Abide in Joy

mornin' gloryJohn 15

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already cleansed because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

The true vine is a picture of a living thing which connects to even more life—to the source of life. What connects us to life? What makes us feel most alive? If we look to children, the answer for them is: everything! They love all of life, all of what it offers them. Small children love it without reservation, and take whatever they can into their mouths. They want to connect with life in their inmost being!

As we grow up, we come to ourselves as we experience disappointments, losses, suffer pain, and bear death. This belongs to our path on earth—this schooling through pain that brings us to ourselves, connects us to our self. But this can go too far. The winter can be so very long– we get cabin fever stuck inside with ourselves. Life can feel far away from us. We can feel totally cut off from life and love, disconnected.

Easter offers us a return to life. During Passiontide, we have walked with Christ as he goes to his death on the cross. We could also say—we have walked with Christ as he walked with us to the cross. At Easter, we are released from the permanency of this death. The grave can become an altar at which we offer ourselves to be transformed, and seek renewal.

We can find a new lease on life. The soul reconnected feels joy. Easter is the festival of joy. This is more than mere happiness or pleasure, though it encompasses both. Joy belongs to those who walk through death to a new connectedness, and a new life.When we feel joy, we have so much to offer.

At Easter, in the upswing of joy, Christ reminds us in this reading from John 15 of the power of staying connected to our true source of life, to the divine. The word he uses repeatedly is ABIDE. Abide in me and I in you, as I abide in the Father. Let my Word abide in you. To abide is not only to stay or remain, but to make one’s abode within him. To make one’s dwelling, one’s home within his life, within his joy, within God.

This is an act which we practice in praying, in turning to the spirit, in seeking everywhere in life for the source of life, and of becoming. In turning to that which brings joy and by offering ourselves in joy to the world wherever and whenever we can.

Snow Late in April

snowflakes in april

It seems that the blessed beings of the starry realms have so much to say this year
that they keep sending their tiny white star envelopes
to earth. It seems that the earth
needs these crystalline messages, these ambassadors of harmony
and an architecture of love and goodness of form
to heal the disintegrations and decimations of these
that have the world, as it were, in a bit of a grip.
It seems that snow is necessary in this Eastertime
when we are to practice resurrection, to reengender hope,
to strengthen our faith in one another and in a world
of human beings who, though we take so many wrong turns
on the way to life, mean well, want the world to be a place
of blessing, not only for itself, but for the cosmic world which rings us round.
It might take a little practicing, but I say, practicing,
thank you for snow.

The Good Shepherd

John 10

Heinrich Kirchner der Gute Hirte the Good Shepherd Erlangen GermanyThe compassion Christ feels for us human beings is expressed in the Matthew gospel: “He saw a large crowd, and he felt compassion for them because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9) Christ sees us; sees that we are scattered by life’s challenges in so many ways—outwardly and inwardly. We have not yet learned well enough how to guide ourselves to the waterside, to rest and true nourishment, nor how to protect ourselves from wolves. We are not yet sovereign in the pastoral realm, especially with ourselves. We have so much to learn.

It is perhaps uncomfortable though to think of ourselves as sheep; or of the community as a flock of sheep. It may also be awkward to think of the priest as a “Shepherd of Souls,” as it says in our Ordination service. But this is a transitional arrangement intended to facilitate coming into true communion with the one called the Good Shepherd.

We can think of the many references in the Bible to the one we call the Good Shepherd, especially the beautiful 23rd Psalm: The Lord is my Shepherd. Here is depicted a description of the one who enacts a radical act–he recognizes the divine power that is meant to arise within the human being. He comes to be a shepherd for us that there might awaken IN us the true shepherd, the capacity to lead ourselves to green pastures and still waters, and to lead ourselves along the path which is right for each one of us. He is the one who shall be with us as we walk through the valley of death’s dark shadow, on this side of the threshold or the other, and the one who, no matter what all is going on in our lives, amidst all the evil and before our enemies, prepares for us a table—a healing feast! At this table, bread is broken and shared, wine is blessed and given, true peace is planted in our souls. He gives to us the medicine that makes us whole, that makes it possible for us to become ourselves shepherds.

This Shepherd will not leave us because he has given himself to us until the end of time. This Shepherd laid down his own life for ours, and seeks to unite himself with us if we but recognize his voice. He goes looking for the one lost sheep out of a hundred. Every one of us is that important to the Good Shepherd. He calls us home! He comes to find us! Let us be found.

The World Wide Web of Destiny by Gisela Wielki

Otto Dix_Calling_PeterBy now the www interconnects, links most of the world’s population.
At the beginning of the twentieth century Rudolf Steiner reawakened awareness for a totally different human network. Many of his profound spiritual investigations regarding karma and reincarnation have remained almost unnoticed by the world at large. They not only cast light on the karmic connectedness of individuals, but also on world karma tying together the human being, the earth and the angelic realms.
According to a legend, Mary and Joseph and the child, pursued by Herod’s soldiers, sought refuge in a cave. At once a spider weaves a web over the entrance. Seeing the spider web, the soldiers believe that surely no one is hiding in the cave. The next morning, before the holy family moves on, the child thanks the spider in the web by drawing a cross on its back. Through the spider’s act of rescue, it has unknowingly saved the child for his later death, the death upon the cross. In this way, the web at the entrance of the cave became a worldwide web of destiny for God, the human being and the earth.
At the turning point of time, shortly after his baptism in the Jordan, Christ Jesus walks on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. There he finds fishermen casting, mending and washing their nets. He calls them and they follow him. Familiar with handling and caring for the net, they are apparently suitable to become his disciples.
In the third millennium, one can only wish that human beings becoming familiar with the handling and care of the entanglements, intermeshing and interconnectedness of karma, would increasingly haul up from the depth of the sea of destiny genuinely new insights on how to mend and repair social and karmic tears and tangles. To come upon such a ‘catch of insight’ will require more than to fish with our web browsers in a sea of information.

Reposted from Facebook with permission. LM
Artwork: The Calling of Peter by Otto Dix from the book Matthäus Evangelium (out of print)

Serving at the youth altar


 I am on a retreat for those about to be confirmed in The Christian Community, with 19 fourteen year olds from congregations in the eastern United States.  It is always so moving to me to be with these youngsters, full of life and expectation about all that is to come. What grace allows these kids of today to still be open to our adult guidance, to our serious and challenging questions? I have learned a few things over the years of working with the young, and with other colleagues. Our shared general approach as Christian Community priests is to view the confirmands as people on the threshold between childhood and youth, beginning a new life and starting to become themselves for the first time in their lives, independent and scared and full of joy at the possibilities. We work out of a reverence for the evolving free, spiritual human being who already appears in such sincerity even at this age. They are pilgrims on a pressing journey to find the divine at work in the world.

What strikes me every time I enter such a happening (an extended trip such as this for example) is to notice just how serious they are in their approach to life–mixed in with the usual teenager energy and general discomfort that all us human beings seem to have to go through at this age–they are desperately hungry for the truth, to learn what is essential to make it in this life, how to make meaning out of struggle, how to find joy and satisfaction in their engagement and relationships, and whether or not the spiritual world is real, as real as what happens here on earth. They are worried about high school, what people think of them, whether or not there is a place for them in this complicated world. 

They look to us in sincere longing to know that we grownups stand for what we speak of, that we are authentic in our own striving, that we love the earth and other people and life itself and also have some kind of real relationship to God and spirit.  

They are as serious as monks, though you wouldn’t know it during dinner, when the din of their ebullience in the room is deafening! But the moment we give them the task of drawing a Celtic sun cross in their books or the exercise to pray for five straight minutes and then write about their experience, they take it on with a reverence and quietude of soul which challenges many an adult to find.  I am in awe of them. I feel a deep gratitude to be allowed to try to serve their becoming, and a desire to become so much more than I already am to be worthy of this task. 


Opening Our Eyes

John 20: 1-20

The Easter question is: Who can see the Risen One? And after the great death through which we again have gone: who can feel the Easter joy? Filled with love and grief, Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb early in the morning on the First Day. She sees in the dim first light of this day that the stone has been moved away—and from this she infers that they have taken away the Lord! But she has not seen it. Her eyes are still in the grave—they cannot yet see. Where is He?

Resurrection Unknown Egyptian ArtistRunning to Simon Peter and Lazarus John, she reports it, and they too come, but they cannot see more than some cloths inside the grave. Now it begins to dawn on them what they had heard might in fact be true: that He would be raised from the dead. But where is He? They cannot see.

Mary, however, remains at the grave. In her grief and not knowing how to see, she weeps. And then she sees the angels, who ask her, Woman, why are you weeping? Still in the grave, she cannot really see! And in this not knowing which she cries out for the second time, she turns. A change begins. There she sees the one she takes to be the Gardener. He too asks, Woman, why are you weeping? And for a third time, she cries out in her not-knowing, this time with a plea to please bring Him back. And it is through this that the Lord can name her, like a baptism, and awakens her to sight. Then she can say: “I have seen the Lord…”

Our eyes mostly cannot see the spirit. The Resurrection is an open Mystery because it has been placed before us as an objective world fact, but our eyes remain in the grave. They are not alone in there. Not only our eyes, but our ears and speech and our hearts are in the grave. We hold to death and dead things, because we think we can count on them. But the grave is empty—He is not there! So where can we find Him?

The secret lies in finding our own activity, to learn to seek Him. We teach the children: the Spirit of God will be with you when you seek Him. And their most important response, their religious practice is their reply: I will seek Him! How can we renew our eyes? We can seek. We can praise. We can pray. We can stand at the grave not knowing, and weeping, and opening our hearts, and we can begin to turn the grave into an altar.

At the grave of all we cannot yet do, we can make an altar to the One who we long to see with our eyes, to see with our hearts. We can think the Risen One, we can feel the Risen One, and we can pray the Risen One. We can offer ourselves to Him in this way, as He offers Himself to us. In the grave we must say: He is not here. At the altar we can say, He is Risen! And I will seek Him!

Preparing for Easter

Getting ready for tomorrow, I found this poem in the latest issue of Parabola from Mary Oliver:

First Upload Atrix HD 910


There are moments that cry out to be fulfilled.
Like, telling someone you love them.
Or giving your money away, all of it.

Your heart is beating, isn’t it?
You’re not in chains, are you?

There is nothing more pathetic than caution
when headlong might save a life,
even, possibly, your own.