Solomon's Song of Songs. "Oh, kiss me, touch me with your lips; your love tastes better than any wine. You smell better that any perfume; even the sound of your name smells sweet-- no wonder they all love you!.....For your love is better than wine, your anointing oils are fragrant, your name is perfume poured out; therefore the maidens love you. Draw me after you, let us make haste. The king has brought me into his chambers. We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you..... Do you have a shady place where you rest in the heat of day? I want you; I don't want to spend all day wandering around among your friends, wearing all these clothes in the heat of day....Arise and come, my pretty darling, come away with me!......Winds of the south and winds of the north, wake up and blow now: breathe through my garden, drive him mad with my fragrance, draw him into my garden; let his tongue stop its talking, let him taste my choice fruits..... Oh, you daughters of Jerusalem, I swear to you-- if you find my lover tell him-- Tell him what? Tell him I am dizzy in love. ......I came to my lover hungering, as he came to me.........." Song of Songs, 1:1-3, 7, 2:13b, 4:16, 5:8, 6:3
The Inclusive Bible, the First Egalitarian Translation
Dear Friends, August 31, 2018
People who are depressed are lonely, by definition. They feel separate and alienated. They are lonely for other people and community, but modern people are also often alienated from the natural world and God. Together, humans and non human, plants and animals are an organic, relational, interconnected whole. Many of us have been brainwashed by what I would call an insane Godless world view. Most of us live in cities surrounded by freeways and concrete and are deprived of relating to the natural world. Not having regular intimacy with nature may feel like a lack of connection to God for nature is God in the sense that God rushes through all natural life. Many of us experience God in nature and yearn to be close to God in nature. The truth is that we are all interrelated and are interwoven in an erotic aliveness, created and sustained by God's love. Our purpose is to love and be loved, but not just people, we are here in order to love God and all of God's creatures.
The image above of the woman and lion in a tender embrace touches me as it transports me to the world of the imagination and the realm of story or fairy tales. We see a symbolic holy union of the divine feminine and the divine masculine in this image, which invites us to imagine a new hopeful future, "where they live happily ever after." Not merely an image that amphromoriphizing the lion to be like a human, this image invites us I think to reconnect to all that is seperate within us. This image invites us to enter the truth that we are an interspecies creation on earth, potentially in loving partnership with all God's creatures.
I invite you to contemplate this image as a metaphor rich in spiritual nourishment. Just as we are alienated from the natural world, many of us are also alienated from the world of metaphor and imagination and may need to be reminded of the ground rules or guidelines. God is not a mother hen, but God is like a mother hen. God is not male or female, but God is like the male and female in a loving embrace like in the image above. God is not only in humans, God is in all sacred life and is the interrelatedness of all species of animals and life forms in the universe. This depiction of inter species relationship transcends the concreteness of heterosexuality, homosexuality etc. Part of our depression and loneliness comes from our autistic like state due to having been starved of beautiful metaphors and stories in a world out of balance by idolizing analytical and rational thinking. Estrangement from God is deeply painful and depressing. One way of reconnecting with God for me has been by contemplating provocative images of God.
Every Sunday at Church for Our Common Home we say prayers of confession for, "the 150-200 species of plants, insects, birds and mammals who become extinct every 24 hours." This genocide is due to a world view and behaviors that are out of balance. Nuclear bombs, climate change, imperialism and war etc. are expression of our being out of balance as a human family. Tolerating and not stopping the death and suffering of the vulnerable comes when our thinking and behavior as a human family that is so out of balance, it is sick.
As we awaken to the genocide of plants and animals our denial and depression is in many finally maturing. We are being called to see the falsehood that tells us that we are separate and causes self-centeredness and depression. Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross leads us on the spiritual adventure through the five stages of grief, to acceptance during times of facing death. I experience it as God calling us to transform ourselves from denial and anger, through bargaining, and depression, until we can move into acceptance and love. As Dr. John B. Cobb Jr. says, "What we need is enough ecological catastrophe so that people wake up, and not so much that it is too late." Like people who have had a near death experience and begin to reconnect to the holiness of life and God. When we come to accept the state of the planetary crisis we will have moved from denial, anger, bargaining, depression to acceptance and love. When this happens there is potential for great kundalini like energy of spiritual and physical power of purpose for our human family.
As a parish minister I have witnessed many people in their later years fall passionately in love. Not having hung out with many older people before I was a parish minister, I just did not know this happened. It does, all the time. Senior communities are regular Paten Places of love intrigue, broken hearts and passionate yearnings for intimacy. All living creatures are made in God's image and have energy to dance with other life forms. Just contemplating human bodies and how we were made for sexual loving, which sometimes creates human babies, is so inspiring, it leaves me awe struck.To passionately love another sexually, physically, spiritually, psychologically, intellectually, and in any and all combinations, WOW....Way to go God.... You are an awesome God. "Awe enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance." Abraham Herschel. We were made for a diversity of awesome intimate relationships with other people, as well as communities, the natural world, the world of the imagination and God.
Falling in love with another human being, and erotic human sexual love, is one of life's greatest mysteries and joys. When we are in love we see the beauty not only of our beloved, but of all that is alive everywhere in creation. God is like a passionate lover, who adores and loves us just like the lion and woman in the above image love one another. Most of us can get behind the idea that God is love, but too often we have left out the erotic and passionate reality that is God. Too often our religious communities and churches, our worship and religious stories and rituals are bland and lack erotic passion. Much of Christianity has idolized celibacy historically and told us a story that Jesus was celibate. I don't believe that for a second. I can hear him saying to us today, "I said celebrate, not celibate!" Jesus loved so passionately it changed the world. He loved real people, and all of God's creation. Our reading from the Song of Songs in the Hebrew Bible for this Sunday, reminds us that Jews in the ancient world like Jesus, understood passionate erotic love as the holiest of the holy.
The love story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene has been left out of the dominant Christian tradition but has lived underground for centuries. Cynthia Bourgeault writes in, T he Meaning of Mary Magdalene that their love for one another was just, "Too Hot To Handle" and so the early church rewrote the story and left Magdalene out. According to some traditions, Jesus and Mary Magdalene loved so deeply that she traveled into the pits of hell with him after the crucifixion. The resurrection for me is a hologram of rich metaphor of many meanings, one being about the passionate love story, between two real people--Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Their love for one another was more powerful than torture and death. Now that is a great love story! Part of facing the planetary catastrophe and turning it into a catalyst for radiant love requires that we recycle our old religious stories whose paint has faded and recycle and repaint our stories with new vibrant, rich, erotic colors of passionate love. Perhaps the new religious story for our time will be a love story between all living creatures on earth, a story that invites us to fall in love with God and all her creatures. May we activate our kundalini sexual passions in order to change our thinking and our behavior to stop killing off full species of animals on a daily basis. If you want to save something - love it.
We are witnessing the 6th extinction of life on earth--the only one created by humans and we need new passionate religious love stories, images, symbols and rituals that will energize and activate our kundalini prajna and life force. It is time to share love stories in rich vivid colors and symbols to inspire our work to save living creatures.
Last week, I was standing in line at Rite Aid Drug Store and while waiting, I looked over the the sale table, which they cleverly and manipulatively place next to the cashier line in order to tempt us to buy stuff we don't need or want. There was an end of summer sale of garden statues, and one caught my eye. It was a gray plastic statue of Mother Mary about one feet tall. I picked her up and immediately smiled and got a warm feeling of love that I is familiar to me when I enter the symbolism of Mother Mary. The statue was Made in China of course, and cost $19.99. Then a statue of Jesus caught my eye. I had no desire to buy him for some reason. I rolled my eyes as I stood there encountering the insanity of capitalism and plastic objects made with child slave labor etc. and how it is destroying our planet. But my psyche was not done with these images and intuitively I knew to pay attention. You need to know that I have many altars to Mother Mary that I have created for decades and they continue to work to heal me. For millions of us, she is a powerful archetypal symbol of the divine feminine too often dishonored and left out, but always the placeholder of God's unconditional love for all her children, especially the most vulnerable ones. Mother Mary images and statues have been a healing "indulgence" for me. I decided our garden would be well served by adding one more MOther Mary statue. Then I noticed a sign that said, Buy One, Get One Free. I thought I don't really want a plastic statue of Jesus on my altar for some reason, but essentially he would be free. I picked Jesus up in my left hand for I am nothing if not a bargain maniac. As I gazed down at the two male and female plastic garden figures it occurred to me, "I can recast this play. Mother Mary can easily be recast as Mary Magdalene, same gender, similar costume.... " There they were in my hands, Jesus and Mary Magdalene the lost bride, the lost divine feminine with her beloved bridegroom, no longer only a mother and son, but a mature woman, a passionate lover, healer and teacher of wisdom who is in love with a real live holy man.
It is rare to find any art work of Jesus and Mary Magdalene where they are at the same eye level. Usually she is way down at his feet either crying or anointing his feet. But as I gazed at these two statues of side by side, Jesus and the lost bride of Christianity, she transformed herself and became an equal partner of Jesus. Right there in Rite Aid, I got swept away in their love story. We need passionate love stories at this dangerous historic time. We need passion and love more than ever before. Here is a photo of the outdoor altar dedicated to the love between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, the Christ-Sophia.