth human, “with Love?”

In silence, the whisper sent a cool breeze, refreshing Earth human and Lifesaver.  The pair looked upon one another and spoke in unison, “Then let us go forth in love.”  Hands clasped, they stood upright and took a strong step forward in faith and love.  The faces of the Warrior Angels no longer appeared fierce and terrifying.  Instead, Earth human and Lifesaver saw holiness and love in their eyes.

Even in holy love, however, the Warrior Angels pierced Earth human and Lifesaver with their swords.  The pair was cast down and shattered.

When the sun arose, the pair awoke.  No longer did they see themselves as Dirt animal and second-class helper.  No, they knew themselves to be Earth Human and Lifesaver and they knew they had never been ungirded, for the sword had been with them all along.  But to use it, they needed to love.  And to know it, they needed to die.  They pulled a fruit from the tree and enjoyed a taste so heavenly, they could never have imagined such a taste.

Some may think their story ends here, “happily ever after,” with endless opportunities to eat more of the heavenly fruit.  But their story is not like this.  Sometimes, they try to grab from the tree, and they cannot.  Sometimes, when they eat of the fruit, they taste not sweetness, but bitterness.  They are perplexed that this most delicious, most remarkable of all fruits can still, at times, be evasive and still, at times, taste sour.  But now that they have eaten of this most heavenly of all fruits and now that they have tasted into its delicious core, they can never go back.  Their new journey has begun and the two-become-one will be ever returning for another taste into the very core of this remarkable, delicious fruit of paradox. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In the beginning, part 5

We ended Part 4 with whisper's daunting words: “To love yourself, you must know yourself, Earth human, but to know yourself, you must die.” Now for the conclusion . . . 


While Earth human contemplated his willingness to die, Life-saver continued to wait for Mystery to romance her.  Both were doubtful, but desperate for Mystery to set them free from the power of gravity.  Meanwhile, Earth human continued to think of himself as Dirt animal, and Life-saver continued to live as a second-class helper.

Still separate and in conflict with one another, Earth human and Life-saver nevertheless lived a parallel life, both confessing their distress to Mystery and crying for freedom.

Finally, Mystery presented the two with a glorious tree.  This one appeared to be a perfect mirror-image of another embedded deeply in their memory, one that held tasty but dangerous fruit, one that had brought them knowledge, but also duality and gravity.

Earth human had been longing for a twin tree, one that would bring the glorious complements of the former.  In place of knowledge, duality, gravity, Earth human dreamed of one that would bring wisdom, harmony, and transcendence.  “Could this be that tree?” wondered Earth human.  “It is that and more,” voiced the whisper.  “It is the Tree of Life.”

Was this tree also prohibited?  Could they safely taste of this fruit?  The tree, glowing in a warm, welcoming light, seemed to suggest they were invited to come.  The two walked closer, hoping for a chance to try a bite.

Suddenly, two great Warrior Angels, towering into the heavens, appeared, flashing swords of fire with the might and skill of Great Sword Fighters.  All strength left Earth human and Life-saver, and they fell heavy into sleep for days.

"After sending them out, the LORD God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life" (Gen 3:24)

Upon waking, Earth human and Life-saver observed that all was still.  The tree stood, but the Warrior Angels had departed.  The two were silent for some time.  “I guess this fruit is prohibited too,” teased Earth human.  “Guess so,” nodded Life-saver, and they both laughed.  In unison, they chuckled, “We just laughed together!” and then they laughed again.  Finally reuniting, the pair locked hands and prepared to depart. 

Just then, a warm breeze passed over them and carried a surprise: a fruit from the tree landed in the pair’s held hands.  Awestruck, they gazed at the fruit and then they gazed at one another.  “Is this Mystery romancing us?” wondered Life-saver.

Taking a bite together, they opened their eyes wide with delight and surprise, and found themselves circling into one.

They said to him, 'Shall we then, as children, enter the kingdom?' Jesus said to them, 'When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female; and when you fashion eyes in the place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness; then will you enter the kingdom.'" (Gosp. of Thomas 22) 

The uniting pair was stunned by the miracle of this gift.  They deserved it not and had done nothing to acquire such great wealth other than let Mystery know they were desperate.  Nevertheless, they were gifted with an extraordinary treasure.  Was this Mystery’s way of saying the fruit was theirs to eat?  Could they return for more?

Encouraged by the miracle, the pair took slow, cautious steps toward the tree.  Once again, the great Warrior Angels, girded with sword and fire, appeared.  “Wishful thinking,” sighed Earth human.  Quietly retreating, they took one careful step backward at a time. 

The breeze picked up again and the pair heard the voice of the whisper, “Are you forbidden to eat of this tree?”  Almost coughing at a question so absurd, they exclaimed, “Of course!”  “Who says?” asked the whisper.  “Fire, Sword, and Warrior Angels do,” the two replied.  The whisper answered, “Then confront Fire, Sword and Warrior Angels.”

Confront Fire, Sword, and Warrior Angels?” asked Earth human, astonished.  But the whisper remained silent.

Dumbstruck and terrified, the two slowly approached the Tree of Life and drew nearer and nearer to the Warrior Angels.  With each step, they lost more strength, began to stumble, and finally fell into a crawl.  Their faces were so flushed with the intense heat of the fiery swords, they appeared to one another to be glowing.  Within themselves, however, they felt part sick and part elated.  As intense as the fire was, they found themselves compelled to keep moving toward it.

Meanwhile, the Warrior Angels, fierce and terrifying, raised their swords high for battle.  Earth human and Life-saver looked upon the swords in terror and then saw themselves ungirded for war.  “If these are Warrior Angels,” said Earth human, “then we must go to war!” 

“No,” breathed the whisper, “you must love!”

“Is this how we are to confront Fire, Sword and Warrior Angels?” asked Earth human, “with Love?”

In silence, the whisper sent a cool breeze, refreshing Earth human and Lifesaver.  The pair looked upon one another and spoke in unison, “Then let us go forth in love.”  Hands clasped, they stood upright and took a strong step forward in faith and love.  The faces of the Warrior Angels no longer appeared fierce and terrifying.  Instead, Earth human and Lifesaver saw holiness and love in the eyes of the Warrior Angels.


Even in holy love, however, the Warrior Angels pierced Earth human and Lifesaver with their swords.  The pair was cast down and shattered.

When the sun arose, the pair awoke.  No longer did they see themselves as Dirt animal and second-class helper.  No, they knew themselves to be Earth Human and Lifesaver and they knew they had never been ungirded, for the sword had been with them all along.  But to use it, they needed to love.  And to know it, they needed to die.

They grabbed a fruit from the tree and enjoyed a taste so heavenly, they could never have imagined such a taste.

Some may think their story ends here, “happily ever after,” with endless opportunities to eat more of the heavenly fruit.  But their story is not like this.  Some times, they try to grab from the tree, and they cannot.  Some times, when they eat of the fruit, they taste not sweetness, but bitterness.  They are perplexed that this most delicious, most remarkable of all fruits can still, at times, be evasive and still, at times, taste sour.  But now that they have eaten of this most heavenly of all fruits and now that they have tasted into its delicious core, they can never go back.  Their new journey has begun and the two-become-one will be ever returning for another taste into the very core of this remarkable, delicious fruit of paradox.                                                

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In the beginning, part 4

Lifesaver wasn’t the only one to wonder who Mystery was, where she could find him, how she could love him, or who she herself was.  While Lifesaver toiled to catch Earth human in her own forgetfulness, Earth human continued to toil the ground in his.  In much sweat, Earth human toiled the ground, battled the thorns, and bent down to remove the persistent weeds.


Exhausted, Earth human longed for a break.  He spotted a tree that looked familiar with fruit that reminded him of the tastiest fruit he had ever eaten, the fruit of the tree of knowledge.  Afraid he’d certainly die this time if he ate of this twin tree, he dared not eat.  Instead, he sat beneath it, hoping to be sufficiently delighted by the mere scent of the delicious fruit.  Then something amazing happened: a fruit dropped on his head!  This time, without even eating it, the fruit gifted him with yet more new knowledge: gravity! Delighted in this new- found power, Earth human allowed this remarkable force to impart its full strength upon him. 

Though initially delighted, Earth human found he could not master this force.  Gravity held a mysterious power over him, and he found himself drawn nearer and nearer to the ground.  As he toiled, battled the thorns, and pulled the weeds, gravity pulled him from an upright walk to a crawl. The more he drew to the dirt, the less he lived with the earth, and the more he crawled as an animal, the less he walked as a human.

Of dust he had been formed and to dust he returned.  Dust he ate and dust he believed he was.  No longer did he see himself as Earth human, but now he called himself “Dust animal,” made, he believed, of dust and darkness. 

Initially, he found liberation in the new name he gave to himself.  By forgetting the divine breath of light within him and remembering only the dust which had formed him, Earth human felt released to live at the ground where gravity had drawn him.  “I’m only Dirt animal,” he sighed and freed himself to live as such.

But Earth human could not live as Dirt animal without suffering.  Indeed, he could live as Dirt animal no more than an orange could live as an apple.  So his toil, misery, dissention with Life-saver, and conflicts with other men he also called dirt animals continued to strengthen.  The more he toiled, battled thorns, fought the weeds, and warred with others, the more power gravity exerted upon him.  Finally, he called to Mystery to release him to transcend gravity.  Sitting in silence for some time, Earth human vowed to pester Mystery day and night for as long as it took.

One day while toiling and crying, Earth human heard a whisper through the breeze, “To transcend gravity, you must die.”


The message of the whisper perplexed Earth human.  Knowing not what to do, he continued in his life of conflict with Life-saver and with other men.  By living in his new name, Earth human also despised himself.  Still, he did not wish to die.  Groaning, he wondered how he could transcend gravity, love himself, and live too.  Earth human continued to cry for a way out.  Another whisper startled Earth human one day: “To love yourself, you must know yourself.” 

“Now we’re talking,” thought Earth human. “I’ll be happy to ‘know myself’ as long as I get to live.”  So Earth human registered for a series of self-help and self-knowledge seminars, where Earth human was told he is great.  He was also advised to tell himself often that he is great, that he should make life choices as if he is great, and that he should undertake life with the expectation that he will be healthy, happy and rich.  Should he sufficiently believe it, he was told, then it will be so.

So Earth human tried to tell himself that he was great, he tried to make life choices as if he was great, and he tried to believe that he would live healthy, happy and rich.  And Earth human felt better.  But he made Life-saver mad, and his conflicts with fellow men also increased.

Whatever was the answer?  Could he ever be released?  Once again, Earth human cried to Mystery, and, once again, he waited.  At an unexpected moment in the field, Earth human heard another whisper: “To be released, you must die.”

“Die?!” Earth human exclaimed.  “Here we go again,” he groaned to the whisper, “your talk of dying.  Frustrated, Earth human tried to reason with the mysterious voice: “I want to live!  I want to love myself!  I want to be released from gravity, and I do not wish to die!” 

This time, the whisper replied immediately, and then it left Earth human to ponder its final words: “To love yourself, you must know yourself, Earth human, but to know yourself, you must die.”


To see how Earth human and Life-saver face whisper's challenge, stay tuned for the fifth and final part . . .

Thursday, September 8, 2011

In the beginning, part 3

But Sly Mystery knew in advance Lifesaver’s name would be forgotten.  “He will rule over you,” said Mystery to Lifesaver.  Mystery even knew his words to the woman would reinforce the curse.   “As it should be,” the man said.  “If Mystery said man will rule over woman, then man ought to rule over woman.”  Lifesaver balked, “But it’s a curse!” Still, the man didn’t catch Mystery’s ironic humor, even, or perhaps especially, when it was pointed out to him by the woman.

Even once Lifesaver caught Mystery’s irony, she still could not muster herself out of it.  After all, cunning Mystery was one step ahead of her and preceded the ruling curse with another: “you will desire your man.”  Lifesaver desired her man so much, she went to great lengths to capture him and keep him, and she found herself in a never-ending game of hide-and-seek.  Frustrated, Lifesaver turned to fairy tales, romance novels, and soap operas.  Meanwhile, she spent herself into debt on clothing and cosmetics  to lure her man into staying with her.  But she never lived happily ever after. 

In time, Mystery revealed his secret to Lifesaver: “Love me with all your heart.”  Jealous Mystery wanted Lifesaver to love him more than her man.  If she did, she could break her curse.

But Mystery was no quicker at romance than the earthly man he created.  “Love me,” whispered Mystery, and then he hid far in the distance for ages at a time.  Even the man could pick up a telephone more quickly than Mystery would send a wink.  “Who are you, Mystery?” Lifesaver asked.  “How can I love you if I can’t see you or know you?”  At least, if she chased him persistently enough, she could see her man, listen to him, touch him, and, best of all, be touched by him.  But Mystery went into hiding.  How could she love a being so inaccessible?  And how could Mystery possibly expect her to love him above her physical and ever so handsome man?




“To the woman he said,
‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbirth;
with pain you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’”
(Genesis 3:16)

When, nearly twenty years after becoming a Christian, I discovered the additional words to Eve after the well-known ones of childbirth, I was astonished.  The final words struck like a javelin into my gut.  But, thankfully, not one to have personally suffered under this most grievous curse, I spent the majority of my contemplation over the hidden middle: “your desire will be for your husband” or, more generally, “for your man.”

“Desire” in Genesis 3:16 is the Hebrew teshuquh, which is found only three times in the Bible: for Eve’s teshuquh for her man, for sin’s teshuquh for Cain (Gen 4:7), and for the Beloved’s teshuquh for his beloved (Song of Soloman 7:10).  Three unique applications indeed!  But when we look into the meaning of the word, we can see how all three scriptures can apply to it.   It is coded by Strong’s as H8669, meaning “desire, longing,” and it  comes from the root, shuwq (7783), which means “to run after, to desire, to long for anything.”  Just as sin was “running after” Cain and the Beloved was “running after” his beloved, the woman is “running after” her man.

When I came across this stunning scripture, I intuitively understood the paradox of “you will desire your man” as a “curse,” rather than the blessing we might expect it to be.  As a curse, it initially seems odd: What could be wrong with a woman desiring her husband?  Shouldn’t that be a blessing.

Certainly.  But not if it trumps the first command: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut 6:5).  The traditional church would likely come forward with the easy, pat answer, “Well, then, love God.  You just need to love God more.”  We mystics smile, nod, and then shake our heads as we sadly move along and acknowledge how elusive such love is.

So this great quandary the woman finds herself in as she seeks to love God above earthly man is a fitting picture of the spiritual quest of us all.  In this quest, the Lord romances us, astonishes us, sends us into spurts of ecstasy, and then disappears for long stretches at a time.  Jesus warned his disciples this would happen: “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it” (Luke 17:22). It is, therefore, the life-long struggle that regularly evades us all.  It not only calls upon us to patiently persevere in a quest acquainted with dark nights, but it also calls upon the Lord to grace us with his presence from time to time.  Girl meets Boy.  Girl loses boy.  Girl waits and waits and waits for Boy to return . . .




Lifesaver wasn’t the only one to wonder who Mystery was, where she could find him, how she could love him, or who she herself was.  While Lifesaver toiled to catch Earth human in her own forgetfulness, Earth human continued to toil the ground in his . . .

Stay tuned for part 4 . . .

Thursday, August 11, 2011

In the beginning, part 2

Meanwhile, the man reduced the woman’s name from Mystery’s “Lifesaver” and even his own “Lifegiver” to a bewildering new name – “Helpmeet.”  This new version of “Lifesaver” confused the man so much that he further mistranslated her name as “Housecleaner,” “Cook” and “Secretary.”

Forgetting her original identity, Lifesaver toiled beside the man and for the man.  When her toil of the ground was done, she returned to continue her toil in the home.



Perhaps the mystic quest can be summed up by the ancient axiom, “Know thyself.”  Jesus affirmed this notion when he said in Luke, “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21) and in Thomas, “Whoever knows everything, but is lacking within, lacks everything” (67).  Our process of rediscovering who we are can only take place if we also discover who we are not.  If by divine grace, we open ourselves up to the mystic quest, we will question, wrestle and debrainwash.  Even if our true identity trumps the façade we’ve adopted, this process is terrifying.  Until we confront it face-to-face, little do we realize the depth by which our stablity rests upon our perceived identity.

Woman’s identity has been revealed from the beginning, but it has been hidden behind one veil after another.  I’d like to peer behind the veil of a single phrase in Hebrew the author of Genesis says God used to describe woman: ezer kenegdo.  While maintaining this phrase in Hebrew, the scripture reads as follows: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make for him an ezer kenegdo” (Gen 2:18).

We English speakers are more familiar with the phrase the English language translators have chosen, particularly “helper” or “helpmeet.”  The first of these, ezer, is coded by Strong’s in the H5826-28 series.  Gesenius’s Lexicon explains it this way: “the primary idea lies in girding, surrounding, hence defending.”  Brown-Driver-Briggs OT Hebrew-English Lexicon agrees: “to surround, that is protect or aid: help, succour.”

Surprisingly, the most common biblical use of ezer applies to the power and the strength of the Lord Himself.  Consider, for example, how He is described in the Psalms: “our ezer and our shield” (33:20); my ezer and my deliverer” (70:5); and he who has “bestowed ezer on a warrior” (89:19).  In Hosea 13:9, we see the consequence when we lose our ezer: “You are destroyed, O Israel, because you are against me, against your ezer.”

Hebrew scholar and Assyriologist R. David Freedman examined all twenty-one biblical refrences of ezer and clustered them into these three primary meanings: “savior,” “strength,” and “majesty.”  Investigating the two roots of the Hebrew word, he explained, “The Hebrew word ‘ezer’ is a combination of two roots, one ‘-z-r meaning ‘to rescue,’ ‘to save,’ and the other g-z meaning ‘to be strong.’”

To incorporate kenegdo into their translation, the King James version translates kenegdo as “meet” to create the single word “helpmeet.”  Kenegdo is used only once in the Bible and, like many of my favorite biblical concepts, involves paradox.  It can mean either “coming along side” or “coming against.”  Jewish sage and Talmut commentator Rashi established what has become the conventional view of this paradox among Jewish mystics: “if the man is worthy, then his wife will be an ezer (helper), and if he’s unworthy, she’ll be a ‘kenegdo’ (against him, an opposite force).”

Jewish scholar Michael L. Rosenzweig reviewed the definitions other scholars had given to kenegdo and discovered, among others, the following: “’at his sude,’ that is fit to associate with; or ‘as over against him,’ that is corresponding to him” (Hertz); “corresponding to him” (Cassuto); and, finally, the definition Rosenzweig himself adopts, “equal to” (Blackman, Danby, Lehrman, and Lipman).

If ezer is a combination of “rescue” and “strength,” a better translation could be “strong savior,” or, as chosen for my story, “lifesaver.”  If kenegdo is “equal to,” then we could translate the full phrase as “lifesaver, equal to him.”  In other words, it is not that the woman is a “helper” beneath the man, nor is it that she is a “lifesaver” above the man, it is that she is a “lifesaver” equal to him.

If the woman is made akin to a “lifesaver” “equal to” the man, then it appears both men and women have been imparted with a strength that has eluded.  Quietly concealed behind the veil of the single word ezer lies a hint that we all suffer collective amnesia and have forgotten who we are.  As we surrender to the power of the Spirit, may we find the boldness to lift the veils and know ourselves.


Sly Mystery knew in advance Lifesaver would forget her identity . . .  
Stay tuned for part 3 as Lifesaver continues her story and for part 4 when Earth human also forgets who he is . . .

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In the beginning, part 1



From the man’s own flesh and bone, Mystery created a partner for the man and called her, “Lifesaver.”  Having learned from Mystery how to name the animals, Earth human gave the woman a parallel name: “Life-giver.”

Mystery gave Earth human and Lifesaver bountiful abundance in a garden of harmony, where delicious fruits of all colors were at their bidding.  Two special trees were planted in this garden of harmony: a tree of life and a tree of knowledge.  But Mystery forbid Earth human and Lifesaver from taking what he would later command them to seek: knowledge of good and evil.  If they ate the fruit of this tree, Mystery told them they’d receive the opposite of the fruit of the other tree: death.  Like any child who desires only that which is forbidden, Earth human and Lifesaver ate of this tree.

For Earth human, Mystery proclaimed the consequence of toil at work. Thorns and thistles would rise up for him whenever he tried to work the ground and make a livelihood for himself and his family.  Mystery cast the man and woman from the garden and then permitted the man to grow deeper and deeper into his curse.  Soon, he was not only battling thorns, but he was also nodding and staggering in a windy land.  In time, he battled thorns not only for his own livelihood, but also for an oppressive king who enslaved him.




By contrast, our culture exalts a life of toiling.  Those who toil the most are honored the most.  Companies advertise their speed, their productivity, and their willingness to perform back flips for their clients.  Sometimes, they claim to take on the toil their clients don’t want: “we speed so you don’t have to” (FedEx).  Ironically, companies like FedEx, which claim to reduce the burden, only add to everyone’s toil.  Not only must the FedEx employees toil on behalf of their clients, FedEx’s clients must toil for their own clients because FedEx exists.  Today, of course, when files can be transmitted across the globe with the click of a button, the expectations to “have it yesterday” are even more magnified.  Such standards are “thorns” to “toil.”

                NPR's July 21 broadcast of Morning Edition finally admits the equation many of us have calculated on our own, but never hear anyone admit: the success of companies and the highs on Wall Street come not in spite of unemployment, but, in part, because of it.  Here is how interviewee Economics Editor of the Wall Street Journal David Wessel answered Steve Inskeep’s question about why companies are profiting in spite of unemployment: “One, these big companies are getting a lot of their business overseas, . . . . but another reason is that companies are pursuing relentless cost-cutting, getting more out of each hour of work, so even little increases in sales mean big profits.”  Steve Inskeep summarized the idea: “increased productivity.”   What Capitalism calls “productivity,” perceptive workers call something else: “toil.”
 
* * * * *

Meanwhile, the man reduced the woman’s name from Mystery’s “Lifesaver” and even his own “Lifegiver” to a bewildering new name – “Helpmeet.”  This new version of “Lifesaver” confused the man so much that he further mistranslated her name as “Housecleaner,” “Cook” and “Secretary.” . . .

Before progressing to where toil leads, we'll first take a glimpse into the story of the woman . . .

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Action and Reaction

According to Newton’s law of action and reaction, “every action has an opposite and equal reaction.”  Adding to this principal, Newton also added his universal law of gravitation, which explains that “every object in the universe exerts a tug on every other.”  These laws are well known principles in mathematics, physics and nature.

They are also true at home.  My son “acts” and exerts a “tug” on my daughter, who “reacts.”  Basic sibling rivalry can be explained by Newton’s laws.  His laws are also true at schools, marriages, families, workplaces, social clubs, churches, and anywhere that people gather.  We also see it coming into play in world affairs.  One country “acts” in such a way as to “tug” another group of people to “react,” and they in turn prompt the first country to “react” again, and so forth.  Add many countries all “acting” and “reacting” at the same time and the pot boils hot.  Eventually, one leader and group of people need to take a moment to step back, reflect, and ponder how to end the constant “action/reaction” law of physics.  But if leaders and nations are not willing to have enough humility to do so, then the scientific laws will be carried to their natural conclusion of a great explosion.

“Non-actions” that ought to have been actions can also produce “reaction.”  I felt the law at work last night when I reacted to “non-action” that has left my children confused, left out, and hurt.  We live in a small cul-de-sac and have children the same age as two other families, and they play together regularly.  In one of the families, the breadwinner is currently out of work and the other family has both parents working year-round.  Since I am a teacher, in our family, one of us is home for the summer.  Though we were unaware of it, the other two families worked out what was a win-win scenario for them: the employed family is hiring the unemployed one for summer childcare.  Unfortunately for our kids, it became win-win-lose.  Simple communication could have minimized the natural feelings of children when they are repeatedly left out without any clarification as to why. 

After asking for clarification, I've offered the chance to provide either a couple hours a week of volunteer childcare time or pay for it, and we're waiting for what the neighbors decide.  Even after this request a few days later, my children were still left out even during an evening get-together between the other two families.   What had been simmering inside fused into "reaction."  Throwing the dinner pan into the sink, I exclaimed, "We could have had all the kids over here!"   My “reaction” was Newton’s law at work.   

But do we have to surrender to “reaction”?  Is there another way?  Perhaps moving beyond “reaction” is part of what St. Paul was referring to when he said, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom 12:2).   The pattern of the world "reacts," but a "renewed" mind "responds."

Carrying a heart of “poverty in spirit” can give one humility to resist “reacting.”  Following James’ advice to be “slow to speak and quick to listen,” can soften the quick “reaction” that builds the intensity of conflict.  Meditative prayer with breathing can help.  It appears that part of living in the kingdom is one’s ability, through divine help, to transcend the “action/reaction” law in relationships.  No longer needing to “react,” we can rely upon the power of Christ to transcend our natural instincts.  Transcending “reaction” leads to something entirely new: “response.”

I took a prayer walk to begin the process of "response," and now (7/21), a few days later, "response" has really been about loving my kids regardless of what the neighbors decide.  I've made some phone calls and set up more get-togethers with friends and their kids and our kids' own friends.  My husband and I also spent some time last night really listening to and talking with our kids about how they feel.  We had already observed with gratitude that our  children -- who have high self-esteem, plenty of good friends, and sufficient naiveté -- have bounced into their usual joyful selves quite quickly after each disappointment.  To our relief, we also learned last night that they are more upset about having so little time to spend with the neighbor kids than they are about the neighbor kids getting so much  of it with each other.  What a blessing.  It is much easier to help them work through that disappointment, especially since I had already arranged and posted on the calendar a couple of fun activities with friends.  

Our conversation also gave us the opportunity to share with our kids the choice we have to love our friends even when they disappoint us.  I admitted to them that it has been hard for me to be left wondering while our own friends (the parents) haven't been talking with us.  "But I can't force them to talk with me, so I've put the ball in their court, and I have to accept what they do with it.  I might not like it, but I need to learn to love them regardless of what they do."  The eyes of both of our children looked deeply into me, as they were really taking in what I was saying.  When we turn "reaction" into "response," we can create a new blessing out of a disappointment. 

Update (posted 9/8)
Our kids were not only invited to join the program, but they were warmly and enthusiastically welcomed in and had an absolutely delightful time.  The family taking care of the children had also been asked by a few other friends to watch their children too.  Even though our neighbors had not advertised or offered a child care service to anyone, many came to them, and then they put together an amazing program complete with weekly field trips and almost daily walks to the park.   The timing for us worked out well, as one family no longer needed the program when our kids were ready to join. Despite my initial "reaction" in the safety of my own home, thank goodness I moved beyond that into "response"!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Prince of Light


The Prince of Light was written in April of 2008, but has never been blogged.
 
Once upon a time long, long ago, a kingdom reigned where the rich, strong and powerful committed violence against the poor, sick, and broken. Then arose a prince of light. He gave wealth to the poor and poverty to the rich; he brought health to the sick and pain to strong; he made the broken whole and the powerful broken. Many loved him and many hated him.

What he asked of the people of his kingdom was simple, but great. He asked them to do for one another what he had done for them: to care for the poor, heal the sick, and bind up the broken.

Knowing that these simple commands were much more difficult than they first appeared, the prince made two promises to those who decided to live out his message: he promised to help each one who called to him for help and he promised a reward in his kingdom.

Those who especially loved the prince decided to tell the world about the prince and his message. But the prince’s message became increasingly unpopular. Giving to the poor, healing the sick, and binding up the broken was too hard.

But his followers remembered that the prince had promised to help everyone who called to him. So they decided to tell people about their prince and his goodness. If they could persuade people to love to their prince, then the people would be ready to hear his message. So the followers spent many years telling people about their prince; they taught their children and their children taught their children.

Eventually, the world was filled with people who loved the prince. But the followers’ grandchildren no longer knew that teaching people to love to the prince was merely the first step to the true goal of helping people to live his message. So the grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren only heard that a prince of light lived who promised a reward in his kingdom to those who loved him. Many generations never heard what he asked them to do.

Finally, one of the great-great grandchildren read about the prince and discovered his message. He began to teach people to live the message. But he neglected a critical piece: he forgot to tell people that the prince promised to help anyone who called to him for help. So this great-great grandchild’s followers became wearied and burdened and they toiled for long days living a message that was too hard for them.

In time, the story of the prince and his message was widely published. But rumors still spread through the world about who he really was and what he really taught. Some wondered whether he ever existed at all. Those who believed he did spent much time arguing. They argued over which of his qualities he really had, what he actually said, whether it was more important to believe in some facet of his identity or do what he said. Once that was decided, they argued over which facet or what message was the most important.

Everyone wanted the reward, but each believed something different was necessary to get it. Whatever each decided, it was usually easier than doing what the prince had asked and rarely required calling upon him for help. Worried about their children, many searched for rituals their children could do. Some even found rituals so easy they began performing them on behalf of their babies. That way, their babies could receive the reward regardless of early death or poorly lived life.

Whatever they believed, they argued about it. Argue, argue, argue: this was the reputation of the princes’ followers throughout the land. Eventually, argument turned to violence. Some followers were so incensed with anyone who disagreed with them that they committed murder against them.

In a painful story of paradox, the prince’s message to care for the poor, heal the sick, and bind up the broken was twisted into exactly the opposite activity. The rich, strong and powerful were once again committing violence against the poor, sick, and broken. But this time, the atrocity was greater; it was done in honor of the prince of light.

After much time, the prince of light surprised everyone and came back. His followers had expected to delight in his return, but they soon discovered his displeasure in them. “If you loved me,” he asked, “why did you not live my message?” “And if you loved me, why did you not call to me to help you do what I asked?”

Once again, the prince returned light to his kingdom. He gave wealth to the poor and poverty to the rich; he brought health to the sick and pain to strong; he made the broken whole and the powerful broken. Many who thought they loved him now hated him and many who thought they hated him now loved him.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Colors of Harmony and Duality

The following post was primarily designed for the Christian Mystics community, as it is relevant to some recent discussions there.  Click on the link and come join us!

“And the LORD God commanded the man, 
'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 
but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
for when you eat of it you will surely die.'"
(Gen 2:16-17)

We’ve all heard the story: God commands Adam and Eve not to eat of a particular tree; the serpent entices them to eat it by arguing they’ll be “like God”; they eat it; they are cast out of Eden; and now all of us now suffer  the consequences of their “Fall.”  Yes, we’ve heard the story, but like most mystics, I’ve wondered whether any of us understands it.

Throughout the ages, mystics have posed a myriad of challenges to the traditional interpretation: Did they really “fall”?  Who was the “serpent”?  Was he really “deceptive”?  Would they really be “like God”?  If so, what does that mean?  And why would it threaten “God” so much that He would pronounce them "dead"?  Also, why would He command Adam and Eve against the knowledge of good and evil?  Years later, are not Christians encouraged to acquire exactly what Adam and Eve were commanded not to acquire?

“Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant,
is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 
But solid food is for the mature,
who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
(Hebrews 5:13-14)

Once we begin asking these questions, we seem to find ourselves in a never-ending cycle of paradox.   When we read this scripture as literature and apply its own terms, we wonder  which figures in this story are really “good” and which ones are more “evil.”   It seems, perhaps, the most sinister character is the “God” figure who commands against something that ought to be “good” in order to protect His own power.

As I began my own mystical quest, however, I wasn’t ready to go there.  I wished to give the “God” figure the benefit of the doubt and ask what His purpose might have been in commanding Adam and Eve against knowledge of good and evil.  What struck me in this contemplation is that we often refer to “good and evil” as “black and white,” and, as a teacher, I often call upon my students to “transcend ‘black and white’ thinking.”  Think beyond the box.  Think beyond duality.  What brings the rivalries, battles, conflicts and wars in the world?  Black and white thinking.  Duality. 

Perhaps, then, I wondered whether Adam and Eve had “progressed” from a naïve, youthful, form of “harmony” in their thinking into a more mature, yet more conflict-oriented form of “duality” in their thinking.  We often look back to Eden with nostalgia and long to return to our childhood there.  Such nostalgia is understandable in light of the conflicts we face here.  But conflict can propel us into something even better.  In the New Testament, this is called the “Kingdom of Heaven.”  In the Old Testament, it is called the “Promised Land” – described as a “land flowing with milk and honey.”  It is flowing with all our needs (milk) and even our wants (honey).  Eden may have provided lovely fruit, but was it flowing even with honey.

As I imagine the progression, I see Eden in color, but in soft colors, neither brilliant nor notable, but still beautiful.  Next comes the Wilderness in black and white, but this time, the black and white is dramatic and notable, and, therefore, beautiful in its own way.  Then I see the Promised Land as both colorful and dramatic – bold, brilliant, and stunningly gorgeous.


The story tells us Adam and Eve's  “eyes were opened” (Gen 3:7).  This suggests new development.  New evolution: a good thing.  But It also demonstrates their new sense of separation.  Adam and Eve had come from a single body and a single source and, therefore, had likely considered themselves a single unit.  What happens after their “eyes are opened”?  One blames the other: “she made me do it” (v. 12).  Duality.  The illusion of separation had begun.

But this illusion of separation went beyond the separation of male and female.  It also moved into the illusion of the separation of God into gods and of the separation of man and God.  So how did Yahweh help the Israelites heal from this illusion of separation?  He had them recite the first command, which the Jews still do today.  They call it the “Shema” and it is the most important prayer of the Jewish people: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deut 6:4)

The Shema may have helped the Israelites affirm the Oneness of God, but duality and the illusion of separation continued to persist.  Then the Messiah arrived on the scene to help restore this severance back into harmony.  We see Yeshua (Jesus) express this “blasphemy” first in John 10: 30: “I and the Father are one."  But he doesn’t leave it there.  Later, in John 17:21, he affirms it for us all, as he prays for his disciples and his disciples’ disciples: “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one--as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.”

Our journey from a youthful perspective of harmony into a more mature perspective of duality continues toward a mature perspective of harmony.  We can see this progression as the faded colors of Eden to the black-and-white colors of the Wilderness to the brilliant colors of the Promised Land.  We’ve been walking through the Wilderness for quite some time, stuck in duality and the illusion of separation.  May we discover the bold, brilliant colors of Harmony in the Promised Land.
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