Dear Folks,

It’s summer! And if you can find a cool spot, and a few minutes, slow down. Grab a notebook or a journal, and fill a page or two with your thoughts:

  • What’s going well right now?
  • What do you need to change?
  • What hurts?
  • Who can you thank for their role in your life?
  • Does anyone deserve an apology?
  • How can you frame an old struggle as an opportunity?
  • Who or what is calling you?

To hear better at this time of year, I read a bunch of books. Maybe it’s the extra light at the end of the day or changing gears at work, but somehow the time seems to find me, and I surrender to its prodding. “Sit still, and listen,” it says. “Others have struggles to share, and the victories of making their way through.” So I read, and I take notes when something particularly strikes me, and I lose myself in someone else’s narrative. And frequently I find some part of myself in the process. What are you reading this summer? What are you seeing and feeling and thinking?

My current stack looks like this:

Whiskey Tender, by Deborah Jackson Taffa, is her memoir of growing up as a citizen of the Quechan Nation and Laguna Pueblo. It’s funny and poignant and bracingly honest, the story of a mixed tribe Indigenous family with one foot in mainstream America and the other dancing the mystery of an ancient people.

Scattered Clouds, New and Selected Poems, by Rueben Jackson. The collection contains the full text of “For Trayvon Martin,” and additional poems explore family, music, mortality, and the streets of the author’s Washington, DC. It’s full of yearning, insight, and “rueful wisdom.”

Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingslover, a retelling of Dickens’ David Copperfield. According to a review, the novel “speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.”

The Hidden Spirituality of Men, by Matthew Fox. Author Fox explores why the life of the Spirit is often inaccessible for men, devoting his work to ten metaphors designed to awaken the sacred within us.

On Trails, an exploration, by Robert Moor. Continuing the work I discovered in A Philosophy of Walking, I look forward to Moor’s work on trails of all kinds. While through-walking the Appalachian Trail, the author began to wonder about the paths that lie beneath our feet. “How do they form? Why do some improve over time while others fade? What makes us follow or strike off on our own?”

Boundaries of Soul, the practice of Jung’s psychology, by June Singer, part of my training in Spiritual Direction at the Haden Institute. (Full disclosure: I am reading this book again, after plowing through it this winter!) Jung has introduced me to a further kind of walking—down and deep and dreamy.

Good travels, wherever the path takes you this summer.

Love,
David

Do you find yourself using words like “always” or “never” to describe experiences or events in your life?  For example, do you say things like, “Oh, I never win anything” or “They’re always complaining about something?”  I admit it.  I used to talk like this—a lot.  But the tribe I run with now says that we create our own reality by using or misusing our words because the energy of spoken words carries so much power.  I am trying to listen to them.

In the gospel of Mark, Jesus says, “If you say to a mountain MOVE, and believe it…, it will move….” So I even hear Jesus saying we can create our reality by speaking what we believe to be already true.  In this instance, the internal power to move a mountain being made manifest through speech.

If we believe and say that we never win anything, then we don’t win anything because we have set ourselves up with an expectation to get what we already got…no winnings.  It has taken me more years than I can count to learn that I was creating an unhealthy emotional situation for myself that made my life miserable!  Human beings are body, soul, and mind (including our psychological and emotional states).  So what maps of reality are we using to create the language of so many always and nevers?

Maps of Reality are REAL.  I have no idea when or where the concept of “map of reality” originated, but it seems to have arisen in the very early 21st century as techies worked with ordinary citizens to originate the earliest designs for virtual reality systems.

From a consciousness perspective what we define as real is based on our history and the comprehension of the experiences in our past.  In other words, we are conditioned to assign meaning to how we perceive life early on in life.  This very human way of understanding what we experience by our senses can make or break us if we remain unaware (unconscious) that they are perceptions that may or may not be real (in alignment with Truth).  Remember the question from Pilate, “What is Truth?” 

A map of reality is a powerful concept, and everybody has one, even if we don’t realize it. It still colors our days, thoughts, moods, emotions, and how we relate to others. I was blessed to meet someone who had a very different way of looking at things. My beloved Charles was instrumental in helping me to accept my perceptions as mine and not necessarily his in a loving way. Love is always evolving and enlightening on the road of life.

So, here’s my invitation.  Listen to yourself speak.  Become aware.  Find the always and nevers and kick-them-to-the-curb!  They simply don’t allow us to live in the state of blessedness that is our birthright.  The blessed state has everything to do with who you are, manifesting in what you do (or don’t do).  Nevers and always just don’t make space for the Divine, who both IS, DOES, and LIVES in every breath we take.  Think about it.  I did.  Maybe something to make you go, “hmmm….”

With Love,
Freda Marie+

I imagine you’ve figured out by now, that things don’t always go as you planned. You have your day mapped out, and a phone call changes everything. You have your career or job well in hand, and then a restructuring of your company leaves you packing up your office or desk in a box. A diagnosis demands you rethink and reorganize your life in a way you never imagined. A decision is made over which you have no control that nonetheless impacts you and those around you.

Things don’t always go as you planned.

I was reminded of this yesterday, amidst the torrents of rain and wind. A colleague and I were sitting together, reviewing some PowerPoint slides and getting ready to present to a group of D. Min. students gathered at St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute, when a text came in. It was about a pastoral issue, and it required my immediate attention.

My mind began to race.

What about the group at St. Mary’s and the commitment I had made, to be with them? What about my colleague, who I had invited to do the presentation with me and had not planned to do it solo? What about the family that had just texted me, what state were they in?

I closed my eyes.

Inhale … Exhale … Breathe

(And then repeat: Inhale … Exhale … Breathe … Deeply … and then again … and again … )

I have found that this simple practice — of taking the time to stop, pause and mindfully, intentionally and consciously breathe — amidst the swirling and twirling of thoughts and wonderings that can flood in like a torrential downpour, when what you have planned collides with the reality of What Is — is a powerful tool. It helps “make space” for what is essential in that moment to rise to the surface, so you can realign your steps along the new path required.

Yesterday, for example, with each deep breath, the way forward revealed itself.

I need to go be with the family, now.

My colleague will be fine doing the presentation solo (and as it turned out, another colleague was able to “pinch hit” for me and help).

The group at St. Mary’s will understand.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus talks about the Spirit guiding us into truth, and I often reflect on what he said in connection with this practice of mindful, intentional, deep and conscious breathing.

So if things don’t go just as you planned for them to go, today (or tomorrow, or the next …) …

Stop. Breathe. Listen.

And let the Spirit of God guide you into truth.

Love,
Cristina

Dear all,

It has been a joy and a privilege to serve as Chaplain at Redeemer’s Parish Day School for the past four years. During  my first year, we met for chapel every week on the lawn between the garden and the third grade learning cottage, outside like the rest of PDS classes and activities to try and keep one another safe as we navigated the pandemic. Even in that new and different space, we held on to some of the parts of chapel the students identified as important: lighting candles, receiving and blessing chapel food, and telling stories about God. “Give a big wave around chapel,” I said every week at the beginning of the service, “because it is so good to be here together.” Any time where we could all be together was a gift.

Now it is the spring of 2024 and the class of Pre-First graders I met in 2020 are graduating from third grade. Chapel has moved inside and we now have two services, one for our 2/3s-Pre First graders on Wednesdays and one for elementary schoolers on Mondays. During Wednesday chapel we still light candles (much more easily without wind); we still receive and bless chapel food; and we still tell stories about God together. During Monday chapel, students serve as acolytes, we have an order of service, and each class takes turns writing and sharing prayers for the week. On Mondays the older children pass the Peace to one another, but on Wednesdays I open our service with the same phrase:  “Give a big wave around chapel, because it is so good to be here together.” It is still so true.

Gathering each week of the school year with PDS students has been a gift. Learning from their questions about God and faith, their wonder, and the empathy and feeling they share with characters in our sacred stories has made me a better priest, a more curious and thoughtful person. Whatever I go on to do, our prayer and laughter and curiosity and praise will always be a foundational part of my ministry, and I could not be more grateful. And it’s not just me. Our entire community is enlivened and enriched by our relationship with PDS, their staff, students, and families: new voices in the building, new relationships beyond our campus. We have been and continue to be blessed (by God and by the hard work of many people over the last 70+ years) to have a school as a part of our parish community. It is so good to be here together.

PDS is on my mind this week because Wednesday was our last chapel of the year. On Monday, our very first class of third graders will graduate, with Pomp and Circumstance on the organ and an entire community changed by the experience. Please keep these 11 members of our Redeemer community in your prayers on Monday, over the summer, and in the fall: Miranda, Joaquin, Ben, Maddie, Sam, Blythe, Leland, Nathan, Emily, Will, and Jack. As they set out to new schools and new adventures, may they continue to grow and bless their new communities the way they have blessed ours. May they remember that they will always have a home here at Redeemer. And may they carry our love with them, surrounded by the love of God, the friendship of Jesus, and the wisdom of the Spirit everywhere they go.

Love,
Rebecca+

Dear Folks,

When I was introduced to Hamilton Rowan fifteen years ago, he smiled and said, “I am so glad to meet the man who will bury me.” “Are you feeling alright,” I worried, not really sure how to respond to this impish stranger, and he burst into laughter. “Oh, I’m fine,” he said, “just fine. But there’s no harm in planning ahead.” Fair enough. I was the new priest in town and Ham was “no spring chicken,” as he told me, so his forthrightness made some sense.

Ham grew up in England and went to boarding school with A.A. Milne’s son Christopher Robin. “CR,” as Ham called him, was the object of bullying, because his fictional namesake was a character in his father’s Winnie the Pooh stories. So, Ham became CR’s champion and friend when they were just 10-years-old, and their relationship lasted through adulthood. I think Christopher Robin’s winsomeness balanced Ham’s leathery persona. Ham was a war hero, and a successful businessman, and a devoted dad, but he told me one day, “My highest goal was to be a good friend.”

As he weakened, I prepared Ham for his death, and we talked several times about the words that A.A. Milne placed on the lips of Ham’s childhood friend. “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard,” for example. Or, “You can‘t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to youYou have to go to them sometimes.” And this: “If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think… and even if we are apart, I’ll always be with you.”

I lost a hero when Ham died. True to himself, his sense of dignity and courage palpable to the last, he fought the good fight with his cancer until it was clear to him and his doctors that the treatment was making him sicker than the disease itself. “It’s time to make some different choices,” he told me a few weeks before the end. And so his dying was as purposeful as Ham’s life had been: no fuss, no calling attention to himself, no regrets, no fear, and hardly any pain medication. Just a desire to see a very close friend, his brother and his children, to walk his quiet way toward death, and to pray about crossing over.

The good news for those who mourn is this love letter that I want to share with you from Frederick Buechner. “When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again (when we meet again), you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart. For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost.” Ham is still with me.

Ham’s feet are now planted firmly in heaven, and so I guess he sees us a bit upside down! But you know what? Ham’s wise and loving heart, his crusty exterior and mushy insides, have been in heaven all along. In fact, his heart and our hearts and God’s heart are one.

Love,
David

I recently returned from a retreat at the Quaker Institute at Pendle Hill in PA. The theme was “Living Our Testimonies in the Fierce Urgency of Now,” taken from a line in Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Although it was a great event, the most salient portion for me wasn’t its presentations, presenters or facilitators but the people I met during those four days.  They were very ordinary people who were engaged in awe-inspiring work for love, peace, and justice in the world.  Literally, “ordinary people doing extraordinary things!” 

One of them, in particular, gave me a copy of his book “WHAT IS NOT A MIRACLE?” He autographed it after we talked about things that matter to both of us. It is a book of poems he has written over the years that speak to the wonder and awe of living every day on planet Earth.   

It seems the themes of wonder and awe in life have been circling my soul lately. Once I received the book and began to contemplate its message, awe and amazement started crossing my path even more. It reminded me of the time I bought my red car and then noticed that there were tons of other red cars on the road, that I had never noticed before. 

So, last weekend at a Centering Prayer Retreat, I was amazed to learn a new practice for my soul—lectio terra.  It opened me up even more to the miracle of Life in Creation. Lectio terra is a cousin to lectio divina, the spiritual practice of reading holy texts to encounter the Spirit of G-D in the spaces between the words.  In lectio terra, you encounter the sense of G-D’s PRESENCE as you read nature.  Meeting G-D in nature is similar to meeting  G-D in the Scriptures because they both begin with intention and attention. 

The method is the same with small changes.  Reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation are the same EXCEPT we are outside in nature and using all of our senses.   

 We begin right where we are by standing outside in a moment of stillness. If we close our eyes and breathe deeply several times, we can begin to feel ourselves breathing and our hearts beating.  We might notice our feet standing upon the earth and that our bodies are oriented in space, surrounded by all that is around us.  Although this is always true, now we are especially aware of it.   Beginning in this way cleanses the slate of our souls for a new reunion with the Divine.  Since we are already a part of G-D and G-D is already one with us, we are re-meeting with intention.  We might silently speak an intention for this time, perhaps asking G-D what she desires that we should know at this moment and in this place and time.   

 We then open our eyes and begin to walk. There are moments when we stop, look, and listen; we sniff the air and feel its temperature on our skin. We breathe and observe WHAT IS.   We do this without mental comment by being truly present. We are reading the landscape. 

 At some point along the way, something catches our attention; it makes us wonder; we might even say to ourselves, “WOW, I never noticed THAT before.”  Whatever it is, it causes us to stop and bring our full attention to this thing that has called to us. G-D has whispered; we are listening. 

 We begin to meditate upon this thing, whether animal, vegetable, or mineral. It may be a leaf, an ant, a tree, a worn path, or someone’s yellow windbreaker as they pass us by the way, but we use all of our senses to observe it in its fullness.  What does it bring to mind?  What is it saying to us?  Does it raise a certain passage of Scripture from memory?  Is there an image of a place or person that comes to mind or drops in? We begin to connect the dots. This is the fodder for our meditation as we ruminate and chew on the possibilities of what Spirit may be speaking into our lives now.  

 Through meditation, we can respond directly to the G-D’s Spirit in prayer, asking for clarity, insight, and increased understanding.  We can begin to converse.  If we ask questions, we will receive answers.  The stillness of our hearts keeps us open and receptive, allowing us to feel and express gratitude for the gift of the present moment.  With this new insight, we might ask for whatever we need to move forward into the rest of the day— or even into the rest of life. 

 Finally, there is a point of STILLNESS as we sit and simply breathe, allowing ourselves to be ONE with the Mystery of ONENESS, whom we call G-D, the Source of all of Creation and of ALL that is.  This is the miracle beyond miracles that the Oneness that Jesus speaks of in John 17 for himself is ours, too, when we can finally receive such a gift.  

 If you ever have an opportunity to explore lectio terra in a workshop or at a retreat, please DO IT.   If you love the outdoors anyway, research it for yourself.  What a great spiritual practice to remind me that I am part of the ONE who IS and to feel that PRESENCE. You will be glad you did!   

With Love,
Freda Marie+ 

“Our daily experience of life, God and God’s world are meant to inspire us with awe and wonder. Our failure to notice the miracles around us is a failure of the spirit as well as the senses.” – (Christine Aroney-Sine) 

My son Ben and I recently enjoyed watching (again) a musical romcom movie called Yesterday. If you haven’t seen it, here’s its plot summary: “A struggling musician realizes he is the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles after waking up in an alternate reality where they never existed.”

Imagine. One day, the music of The Beatles and the genius of Lennon & McCartney are part of the fabric of reality as they always have been. The next day, you wake up, and there is no trace or whisper of them having ever existed in the history of the world (Google searches for “The Beatles” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” yield pictures of insects and Dr. Pepper soda), except in your own memory and imagination!

Parallel universes aside, life has its ways of turning on a dime, or throwing you that curveball when you’ve been hitting fastballs all day. Sometimes, these “alternate realities” are relatively benign, or perhaps even welcome, like when you discover you have overpaid your taxes and will be receiving a significantly larger tax refund than you anticipated, allowing more breathing room in your budget. Or when you’ve been expecting a child and then learn you’re carrying twins, which fills you with joy after initial feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.

Other times, the alternate reality you find yourself suddenly navigating can knock you off your feet, perhaps even take your breath away and make you feel like you’re gasping for air. You lose your job out of the blue, without any warning. Your child or your partner becomes very ill. A bridge collapses. You lose your best friend.

What do you do, when the sands beneath your feet, or the frame or lens through which you view the world, suddenly shift?

Our guy Jesus has something to say about this. Something about building your house on a foundation of rock, so that when storms and unkind weather blow their way into your world, things don’t come crashing down.

Our new Diocesan Bishop Carrie offered another image when she visited us this past weekend, that of a tree and the three sections you can see in a cross section of its trunk: its core, where it was a sapling, which she likened to God’s Love, always there at the center. Then, on the outside of the trunk is the layer of cambrium cells, the cells that are flexible and allow for new growth, allowing for change and bending and flexing. Between the core and the cambrium layer is the heartwood: those cells that used to be the outside as cambrium but have now become part of the structural foundation of the tree, helping it to stand secure on the inside even as the outer layer bends.

Bishop Carrie used the metaphor above as one way to understand and view a vibrant community of faith, a unity of both change/adaptability and stability/structure with God’s Love at our core. It could also be used, perhaps, to imagine how each of us as human beings might live and grow, as individuals who comprise such a community.

Back to Yesterday: without giving too much more away, it turns out that the main character is actually not the only one who remembers John, Paul, George & Ringo (there are two other humans who remember them too!). So if you wake up one day and no one around you has ever heard of The Beatles (or another musical genius, that you can’t imagine the world without), keep breathing and know you are not alone. Lean on those around you, who you love and who love you. Take just the next step before you, and then the next, and then the next. Do just what you’re able to muster up the energy to do (even if all you can do in a particular moment is cry, or sigh, or breathe), and surrender the rest to the Mystery and Ultimate Reality that is God.

Love,
Cristina

Dear Redeemer Community,

It is hard to believe that it has been 15 years since I made the decision to join the Parish Day School faculty as a kindergarten teacher. It was the perfect opportunity at that juncture in my life. I was thrilled to be teaching in a community I loved in a position that was conducive to the growth of my young family. With the majority of my experience as a fourth-grade teacher, at the time I thought it would be a brief stop before I would return to teaching older elementary students. While I had been a teacher for over ten years, I did not understand the enormous value of a high-quality early childhood education.

What I learned after arriving at Redeemer was crucial to my journey as an educator. The early years are an explosive time of growth, and the teaching and learning styles at Redeemer exemplify how children learn best. In a learning environment that is a little messy and a little noisy, exploring the outdoors is as important as what happens in the classroom. Together students and teachers question, experiment, and wonder. This type of active, collaborative, hands-on learning leads to greater curiosity, engagement, and positive development.

Research tells us that early childhood education is an extremely important period in child development. Ninety percent of brain development happens between birth and third grade, and those years are the most sensitive and critical in a person’s life. The alignment and continuity from preschool through third grade are crucial to positive student outcomes. I am grateful for all I have learned at the Parish Day School over the past 15 years and am honored to currently be the Head of School, leading an incredible faculty of 27 who are dedicated to the full spectrum of early childhood learning.

Our growth through the third grade these past four years has been rapid, exciting, and full of gifts. While we are proud of all we have accomplished, we have more work to do. We need an enlarged and improved facility to house our elementary students, ensuring greater collaboration among the team of teachers who educate them, as well as furthering our sense of community, a crucial building block in student development. We need a larger, updated multipurpose room to accommodate the existing needs of extended day programming, lunch for our growing number of students, our vibrant music program, and the day-to-day activities that enhance our outstanding school. Our existing preschool building and playground need renovations and updates to respond to our 21st century learners, and finally, we need to add to the Heritage Trust Fund to support our new and improved buildings which house our program.

The Parish Day School has an outstanding team of educators dedicated to our youngest learners and families excited to experience our unique model firsthand. We are committed to maintaining a comparatively affordable tuition rate, need based financial aid, and establishing a faculty enrichment fund to meet the needs of our growth. As we embark on the Parish Day School’s Capital Campaign, the first fund raising effort in school history, we are thrilled to have each one of you at our side and hope all members of our community will find meaningful ways to offer support.

The Parish Day School has been a primary mission of The Church of the Redeemer for 72 years, and our recent growth has attracted a more diverse group of families who are excited about our work in early childhood. With our first class of third grade graduates, we have truly seen the positive benefits of our early childhood model and growing school program, especially as it enhances our school, parish, and Baltimore.

With a vibrant church and school community, Redeemer is a gift to our city and future!

Warmly,
Mary Knott
Head of Parish Day School

Dear Folks,

Last September I began a training program in Spiritual Direction at the Haden Institute in Hendersonville, North Carolina. To be honest, I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into. As we went around the circle in our first small group session, my cohort members shared compelling stories of relationship stress, career changes, personal loss and growth. “Spiritual direction is a portal to what’s now and what’s next,” said one person. Our mentor added, “This work will strip you naked. It’s hard and it’s good. And the human being you discover is always so beautiful.” My group laughed when I admitted I thought I’d signed up for a long weekend instead of a two-year course— “I wondered how we were going to get all that work done in four days!” But whatever had brought us to each other, I was thankful for the company and the challenges ahead.

Spiritual direction involves deep listening. The “answer” to whatever question one might bring is waiting to be discovered within the directee, by the directee. Because our lives are often chockablock full of distractions or appointments, what one is seeking can be obscured by words and old habits, or by the judgments we carry about the feelings we feel or the thoughts that we think. Deep listening, on the other hand, honors the individual’s soul and trusts its capacity to embrace whatever it finds. It begins with the assumption that the human is precious, that the divine is present with her and within her, and that this Soul is eager to be found.

For thousands of years mystics have discovered and refined practices that develop a relationship to God (or Spirit or Presence) and that deepen this connection within an individual. Spiritual direction, then, is an ancient path for seekers, religious and otherwise, who long to find themselves, or meaning, or purpose by searching for the divine. The practice might include periods of silence, intentional breathing, keeping a journal, walking as prayer, or inviting an image to speak.

The spiritual director acts as a mid-wife—not causing the new birth or even bringing it—but present to the directee’s labor and encouraging it, knowing when to wait and when to push, creating as much safety as possible in an inherently risky situation. Soul work, like being born, moves through the dark. Spiritual direction is to hold space and time for the one who is giving birth and for the one who is being born. The director resists the temptation to control or manage the work that the directee has brought, choosing instead to tend a space of compassion for the directee to do what only she can do.

The curriculum at the Haden Institute is grounded in the work and writing of Karl Jung, and so a significant dimension of spiritual direction is dreamwork. Here’s the frame: each human is made up of the conscious (waking reality), the personal unconscious (memories and experiences that for whatever reason are not available to the conscious mind), and the collective unconscious (the realm of archetypes, images, and the poetic which is older than time and shared by all human beings). Dreams are a gift from the dream maker (God, Spirit, Creation) and they intend our wholeness, seeking to integrate the unconscious with the conscious. Images are the language of dreams, and the individual dreamer is the only one who can know what the images mean for him or her, though dreams can be worked in a group setting. And because the collective unconscious is shared by all human beings, one can be trained to receive another’s dream and invite its images to speak to you, as well.

Would you like to know more about the divine spirit that lives and moves within you? Contact Thomasina Wharton at the Center for Wellbeing  or me.

Love,
David

Inscribed on a column of the Temple of Apollo in the ancient Greek city of Delphi was the philosophical axiom: know thyself. These words are attributed to Socrates when asked about the totality of ALL philosophical axioms.  He supposedly replied, “The unexamined life is not worth living. Know thyself.”  I am reminded of Our Lord’s response to the scribe who asked about the “greatest commandment.” Jesus replied with the Shema, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.[a]  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] There is no commandment greater than these.”

Even though we know that Christianity was formed in the crucible of Greek philosophy, what could the words of an Aramaic-speaking Jewish man of the first century CE and a Greek-speaking man of the fourth century BCE have in common?

A hint lies in the second chapter of the Gospel of John, where we read how the people who encountered Jesus in Jerusalem during Passover were enamored of him and the signs he showed. Yet, the Scripture says that Jesus was not moved by their admiration and pleasure because he understood human beings’ fickle nature. (cf. vv24-25) In other words, they “believed” in him, but he did not “believe” in them.  The same Greek word, pisteuo, is used for “entrust” and “believe” in this verse:  Jesus knew that the likes and dislikes of unenlightened human nature shift like the sands of time.

It is important to know who we are at our core because that is all that remains of us.  We are each “one heartbeat away from physical death,” as one spiritual teacher puts it.  To know ourselves is to recognize our multi-dimensional nature, usually accessed only in dreams and visions, meditation, or deep prayer, and to identify with that nature instead of the one we usually attach ourselves to (roles in life, material possessions, people, places, or other things).

If G-D, the Creator of all things, is ONE, then all that is created is a manifestation of that creator’s Oneness in a variety of forms—animal, vegetable, or mineral. We humans are also of oneness—a spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical whole. Studying and learning to understand who we are enables us to understand why we are here, ordaining purpose for living in this place and at this time.

Do not be fooled; we are each as much a part of all (the good, the bad, and the ugly) that occurs on this planet as any person we could choose to point a finger at. We, members of the human collective, are ONE and manifestations of the Unity, the very fabric of all that IS.  Likewise, being expressions of the DIVINE ONE makes us, at our core, lovers, just like G-D.  It is the imago dei within us.  In this dual reality, we live betwixt and between love and hate, war and peace, joy and sorrow, life and death.  Our earthly learning is about balance and harmony of all we think, do, or say.

To know ourselves is to hold our loving, generous, kind, peaceful, patient, and whole (holy) natures as well as our anger, fears, insecurities, manipulations, avoidances, and feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, and doubts simultaneously—with compassion.  No small work, but Jesus did it, and we can do it too.  The Spirit of G-D lives in that inner-dimensional space to help us when (if) we ask. We have our whole lives to become as Jesus was (is) because there is always more.

It is this possibility of more that can be our catalyst into the unknown and to seek to shift and change from what is to what can be.  In the book, Prayers of the Cosmos, we understood the ONE Jesus called “Father” as total all-encompassing POSSIBILITY.  This dynamism is so out of alignment with our feared need for stability and unchangeability that it shuts out the Mystery of what can be.  But, this may be the only place left to stand in at the end of this present darkness.

The season of Eastertide in the Christian church is a wide-open door to celebrate LIFE in its fullness, even after so-called “death.”  Like Christ Jesus, the stories we listen to during our current adult forums talk of rebirth and new, true life, where the old life is surrendered for something new and amazingly GOOD!  We can honor the feelings of fear, loss, and darkness with compassion for ourselves while expecting and looking forward to the Light of the new life to erupt within us and in the world around us, just like winter inevitably cycles into spring.  Know yourself.  You are SO LOVED!

Freda Marie+