Long Silence…

Okay, here’s my try:

The hour is getting late in this universe. If we aren’t scared, we’ve either got faith or blind spots. I fear I’ve just gone numb.

If we find it hard to care about all those strangers whom we ought to help if we only knew a way… it’s probably because we really don’t know any way. There’s serious despair going around; we’re lucky if we haven’t come down with it ourselves.

Most of us are compulsively going through motions, some of us donating and others of us busy lobbying or organizing or protesting to keep the Forces of Shameless Cluelessness from committing yet another incredibly stupid atrocity, just wanting to believe we can.

While we often want to pray that some new evil be averted, we know that God has allowed the same thing over and over in the past, and shows no sign of stopping. We see furthermore that humans everywhere are persisting in just the sort of behavior that makes calamities unavoidable.

We’re humans; we have to either make sense of all this or at least imagine we can cope with it anyway. But the world only truly makes sense in reference to God.

Scriptures can be misused in many ways; their true value is that they remind us of God and lead us to see our situation in that context.

For the past several months we’ve been reading a scripture about Jesus, and we haven’t found too much to say about it.

“If you bring forth what is within you, it will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, it will destroy you.”

Jesus said that, according to the Gospel of Thomas. It sounds to me like something he would have said. Truth.

Come on, please! Someone bring forth something, from what is within you!

What is this person Jesus doing, so far? Why? What does it mean to you?


4 responses

  1. Forrest, I can appreciate your feelings, and feel led to respond. In fact most of my utterings in this (and all other Quaker groups, such as meetings, etc.) have been in terms of response (which of course many Quakers feel are inapproriate). Nevertheless for what it’s worth:All you said about our situation has been more or less equally true about everybody else’s situation since the days of Adam: everything continually gets more intense and more unsatisfactory— and also more satisfactory. We become better and worse until the Lord sees fit to blow the whistle and end the game. Yes, our political, economic, spiritual circumstances are grave (always have been). Yes, I continue to grow in grace, above all in love.It’s been an upward road to me the last 50 years since I perceived the love of God. Since then I’ve been trying to give back to him a small part of what I’ve received, and all the while the despicable old self refuses to die. Jesus was faced with a situation much graver than ours (at least personally), and found himself able to say, “be of good cheer; I’ve overcome the world.” IMHO he did– and we will in the fullness of time.Thanks for your post.

  2. I’ve wanted to respond to you for awhile now, and been too busy. (Today it was a trip to Tijuana for a false tooth, followed by an afternoon spent cooking chili for the next month. Still pending: to finish a few paintings & a lifetime programming project, if I can just put it together. Or is that the self I’m supposed to despise?) What you say about Quakers disapproving of people who respond to each other’s messages… If we were meant to be alone with God at all times, certainly we could have been made that way, and weren’t. We even have, in Genesis, God saying “It is not good for the man to be alone,” before he separates Adam into two beings. I too tend to be a person who responds, more than a person who initiates. Not only does this ideology put people like us put at a disadvantage, but it tends to intellectually isolate the members of a meeting from one another–and to make Quaker meeting a place people go to protect their opinions from examination. (There are certainly ways non-Quakers protect their opinions: one approach is to bellow out your opinion so insistently that you never hear a word against it. Our system is better but not, I think, ideal.) Anyway, thank you for jumping in here!!! We were beginning to sound like The Quaker Radio Hour (60 minutes of silence.) I know people have been expecting the end of the world for a very long time, figuring that things couldn’t get any worse. This has changed, first to the knowledge (from the late 1940’s) that we could in fact end the world by our own heedless fear & anger, and lately to a growing recognition that we can do it simply by continuing our normal way of life. And all the time I know this, I have been increasingly sure that we are all, every one of us, perfectly safe, no matter how we smear our diapers. So, yes, as you say, we’re increasingly threatened and increasingly under grace. I can’t argue with wanting to give back to God; “I want” is unanswerable. I do want to remind you that it’s an absurd want, that one can’t give back to One Who Has Everything. Two ways a child can show gratitude: to politely say “Thank you”–or to enjoy our gifts so much that a doting parent will forgive our rudeness! On with Mark, then?

  3. One more thing. I started off asking about things like “Why these scriptures? What’s Jesus got to do with anything?” You didn’t give me a direct answer. But your mention of “perceiving the love of God…” It seems to me that Jesus could be called “the Herald of the Love of God.” Particularly to those who are finding the world a bit raw. Initially, I imagine, the Resurrection was seen as vindication. “The Righteous” were due to be resurrected in the Last Days; Jesus had been resurrected; therefore he was righteous (and as Paul concluded, the rest of the Righteous were due any day now.) He was found to be righteous even though God had allotted him terrible suffering. If you were suffering, then, it did not imply a huge load of unforgiven sin; above all it did not mean that God had withdrawn his love, even though the nation was soon to undergo all the normal tragedies of defeat in ancient warfare, and then some. In other lands, in other hands, the church that carried his story degenerated–and innovated, for good as well as for ill. Many subsequent centuries of careful reasoning and church politics have left us with descriptions and explanations that I, among others, find intolerably absurd–but what he said about God’s love, that survives.

  4. This Jesus/Yeshua fellow seems to be doing a new thing in me these days and I’m still not sure where its going.I’m being drawn back after a long absence into the Philokalia — Russian Eastern Orthodox stuff — Hesychasm And what I’m find there is the stuff I thought I found reading George Fox and Isaac Penington but what I solidly DO NOT find in modern liberal Quakerism. I have absolutely no intention of becoming Russian Orthodox — 3 hour church services (mostly standing up) in Slavonic dialects do not turn me on! What we are talking about here is the Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Only i have been struggling with how I reconcile this spirituality of submission with the teachings about theosis — or what Calvinists would call sanctification — and in the last week this prayer has morphed into something tentative an flexible but sort of like: Brother Yeshua, Child of God, reveal (or release) our Father’s glory (in me/us).The Heychast teaching calls for sustained periods of praying the Jesus Prayer (Prayer of the Heart). I don’t. It punctuates my day – 3-5 reps waiting for buses, between clients, whenever a moment happens and I remember to remember God.So then, that’s my (partial) answer to What is this person Jesus doing, so far? Why? What does it mean to you?

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