Monday, April 10, 2006

Contemplate the domain of God, here, on earth.

Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom my soul delights.
I have endowed him with my spirit
that he may bring true justice to the nations.

He does not cry out or shout aloud,
or make his voice heard in the streets.
He does not break the crushed reed,
nor quench the wavering flame.

Faithfully he brings true justice;
he will neither waver, nor be crushed
until true justice is established on earth,
for the islands are awaiting his law.

Thus says God, the Lord,
he who created the heavens and spread them out,
who gave shape to the earth and what comes from it,
who gave breath to its people
and life to the creatures that move in it:

I, the Lord, have called you to serve the cause of right;
I have taken you by the hand and formed you;
I have appointed you as covenant of the people and light of the nations,

to open the eyes of the blind,
to free captives from prison,
and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.

(--Isaiah 42:1 - 7)

This holy week.

Look through Jesus.

Called "Christ."

For the dwelling-place.

Of God.

Where you are.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Note: We're on retreat. Until Easter, Saskia and I are taking refuge in quiet and seclusion. It is time for retreat and rest. (Incarnation recollects resurrection as earth retrieves resurgence.) This solitude will keep us away from the bookshop/bakery. No formal practice times at hermitage. We're back Easter Tuesday. (Others might/may have shop open. You'll have to call there to find out.)

We are made of word.

Silence is ground, but word and act are what silence reveals through itself.

Our name is word. Words and names are not only "noise and smoke, obscuring heavenly light," (Goethe, Faust I), words and names also make us what we are. Words constantly create and continuously re-create the world.

The Passion reading at St. Francis of Assisi, the Catholic church in Belfast, Maine this morning was from Mark's gospel. The translation most familiar is:
"And they crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left." (Mark 15:27) What I heard read as I stood by loft stairs at rear of church was: "And they crucified two revolutionaries with him...". The reading might have read (and perhaps will in a future translation) -- "two other revolutionaries with him."

When the moon
Of your mind becomes
Clouded over with confusion,
You are searching
Around for the light outside.

- Hozoin Gakuzengo Inye

Institutions, both political and religious, do not like revolutionaries. A revolutionary is engaged in "constituting or bringing about a major or fundamental change."

To revolve, to roll back, "to turn over at length in the mind", is a subversive act. It is where contemplation might lead. Contemplation is dangerous. As is the Gospel. As is Jesus. That's why he is killed. That's why his story usually goes through a re-education, a taming and leashing by authorities before presented to the polis/faithful for consideration. We're told not to fret about Jesus. He'll be just fine in three days. What a sweet countenance here in this picture of him, don't you think?

The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week three days before he celebrated Passover. ... Jesus said to him, "Step away from the others and I shall tell you the mysteries of the kingdom. It is possible for you to reach it, but you will grieve a great deal."
-- The Gospel of Judas
What in the Gospel of Judas, published this week by the National Geographic Society..., goes back to Jesus' actual teaching, and how would we know? And what else was there in the early Christian movement that we had not known before? These are some of the difficult questions that the discoveries raise for us -- issues that historians are already debating. What is clear is that the Gospel of Judas has joined the other spectacular discoveries that are exploding the myth of a monolithic Christianity and showing how diverse and fascinating the early Christian movement really was.

Startling as the Gospel of Judas sounds, it amplifies hints we have long read in the Gospels of Mark and John that Jesus knew and even instigated the events of his passion, seeing them as part of a divine plan. Those of us who go to church may find our Easter reflections more mysterious than ever.

(from OpEd piece, "The Gospel Truth," By Elaine Pagels, Published: April 8, 2006, The New York Times)

What will we learn next? Brown's "The DaVinci Code" has Jesus and Mary Magdelene marrying with off-spring. The Church doesn't like such novel fiction. Neo-conservatives are dusting off the Second Coming and helping pave way for apocalypse by fomenting violence and unrest in the Middle East, greasing the skids (so to speak) for the roller coaster ride to come. Hierarchy issues mandates to churches: no more pedophilia or sex of any kind in the ranks of priesthood; and, women still are not welcome to pronounce and elevate our Christ. The modern mind deteriorates and declines into a Toynbee-like bunker remnant -- feet slipping away, hands clutching desperately for any hold -- frightened of its own thoughts.

The Gospels are scary, dark and demanding. It is not surprising that people want to tame them, dilute them, make them into generic encouragements to be loving and peaceful and fair. If that is all they are, then we may as well make Socrates our redeemer.

It is true that the tamed Gospels can be put to humanitarian purposes, and religious institutions have long done this, in defiance of what Jesus said in the Gospels.

Jesus was the victim of every institutional authority in his life and death. He said: "Do not be called Rabbi, since you have only one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, the one in heaven. And do not be called leaders, since you have only one leader, the Messiah" (Matthew 23:8-10).

(from OpEd piece, "Christ Among the Partisans," By Garry Wills, Published: April 9, 2006, The New York Times)

Jesus was, and is, annoying. The mysterious paradox prevails -- they couldn't kill him once and for all -- but he died, once, and for all.

After psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, "You will all lose faith, for the scripture says: 'I shall strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered', however after my resurrection I shall go before you to Galilee". Peter said, "Even if all lose faith, I will not". And Jesus said to him, "I tell you solemnly, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will have disowned me three times". But he repeated still more earnestly, "If I have to die with you, I will never disown you". And they all said the same.
[Mark 14:26-31, from the Jerusalem Bible, c. 1968]

We lose faith. Jesus dies and disappears. If someone has spirited him away, we don't know where. Some claim to know where he is hidden, some claim to own him. Like some enemy combatant Jesus is held without representation, review, or release. His image and message languish in the hands of conquering procurators and complicit religiosity. The image of Jesus in their hands is traipsed out in videos and pamphlets to imprimatur a version of Gospel consistent with the ideology of his handlers.

It's Palm Sunday. Earlier this morning I am content to leave church as final hymn begins, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" I have no frond. I drive to Chase's Daily for coffee and muffin(s). From parking lot I hear loud calls from front of Congregational Church across street, "Hosanna, Glory," someone calls out leading youngsters to front door three minutes before their 10am service. I watch for some seconds. It's a procession. It's all good. Inside Chase's I choose pear/pecan, cranberry/apple. I drive to river flowing past footbridge reconstruction at harbor head.

Tomorrow begins retreat in Trappist monastery. I hate leaving where I am. It's taken days to do laundry, think about travel, resolving not to find cabin in Cape Breton Highlands. I will go to a source of disturbing nourishment in contemplative silence.

I will maintain a distance from "Today at Meetingbrook" for the week.

A going to ground. Silence is ground. After this past week of near-solitude, I place myself for a week in the midst of a more common silence.

I'll stay with what is hidden. If there is any unconcealment, it will be only itself revealed on home ground.

I take note of meetingbrook's meditation: "Embodying the dwelling-place of the Alone; Stepping aside to make room for Another."

Can I look at my disowning? Will the hearing of the second sacred sound made by cock-crow cause me to understand Peter in Matthew's Passion: "Und er ging hinaus und weinte bitterlich" -- (And he went out and wept bitterly). To find my disowning, do similarly, and still find way to stagger on?

That line in German always catches me up. It surprises me each time. It bypasses sentries and insinuates my imagination.

Mircea Eliade wrote : "All that essential and indescribable part of man that is called imagination dwells in realms of symbolism and still lives upon archaic myths and theologies. It depends upon modern man to 'reawaken' the inestimable treasures of images that he bears within him and to reawaken the images so as to contemplate them in their purity and assimilate their message." (--in Myths and Symbols.)

It is time to retreat. My prayer for all of us -- is -- for the grace of a good retreat.


In a word.