Thursday, October 16, 2008

Reef Dwelling, Decisions, Five Minutes of Prayer

I subscribe to the feed of Choralgirl who writes the blog "Choral Reef: music under the surface". Now, Choralgirl is a musician and choir director at her church. She writes a splendid blog and I read each feed as I get it. Well, that is what you are supposed to do when you subscribe to a blog's feed: read. Feed and read...catchy.

Today's feed from the Reef is particularly moving and rang the gong deep in my soul. It only rang once but then that is all it had to do as it resonated in my spirit and nudged me to think more deeply about who I am and what is my purpose in this life. Here's part of what she said:

"I was reading at Search the Sea yesterday, and amid the stark riches there, I found three nuggets that capture the thinking of three very wise guys (thanks, Gannet Girl, for your honesty; peace to you!). They became the basis last night’s choir devotion.

Know yourself.

Be yourself.

Give yourself.

The life of a person of faith demands that we try to live into all those ideas, and each is a pilgrimage of its own.

The first, the way of self-knowledge, is the beginning. It happens in the context of community and in the presence of God. It requires as much honesty as we can bear; in learning to truly know ourselves, we have to get quiet. We have to be strong enough to strip away all that is not real or true, like peeling away a bitter orange rind to get to the sweet fruit underneath. The context of loving community keeps us honest; the presence of God grants perspective; both are a comfort and a continual challenge, pushing us on to the second path: self-actualization.

If we think about that in terms of Maslow’s Hierarchy, it’s about getting our basic needs met so that we can to move on to greater things. I think that’s certainly a piece of the puzzle, but if we are to get to the third path, there needs to be one more element included. We become fully ourselves in large part by striving and failing and learning and striving again. It makes me think of one more chunk of wisdom from Wise Guy #4:

It's not that easy, being green.
Kermit the Frog

New growth is tender and vulnerable and fresh. It takes courage to keep on becoming the people we are. But the risk in that process also means brings us to the understanding that we have something to offer…and perhaps also the courage to do so, which is what Jesus asks..."

Go to Choral Reef: music under the surface to feast on the rest of her post. It will be worth the dive and swim.

On October 16th, Barbi Click, another blogger extraordinaire, reflected on the lesson of Micah and how it can and does relate to this election season.

Ok, some of you are going to ask: What has this piece to do with the previous piece on knowing oneself spiritually? Plenty. If you know or are getting to know yourself spiritually, that nugget of wisdom helps you think with clarity, and when we think with clarity, we think more logically and metaphysically at the same time [at least I do...]. So, in my view this clarity leads to a knowing degree of rightness and wrongness. Being able to distinguish one from the other leads us to making decisions. Voting in this election is an important decision with ramifications for this entire country and indeed for the world [yes, we are a superpower and people do, despite rumors to the contrary, watch America].

Now here is some of Barbi's explication of Micah in the context of The Now:

"In a Day of False Prophets [originally written October 9th]

What is a politician but a prophet? He or she stands there before the crowds, shouting out oracles of doom and gloom if the people continue on in their wicked ways but glorifying his/her own natural abilities to lead the people into a shining new future. Each one claims to offer the “right” way. Too often, both are false prophets.

The lectionary’s reading today from Micah 3:1-8 speaks to that very thing. In this particular instance, he is calling the religious leaders of Israel false prophets. Micah calls them to justice and compares them to cannibals, for by the very fact that these leaders live off the hopes and need of the people of Israel, they consume the people as they lead them astray. Their time is coming, Micah says, when the leaders will realize how wrong they are and finally turn to God but it will be too late. The sins that they have committed are those of injustice and greed. Micah has no compassion for those who plunder and pillage that which the Lord has declared Holy.

I love these violent, gory scriptures. It is a heck of a way to get a reader’s attention. Rather than be turned off by the images of skin being torn “off my people, and the flesh off their bones” and those who would “eat the flesh of my people, flay their skin off them, break their bones in pieces, and chop them up like meat in a kettle, like flesh in a cauldron,” I feel a great need to get past the violence and into the message that Micah was attempting to convey. It seems that the more gruesome and violent the image, the bigger the message.

We have to say that Micah was passionate if nothing else. His major concern was justice. He saw these religious leaders, these people who held great influence over the people of Israel and he knew that these same leaders were feeding off of the need of the people. The people were oppressed and the leaders justified it through the “Law”.

We have much the same thing going on today. Sarah Palin makes wild and outrageous insinuations that Barack Obama is a terrorist, enough so that one of the spectators in the crowd yells out, “Kill him!” John McCain asks “Who is the real Barack Obama?” and a member of the audience loudly answers, “A terrorist!” Neither of these candidates shush either person. McCain at least has the grace to grimace. Regardless, both are inciting people to react with mob mentality. Both are feeding off the ignorance, fear and bigotry of their audiences..."

Go to Feathers and Faith, Barbi's blog, to read the rest of her piece on this modern take of the Micah passage.

{My aside: The behavior of the Palin crowd reminded me of the point in the Gospel where the rabble are wanting Barabas spared and are urging Pilate to crucify Him, the Christ. And no, I am not comparing Barack Obama with Jesus, but if the sandal fits...}

Lastly I leave you with this quote...

"Life may be brimming over with experiences, but somewhere, deep inside, all of us carry a vast and fruitful loneliness wherever we go. And sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inward in prayer for five short minutes."

- Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life, p.93 -

Fodder for rumination.


Choralgirl said...

"...a vast and fruitful loneliness..."

WOW--that's fecund. Gonna sit with that for a while. Thanks for your kindness, Catherine. I'm pleased and honored that it spoke to you.

Barbi Click said...

I am ... well, very humbled. :-)
to say the least...
Thank you, Catherine.

Jan said...

Thank you, Catherine. And I posted the video of the charming older ladies on my blog. Thank you for that, too.

Jan said...

Thank you, Catherine. I always love your thoughts and reflections, even if about acedia. . . .Thank you, too, for the video of the charming older ladies, which I've posted on my blog. If you want credit, let me know!