Friday, March 21, 2014

Gathering the pieces

Yesterday, we took our teen daughters to the county clerk of courts to begin the process of applying for their passports; we're traveling as a family this summer. I was caught off guard when the clerk asked us all to raise our hands and swear the photos we were handing over were actually our daughters.

Quakers don't take oaths or swear, I wanted to announce.

But there wasn't time and I'd already been admonished by my husband to behave and get this over quickly. He knew the clerk piqued my ire when she questioned the paper the photos were printed on and, with a scowl, asked if we'd taken our own. "I thought so," dripped out of the side of her mouth. She had no clue what a wonderful photographer had taken them AND paid full attention to all of the rules and regulations.

I merely raised my hand and said nothing, which seemed enough for her. Quakers believe in integrity and always telling the truth, so there's no need for an oath.

There are other things Quakers don't do and I missed growing up Methodist that I am just learning. Take the practice of Lent, for example. All I remember as a child were the candles (and I could be mixing up Lent and Advent; I can't recall any explanations), a new-color cloth on the cross and many sermons building up to Easter, when everyone dressed to the nines. The words seemed so ancient and removed from me and the dressing-up business, well, a giant mismatch to what I, even as a child, learned as the teaching of Jesus.

Because Quakers value every day as sacred, Easter is often not put on a pedestal, nor is it neglected. Ever since a Quaker mystics gathering last summer, I have been fixated on the cross and what it truly means to me and my life. I want to personalize its symbolism, not merely dismiss it as part of a rote story.

Interesting that Catholic priests and an Episcopal minister have gently nudged me in my exploration and search for truth. I regularly read Catholics Henri Nouwen and Richard Rohr's daily meditations. And Pastor Mary launched me on a New Year's retreat that has bled into Easter. She's the one who gave me the word "purification" as my mantra for this year, which seems like the ideal Lenten focus. Rohr brings the idea of the false self and being separated from God to life through Jesus' pre-Resurrection journey. And, Nouwen has helped me identify the mystical Jesus, or Christ energy as I call it, in myself. I feel as if I am on a similar journey of stripping away what is not of God with the exclusive purpose of becoming closer to union. There are also elements of absorbing the world's pain as Jesus soaked in universal sin and letting that action be transformational; surrendering to Spirit.

In an e-mail, I recently thanked Mary for her guidance and even my word. She responded that she was glad it was blessing me. Blessing me? I thought. I wrote backing saying, some days, it felt like work. Her wise response: "Yes, healing often feels like work, which is one of the very few reasons this kind of work can sometimes also be a blessing."

Not the answer I wanted to hear, but truthful, I understood.

Somewhere in all of this, I had a flash that instead of looking at my body separately (this health issue and that), I needed to consider it as a whole, much like the body of Christ.

But God has put the body together ...  so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. [I Corinthians: 24-6]

I understand that metaphorically, so why not physically, in my own body. Unity in my body, wow, what a concept! No fighting or battling, competing or quarreling. Just peace. 

Could this be a path to healing?

• What did my childhood faith neglect to teach me?
• What truths did I retain?
• Where do I find truth these days?
• How do I view the concept of resurrection?
• How is it applicable in my own life?

the division
IS false

this or that,
it says

until it drives
you into

breaks you
up, spits you
out, helps you
believe you
are nothing

only then,
can you

the pieces
to be picked
up and made

by Spirit

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