This morning, we reel from the attacks in Paris and I light a candle for the lost and wounded. I pray God’s comfort for the shaken world and weep with those who weep. My cheeks are chapped from the long walk in the wind last night and they drink tears thirstily. I lean my forehead against the window and watch the morning light spread like seeping tea. The air in our little valley is still restless and wandering leaves are soul’s bread. Did I once stand in those waving grasses, cheeks scrubbed pink and eyes full of blue sky?
On a morning like this I cannot help but think, what would I do without Jesus?
Yesterday, I read these words:
Organized religion is an attempt to communicate religious mystery to people who have not experienced it, and most often the task falls to people who haven’t experienced it either. What is deemed sacred in organized religion? Not the original revelation, but the robes, the ceremonies, the houses of worship, the scriptures, the ministers or rabbis. The original sacredness disappears in dogma and ritual—physical manifestations—that become holy in and of themselves and are worshiped long after their meaning is lost. Essentially, it is a form of idolatry. Furthermore, people who dare to proclaim themselves mystics or prophets, and declare they are in personal communication with God, are ostracized or worse. It’s ironic that religions now repudiate the very kind of people and dramas on which they were founded. As a result, the biggest threat to the religious experience may well come from organized religion itself.” ~Diane Ackerman, Deep Play
How arrogant, how flawed, how narrow-minded, I found myself thinking. This self-described “agnostic,” this “Earth Ecstatic” as she terms herself … how dare she? I wanted to close the book, boycott her words, shut out her self-absorbed, pleasure-seeking philosophy. She doesn’t have the faintest inkling about what it means to live a life of faith, I mused. And then I listened to myself. She doesn’t have the faintest inkling about what it means to live a life of faith! The self-righteous kind of view leaves me empty, separates me from other image-bearers of God. But when I look with love, when I look with compassion, my heart of stone is replaced with one as tender as fresh-churned butter.
It is true that often those who welcome mystery and wonder into their lives are the ones overlooked. They quietly sit in pews and marvel at the goodness of God. Yet, in the face of tragedy, these tender ones are mobilized. What if we show them what it means to live a life of faith? To be one body, to weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn? Instead of judgment, let there be love.
God of the Universe,
you made the heavens and the earth,
so we do not call our home merely “planet earth.”
We call it your creation, a divine mystery,
a gift from your most blessed hand.
The world itself is your miracle.
The people of the world, our brothers and sisters.
Help us to see in their faces your presence.
Upon the people of France
may your stars rain down their blessed dust.
Comfort, comfort your people, O Lord.
(adapted from Blessing of the Land or a Garden, Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals)