Friday, January 9, 2009

Earth Shudder

Last night I felt the earth give a shudder. I was stoking the woodstove out in the cabin where I write. The floorboards gave a bounce and the stovepipe creaked – just once. If I’d been in the house I probably wouldn’t have noticed it. It could have been my imagination – but it wasn’t. It was an earth burp up from the fiery belly through the bones and flesh of the Mother. Something shifted. Uunngggh. (sp?)

The Tai Chi Master said something yesterday. It wasn’t new - just a reminder. “The more you are able to empty your self the more you’ll be able to find your centre – or I should say “the” center.”

I am excited about recently discovering a new language to talk about Jesus with. I’ve been listening to a series of lectures from Cynthia Bourgeault based on her book “The Wisdom Jesus”. She pulls Jesus out of our modern religious culture and listens to him again as if he were an eastern mystic.

For me it’s as if Jesus is coming up out of those baptismal waters all over again. He’s been submerged in my churched ideas of him as saviour, revolutionary, judge, and servant to my every need. He’s bursting up - out from under those waters. Water drops are flying in every direction. Every drop is a Sunday school lesson.
Jesus wants me to be good.
Jesus wants me to not to be bad.
Jesus is my judge.
Jesus has a standard for me that is so high and broad that I’ll try all my days and never reach those heights until I die.
Jesus loves me even though I’m a little shit.
Just keep trying – and smile!

No wonder so many people have jumped ship and got on the next boat the culture sends along.
There’s the “Life’s a Beach” boat.
There’s the “Whoever dies with the most toys wins” workaholic boat.
There’s the “whoever does the most good - give til you drop” volunteer boat where you can earn a free pass to the “Singing in the heavenly choir” cruise ship in the sky.
There’s the “there is no boat – I’m on an island” boat.
etc. etc.

I’ve been on ‘em all. They all have their charms. I keep waking up on one or the other of them and I have to keep jumping overboard back into the deep waters and start swimming again. Christianity is a fleet of boats and my church is just one of them. I want to swim – not ride.

Have I lost you yet?
That’s because my new language is esoteric and mystical and if you think you do get it – then think again. Wait – no - don’t think. You’re not supposed to think. That’s what carries you away into judgment and analysis and before you know it – you’re on a boat.

A sense of humour is essential. I’m working on my Dalai Lama chuckle and Bishop Tutu giggle.

In one way this stuff isn’t really anything new for me. I’ve always been drawn to the mystical underbelly of Christianity. It is the mystical, experiential, living spirit that I pursue like a junkie.

Scholarship is helpful. But it’s always felt like a sport to me. Good exercise, good for muscle building – but it’s not food. Scholars like Spong, Borg and Crossan and even our Canadian versions Harper and Vosper are helpful. They pull the bricks out of the wall of scripture and history that we’ve built our sanctuaries with. But then they start talking about new bricks.

I find that Bourgeault takes those same bricks and throws them through our stained glass windows. For example, instead of calling the virgin birth a mistake of cultural translation, or a recycled ancient myth, or a literary metaphor (all useful analyses), she draws upon quantum physics to break open our limited view of heaven, earth, and hell (smash!). Then she looks out into the night sky and sees a universe where GOD’s creativity has infinite “realms” to express itself. She asks – how difficult could it be for such a creative force to plant itself in the realm of a virgin’s womb?

Her scholarship opens the sanctuary up to some fresh air. We can take some deep breaths of the same air Jesus drew in – refocusing on GOD’s heart instead of our minds - to find the centre.

I yearn to develop a spiritual practice that will provide a steady flow of heroin instead of me running around chasing spiritual highs in new and novel manifestations of spiritual, philosophical smorgasbords.

Like I said, I’ve always liked the idea of spending time with God. It’s just that I’ve been pretty busy. (Carol says I have ADD) It’s like I had all these things I had to do first. Like I was a little kid and had to run around and spend all that energy – making sure that GOD was indeed everywhere I looked - before I could settle down and get ready for the night.

I’m not quite ready to take up my post in the rocking chair on the porch just yet. But I’m starting to feel like I could spend some time there.

Bourgeault calls it our animal instincts. It is the survival mechanism of the brain that divides the world into good or bad, threat or security, chocolate or vegetable. We have to be able to turn that off – or at least put it on automatic pilot – and get down into the Heart of God.

Jesus is not a teacher or a prayer; a healer or a prophet. Everything he says and does emerges from this mystical orientation. It is a place; a realm (new favourite word) where we are freed from the limited dissecting analytical judging skills of the brain-mind. We walk into the world seeing beneath and beyond those “realities”.

Bourgeault says “It’s not a place we are going to. It’s where we are coming from.” Cool eh?

I’ve been reading about it for decades. I’ve been thinking about it and talking and preaching about it and now, now, now I feel like I’m ready to get into it.

Sound like a New Year’s resolution to you? I have a feeling that it may just help me with all those other resolutions I’ve been making for years.
I have a feeling that this is a response to the nudge the earth gave me last night – a message from the center (not my center).

1 comment:

corrie said...

Hi Allan,

Is anyone ever ready for that rocking chair on the porch? We like to because it looks so comfortable and peaceful. But God keeps us going, running, jumping, bumping and thinking, we all need that jolt at time you got to realize we're still here, not there yet. You are reading wonderful material, some to agree with, and some to really think over. Hope this year will hold wonderful surprises for you, and forget about the rocking chair for now, our spiritual journey keeps us going and wondering, enjoy!