Lenten Word #9: Spirit

  • Video: Israeli couple singing ‘One Day’
  • Poem by Rumi:

    A Community of the Spirit
    There is a community of the spirit.
    Join it, and feel the delight
    of walking in the noisy street
    and being the noise.
    Drink all your passion,
    and be a disgrace.
    Close both eyes
    to see with the other eye.
    Open your hands,
    if you want to be held.
    Sit down in the circle.
    Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
    the shepherd’s love filling you.
    At night, your beloved wanders.
    Don’t accept consolations.
    Close your mouth against food.
    Taste the lover’s mouth in yours.
    You moan, “She left me.” “He left me.”
    Twenty more will come.
    Be empty of worrying.
    Think of who created thought!
    Why do you stay in prison
    when the door is so wide open?
    Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
    Live in silence.
    Flow down and down in always
    widening rings of being.

spirit

Lent Word #3: Transgression

us-passport

  • Video ‘Teaching to Transgress’ with Bell Hooks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQUuHFKP-9s&list=PL2B275096C8DDFF3B
  • Reflection in poetry on Lenten Word Transgressions:Transgressions by Gail Doktor (c) 2/17
    On the way
    Why shouldn’t the first word
    Be the one that means to travel
    To cross overBoundaries
    Borders
    Lines
    Words
    Ideas
    Bodies

    I stop at trans-
    Trans   port
    Trans   late
    Trans   scend

    And as for –gressions
    Re   gressions
    Ag   gressions

    I want to subtract and change
    The syllables to something else
    More beautiful than itself
    And yet itself
    In part and whole
    Makes it
    What it is
    Whatever that may be

    And even in this
    Crossing over becomes
    Different for me
    Than for you
    Or for us

    Becomes other
    Becomes else
    Beyond the original
    After all

    Moving
    On the way from
    En route to
    Between
    Crossing through
    Trans-  and  -gression

    © Gail Doktor 2/17

 

Ash Wednesday: Musings on Mercy

I tried to find a theme song for today’s word: MERCY. Listened to several, and kept wanting to interrogate the lyricists, if not the singers. What does mercy mean in our pop culture? In mainstream media, it seems to be an unequal exchange that is dangerous for the one in need of the mercy, who may lose everything and gain nothing, subjugating self to another.

This is not the sacred love that I understand as part of mercy. Wrote this as a reflection.

mercy-openarmsrain5
Mercy
© Gail Doktor 2/17

I ask the pop songs
What it means to seek mercy
And learn from the best-loved
Most highly-rated lyrics
Performed by old men and mere children
And never-aging women
And here’s what they teach

They beg
They moan
They offer to sacrifice life itself
All of that
To receive it
To be given
Mercy

Their words claim to be
Bent low
Humbled and knee-bent
Prostrate and pleading

But mostly their bodies are upright
Hands wide
Reaching out
Strong voices soft then loud
By God, demanding it
Importuning it
Not giving up until they get it

What does it cost those artists
Oh, they agree to give away
Well, everything
Body
Being
Breath

Yet I suppose that very offering
Of self
To self-less-ness
Is the heart
Of being ready
To experience mercy

That presumes
You really do it
And I cannot say I believe
They … the singers … do
Want it, I mean

Really
You only want it
You only want mercy
When all of that
Body
Being
Breath
Is already gone
Or at risk of being gone

But what will you give up
Give away
Offer to exchange?
Will you trade everything
Sacrifice all
To be restored?

And what if you get back
What you gave away?
Body
Being
Breath

Wasn’t it easier to give it all away
Than to live inside it again?

On the other hand, perhaps mercy
Allows you to live inside
Body
Being
Breath
Differently than before

It seems
The pop singers cannot answer
Because they do not know
They only suppose

So I will have to lose myself
To find out
And to know myself
Body
Being
Breath
On the other side of such mercy

By then I won’t have to ask
Someone else
I’ll have my own song
Or nothing at all

See this post for more on MERCY.

Lent Day 35: ABIDE

abideABIDE? This is one of the words in today’s texts. It is an offer to shelter in the care of One who will provide and support. It is also the invitation to allow that One to take root in us, to find a home in us.

In a way, when we allow love to abide is us, we become walking, breathing places of holiness. Our bodies and heart and minds become temples: places where God lives.

At the same time, we are invited to seek and find sanctuary beyond ourselves, in connection with God, which often leads to connection to others. Abide … to rest, to dwell. To be: we’ve considered this way in past reflections.

It is a gentle invitation, in its way. And yet to create a home, or to find a home, isn’t so easy. Not for everyone.

Many of us are always moving: changing addresses, shifting locations where we spend most of our time at work, learning, play or living. And some people are exiles. Some folk are un-homed. We’ve reflected on wandering in the wilderness, or being lost or displaced. We’ve also discuss the implications of settling in the land.

In these texts, God promises to be our shelter, even when we’re on the journey to find home. And as we’ve already said, by connecting with God, we make a home in ourselves for God … so that loves goes with us, always.

Yet the call to ABIDE is a reminder to pause. To breathe. To pay attention. To turn inward for a time and be with oneself. Or to soak in the surroundings and let that be the resting place.

To ABIDE is to stay awhile in the presence of love, of God. To find respite.

For people always on the move, the invitation to ABIDE is once more a spiritual practice, a form of self-care that Lent offers. How do you create chances to pause? To ABIDE?

Perhaps just reading the sacred texts. Or standing in the presence of the beauty of nature (God’s creation). Perhaps praying. Or simply closing your eyes and taking a slow, intentional breath. Using some contemplative practice to find your center, where God awaits you.

Try this wonderful prayer as a way and a place to ABIDE:

handsBe still and know that I am God

Be still and know that I am

Be still and know

Be still

Be

Selections from today’s lectionary passages:

Judges 9: 15aAnd the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade.’

1 John 2: 24 — Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father.

DAY 17: WAKE

The lectionary texts today offer up the word WAKE. It’s a call out of sleep, out of rest, and even out of death in these texts. It’s a call to be alive and attentive, to be active and present. Its a call, ultimately, to be connected to self, others and God.

In our times, we’re bombarded with messages vying for our attention. Sometimes we’re hyper-aware, and we need the chance to be peaceful, if not asleep. We require a way to distinguish between the busy-ness of responding to countless demands for our time, energy, and resources versus being awake and present in a more focused, fulfilled and beneficial way.

Sometimes, I feel worn out or frazzled all day long. As if I never catch up on rest and renewal. Usually when I feel so depleted, that’s when I’m neglecting forms of self-care, from eating well and exercising and sleeping enough to maintaining a healthy spiritual practice. At such times, when I’m too exhausted, even though I’m theoretically awake, my attention is divided. Then I’m not ‘awake’ in a way that becomes meaningful in my relationships to others, or in my capacity to work or play. So my own ‘wake up’ call is often noticing that I’m stretched too thin and overloaded, overwhelmed, and tired. Then it’s time to restore self-care practices that contribute to greater psychological and emotional balance, better mind-body connection. From these practices come more attentiveness, more energy, and more capacity to ‘do.’

We can be at peace when we’re awake. For instance, we can become centered and focused by drawing on bodily spiritual and contemplative practices such as breathing, meditation, and prayer. This can take place, varying by the style of  practice you use, either in a still position or while  moving (you can pray or meditate as you walk, for instance).

We can use such spiritual practices to calm and prepare ourselves for the demands of the day, or to renew ourselves in the midst of such multitasking. We can become more alert and attuned, connecting spiritually with our own emotional and psychological selves, or connecting outwardly to broader consciousness and energy.

feb26-lent17_wakeIn sacred texts, sleep is sometimes equated with being unaware, complacent, or unguarded. Sometimes sleep in Biblical terms is not desirable. Sleep is also used, at times, as a euphemism for death. By contrast, being awake is a chance to revive from an altered, helpless state into a transformed state of agency, authority, and activity. Wakefulness becomes a form of vigilance and activism.

At other times, sleep in sacred texts is the chance to dream and commune with God’s messengers. Thus wakefulness can be the chance to return out of dreams into this reality with a message from God. It offers enlightenment and wisdom. This is true in Christian traditions, and the concept of being awake as an enlightened being is an ideal in other religions, too.

What wakes you up? And I don’t mean the alarm clock. For me, sometimes it’s caffeinated tea that kick-starts my body and lets my mind catch up. More often it’s the ritual of greeting my husband in the morning, going outside for a walk along the river with the dog, checking in with my daughAlarm-Clockter, connecting with a friend by phone or in person, and singing along to the radio. Small moments  recharge and renew me, so that by the time I arrive at demanding, busy parts of my day, I feel more than just awake … I feel alive indeed. I am excited to be where I am, and ready to engage in whatever the day may bring.

Excerpts from today’s lectionary texts:

  • Daniel 12:2a — Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life.
  • Revelation 3:2 — Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God.
  • Revelation 3:3 — Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.