Saturday, December 28, 2019

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, December 28, 2019 - Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Who are we, really? As a species, I mean? What is genuinely natural to us? And what is learned? And what about us decides whether or not what we’ve learned is something we should apply? 

While not all in the world are Christian, obviously, Christianity has a way of speaking quite loudly at this time of year. Especially in the west. Aided by the vast amounts of commercialism applicable to the celebration of the season, Christmas has taken on a level of prominence in our society that far exceeds its religious expression or its religious community. Everyone, it seems, is subject to the exposure of ideas about Christmas, like it or not. 

Some limit their holiday time to general ideas about goodness, Santa Claus, gift-giving, mirth, and recognitions of the return of the light as the days begin to get longer. And that has great value. But there is a story in Christmas; even a story behind the story. 

The man we now refer to as Jesus was not born 2,019 years ago last Wednesday. We don’t actually know exactly when, or if, he was born at all. All we have are the stories. But whether or not Jesus was a real person, or if the person who has been described actually existed in the way we’ve been told, doesn’t matter. Not really. That’s not the part which has the most value. It’s the stories we have chosen to share, generation after generation, for a purpose. 

I believe that Jesus was a teacher. I believe that if we were to imagine what it would be like to ask him, based on what scripture tells us about him, about what scripture tells us he said and did, and the people with whom he chose to break bread, I think, most of all, he would hope that from his life we would learn something, something about ourselves. And that because of this learning, we would be moved to do something a little bit different than we might have before. For what gives a teacher satisfaction most but that?

And where did he learn what he taught? Some say he just knew it because he was It. I can’t tell you whether that’s true or not. But there definitely are people in the world who have what we might call deep spiritual intuition. Masters in waiting, with something both special and intrinsic to them which sees things on a deeper level. A sacred teaching waiting to occur. Waiting for the moment when the vertical line of intrinsic, eternal knowledge and the horizontal line of earthly human experience intersect to form a ministry. 

What makes a mystic into a minister? What brings it out in them is what they’ve seen. Where they’ve been. Whom they’ve known, and held, and grieved, and healed, and said goodbye to. That’s what brings out the teaching, which may very well be intrinsically known, but it was human experience which gave it words. It is human suffering, human loss, which awakens a teaching. 

From the first days of Jesus’ life we are told he was on the move. Already learning the sorrows of humankind firsthand. Already being awakened for the task to come. 

Not for being a nomad, however, but a refugee running for his life. Not for wishing to see greener pastures, but safer ones. Not a can-go, but a must-go. Fleeing, not journeying. Not prepared. Not wanting to go. What is it like to be held in the arms of a terrified mother? What does her heartbeat sound like? What did that little boy learn starting right then?

We are supposed to learn from this story—as we are supposed to learn from all stories—the ideal way to be human. That’s what we are supposed to learn from what we have been told. That is the intrinsic purpose behind the sharing of our tales. That is the reason for the wandering and wondering both. 

The family of Christ was not lost. Nor are we. 

For there is great hope in the world. There are an abundance of wise words and loving guidance, and yes, maybe even flashes of the presence of God, which have found their way into our customs and laws, thought by thought, intention by intention, desire by desire, decade by century, seeping into the fabric of our future. Hope. Light. Compassion. A zeal to serve. 

Don’t believe all that you are seeing. It is a real, but distorted view. Look deeper. The proof of our human expansion is there underneath the suffering. The proof of our ever-enlightning society is there between the lines. 

That’s who we are. That is what is intrinsically human. We are ready to grow, even as we fear it. Stumbling, but receptive. Wanting, yet questioning. Wandering, but far from lost. Take heart. 

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