Friday, April 18, 2014

Living The Resurrection

When my children were young and I read them Bible stories I always tried to give them my explanation of why each story was important in a way that I thought they could understand. When it comes to the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, here is what I told them:

The rulers in Jerusalem put Jesus to death because they were afraid he and the people would try to take over running things and take away their wealth. The story goes that Mary and Martha went to make sure everything was alright with Jesus’ grave three days after he died because there had been threats that people might try to wreck it. When they got there they saw that it had been opened. Then Jesus’ soul appeared to them and comforted them because they were so sad about his death. That is what the Bible says.

I told my children that there may be no way to prove whether it is true or not. But the story of the miracle of his life after death guaranteed that people would continue to talk about him and share his teachings so we might keep learning how to treat each other better. Every time we do a good deed or help someone who does not have as much as we do, the way Jesus taught, he lives on. This is how he was truly resurrected. I believed then and I believe now this explanation.

I have been asked if I believe that Jesus is the Messiah. I have been asked if I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God. I don’t think anyone knows for sure if Jesus is the Messiah who was foretold by prophets. To me Jesus’ sermons are more important than any title or distinction we could give him. They have been handed down through storytelling and the written word for more than two thousand years. They are what remain consistent through many translations. They are Divine because they call us to live with humble caring for all humanity. If I believe that there is that of God in everyone – and I do – surely this Jesus of Nazareth had that of God in him. But, surely we are all the sons and daughters of God.

And so, what does Jesus’ resurrection have to do with us? We are resurrected from our sins and sorrows every time we, as Jesus said, “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” When we remember that Jesus said “What you do unto the least of these you do unto me” we are resurrected from our hate and fear.  

When we look for that of God in others with love and forgiveness in our hearts we find that our eyes are opened to the inherent equality and value of every human being. We come to know that the least of these are actually no less than we are. We are raised up into a way of living in harmony with all around us. Proving whether the Bible’s account of Jesus death is true is not important. Living the lessons Jesus shared is living the Resurrection.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Up Welling

When you live in a coastal region, there is a weather experience that mainlanders may not always recognize the full effect of. When the wind is, in my case from east to west off the Atlantic Ocean, we experience a warming or cooling depending on whether the water temperature is cooler than the air temperature. During certain times of the year currents bring cool waters to the surface from the depths of the ocean floor. This is called upwelling. During summer months upwelling and easterly winds temper the earth’s ambient heat sometimes driving the fish to warmer waters and the birds follow them.

We humans are said to be 98% water and so it is not surprising that throughout our art forms water plays an important part. Water has been a metaphor for many aspects of our experience. This morning I am pondering upwelling as a spiritual metaphor.

An upwelling of emotions can happen when we are least prepared for it. Though time has lessened my grief; for sometime after the passing of my mother in law and then almost exactly a year later my own mother, something small and random would often spark a memory of them causing me to weep for missing them. Tears would well up in my eyes and I felt like choking on my sadness.

When my children were young I experienced the upwelling of joy. When they were delighted by some new experience and would laugh with unfettered happiness I felt that happiness too. It was pure and intense and unlike any other pleasure I have ever felt before or since then. I am not sure there is anything as wonderful as that feeling of sharing such a pure and positive moment with another person.

Upwelling is not just emotional. It is deeply spiritual. It is one aspect of a living connection between souls. It is a transcendent experience. It washes over us, leaving its mark on us forever.

When I go really deep in prayer or meditation the emotional heat of my waking reality is cooled. Spirit calms my passions. Spirit quells my fears. Peace cleanses me. Negativity is at least temporarily driven away. There are times when I call on Spirit for courage. I need the heat of my passion not to go away but to be tempered with integrity. My fiery resolve is made stronger by the coolness of wisdom shared by those who have gone before, those I meet in my reading, my communal worship, and my travels.

I believe that real and lasting change comes from a deep place within us. It rises to our surface when we need it most, or when we are needed most. The earth’s natural cycles create the conditions for upwelling in the ocean. So too do our often unrecognized cycles of growth and rebirth bring an upwelling of Spirit in our lives. These are not just our individual cycles. They are the rhythms of the societies which we live within. We are connected to all of creation. When we give in to the upwelling Spirit we are giving our selves over to the winds of change, to the currents of deep abiding and universal Love. 

Let us not hide away from the cooler shores of a Spirit-led life. Let us learn and be tempered by the Upwelling.