Plain in the city

A plain Quaker folk singer with a Juris Doctorate in his back pocket, salt in his blood, and a set of currach oars in the closet, Ulleann Pipes under his arm, guitar on his back, Anglo Irish baggage, wandering through New York City ... in constant amaze. Statement of Faithfulness. As a member of the Quaker Bloggers Ad Hoc Committee I affirm that I will be faithful to the Book of Discipline of my Meeting 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Fear and loathing and Merton's quote

Why was I so affected by Merton;s quote on another's Blog? "Whatever I may have written, I think it all can be reduced in the end to this one root truth: that God calls human persons to union with Himself and with one another in Christ, in the Church which is His Mystical Body."

Well, because in choosing our words, our symbols, if we are not very careful instead of empowering our best thoughts, we express the opposite.

The question becomes how can we speak in ways that our words can convey the light inside, and not simply feed the hurt and fear which so divides us. It is both the responsibility of the listener and the speaker.

But to face that responsibility takes courage, not only the courage to look at those symbols which we use as sword and shield, our arrows of desire and chariot of fire, we have to look at those fears which cast us out of church.

Some Friends gird on their fear as armor. It does not work to keep out the world that they imagine will hurt them, but rather traps a host of pains within them. Like a warrior readying themselves for battle, these Friends draw cliques about them using the symbol of their fear, their pain, to exclude others, to define their allies by who they will deny access to their church, rather than the church.

And these churches grow and divide God’s family. The pain that this causes in others is then used as the weapons of war to further build walls of fear and loathing in place of God’s church, we build fortresses where fear and exclusion are worshiped like false Gods.

I might have used a few other words than Merton, to me they seem poorly chosen to unite, but he was in his core light correct. Those so offended here by my struggle to strip my self bear of armor which I am finding for me to be false might be surprised that I return to the moment, I believe Yeshua becomes Jesus, to describe what I think is the only way to enter the church about which Merton speaks in my heart.

Pick the most our group thee can imagine. Reach down into the treasure house of thy most secret fear and imagine the person thee fears the most to touch. This is what it is to know the loathing a Judean would have to have to touch a Samaritan. Imagine being raised Brahmin and having to embrace the Untouchable, to be raised by holocaust survivors and having to embrace the death camp guard, being raised in fear of germs and having to embrace the unwashed person with out a home, dig deep into the experience of thy own discomfort… and this is what the woman at the well was meant to be to Yeshua.

He asked water of her. “Give me to drink”.

When thee reads of her question, “How is it that a Judean asks water of me?” Try to imagine the depth of true wonder and confusion at this question, is this man crazy? Is this a trap? What’s going on here? Get your own water!

And he says this is the water of life.

This is the water of life.

Our fears and hatred do not keep us safe, they take away from us that gift that Yeshua promised us, to enter the kingdom of heaven the instant we are aware of it and through off our fears which don’t keep the other out of God’s church, they keep us out of the kingdom of God, God’s church.

The Samaritan woman gave him water and together they entered God’s Church, the Kingdom of God, the Peaceable Kingdom where lions lie down with lambs and there is no fear, no pain… To fight the Lamb’s War, we must put off our armor.

That water passed from her hand to his, and was blessed as it erased sin, not by the magic touch of Yeshua, but because it was an act of atonement and forgiveness in a single instant.

When I say, that any of us that reject the water of life exclude themselves from God’s church, I don’t mean to literally go out and seek water blessed in some outward sacrament, in some single church named by man, but offer each other the water of life. Make these words real, not just pretty sentiments. I have seen, in my own meeting again and again and again, Friends ask, give me to drink, of Friends who turn away and walk from the well… the pain of that rejection removing both from God’s church, making the humble cabin of our bricks and wood no church at all.

And, we are not saved.


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