Yoda’s mentor

Yoda

When I read these words of St John of the Cross I figured I’d met Yoda’s mentor.

To come to the pleasure you have not,
you must go by a way in which you enjoy not.
To come to the knowledge you have not,
you must go by the way in which you know not.
To come to the possession you have not,
you must go by a way in which you possess not.
To come to be what you are not,
you must go by a way in which you are not.

As Yoda would say, “Understand or understand not – there is no try.”

[image cropped from photo by Michael Li per cc 2.0]

In the meantime

Quote

ominous times

“Meantime … that’s when the mean men come.”
– my own definition, circa age 5

Seems we are living in the meantime.
Seems the mean men have come.
When a mother dies, trying to shield her children from gunfire,
And the children are killed, too.
It is the meantime.

When the mean men come to power
And bend that power to their own advantage
Leaving behind the families who struggle to make ends meet
And then claim they are serving the nation
It is the meantime.

When the mean men use their power
To abuse and then silence the women around them
Who take their dignity and threaten their life and livelihood, too
Sometimes taking that, as well,
It is the meantime.

When the mean men point their fingers and shout
Trying to distract us all from their abuses
Blaming anyone who looks different or seems powerless
For the outcomes their own system perpetuates
It is the meantime.

When the mean men are ready to do whatever it takes
To preserve their positions of privilege – of wealth and of power
Building walls and buying guns, hoping to keep themselves secure
Not understanding that the imbalance and separation is their greatest risk
It is the meantime.

When white men and women (like myself)
Wear privilege like underarmour
So tight that it seems to us like our ‘natural’ skin
We think it hides our flaws beneath its smooth whiteness
It is the meantime.

I am complicit in the coming of the meantime.
The mean men don’t have to be men (though they often are)
They don’t have to be white (though it makes it more likely)
We just have to be small, stingy, self-absorbed –
Another definition of mean.

Can I also be complicit in changing the times?
Oh, I do hope so.
And the first step must be outside my own walls.
It is time to leave the meantime behind
But how?

It cannot be done through power and privilege
All my usual tools do not avail
I will not figure it out on my own
My head is too small and my eyes too blind
Will you take my hand and help me not be mean?

[photo by Oiluj Samall Zeid per cc 2.0]

true or false


Wise ones tell me that there is a true me and a false me.
The true me is the one formed in the image of God
And gifted is particular ways
To reflect that image.

The false me is the one that I think the world wants to see.
It is the one I want to see,
So that I can feel that I am ‘worthy.’

The same is pattern seems to be true in collections of people.
There is a true family and a false family.
There is a true church and a false church.
There is a true society and a false society.

The whitewash is not working.
Our efforts to be ‘right’
Are, so often, so wrong.

So, how do we learn
To step aside
From the false companion?

Paul’s solution?
Step away from the question of worthiness.
Put down the chore of living up to the law
And accept that you are already accepted.

When I was a kid, I thought of this as ‘do-overs.’
But that just set me up for another round.
When will I learn?
It’s not do-overs.
It’s done.

[photo by Mirjana Veljovic per cc 2.0]

down is up

via dolorosaThe way down is the way up. – Richard Rohr

I don’t want to follow you on the way down.
I don’t want illness, weakness, failure, or sadness.
And I don’t think that you want me to want such things …
The goal for my soul is not mortification, any more than it is glorification.

The goal is you.

The trick seems to be that the elements of pleasure –
Fullness, satisfaction, acclaim, power, capacity –
Feel so good, that they quickly divert my desire.
‘The pursuit of happiness,’ is a siren song.
It is like sugar for my soul – empty calories that leave me wanting more.

On the other hand, loss is not a distraction for my desire.
Instead, the experience of loss drives me closer to you.
It is at those moments when my soul desperately cries out for you.
So, I must admit that there may be something to Rohr’s contention
That the way up is down.

The Via Dolorosa, the path of sorrows, is not to be sought,
But neither is it to be avoided at all costs,
Especially since even ‘all costs’ will not keep it away.
Even Jesus did not choose suffering
What he chose was to give himself to God.

[photo by Racineur per cc 2.0]

too much armor

Harness by Seamus Moran

At what point do you become so self-protected that you can no longer do the thing you were created to do?  How much protection do you need—and how much can you bear before you stop being able to grow, or fly? – Quinn Caldwell

What is God’s will for a wing? Every bird knows that. – Saint Teresa of Avila

What will our children do in the morning if they do not see us fly? – Rumi 

I wanted to write that this rich conversation between artists helped to fortify my soul … but fortification is the problem, isn’t it?

Freedom is a scary, precious thing, calling life to life in all its tender vulnerability.

May we all be brave enough to fly into the face of fear with thundering wing and gentle feather.

 

[The photo is of the sculpture “Harness” by Seamus Moran, as posted to his  Facebook page.  You can also view his work at www.seamusmoran.com. Used with permission.]

 

 

 

the question

reachingSo, God …
If you are not depending on me to save the world,
What then?

If I am not the one who must uphold your honor,
If I am not the one who must proclaim what is true,
If I am not the one who will make all things right,
What good am I?

Funny how it seems I either think that I am God,
Or presume that I must do the work of Jesus.
Either I must tell you how to make (or fix) the world,
Or I must save it.

On second thought, it is not really so funny.
At best it is sad and delusional,
And sets me up for utter failure.
At worst … well …

Jesus, himself, says, ‘No one is good but God.’
Perhaps this is not a differentiation
On a scale of goodness.
(God is good. You are not.)

Perhaps it points to a difference in role.
In fact, all the stories in Luke 18
Might be read as a suggestion of this difference.

The unjust judge grants the woman’s pleas just to stop her pestering.
It is the tax collector, not the Pharisee whose prayer does its work.
It is in becoming like a little child that you enter the kingdom.
The rich young ruler, who has fully obeyed the law, is unwilling to give up his money, his power, and simply follow and rely on God.
Jesus tells the apostles of his coming crucifixion, which they cannot understand.
The blind man begs for sight, and though they try to quiet him, he continues to beg and is blessed.

None of these stories make sense when measured in terms of ‘goodness’ and ‘deserving.’

I must admit that, at first, I was not sure I liked this arrangement.
If it were about deserving, and if I were good enough, I could demand certain actions from God.
Then, after sixty-some years of trying to be good enough, I am slowly recognizing that there really is a better way.

So … What good am I?
Not good enough.
Good thing that’s not what matters.
That’s not even the right question.

When I’m reaching for assurance,
I don’t have to depend on me.

Whew!

[photo by Valerie Everett per cc 2.0]