Messages of Hope

Month: January 2016

Mourning glory

Published / by Andrew

We said last week that Jesus’ inaugural address in the Gospel of Luke challenged the national mythology of his people. They believed in and longed for a time when God would set everything right and restore the fortunes of the nation. Jesus referred to this time as “the year of the Lord’s favour,” quoting Psalm 61.  But he left out the thing which went hand in hand with the year of the Lord’s favour. Everyone knew and believed that the year of the Lord’s favour would involve “the day of vengeance of our God”; that time when God would pay back Israel’s enemies for all the wrongs done to them. The omission of this line in Jesus’ quotation of the Psalm was meant to be noticed.

As the home-town boy, culture and family expected that this man, who had more or less just announced himself as the Messiah, would pay Nazareth special favours. That’s how things were done, and are still often done today. In the reading this week Jesus refuses to do this. And it is difficult to imagine a more pointed rebuke and insult toward his own people.

He takes a story of the revered prophet Elijah which was cherished as a sign of God’s mercy and power, and makes it into a judgement against his own people. In this story, during a severe famine, Elijah asks for food from a poor widow and her son who are citizens of an enemy nation which is also a centre of religious opposition to Israel.

… she said, ‘As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.’ 13Elijah said to her, ‘Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. 14For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.’ 15She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. 16The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah. (1 Kings 17)

He stays for many days and the meal and the oil do not run out.  But her son dies, and in an act of great power, Elijah raises him from the dead.

Luke has Jesus take this story and turn it against Israel: God gives mercy to your enemies, but will not help you in Nazareth at this time. He repeats the process with the story of Naaman, who was commander in chief of the army of Aram (Syria), a bitter enemy. God gives mercy to your enemies and heals them, but not you.

Bill Loader notes that

Luke’s church will have faced fierce competition from resurgent Judaism of the 80’s and had to grapple with the pain of its relative failure among Jews. One of the sub themes of [Luke and Acts] is the attempt to help people to come to terms with this situation.

“We need to think carefully before adopting Luke’s thesis” about the lack of Jewish belief in Jesus as Messiah, he says. It’s a scholar’s polite way of pointing out that what looks suspiciously like an ad hoc argument may not tell us much about the reality that we call God.

When we look at the story on its own terms, beyond Luke’s immediate agenda, we see the universal themes of rage and scapegoating. This is a story where people are confronted with the loss of their world. They expect a God who will favour them and take revenge on their enemies and, instead, are confronted by a God who does not do favours based on race and religion, and sometimes even seems to favour their enemies.

In a sense, as we also too often do, the people of Nazareth were defining themselves by their enemies; we are the people God favours and does not hate.  By also loving the enemy, God has removed Nazareth’s (shallow) self-identity. No matter that this offers it an opportunity to move to a much deeper self-understanding; the first emotions at the loss of ourselves are deep pain and fear.

At a deep level rage, riot, and lynching, are a response to the loss of our world. They seek to repair our place in the world or, at least, punish those who threaten it. Sometimes, in the loss of our ability to make a real difference, all we can do is attack those with less power than ourselves. Ironically, our rage does not really re-establish our power, but demonstrates our loss of power.

Few of us are unaware of the dangers of being consumed by indiscriminate rage, or being at its mercy. Most of us are also well aware of how often, and how close, we come to rage. How do we live with this dangerous part of our being?

Learning and daring to mourn gives us enormous freedom and healing in the face of loss. To mourn is to enter dangerous territory. It owns head-on that we have lost. Things are outside our control. There is nothing we can do. We are powerless, and it could all get worse. Mourning is the painful ego-deflating recognition that we have no power.

But mourning has a dignity. Mourning says we still matter, despite what has happened. Mourning says that things should be otherwise. Mourning knows hope; it hoped for something else. Those who mourn, often loved. We mourn at funerals for the loss of ones loved, and for the loss, somewhere in the future, of ourselves.

Let me distinguish the difference between fatalism and mourning. Fatalism, in its stricter philosophical sense, says we have no choice or agency. It borders on determinism, but I am using it in the sense of being resigned (to our fate) and giving up. Mourning is not fatalism. It does not give up. It gives us opportunity to discern what should be.

Too few of us go to funerals, and too many of us won’t cry when we are there. We avoid mourning in our culture. We pretend to be in control. We practise being can-do people. We look on the bright side. We construct work-arounds and fall-back positions. We take out insurance. We build up privilege to maintain and defend our position. We become successful. Our culture defines success as acquisition of things, and as promotion in status. And as much as we may say money is not everything, we are usually much more invested in our material privilege than we are aware.

Success can be an idol. It lets us pretend, for a time, that we are at least a small god in charge of our world. But along with the accumulation of possessions, success gives us something to lose, and it blunts— even removes from us— the spiritual gift and discipline of dependence upon God for our identity and safety. Success, unless we are very careful, teaches us to fear the loss of our privilege. It sets us up for rage. It teaches us that we deserve what we have “achieved.” I use the inverted commas because, often, our achievement and wealth is good luck— even if only the good luck of a good family and good start in life.

The discipline of mourning takes our eyes and our focus off our success. It is the non-defensive acceptance that we are small nothings whose only grace is to trust the goodness behind the world, and it is the acceptance that in the end, despite all we have done, we will die and be forgotten. In only a generation no one will remember us. Even the famous will be misunderstood, their memory will be pillaged for corporate advantage or political propaganda, and then they too, will be forgotten.

Mourning invites us to recognise that those we fear are people who have also lost. It levels us. It broadens the scope of our love— grows compassion— because we find our commonality with all others.

Mourning is also full of pain. Mourning is to draw near to the loss of our life. It reminds us just how fragile we are. Mourning threatens that if I cry about this loss, instead of denying it or pretending to repair it with action or rage, I might open myself to even more pain and loss. Ultimately, the refusal to mourn is a part of our denial of death. No wonder we are hesitant to mourn.

We are not talking here about quick fix life-hacks. We are talking about the development of a spiritual habit. When things go wrong, when we are abused, when we are angered, when our friends are treated outrageously, there is a habit which can be developed.

Mourn. Feel the pain. Don’t retaliate. Don’t fix it— not immediately, although there may be things to do. Rather, feel the pain and the loss. Even… savour the injustice; that is, don’t swallow it quickly. Take time to explore it and feel it. Learn the shape of it. Let it hurt us. Not for the purpose of brewing revenge. Not too long so that it begins to consume us, or sour into self-pity— there is an art to learn here— but so that we appreciate what we have lost. And so that we appreciate what does not, in the end, matter… and what does.

Stop being strong. Weep. In the old language, mourning gives glory to God. It confesses that we were not made to be hurt. It confesses our dependence upon God. And, well-practised, mourning drains from our fear and grief the pus that builds up to a head of rage. It lets us love our neighbour instead of attacking them.

Mourning lets us lose our world and make, and become, something better, rather than adding to the destruction.

Andrew

This post is developed from this week’s News Sheet thoughts. It also further develops Andrew’s lectionary blog this week.

The  reading from Luke 4:

14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

20And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ 22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ 23He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!” And you will say, “Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.” ’ 24And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town. 25But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27There were also many lepersin Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’ 28When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

Direct Biblical quotations in this page are taken from The New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

An almost lynching…

Published / by Andrew

This is the lectionary reading set for next Sunday. It’s from Luke 4:14-21.

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 
18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
   because he has anointed me
     to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
   and recovery of sight to the blind,
     to let the oppressed go free, 
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
20And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ 22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth…

Jesus is almost lynched after his first sermon, as you can see below. What causes a congregation to go from being “amazed at the gracious words which came from his mouth,” to being filled with rage and seeking to throw him off a cliff? We don’t get to the cliff in this week’s reading, because the scholars who devised the lectionary thought the story so important that they split it into two parts. This week we see the foundations of the scandal.

Luke deliberately crafts Jesus’ first public words to outline his agenda. Jesus begins by saying, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me…” This is a claim to be the Messiah. The word Messiah, used to describe the longed for hero who would restore Israel’s fortunes, literally means anointed one.

It is no wonder that “the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.” He’s just claimed to be the Messiah! ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’

Jesus says his spirit given anointing— his reason for being Messiah— is “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” The year of the Lord’s favour is understood to be like the year of Jubilee. Every fifty years the economic and social landscape was meant to be reset and restored. The law of the Jubilee year is set out in Leviticus 25. In summary, it “effected the automatic release or emancipation of a Jew who… had … become enslaved to a fellow Jew, and likewise the automatic release or return to the original owner or family of property…” (Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible Vol2, pp 1001)

In chapter 61 of Isaiah which Jesus read, the prophet ties Jubilee to a time of great prosperity and restoration:

they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations…
you shall enjoy the wealth of the nations,
and in their riches you shall glory.

So phrases like “good news to the poor”… “release to the captives,” and letting “the oppressed go free,” all echo the sentiments of the Jubilee, and of Isaiah 61. They were stirring words for a nation which was suffering under a conquering power. Essentially, Jesus was saying, the Year of the Jubilee starts now, in me.

In the beginning, people were delighted to hear this. “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” (Luke 4:22) So what changed?

It’s questionable if the year of the Jubilee was ever more an ideal or hope. Indeed, 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 interprets the 70 year Exile of Israel in Babylon as a measure of the occasions the Jubilee was not observed. And, clearly, those who had done well for themselves in the years previous to a Jubilee year, would not have much interest in things being reset!

But inherent in Isaiah 61, and in the year of Jubilee, is a great levelling of the people.  Good news implies something far more than the not-keeping-up-with-inflation wage increases of trickle-down economics. Indeed, the Greek word for good news had connotations of a great victory. Who are the captives, the oppressed and the blind? The shape of the poetry indicates that these terms refer back to the poor of the land. Perhaps Jesus is well received in Nazareth because he is far from the centres of power in Jerusalem who would have much to lose in a Jubilee, just as they would have much to lose today. The poor, and the less well-off people of the regional towns are delighted at the prospect of Jubilee. This is not the reason they were upset.

What grabs their attention, along with Jesus’ claim to be Messiah, is that although Jesus begins to quote from Isaiah 61, Luke actually has him recite a mashup of lines from Isaiah 61, 58 and 42. (See the bottom of this linked article.)

The reader is meant to notice this, and to understand that the congregation in the synagogue in Nazareth have also noticed— they knew their scriptures with a level of detail which is quite foreign to us. They were fascinated to see what conclusion he would draw from his improvisation, or mashup, of the text. Understand that the problem people had with Jesus was not his “fiddling” the text, which is what would offend fundamentalists today. Rather, they didn’t like his conclusion.

What Jesus does is challenge the national mythology. We can easily see a contemporary example of what happens to people who do this. Last Anzac Australian journalist Scott MacIntyre

referred to some Australians marking Anzac Day as “poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers” on his officially verified Twitter account on Saturday night.

“Remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan,” he wrote to his 30,000 followers.

“Not forgetting that the largest single-day terrorist attacks in history were committed by this nation & their allies in Hiroshima & Nagasaki.”

He was promptly sacked by SBS, and subject to widespread outrage. “Historically speaking then, McIntyre is not all that far off the mark, but he has been sacrificed on the altar of populist outrage,” wrote historian and academic Phillip Dwyer.

It’s this sort of territory into which Jesus launches himself. He challenges the national mythology, which is a place where facts count for relatively little, and self-justification, desire and longing, rule.

Luke is about to teach us that the freedom which Jesus— “full of the Holy Spirit”— brings to Nazareth, is contrary to the national self-understanding of his people. Does he call us to the same conclusion about our people, and our place in history?

See what Jesus leaves out from his quoting of Isaiah 61:

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,
 and the day of vengeance of our God

This would have sounded to his contemporaries rather like talking about the Anzacs without reference to Gallipoli– you can’t do it!  And he made it clear it was no mere oversight:

21Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ 22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ 23He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!” And you will say, “Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.” ’ 24And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town. 25But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’ 28When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

Next week: What does this mean?

Direct Biblical quotations in this page are taken from The New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Touching the intangible

Published / by Andrew

How do we touch the intangible? How do we live with that insistence which floats at the edges of our seeing, and sometimes invades our lives? Can we? Does it have any substance? The religion of Jesus’ people was insistent that God is, that God does touch us, that God creates order without which there would be a formless void. The religion persisted despite the repeated conquest of the nation. It struggled toward a universalism which saw that God loved all people, not just Israel. And like all religion before and since, it experienced that the insistent intangible did not conform to its expectations. Like us, Israel was often disappointed with God.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest. (Psalm 22)

In his typical allusive style John imagines a wedding feast where they’ve run out of wine. It’s meant to be a celebration of new beginnings, the formation of new family connections, and the strengthening of the community, but the blessings—  the signs of God’s generosity and good will— run short. This is a bad omen.

“There were six stone water-jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.” In the symbolic language of John, six jars are one jar short of perfection. They are the artist’s portrayal of what is lacking; the religion’s experience of its disappointment with God.

When the jars are filled with the water which would normally be used to symbolise the people’s connection with God, they are found, instead, to contain the finest wine. The steward called the bridegroom and said, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus is presented as the one who completes what is missing in the religion of his people. He is God’s answer to our disappointment.

John says that drinking this new wine is like being born again. It’s life in all its fullness; never ending streams which mean we will never thirst again. He’s talking about touching the intangible, experiencing something that is not describable, something of which we might say, “You had to be there.”

If we are of the mindset that wants “proof” and a recipe for “how,” John’s gospel is somewhere between mystical and meaningless; reading it is an exercise in frustration. It’s like the student still convinced that life is made up of rational certainties, who asks a musician for proof of the existence of God. The musician says, “Well, there is the music of Bach. Therefore, God exists. You either see this, or you don’t.” The answer is incomprehensible.

But what if the student took the proof seriously? Such a student might begin to study music theory, learn an instrument dear to Bach, even join an orchestra. And learning the discipline of the language of Bach, might one day stumble into, or be opened up by, a mystery worthy of the name God. Or take what might seem the more direct route, and study theology.

The interesting thing about John’s story is the odd detail that the only people who knew what was going on, were the servants: “Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first… but you have kept the good wine until now.’ ”

The language of John is not particularly subtle, once we learn it: being a servant who does what Jesus tells us is what opens our eyes to Jesus. It lets us understand the new wine. Practising service of the kind which honours our neighbour— who is everybody— just as we honour ourselves, is the musician’s discipline needed to play Bach.

So if we were a student who decided to take John seriously, we would be the one who carried the wine, rather than one who wanted to be a guest of honour at the wedding. Service, love, and compassion are training to touch the intangible.

Andrew

The text for this week: John 2:1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ 4And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ 5His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ 6Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. 9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ 11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Direct Biblical quotations in this page are taken from The New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Contemplating what now?

Published / by Andrew

Two posts this week: What now? and a Contemplation posted by Peter, which is also reproduced below.

What Now?
The year has begun. Christmas is finished. New Year is over. The New Year’s Test is well under way. What now? Just more of the same old same old?

In a sense, yes! Life is lived as much in the small details as anywhere else. The test of our aspirations and ideals lies in how consistently we uphold them in the ordinary, routine, and boring weekdays of our lives. Our happiness and sense of fulfilment about life will be formed in the also-ran days more than in the occasional high moments. Ordinary is where we live. If we cannot find a life in the ordinary, we will be forever dissatisfied.

But what is ordinary?

Our culture tells us ordinary is to get more, to have more, to be promoted. When it’s put as bluntly as that, we rebel. We remember love, family, and the spiritual edge of dusk walks at the beach. But every advertisement thrust into our vision on the way to work, and as we seek to unwind in the evening, says we will find ourselves by having and, preferably, by having more. We tolerate demeaning work practices to allow us to keep things we already have, and consider betraying our ideals in order to get more. The foundations of this ordinary system in which we live are notions of scarcity, lingering anxiety, and plain greed, so deeply buried that we can barely see them. When we do, we deny them. We want to be better than this.

One way to describe what we are about at Pilgrim, is to say that we are seeking to rediscover the real ordinary. It’s a different vision of the ordinary which claims, paradoxically, that life is not founded in scarcity, but is given as a “land of milk and honey.” This old biblical symbol used images of milk and honey because only a land of great plenty can “flow with milk and honey.”

The real ordinary claims that life is not based in anxiety, but that we may find grace which, at base, is the notion that God… Providence… the universe— call it what you will— is not ultimately hostile, but beneficent. God is “on our side.”

And the real ordinary claims that greed does not win. Neither greed nor power define what is successful about life, and much less do they define reality. The biblical texts talk about this as The Promised Land and The Kingdom of God. These are ways of living which have compassion, justice, and equality, at their base. Perhaps they are best summed up in the Jesus statement that “you shall love your neighbour— who turns out to be everybody— as yourself.” Seek no privilege or advantage that you will not also seek for others. Hold no privilege which cannot be held by others.

This is a very different ordinary! It is more hope and vision, than present reality. Corporations and governments are powers greater than the people within them, and they seek to define the ordinary— our present reality— by the establishment of their own kingdoms, privileging themselves and their systems over the people within them, and over the planet.

So this new ordinary sails into head winds. It is often a vision hard to hold. Church is about protecting the vision of the real ordinary— remembering it week by week. It is about nurturing the vision— finding new ways to live a real ordinary life in the shadows of the corporations closest to us, and dodging around the other powers. In one sense, there is nothing ordinary about this, at all. It is profoundly subversive, not because it seeks to betray, but because it seeks to empower all the ordinary people of the planet to live a life of fulfilment. But it is also ordinary. We live one day at a time, with bills to pay, work to do, and places to be. The only question is, why?

Andrew

– –  – –  – –  – –  – –  – –

Contemplation“
I will live in the present moment. I will not obsess about the past or worry about the future.
I will cultivate the art of making connections. I will pay attention to how my life is intimately related to all life on the planet.
I will be thankful for all the blessings in my life. I will spell out my days with a grammar of gratitude.
I will practice hospitality in a world where too often strangers are feared, enemies are hated, and the ‘other’ is shunned. I will welcome guests and alien ideas with graciousness.
I will seek liberty and justice for all. I will work for a free and a fair world.
I will add to the planet’s fund of goodwill by practicing little acts of kindness, brief words of encouragement, and manifold expressions of courtesy.
I will cultivate the skill of deep listening. I will remember that all things in the world want to be heard, as do the many voices inside me.
I will practice reverence for life by seeing the sacred in, with, and under all things of the world.
I will give up trying to hide, deny, or escape from my imperfections. I will listen to what my shadow side has to say to me.
I will be willing to learn from the spiritual teachers all around me, however unlikely or unlike me they may be.

New Year Resolutions of Spirituality Practice
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

Contemplation

Published / by Peter Russell

Contemplation“

I will live in the present moment. I will not obsess about the past or worry about the future.
I will cultivate the art of making connections. I will pay attention to how my life is intimately related to all life on the planet.
I will be thankful for all the blessings in my life. I will spell out my days with a grammar of gratitude.
I will practice hospitality in a world where too often strangers are feared, enemies are hated, and the ‘other’ is shunned. I will welcome guests and alien ideas with graciousness.
I will seek liberty and justice for all. I will work for a free and a fair world.
I will add to the planet’s fund of goodwill by practicing little acts of kindness, brief words of encouragement, and manifold expressions of courtesy.
I will cultivate the skill of deep listening. I will remember that all things in the world want to be heard, as do the many voices inside me.
I will practice reverence for life by seeing the sacred in, with, and under all things of the world.
I will give up trying to hide, deny, or escape from my imperfections. I will listen to what my shadow side has to say to me.
I will be willing to learn from the spiritual teachers all around me, however unlikely or unlike me they may be.

New year resolutions of Spirituality Practice by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat