Easter Is A Festival Of Human Solidarity …

Human beings are like parts of a body,
created from the same essence.
When one part is hurt and in pain,
the others cannot remain in peace and be quiet.
If the misery of others leaves you indifferent
and with no feelings of sorrow,
You cannot be called a human being.

Saadi

See no stranger has become a practice that defines my relationships … Seeing no stranger begins in wonder. It is to look upon the face of anyone and choose to say: You are a part of me I do not yet know. Wonder is the wellspring for love. Who we wonder about determines whose stories we hear and whose joy and pain we share. Those we grieve with, those we sit with and weep with, are ultimately those we organize with and advocate for. When a critical mass of people come together to wonder about one another, grieve with one another, and fight with and for one another, we begin to build the solidarity needed for collective liberation and transformation — a solidarity rooted in love …

― Valarie Kaur from See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love

We raise our voices in holy gladness to celebrate the victory of the risen Christ over the terrible forces of death. Easter is a joyful festival! It is a celebration because it is indeed a festival of hope! Easter marks the renewal of life! The triumph of the light of truth over the darkness of falsehood! Easter is a festival of human solidarity, because it celebrates the fulfilment of the Good News! The Good News borne by our risen Messiah who chose not one race, who chose not one country, who chose not one language, who chose not one tribe, who chose all of humankind! Each Easter marks the rebirth of our faith. It marks the victory of our risen Saviour over the torture of the cross and the grave. Our Messiah, who came to us in the form of a mortal man, but who by his suffering and crucifixion attained immortality. Our Messiah, born like an outcast in a stable, and executed like criminal on the cross. Our Messiah, whose life bears testimony to the truth that there is no shame in poverty: Those who should be ashamed are they who impoverish others. Whose life testifies to the truth that there is no shame in being persecuted: Those who should be ashamed are they who persecute others. Whose life proclaims the truth that there is no shame in being conquered: Those who should be ashamed are they who conquer others. Whose life testifies to the truth that there is no shame in being dispossessed: Those who should be ashamed are they who dispossess others. Whose life testifies to the truth that there is no shame in being oppressed: Those who should be ashamed are they who oppress others.

Nelson Mandela (from his speech at the Zionist Christian Church Easter Conference – 1994)

EASTER

Keep your eyes on your work. Looking
at a dogwood does not make you blossom.

Nor can a bridge of sighs span an ocean
of despair. For that, you need oars

and strong arms. Labor as long
as it is still called today. Yes, Faith

could have worn other metaphors,
but instead it rose from the dead

and asked questions: Why are you
crying? Who are you looking for?

Do not fear. Answer. The Risen One
speaks your language.

Devon Balwit from Sojourners (April 2021)
Continue reading “Easter Is A Festival Of Human Solidarity …”

There Is A Balm In Gilead …

Blessed are you in whom the light lives, in whom the brightness blazes— your heart a chapel, an altar where in the deepest night can be seen the fire that shines forth in you in unaccountable faith, in stubborn hope, in love that illumines every broken thing it finds.

Jan Richardson from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

At times, it’s hardship that opens us, like a shovel splitting wet earth. At times, the light of another filters, like sunlight, through all the blinds we’ve drawn. And sometimes, like now, I’m softened by the glow of those entangled in the dark. They move about like stars that can’t stay still, looking for light everywhere but in themselves. I’ve done this when in pain, or lost, or after I’ve hurt someone I love. Last night, I couldn’t sleep. So I imagined that my breathing was coming and going through the crack in my heart. This relaxed me. So I closed my eyes and imagined that with each inhalation I was owning my mistakes. And with each exhalation I was sending a drop of mercy to those who are hurting, whether I know them or not. Then everything began to quiet — the noise of my pain, the noise in my mind, the noise of the world remaking itself faster than we can break it. And in that winded spot, I felt the air of love lift me. This is why I thank you when we meet. In case what helps me came from you.

— Mark Nepo from Things That Join the Sea and the Sky

There Is A Balm In Gilead

The Hebrew prophets deeply loved their tradition and profoundly criticized it at the same time. Such truthful love is a very rare art form and a hallmark of prophetic identity. The prophet Jeremiah lived in a time of deep grief and loss. Jerusalem had fallen to the Babylonians and his people had been exiled. He critiqued the false prophets of his day who denied such necessary suffering and pretended things were better than they were. He poured out his heart to God and famously asked, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?” (Jeremiah 8:22). The hope for a healing “balm in Gilead” provided inspiration for the African American spiritual tradition and Civil Rights Movement. Today’s meditation is a reflection from the mystic and theologian Howard Thurman about the beloved spiritual “There Is a Balm in Gilead.”

Continue reading “There Is A Balm In Gilead …”

No One Ever Told Me That Grief Felt So Like Fear …

Grieving is a journey that teaches us how to love in a new way now that our loved one is no longer with us. Consciously remembering those who have died is the key that opens the hearts, that allows us to love them in new ways.
— Tom Attig from The Heart of Grief

 

Heavy

That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.
Surely God
had his hand in this,

as well as friends. Continue reading “No One Ever Told Me That Grief Felt So Like Fear …”

This Very Moment Is the Perfect Teacher …

When we are stuck in our convictions and personas, we enter into the disease of having good ideas and being right… We think we have a lock on truth, with our burnished surfaces and articulation, but the bigger we pump ourselves up, the easier we are to prick with a pin. And the bigger we get, the harder it is to see the earth under our feet.

We all know the horror of having been Right with a capital R, feeling the surge of a cause, whether in politics or custody disputes. This rightness is so hot and steamy and exciting, until the inevitable rug gets pulled out from under us. Then we get to see that we almost never really know what is true, except what everybody else knows: that sometimes we’re all really lonely, and hollow, and stripped down to our most naked human selves.

It is the worst thing on earth, this truth about how little truth we know. I hate and resent it. And yet it is where new life rises from. Continue reading “This Very Moment Is the Perfect Teacher …”

In Humility Is The Greatest Freedom …

We experience humility not because we have fought and lost but because humility is the only lens through which great things can be seen ― and once we have seen them, humility is the only posture possible.
― Parker Palmer from The Courage To Teach

 

In Humility Is The Greatest Freedom

In humility is the greatest freedom. As long as you have to defend the imaginary self that you think is important, you lose your peace of heart. As soon as you compare that shadow with the shadows of other people, you lose all joy, because you have begun to trade in unrealities and there is no joy in things that do not exist. Continue reading “In Humility Is The Greatest Freedom …”

The Price (Good Friday Meditation) …

The suffering itself is not so bad; it’s the resentment against suffering that is the real pain.
— Allen Ginsberg from The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion

 

There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal. Continue reading “The Price (Good Friday Meditation) …”

The Lenten Blessing — A Franciscan Benediction …

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy. Continue reading “The Lenten Blessing — A Franciscan Benediction …”