Though Blue and Zora were adopted at the same time, only Blue needs to nurse, tries to use my arm, burying her head into the crook of it, kneading with her paws, sucking the skin. Blue and I had a talk, a result of a very lame prayer when I was beset with anger at a human friend at 3am. Realizing I had to stop fighting my awakeness, I had turned over to pray before getting up, and as usual, the sisters sensed that shift. They love to snuggle under my belly, in the cozy cave between it and the bed covers. There, I say my Step 3rd, 7th, Lord's prayer, Prayer to the Great Spirit, pray to be kept sober, clean and (for now) away from sugar. Blue is triggered by the warmth and inevitably tries to suck, which I won't let her do anymore. That refusal happened after Maya and Sara both said, "ouch" which allowed me to say, "Too much!" I, had been enduring the pain as a sacrificial "good mother."
The following chat was exactly what I needed to break free of my resentment, a freeing answer to that lame prayer.
Blue: I need to suck your arm.
Me: I know, but it hurts.
Blue: You used to let me do it.
Me: You were smaller and weaker but now you hurt me.
Blue: You led me to believe it was okay.
Me: It was but then I had to admit it hurt. I was trying to be brave and strong.
Blue: But I was weaned too early.
Me: I know. I'm so sorry. I can see it's something you have no control over.
Blue: But you don't understand. Please understand.
Me: I can only understand as far as I can.
Blue: I have this need that is so deep.
Me: I can see that, but I can't let you do it. It really does hurt too much.
Blue: I feel so abandoned.
Me: I'm so sorry. I still love you but can't stand the sucking. Let's take it one moment at a time and I bet you'll be okay.
Blue: I'll never be okay. I was weaned early. I was traumatized.
Me: Zora, me, and Sammy will all be there in our ways.
Blue: You have to understand.
Me: Maybe that's not possible. I've never been a cat that was weaned too early.
Blue: You lack compassion.
Me: That may be true but I still adopted you and feed and love you.
Blue: Yeah, but you had it good. You've never been hurt like me. You don't know what it feels like to be a trauma survivor.
Me: We each have our own traumas to heal from.
Blue: But mine are worse than yours.
Me: I'm sure that's true and that others are worse than yours, too.
Blue: Don't minimize my pain. I don't feel you are hearing me. I need to feel heard.
Me: I do hear you. I'm not running away from this conversation.
Blue: You seem so hard.
Me: I hear you.
Blue: How can I know for sure??
Me: You just have to trust.
Blue: You don't like me do you?
Me: I love you but I can't let you hurt me.
Blue: But I was so traumatized. You have to understand.
Me: Pray, trust, clean house, find another with the same trauma who can truly understand.
Blue: Don't patronize me with that spiritual bullshit.
Me: My arm didn't give you real milk, just a feeling of relief for as long as you did it, but no nutrition.
Blue: More spiritual hocus pocus. I need it. This is life and death for me.
Me: But it can't feed you, only gives temporary relief but doesn't satisfy.
Blue: This triggers all my fears. You have to understand.
Me: You're escalating.
Blue: There you go patronizing me again and taking this personally. I'm must trying to let you know what I go through. It's not about you. I'm just trying to explain.
Me: My mistake. But I promise you I won't let you suck any more. That's that.
Blue: So what will I do! I'm lost.
Me: Maybe you're being found.
Blue: This is when I destroy relationships. My need is so deep.
Me: I've learned to turn to a Higher Power. I too feel empty and have sucked on what's empty but have found a true source and it finds me, too. I trust God, clean house, and serve others.
Blue: Yeah, I know all about the steps. I'm dysfunctional, not as organized as you are.
Me: Desperation and Grace give me the willingness one day at a time.
Blue: You're different than me; you're stronger. You're not as damaged as I am.
Me: That's why it's important for you to find people who you believe have suffered as much or more deeply than you have.
Blue: Are you pushing me away?
Me: No, just praying to tell the truth.
Blue: But where will I find them?
Me: When you become willing to believe they exist, they'll show up.
Blue: But I feel safe with you here.
Me: There is a deeper, better safety you are seeking, a deeper connection you need - this one will never satisfy or free you.
Blue: I'm scared and alone.
Me: Pray for courage and it will come. I'm sure it will. I've got to go. You are loved.
Do the conventional names of the days leading up to and including Easter convey the radical nature of the story, give us a sense of the flow of events?
In this post I'd like to change with the names of these days so that the story and its implications for our lives have perhaps more of a chance of being seen, felt, and heard.
His Torture and Lynching
The Persuasion of the Witnesses
(a.k.a. "Maundy Thursday")
Jesus humbly washes the disciples feet, much to Peter's dismay.
"Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord and so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you."
That night, he consolidates all his teaching into a simple "new commandment." The day is conventionally called "Maundy Thursday." "Maundy" comes from the Latin word "mandatum" from whence derive the words 'mandate' and 'commandment.' Jesus made his message very clear that night:
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34)
That night, in great compassion, Jesus addressed their current fears and the terror he knew was just around the corner for them.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
When will he "come again?" Jesus taught he’s here in the poor, the stranger, the hungry, the troubled, the neighbor, the sick (the suffering alcoholic), the incarcerated...(Matthew 25:31-40). “As you did for the least of these....”
That night, he enacted the loving surrender of his own blood and body to his disciples through the wine and bread of the Passover meal; he surrendered to the will of the Father in the Garden and therefore to arrest by the Roman soldiers. His sacrificial offering is analogous to that of the unblemished lamb for the Hebrews in Egypt, which on the night of the "destroyer" (Exodus 12:23) provided protection. Hence John the Baptist states, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)
That final passover meal demonstrates and mandates the Great Reality of love in the face of imminent destruction and God's protection: the destruction of the Egyptians (their eldest sons and Pharoah's army), the divine protection of the Israelites: the destruction of Jesus' body, the divine protection of his identity and being; the destruction of the status quo, the protection (by mandate) of love and truth.
The Torture and Lynching of Jesus
(a.k.a. "Good Friday")
The events flowed quickly that night into the next day. After Jesus prayed in anguish to the point of sweatung blood in Gethsemane, her surrendered to God's will, and was promptly arrested by Roman soldiers; next, the political authority, Pontius Pilate, washed his hands and turned "an innocent man" over to be lynched as demanded by the will of the crowd egged on by the religious authorities.
Next came whipping torture whereby most of his skin was ripped open, his flesh further lashed, followed by carrying his own cross to the top of a hill, jeered, stoned, whipped, spat on, and mocked as he went. Finally, on the cross, four nails were pounded into him; he died after calling out heartbreakingly to the Father, his Spirit broken. "Abba, abba, why have you forsaken me?" His body was taken down and removed to a tomb guarded by Roman soldiers.
NOTHING was "good" about "Good Friday" any more that anything is good about a day a human being is lynched. The conventional name seems to be a white-washing mask for the horror of the truth;
Another distortion exists in religious mentions of that "good" day. In the Nicene Creed, Christians are mandated to state, "and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate" or be considered heretical if they don't. Say what? It was the religious authorities not the political ones that truly crucified him. It should say, "and was crucified by the jealous religious authorities who incited the mob to demand his execution." Pilate "washed his hands" and abandoned Jesus (much like Adam in the garden, who said nothing as Eve took the apple). That distortion has allowed the construction of yet another religious empire, a tyranny which has never been suspect to the level it should be and has become yet another instrument of oppression throughout these last 2 millennia.
Furthermore, the deepest meaning of that day is what it says to me about how I am known. It's just a fact that I also could have been an envious chief priest or within the crowd calling for Jesus's death. After all, the NAME Jesus was sandpaper for years; I scoffed at and shunned those who talked reverently or even positively about him, about church, who wore crosses or affixed fish to their cars. Jesus represented establishment hypocrisy, zombie obedience, creative suffocation.
How did my attitude develop unnoticed, unchecked, under the radar, to such an extent? Creeping beliefs, unexamined ideas, sneaky lies inculcated via an almost inaudible cultural whisper to the point that someone like me, priding myself on my intelligence, was in a delusional stupor. My own experience proves I could have been a Nazi, a Klan member picnicking on the blood soaked roots of the Poplar trees, a Pilate, a Pharisee, a chief priest. Unwittingly, I worshiped various "counterfeit gods:" as Tim Keller calls them: hip mentors, artists, the approval of others, money, worldly success, creativity, looking good, feeling good, prestige by association, cool "toys."
"Forgive them. They know not what they do." Jesus asked God to forgive me as I was crucifying him. That's deep. Known AND loved. Known AND forgiven.
“Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God's saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us." - Tim Keller
The Mystery Exodus
(a.k.a. "Holy Saturday")
Once within the tomb that Friday night and over the duration of Saturday till before dawn on Sunday, Jesus's broken Spirit and Body were entirely healed and at some point he got out of the tomb; a holy scientific mystical energetic physical process occurred, the deepest of mysteries yet plausible to me! To call it an "Exodus" is to link it to the Passover in Egypt, the lamb is sacrificed, the blood shed, the Destroyer has come and gone, the Israelites leave, the body is removed, the Red Sea parts, God reunites the body and soul of Jesus once again. Give God the credit just as we did not give the Israelites credit for the parting of the Sea! Why are we asked to worship Jesus? It reminds me of Charlotte's Web. Everyone is amazed by Wilbur but it is Charlotte (and ultimately God) who weaves the "radiant" web.
The Persuasion of the Witnesses
In the very early morning, while it was still dark, the women went to the tomb, were spoken to by the angel, and discovered the body of Jesus was missing. The soldiers reported the same to the political authorities. Jesus then visited thousands that day and over the next 40 days before ascending bodily into the sky.
The most important part of the "resurrection," which I assume really occurred on Saturday, is the persuasion of the witnesses. The soldiers may or may not have been persuaded, but they witnessed the truth of the stone's placement, the tomb's emptiness, the cover-up lies of the religious authorities. Mary is persuaded by the sound of his voice, by embracing him. The disciples on the road to Emmaus are persuaded by the knowledge he displayed followed by their realization of his identity. More disciples were persuaded that day when he appeared to them in the room where they hid.
These appearances were the first of many that took place over the next 40 days before he ascended. The persuasion took time. Thomas was not present at the first appearance and would not believe unless he himself put his fingers into Jesus' wounds, which he was given an opportunity to do. 40 days... like Noah on the Ark, like Moses on the mountain, like the Hebrews in the desert, like the temptation of Jesus. A stretch of time sufficient to accomplish God's purposes.
Renamed from Easter to "The Persuasion of the Witnesses" the day anticipates the duration and thoroughness of Jesus's walk with us after Calvary, after the tomb. The word "faith" comes from the word meaning "to persuade." Surely, God's purpose in Jesus' death and resurrection, appearance to many is to give us faith in all his teachings, including those of eternal life and the purpose of our walk on this Earth. The persuasion is his final act of love, a recognition of the challenge of faith. Once again, he shows we are known AND loved. He does what he believes it takes at that time to get us beyond our doubt.
"To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” - Tim Keller
An innocent, pure, black Teacher and holy man, the Lord, who bore witness to the living, loving God in our midst was put to death by a vicious mob, a sick system that literally washed its hands of injustice, and religious authorities so invested in maintaining the status quo than the truth had to be killed.
As a child we sang, "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" and everybody felt some kind of power... but in our church we never sang the blues on account of the lynching, never lamented like Jeremiah, despaired like the Psalmist. How can you have a happy ending without the truth of the tragedy? That's precisely what much religious culture does, makes everything about the resurrection. It's a nauseating edit, a distorted history that robs our relationships with God, Jesus, mystery, science, and with one another of their depth and weight.
It gives me profound hope that no matter what, the deepest “magic” (i.e. science) belongs to God. Jesus ate, walked, talked, just as real as I am as i write these words after he died. He is alive still.
Does that mean Emmett Till, too, is alive? Of course it does. Eternal life is real. That's why our hearts need not be troubled.
When blacks were stolen and sold so whites could get "in the black," they lost their freedom, their children, their wives, husbands, communities, homes, churches, culture.
When blacks were tortured and worked so whites could "get in the black" they lost their sanity, health, joy, hope, lives.
We can't return health, family, lives, peace of mind... We can't undo trauma, tragedy, the distrust inculcated by treason, theft, abuse, rape, dehumanization.
What can we do?
We don't expect Jews, Koreans, Vietnamese, Armenians, Chinese, Mexicans, central Americans, etc. to fully integrate into the larger United States country of immigrants. Many people from these cultures choose to have their homes clustered, their areas and spaces that have integrity and economic vitality: entertainment venues, shops, restaurants, salons, banks, educational institutions, hospitals, professional institutions, churches. These areas are visited by others but recognized as largely of a particular culture. Why isn't that true of the black community? Because their communities have been actively and verifiably undermined and destroyed. These reparations might help ensure their reconstruction and endurance.
This amend will require a profound and fact-facing inventory of harms done. Those committed to its success will need to have a conscience that is not dictated by human law but by heaven's law. God willing, and God is willing, the latter is what we serve in our few days on this Earth.
This book is changing my thinking in a good way (take an ‘o’ out of good), showing me a history I have never heard, a hope that seems realistic and necessary, a description of the ways the struggle for the fair treatment of workers, for decency, love of neighbor, has shown up.
The history once again exposes the complicity of my family in the life of my paternal grandfather. I have known for a few decades that he regretted the south lost the Civil War, but now I see how that ‘ol weasel popped his head up in Detroit, making a killing in car radios. I'm sure he was deeply anti-labor. Paradoxically, I loved his mean ways for many years, feeling he was authentic in a world of phonies....Still do love the man, who started going blind in his 30’s, listened to Judy Collins in his dark leathery study, smoked, vacationed in Antigua, and drank hard. He remarried at the age of 78, after my grandmother's drunken fall led to life without parole in a convalescent home. When we arrived at the wedding, we were told, "there's a couple of little black things that will help you with your bags."
I hear Toni Morrison saying “We felt morally superior to those who looked down on us” in her interview with Charlie Rose. I remember a time in my teens, in Stars and Stripes jeans, a floppy hat, long hair, with guitar, so humbled that the taxi was delivering me to Pop’s exclusive estate. So much for my pointless rebellion... The merciful black driver sang to me, “Momma may have; Poppa may have; but God bless the child who’s got his own, who’s got his own.” Chokes me up today. Goodness is everywhere (remember to take out the ‘o.’)
14 Questions to Answer as Quickly as Possible
14 Questions to Answer as Slowly as Necessary
This song appeared on my phone yesterday, divinely pasted in a text I was writing... on a day wherein fear and resentment had bullet-riddled my Spirit, rendering it beyond human aid. I had realized my state the night before and asked God to take me beyond myself, my worries and fears related to the well-being of my two daughters. The manifestation of the song was the answer to that prayer, perfect medicine.
I was so self-centered that at first I heard the song as asking for solace for me. But the song hears the suffering of Jesus and invites him to lay down to be heard and loved; "are you in need, Jesus?" It reminded me that there is so much suffering and amidst it I am a flower of his love that can slip into blindness in my need for my own way.
So yesterday, just when I thought I had every right to be self-centered because of the enormity of the brain surgery our little family faces and the complexity of all our cauldron of emotions, I prayed, wrote out my 10th step inventory of resentments and fears and gently embarked into the world with the intent to be there for Jesus' need; it was a day of magical choreography wherein people were put in my path and I was able to be there for them, not from a "better than" place - but rather from a place of bone-level, "surprised-by-joy" humility, watching the cosmic choreography, the results of a spiritual experiment play out. Will this "design for living" work in this time of hard-going, too?
For example, I shared at an AA meeting and could feel my words resonating for the man opposite me. Then I walked to pick up a package and ran into a young woman I had met a week ago who was looking for a sponsor at that time. We reconnected. The thought then came to take a yoga class. I was in the "wrong" room and ended up sharing with the teacher of the class that had just ended about 12-Steps....
Mavis took something from head to heart for me yesterday; there are just no excuses for self-centeredness; its price is too high, insanity or death, literally.
Yes, He is in need.
"Truly, I say to you, as you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:40)
"It is in giving that we receive."
It is in understanding that we are understood.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life."
(Prayer of St. Frances)
"Simple but not easy; a price had to be paid. It meant destruction of self-centeredness. I must turn in all things to the Father of Light who presides over us all."
(Big Book page 14)
I slept hard and long last night and woke in peace.
As gifts, I made "recipe" books this year. Aside from gumbo, cornbread, gluten-free carrot cake, and curried chicken, the thought came to also include recipes for living successfully: the St. Francis Prayer: Jesus's commandments to love God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself: the 12 Steps: the "recipe" pictured to the right which says, "To turn what
we know is right
into righteous action,
to walk toward
the light of truth
with no fear."
For that page of the book, I had the opportunity to draw the "Gye Nyame" a few times, an African sigil meaning "God is Supreme" (also pictured to the right above).
In so doing I had an experience of its flow, energy, unity, beauty. It brought to mind the radiant energy depicted by the Black Madonna and Child's halos and golden bodies, their "glory" and "light" that capture the radiance that must have surrounded Jesus when he was here bodily, for those who could FEEL it, experience it, be healed by it.
The Gospel of John is my favorite, whose nativity story is different than the others:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."
Glory = light
This brought to my heart an experience at the drum circle in Congo Square recently - listening, dancing, being IN and WITH the energy. Maybe you can't hear it - but if you could represent it, it would certainly glow. That is what the halo and the Gye Nyame capture, the glow, the glory, the energy, the movement, the dance.
Notice the same radiant energy in these images of the vibrational patterns of words and sounds in sand. Are these other physical manifestations of the "Words" of Apostle John? "And the Word became flesh."
The images below are of ancient Temples of the Anunnaki in Africa, apparently also gold mines - notice the pattern does not stop at the most visible outer wall but continues like a sound vibration. The highly advanced non-invasive technology they developed in these structures, tapped into energy that allowed them to harvest gold. Remember, halos are gold, too.
To me, everything on this page seems to express the same thing, the energy, the Glory of God. How wonderful that the "image of God" as captured by the Gye Nyame allows us to "worship in spirit and truth" without any "graven image."
Thank you God for Jesus, our brother with the same Father, the same "Elohim." the same "I AM." Thank you God for manifesting the Word among us. Thank you God for LOVE, for music that makes us dance, restores us to sanity, "sanitizes" us, and thank you for the truth "made flesh" by Jesus, the deep truth spoken in Word that enters our hearts, bypasses our stifling, intellectual minds, the truth he lived out by returning to bear witness after he was lynched.
God reaches our spirit through pure God energy made flesh, so powerful it aligned a star which then attracted three astrologers, changed the course of history, and brought "the true light." "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it."
Have a Glory-ful Radiant day!
I blocked a number from my phone seven days ago from someone with integrity in most areas of their life who is truly powerless over keeping their commitments with me. On Sunday we were planning time together. He said, "I'll call you Tuesday" which led to 10 days with no call, no text, no communication.
Nothing unusual; I have known this angel for over three years; "I'll see you at two" meant a nine o'clock arrival, "i'll call you tomorrow" meant a text in a week... Result? Lots and lots of pain and prayer on my end.
At first, without me realizing it, this led to something like a "NASDAQ ticker tape" relationship with life. While talking to someone else, a subtext was often playing comprised of thoughts about when a call, visit, text might come in, when to reach out, what to say, what I should have said/done, in other words, denied but very real self-centerednessness and mental obsession.
The next phase began about two years ago when washing the dishes. Standing there at the kitchen sink with my rubber gloves full of soap, I became aware of the loud, multi-faceted sounds of a very contentious committee - when no one else was in the room but 'lil ol' sudsy me... I was graced with Power to stop, pray, write. By the time all the racket was on paper, there were about twelve different arguments, analyses, attempts at persuasion, reflections, rants ranging from soft, compassionate, self-deprecating approaches to furious finger pointing rages. Insanity.
The initial humility kicked off a two year effort at prayerful solutions. The objective? freedom from mental slavery.
Since about the same time meanwhile, raccoons, opossums, and the family cats GB and Sammy have been agitated almost daily in the early morning hours before dawn: raccoons came in in pairs, opossums snuck in and out, the cats chased one another, whined, scratched.... The invasion of the animals also kicked off a three-year effort at prayerful solutions of a different nature. Nonetheless, the objective was the pretty much the same same - freedom and control.
Balaam's Donkey and the Angel (Numbers 22: 31-33)
...The donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road,
with a drawn sword in his hand.
And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field.
And Balaam struck the donkey to turn her into the road.
Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path
between the vineyards with a wall on either side.
And when the donkey saw the angel of the LORD,
she pushed against the wall and pressed Balaam's foot against the wall.
So he struck her again.
Then the angel of the LORD went ahead and stood in a narrow place,
where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left.
When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD,
she lay down under Balaam.
And Balaam's anger was kindled and he struck the donkey with his staff.
Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey,
and she said to Balaam,
"What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?"
And Balaam said to the donkey,
"Because you have made a fool of me.
I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you."
And the donkey said to Balaam,
"Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day?
Is it my habit to treat you this way?"
And Balaam said, "No."
Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam,
and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face.
And the angel of the LORD said to him,
"Why have you struck your donkey these three times??
Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me.
The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times.
If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now
I would have killed you and let her live..."
Since I blocked my phone, the cats have slept the night through. The change was dramatic, sudden. (The raccoons and opossums got left behind when we moved in September 2017.)
God's angels agitate on God's behalf. Some angels I see, some I don't. As long as I continue to live in God's will to the best of my imperfect ability, they will continue to seek my attention and persist until they have been heard in my heart. It's not unconditional!
"For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up
lest you strike your foot against a stone...
"Because he holds fast to me in love,
I will deliver him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble..."
Thinking back on the torches at Charlottesville...
“Let him who walks in darkness and has no light
Trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.
Behold, all you who kindle a fire,
Who equip yourselves with burning torches!
Walk by the light of your fire,
and by the torches that you have kindled!
This you have from my hand:
You shall lie down in torment.”
This is when I gravitate to that concept of a punishing God that I have studied, meditated, prayed so hard to be free of, walking as I do daily in God’s Grace, forgiveness, and love. I want oppressors, enslavers, to suffer and see concrete evidence that God is just and sees what is going on. But I am called to trust in the unseen.
This is where so much of the spirituality of the yoga studio and intellectuality of the morally righteous, both left and right, falls short for me. What makes sense to me and is my experience is that there are spiritual laws and profound consequences for the justification of being out of alignment with their truth, their light, and their way. The consequences obviously don't all manifest on this plane unless all the men in the above photo are suffering terribly right now, not from my perspective, but from the inside out, their own inner reality.
My first sponsor in AA told me that everyone is gifted with a profound moment of clarity when they realize the fallacy and disfunctionality of their self-driven paradigm, the "matrix" they were born into, the "gift of desperation." This purpose of this moment is not to catapult us into a life of self-improvement but rather to surrender us to spiritual laws, to encourage us to let go of what is blocking us from living in accordance with those laws: (e.g. humility, hope, courage, honesty, integrity, willingness, surrender, love, justice, perseverance, prayer, meditation, service....)
That's where the rubber hits the road, yes? Others in the 12-step programs show that its "design for living" works. Jesus taught and walked those same laws principles. His resurrection bears witness at a different level to the reality of "the unseen;" when faced with "men with torches," with corruption, racism, ineffective educational systems, global warming, it is unwise to diminish the truth of the fourth dimension. C.S. Lewis talks about those who reduce Jesus to a "great moral teacher."
.I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him:
"I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God."
That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
or listen to Bono from U2 being interviewed by an agnostic.
Assayas: Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?
Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.” And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was the Messiah or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched
I believe he is and says he is the Son of God, distinct from God the Father.
What does Jesus have to say about himself? Here is a snippet. While reading, please remember that Jesus was a black man as you think on these words. He was speaking to his friends, his people, who were afraid of losing him, who were oppressed, who were hunted, persecuted. Leave your old ideas of the Biblical characters behind.
"Let not your hearts be troubled.
Believe in God; believe also in me.
In my Father's house there are many rooms.
If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and will take you to myself,
that where I am you may be also.
And you know the way to where I am going.
Thomas said to him,
"Lord, we do not know where you are going.
How can we know the way?"
Jesus said to him,
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.
From now on you do know him and have seen him."
Can you see a contemporary black father speaking to his children in this way? We know Jesus was a High Priest who took on human form, like others of the Order of Melchizedek. We know the Father through the son. That makes sense. The two are distinct but Jesus reflects the nature, the words, the image (not physical) of God. When we embody and walk in spiritual principles (which Jesus and/or the 12 steps show, teach, guide us how to do), we become children of God, too, spiritual brothers and sisters, reborn.
So there are many rooms in the Father's house that are prepared for us. For me, the magic access, the portal to the "inner room" is more like, "Get me out of this fucking room!!!!" I realize again and again that of myself, there is nothing of worth that I can do to escape me, myself, I.
"My brain does things that are not in my control," as Rosy said yesterday.
I need a relationship with God and a "design for living" that can restore me to sanity as surely as the men of Charlottesville with their torches.
"My weakness can be characterized as a blind loyalty to Donald Trump, and I was weak for not having the strength to question and to refuse his demands. I have already spent years living a personal and mental incarceration, which no matter what is decided today, owning this mistake will free me to be once more the person I really am."
- Michael Cohen in his sentencing trial December 13th, 2018.
"Step 5: We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs." (Big Book page 53)
Michael Cohen told the judge his "defects of character" as he submitted to the same process as recommended by the 12 steps - admitting "to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs." He was specific, "Blind loyalty to Donald Trump," but went deeper to confess the magnitude of the paradigm he was trapped in, his "personal and mental incarceration."
Bob Marley uses the words of Marcus Garvey, "Free yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds." Cohen was enslaved by personal ambition and greed. I was enslaved by approval seeking, looking good, feeling good. Garvey encouraged blacks to break free of oppression, the imposed mental, spiritual, physical paradigm of enslavement.
Yes. Mental, spiritual incarceration is real. I've lived it blindly and consciously, too. Consciousness of an obsession does not remove it. It takes an examination of my life's twists, old ideas, false Gods and paradigms that keep me stuck. It takes prayer, meditation, and active involvement in others' healing to stay unstuck. In a way, Step 5 is much like Step 1. It is an admission. It is truth that shoots deep into the innermost core of my being so that transformation can take place. A brilliant spiritual technology, the steps are available to all who are graced to receive the "gift of desperation. "From reading the transcript, I do believe Michael Cohen has received that paradoxical gift.
His transformation does not mean, however, that the sentence should not be applied. Cohen tries to use the sincerity of his new perspective as a "get out of jail free" card like any good white man would do. "I've been changed; there is no need for the consequences, right?" No, my friend, you still get to do the time. Many many innocents have done much much more for much less or nothing at all. It will be good for you to get a tiny taste of humble pie.
I remember many times sobbing sobbing sobbing as the consciousness of my mistakes overwhelmed me. But the beauty of telling the truth to another person you trust is that there is no loneliness. The "other," the listener has never betrayed my confidence and wagged the finger, instead that person has supported me to state and see the facts about the truth that would set me free. Reading a fifth step is never easy. It is humbling - but the foundation of a good life is humility. God is God. I am a deeply flawed vibrant human being who is now on a healing trajectory that manifests in goodness, creativity, love, laughter, steadfastness, and freedom.
I believe Michael Cohen is on the right track, the righteous track. If this sinner can be healed, so can he.