Message: Desperate Desiring April 17th 2016
Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Scripture: Deuteronomy 33:27 God – our refuge still, 2nd Corinthians 1:9 Rely on God Luke 15:21 Welcoming home the prodigal
There is a Power greater than ourselves. We can say this in our heads. I think it would be kind of silly to be a church if we didn’t say we believed this. And yet… my goodness, we have a hard time living as if we believe it. In A.A. there is a saying. “Let go, and let God.” I know that my pattern is more like, “Let go and let God… and take it back! Let go and let God… and take it back (‘cause God seems a little slow on the `taking it on’ part.)
Can we hear with the 12 tribes of Judah, “The God of old is still your refuge.”? Can we affirm that through the trials of life, we are being taught not to rely solely on ourselves, but on God? Can we believe that the Higher Power is not out to condemn and punish any wrongs we’ve done to self and others, but welcomes us with an abundance of love and forgiveness?
Richard Rohr says in order for us to surrender ourselves to healing we need to have three spaces opened up within us –and all at the same time – our opinionated heads, our closed-down hearts, our defensive and defended bodies. That is the challenging work of spirituality, it is the work of a Power greater than ourselves. That is why true faith is one of the most holistic and free actions a human can perform. It leads to such broad and deep perception, that most traditions would just call it “light”p8.
We sing of Jesus as the light of the world, but he also says, in Matthew 5:14 that we are the light of the world! This luminousness comes when we open these three centres of wisdom – mind, heart/emotional centre, and body.
Rohr says, to keep the mind space open, we need some form of contemplative or meditation practice. I have come to love the Quaker tradition of significant periods of silence. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to be in the oldest Quaker meeting house in England. We were told that the Quaker tradition after the reading of scripture, was to sit in silence until you feel you have a word from the Holy Spirit. If you think you have a word from the Holy Spirit within the first 15 minutes – still be quiet – because it takes at least that long to get through all the other voices in your head!
To keep the heart space open we need healing of our carried hurts from the past. We need to be in right relationship with people, and we need to engage in right brain activities like dancing, enjoying nature for its own sake. In these beautiful warm spring days, I have such gratitude for the soft cool grass nibbling my winter-whitened, moccasin-clad toes! Then there is music. Music is one of those wonderful right-brain activities that can open our hearts, create a healing space and connect us to the Divine. A couple years ago as part of the Black & Bluez band, we played at one of the seniors residences and a woman wept through most of the set. I didn’t think we sounded that bad! Later she said, her husband had died in the last month, and all the music brought back so many beautiful memories – yes she wept, but it was healing and cleansing and just what she needed, she told us. And generally, we need to have our hearts broken, and broken open that we may learn compassion for others.
To keep the body less defended, we need to listen to it! Many past hurts and memories are stored in our bodies, and our body is constantly talking to us, if we will but listen. Our heads and hearts can deceive us, but our bodies do not lie. This is why in some healing practices such as massage therapy, people find themselves unexpectedly weeping. The muscles know and hold on to pain until we can face it and name it.
One of the gifts of my spiritual director is to she is very good at helping me pay attention to my body. `Pay attention’, she invites me, `without changing anything or judging it.’ That’s not an easy thing to do. If we notice that our shoulders are hunched, we want to put them down right away, or we’re quick to judge ourselves as too defensive, or resistant. How different it is to just observe with compassion – and ask our bodies what wisdom they can share with us.
Jesus usually physically touched people when he healed them; he knew where the memory and hurt was located, and it was in the body itself.
I quote Rohr: “It has always deeply disappointed me that the Christian religion was the only one that believed God became a human body, and yet we have had such deficient and frankly negative attitudes toward embodiment, the physical world, sexuality, emotions, animals, healthy physical practices like yoga, and nature itself.”
No wonder we have to have Earth Day to consciously remember the importance of the physical, and the absolute interconnectedness of all living beings, the cause and effect of our extractive and consumptive culture. While climate change for us, so far, means a lovely early spring, it means the worse drought in half a century in Ethiopia, and relentless flooding in the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh. We are physical and we are finite – may we be conscious enough of this, that we do not destroy ourselves and whole ecosystems.
Indeed we need to be restored to sanity and the first thing you have to do is admit that what you are doing is insane! Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. But this is also what keeps us addicted – knowing the last time we did something – it didn’t give us the satisfaction, or the relief, or the new perspective we thought it would, so let’s do a little more this time, and see if that will bring the satisfaction, relief or new perspective that sets us free. It won’t of course, but wow that’s hard to accept. Once we do accept it though – we are open to Power greater than ourselves working in and through our lives for healing.
In our prayers this morning, we will pray in such a way, as to begin to open our mind, heart and body. For the moment though, let’s just take a few moments to be open to whatever gifts or insights they Spirit may have for us…