In the Heat of the Moment

Last week, as part of our Centering Prayer group, we talked about feelings, especially our most powerful feelings: Hate, rage, shame…. Sometimes the overwhelming power of these feelings separate us from ourselves, especially when they’ve arisen from abuse and neglect. They can also create the perception that we’re separate from God.

I wasn’t going to post about our last meeting, but this morning I remembered a poem I had written a few years ago. It seems to speak to our conversation. Here it is:


The Danger of Love

No human can walk naked on Pluto or the Sun.
No human can walk naked in Antarctica or in the Sahara.
No human can walk naked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange or Ground Zero.

Who is this God that created Pluto and the Sun?
Who is this God that inhabits Antarctica and the Sahara?
Who is this God that aches on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and at Ground Zero?

Where is God in the cold that kills? In the heat that kills?
Is this a God of Neglect? A God of Anger?

God is One. God is Pathos.

God reveals Herself in Passion.
God is the Heart of Anguish. She is the Body of Pain.

God created a cold so cold it kills and a hot so hot it kills to remind us of the depth of God’s love.
Nothing is beyond God’s Power of Redemption.

There is no place on this earth, no place in this universe, that hasn’t known the heat of God’s Love.
There is no person on this earth, no body in the universe, that hasn’t felt the heat of God’s Passion.
This fire lies in our hearts.

No person… a mother who neglects her son, a father who assaults his daughter… is separate from God.
The heat of our passions don’t separate us from God; they point us to God.

Sin in not our feeling or even our violence.
Sin is numbness, the inability to discern heat.
The absence of passion.

God cannot heal those who choose not to feel.
God returns God to God when pathos knows Pathos.

Christ Cannot be Caged

Then the LORD said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey….” (Exodus 3:7-8a)

Here in Cincinnati, God is observing the misery of God’s people, particularly those who suffer for others’ gain. God bears this suffering as He brings His sons and daughters into freedom. God will not rest until all Her children know they are loved, beyond measure, and that earth’s treasures are theirs.

After hearing that God was calling us to “name the spiritual condition of the world,” I wrote a blog post called “Becoming a Wilderness People.” In that post, I said:

I believe Friends are called to listen spiritually to those who are the most destitute in this country, primarily American Indians but also African Americans and other people who are marginalized and/or living in poverty, and to witness to the presence of the Holy Spirit within and among them. Then, through holding in the Light and reflecting upon what we see and hear, we will discern the spiritual condition of the world. Also, periodically, I believe we are to gather with each other, so that we might share what is revealed to us and together name the world’s condition. Finally, through speaking and writing about our experiences and insights, we will reveal the Truth to the Powers (see Colossians 1:16) so that they might find kinship with those who have been marginalized, thus breaking down the internal barriers that sustain the external forms of domination.

Since then, I have discerned that God is urging me, through and along with my Meeting, to set up a means through which we can live out this leading. I believe we are being called to create a mechanism through which we can befriend the people who have been harmed by the criminal justice system. God is encouraging us to see the criminal justice system for what it is and to create an alternative, a restorative justice system. Through the development of a restorative justice program, we will be enabled to listen to the people who have been harmed by the criminal justice system and to witness to what God is doing for them.

Currently, our criminal justice system ignores victims, discourages offenders, leaves families feeling powerless, and alienates the communities it intends to serve. It relies on argument, deceit, manipulation, and punishment to accomplish its ends. It’s a principality that cannot engender justice or propagate peace, as justice associates with truth, not deceit and manipulation, and peace is a state that arises through mercy rather than punishment.

God, through Christ, is redeeming this system that’s riddled with holes and tottering on stilts. He’s already put Christ in place as its cornerstone. We are being asked to come stand with Christ as He rebuilds it. May we find our place there and sing….

I will sing to the Lord, since he is highly exalted;
The Horses and Horsemen has he thrown down in the sea.
Of the Lord is my Power and Praise,
and of him is Preservation to me:
this is my God, and I will make him a Habitation;
the God of my Father, and I will extol him. (Exodus 15:1-2, NRSV)

Have you observed how God is leading you and/or your meeting to participate in this leading to “name the spiritual condition of the world?” If so, please post a comment.

Also, please pray for us as we attempt to follow our Guide.

The God of Our Fathers

Recently, as I was reading the Bible, I found myself reading in Numbers. I was reading there because that’s how far I’ve gotten in my attempt to read through the Bible. I started earlier this year after a Conservative Friend recommended the practice to me. When I complained about Leviticus and Numbers, she said I might try to find if, even there, the text might speak to me. Continue reading