Meditation: 21 January 2018

[I have a backlog of these to post- going in reverse chronological order…! Audio & pics up soon.]

In a time where visions were rare, a young boy is ministering to an elder. Twenty-two years ago, when my vision was gone, an elder is ministering to me. In the night, the boy hears a voice calling to him- not his elder, but the voice of the Holy. In those days, I felt a stirring, a pulling- I didn’t know what it was. When the voice came again, the boy was instructed to answer “Speak, for your servant is listening.” The elder in my life, when I was just awakening from a great fog, taught me, too, a way to answer to this pulling; it saved my life. “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Say it with me, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” I think we’ve all, at some point, been a Samuel- receiving some mysterious calling- and an Eli- smiling on while another for the first time is being drawn to the Holy. When else does the Holy draw us in, when suddenly we’ve nothing to say but “Sign me up?” Perhaps when we’re slack-jawed in wonder: shooting stars, catching a peek of a blue heron, gazing into the eyes of a newborn… “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Perhaps when we’re driving back to sweet Carolina, and we see those mountains first rise on the horizon, and know that we’re home? From anthropologist and Zen teacher Joan Halifax: “Some of us are drawn to mountains the way the moon draws the tide. Both the great forests and mountains are in my bones. They have taught me, humbled me, purified me and changed me.”

Well, Jay that’s all warm and fuzzy- all this calling and answering, now what? What are we getting into? Does the Holy occasionally make prank calls? You bet. Sometimes- the call is a wrong number, a false start, a time you think “I’m really feeling drawn toward this” then, eh- not so much. On the contrary, the calling can be a constant drumbeat, and we can’t do it all. I used to answer almost every call, “Speak, for your servant is listening- please hold.” “Speak, for your servant is listening- please hold.” Before long, I’m a burned-out husk collapsed on the couch, and a booming voice says “Stop answering! How can you serve anybody when you’re so fried that you’re not even serving yourself?” “You mean I should… delegate?” “Yup, that.”  Lesson learned… Responding like you’re the only operator at the Cosmic switchboard will eventually turn any help you give into cold and untouched word salad at the potluck of life. We also might not hear every ringy-dingy, and the Holy doesn’t always leave a message. But the Holy keeps calling until we push through our reluctance, choosing to answer. That choice may appear insignificant- yet little choices, like acorns, can become mighty oaks. Today, you’re on the branches of a tree you planted long ago, a single choice you made that evolved into all this. And it’s not just you doing all the answering- the Universe has seen fit to have you in it; what if Holy is also saying “Speak, for your servant is listening.” What if? Breathe deeply.

Some of us are social media people. I like hanging out on Twitter- it’s pure chaos- like life- but much shorter. Some of my favorite Tweets lately:

“Do people who jog know that humans aren’t food anymore?”
“I once dated an apostrophe, but he was too possessive.”
“‘This isn’t my first rodeo,’ said the guy at his second rodeo.”

Then, this: “Go home 2018, you’re drunk.” This tweeter’s already fed up three weeks in, I get it, each day gets weirder. What if frustration is a bridge to empowerment? What’s empowerment without first being powerless? That’s how one call started that has since changed our culture, if not a generation. The call was one that left many feeling disillusioned, so they summoned a new power from which there is no turning back. In that spirit’ let’s remind ourselves of Margaret Meade’s wisdom from this banner, day it with me: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” One year ago today was the first Women’s March, but yesterday- WOW! Originally planned as a march on Washington, the movement has spread around the US, and the world. If correct, 5.2 million or 1.6% of Americans marched in 2017, an amazing number. Our motivations are different, but together they become prophetic.
Trickles of justice become waterfalls. Ideas to reform become legacies. Taking individual stands stir spellbound societies into new awakenings. A one-day protest has birthed countless better angels mothering the future. You’ve heard this coming! What’s a good anthem for a hopeful future? Written by Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, this song automatically releases “Hopamine” into your brain and fires you up for better days, let’s sing:

If you wake up and don’t want to smile,
If it takes just a little while,
Open your eyes and look at the day,
You’ll see things in a different way.

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

Nathaniel says to Philip, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip says, “Come and see.” Can anything good come out of 2018? “Come and see.” Can anything good come out of the endless dehumanizing news cycle? “Come and see.” It’s up to you. Take that walk. When you come and see, what do you get? “You will see greater things than these.” That’s what Jesus says to Nathaniel… “You will see greater things than these.” “You will see greater things than these.” Who in our community is calling for greater things? Our neighbors are calling. Our children are calling. Disparities between rich and poor in Buncombe County are calling. Our immigrant community- to which we are all connected- won’t report crimes fearing deportation- they’re calling.
We hear the cry of the nation but right here in Western North Carolina you’re a part of greater things through your support of our work at Jubilee, by pledging and feeding the hungry. It’s the everyday things too- remembering to smile. Letting go of the phone for a while. Any way you can be a helper is one step forward, and when together… you go arm in arm with more helpers and those struggling in the trenches… you become a rolling wave that will  wash over racism, wash over nationalism, wash over classism, wash over inequality of gender, wash over inequality of orientation and ability… you’re fulfilling an age-old call to truly see things greater than these!

Why not think about times to come,
And not about the things that you’ve done,
If your life was bad to you,
Just think what tomorrow will do.

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

This isn’t about putting a happy face band-aid over our boo-boos and daydreaming of winning a Bahamas cruise. This is hard work- how we choose to make use of our precious time, and why we say yes to the seemingly impossible, and yes… to mending old wounds. Many folks don’t get that cruelty mocks the miracle of the time we’re given, so we make the best use of ours by setting an example of seeing and being greater things than these. But, if you’ve been hurt, there’s good reason to doubt people rushing at you. How to repair that broken trust? While fear stays in fashion, what’s the next big thing that heals? While there’s no single correct answer, each of us has a part of it if we just listen- just listen- there’s 7 billion answers out there- if we just listen.

All I want is to see you smile,
If it takes just a little while,
I know you don’t believe that it’s true,
I never meant any harm to you.

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

Twenty-two years ago, this week, I answered a very painful call. It came in the form of a dear friend who had overdosed and died, and it shocked me into a brutal reality; the way I’d been barely living could’ve taken me with him. In one day, a lifetime of reckoning fell like scaffolding around me. Not knowing what else to do, I sought to reclaim long-lost spiritual connection, and I was almost immediately taken under the wing of a mentor who recognized my brokenness. An elder- an interim minister of a Unitarian church in Delaware- ministered to me- he answered the weak and unsure call of a spiritually dead young man, he awakened my soul and taught that good people and communities do exist in the world. It’s because of him that my best friend and I began a journey, moving to Asheville, then I became a grateful Jubilant. Jubilee- you’ve restored my soul, but how many thousands more…? How many thousands more? You better believe that you, Jubilee, have an amazing healing power, an amazing redemption power, an amazing justice power, for the joy of human love you’re a force to be reckoned with in this world. When you step out that door today- trust that Creation will speak- because you are listening- and trust that together- we will ALL see things greater than these- together! Come and see!

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

 Ooh, don’t you look back,
Ooh, don’t you look back,
Ooh, don’t you look back,
Ooh, don’t you look back.

[w/m (c) 1977 Christine McVie]



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