"... the Word was enfleshed; it made its home among us, and we saw its glory as befits the Spirit's only son, full of grace and truth."
*Gospel of John 1.14, Christian Bible
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It was a chilly Easter '98 morning beside the local Methodist Church. Peoples of different Christian sects had assembled in the dawn to celebrate the resurrection. Many were standing, a few were sitting. Behind the lectern stood three crosses with a purple garment hanging from the center cross.
I was host pastor and hiding behind my typical ambivalence. My persona said one thing, my heart something else. Gathered were small-town people who attended Bible-believing fundamentalist and conservative churches. They had arrived to celebrate faith in the physical resurrection of Jesus' body and hope in the resurrection of their physical bodies at a Second Coming. I had long ago lost, somewhat against my wishes, the beliefs of my childhood. Those beliefs are associated with the earliest stages of cognitive development, but often retained into and throughout by adults in an unquestioning fidelity. My own heart-wrenching exploration into philosophical and religious traditions had torn from my fearful clutches traditional ideas that had been cozy certainties from my familial and faith heritage.
Another local pastor, from a fundamentalist church, was prepared to deliver the sunrise message. Ironic because less than a year before I had departed from the same sect, one in which I had been reared and been a minister for twenty-two years. The time for the message arrived and the minister positioned himself behind the lectern. I smiled while sitting on a folding chair - the persona was still intact. After all, what was I to do? Stand up and expound on the metaphysics of matter and how such knowing makes a future resurrection of our bodies ludicrous? After all, I could say, how could the body resurrect after it decayed and some of its decomposed flesh was eaten by a worm that was dug up by a fisherman that was put on a hook that was swallowed by a fish that was...? - terrible grammar, but I think you see the conclusion. Or was I to expound on the witness, both by science and religious mystics, that there is no future and, thus, the Christian resurrection is an existential-mythical event that transcends human perceptions of a space-time continuum? I sat hoping without much hopefulness that I would hear a meaningful message that could evoke from us memories of the resurrections of our lives and the knowledge that resurrection is always the surprise of new life within springing up in the old, worn, outdated, and drab - and sometimes the painful losses of life.
My hopes for that type message were soon thwarted. I was bound, it appeared, to listen politely to this kind man go on and on affirming the physicality of Jesus' resurrection and our own future resurrection, when this Jesus would come back in the air and float us all to heaven above - in our earthly bodies to some magical, fairy land in a perfect place up somewhere.
But something changed on that Easter morning. I began to feel the cool breeze blowing across my face. A Zen moment had begun in mind and heart; Kronos time - our usual, sequential sense of time - was vanishing before Kairos time - timeless, here-now. The linear, everyday perception was transformed into the ripeness of sensing oneness with the Eternal Now. I began to move my hand to experience the sense of the moment: the beauty of the flowing trees clothed in new green and blown by the wind, the singing of birds, the flight of a large black fowl over the sky, the feel of the ambience on my skin.
I realized in those moments that I had turned away from the historic word of the Church. A word I had felt trapped by and running from for a few years. A word that was in a book and expounded by popes, priests, and preachers. A word recited in creeds and argued over in theological councils. A word fixed in the concreted of antiquity. But a word that was - or had become to me - like a body all adorned but lifeless in its own casket. A word the hearers listened to with ears but with faces showed it was as dead to them as to me. I was willing to admit its deadness.
In those moments I connected with the Word that transcends word. Jesus had embodied this Word; the Greeks called it Logos - Eternal Reason - the Jews called it Dabar - the living thing, or event, that is spoken and done by Spirit in our midst. The Word was incarnating a beautiful sermon for me on this cool Easter. The Word was speaking and doing its Eternal Dance, the dance of Shiva in the Hindu traditions, right before my eyes and upon my body. The movement all around reminded me that Nature is a sermon better than has ever been uttered through human lips. Spirit was permeating every living thing about me; the world and I was the temple of the Eternal, the pulsating Breath of Grace moving and still, both. This was a sermon probably unheard by others that day, while a sincere person expounded on and on, quoting scripture texts and preaching the slowing-dying fundamentalism of the past.
Resurrection was happening that morning, and so much more than my heart could receive or ever tell of what was received. The Word is always speaking, creation is always happening, for the Word is not merely a word or words, but living Presence. The Word speaks Itself.
*Life is That Flower, Choco Choco, Flickr
*Lotus of the Heart is a Work of Arem Nahariim-Samadhi ~ someone in love with Life and inviting others to that same ecstasy of Love ~ and, by the way, herein is nothing he claims as his own.