Messages of Hope

Month: April 2014

Go. Out. There

Published / by Jana

The women come to the tomb to confront death, and find life.
They face their greatest fear, and are gifted with peace.
The magnitude of the paradox is beyond reason.
We cannot scale it down to make it make sense.
All we can do is experience it for ourselves.

Do you remember the first time you had your heart broken? Whether you were 12 or 20 or 43. Whether it was by love or failure or loss. If you’re anything like me, you swore you would never love again. You rolled a stone in front of your heart and you sealed it up well and good and you walked away.

And you stuck to that promise, to never love again…until you met him or her; or gave birth; or found the job that unsealed your passion, the thing to which you would give your life; or forgave or were forgiven…whatever experience it was that made you surrender all your best defences after you’d sworn you would never be unguarded again.

We do so much guarding.
in conversation we are defensive
in walking along the street we are suspicious
in participation we are conservative, making sure to hold something back

It goes against reason to be exposed.
And yet.
And yet we know that exposure is a pathway – the only pathway – to expansion.
The women go to the tomb to confront death…and find life.
They face their fears…and find peace.

Easter is an invitation to exposure. To drop our guard. To unseal ourselves. It’s terrifying. But it is the only pathway to expansion, of our selves, of our souls, of our world.

We know this, at a deeper level of instinct than even our instinct for guardedness and self-protection. That’s why we have catchy phrases like, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

Our Easter story from Matthew ends with a call to come out and be exposed to life in all of its terrifying expansiveness – there are no limits, it would seem – not even death limits life…really.

28:10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Go. Out. There. The very definition of exposure.

I’d like to think there was at least one disciple who might have had a spirit like Walt Whitman’s in his Song of the Open Road; the spirit of willingness to be exposed to life, limitless life. Maybe this is what the Marys sang to their brothers in arms:

Allons! whoever you are come travel with me!
Traveling with me you find what never tires.

The earth never tires,
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first,
Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop’d,
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.

Allons! we must not stop here,
However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here,
However shelter’d this port and however calm these waters we must not anchor here,
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while.

When we sing our Easter hymns, we sing songs of the open road, reaffirming our willingness to go.
out.
there.
It doesn’t matter if we go out there terrified or tentatively. In fact, if we wait until we are neither of these things, until we are ready, we will most likely never go. If we wait until we are full of courage and empty of doubt, we are far more likely to shrink than expand.

The call is to
go
out
there.
To be exposed, in order that we might be expanded into life, limitless life.

posted 22 Apr 2014 by Jana

Trust in our Insights

Published / by Jana

In the gospel of John, stories about blindness are metaphorical; symbolic of ignorance, or inner not-seeing.

There are many characters in one such story in the gospel of John 9:1-41. It’s interesting to imagine what matters to each.

What matters to the disciples is to work out who is to blame.
They don’t question that sin is the cause of the man’s blindness; they only question whose sins are to blame (the man’s or his parents’).

The precursor question about the nature of cause and effect with regard to human suffering is not an issue for them. That question was answered in their worldview: God causes every effect and does so on the basis of the causes we give God to affect us. If we are righteous, we cause God to affect our lives with blessing. If we are sinful, we cause God to affect us with calamity.

The disciples don’t question how this actually works out in their own experience or what this might say about God.

If they have known good people who have suffered bad things, they seem to have forgotten how this puts paid to a transactional theology.
If they have heard Jesus say that God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust, then they seem to have forgotten God’s non-partisanship.

What matters to Jesus is that something be done to affect the effect. This is where we find God, Jesus says, in our response to the effect not in tracing the cause. Here is darkness; I am light. I will affect the darkness by transforming it so as to admit light.

What matters to the neighbours and associates of the blind man who will come to see is that they get some answers. Preferably ones that support their way of seeing the world. So they take the man to the authorities.

What matters to them is preserving their authority. It gets tricky when the questions they ask lead to division amongst them. Instead of resolving the issue of whether Jesus is a sinner – since he worked on the Sabbath – or not – since he worked a miracle – they just kick out the one who is causing trouble in the first place.

What matters to us in this story? Maybe what matters to us are the same things that matter to the blind man.

He was blind.
Then he could see.
And once he started seeing, he couldn’t stop.

First he saw that he could see.
Then he saw that he could see through things.

He sees through the authorities who are more concerned with preserving their authority than delighting in the gift of sight. And the disciples who were worrying over who’s to blame. And the neighbours who just wanted to be right.

In the end, the sight is insight. And that matters alot.

The story invites us to imagine insight as a gift of grace, unearned and even unbidden. (The blind man doesn’t even ask to be given sight.)

If, in a specific moment, we are granted such a gift, if for just a minute we are cracked open and the light gets in and we see something – really see it – then let us receive it well and use it to the advantage of all. Then it will be a light unto the world.

Jana

posted 05 Apr 2014 by Jana