So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality. Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.
“If there is to be a livable world for those who come after us, it will be because we have managed to make the transition from the Industrial Growth Society to a Life-Sustaining Society. . . . While the agricultural revolution took centuries and the Industrial revolution took generations, (the Great Turning) has to happen within a matter of years. It also has to be conscious—involving not only the political economy, but the habits, values and understandings that foster it.” —Joanna Macy – Pace e Bene
Can we do that? We, who have been the most voracious consumers of this earth’s resources, who have built an empire on the backs of slave and immigrant labor, who have tilted the political process in favor of the corporate elite, who have widened the gulf between the prosperous and the poor, who have thumbed our noses at environmental consciousness….can we do that? Not over the course of centuries or generations, but within a few years we must make our decisions. Can we build a life-sustaining society which honors the entirety of creation?
If you have ever been to Bible School as a child, if you have participated in a Christian church service, if you have thumbed through the New Testament, you assuredly are familiar with the Beatitudes – the “blessed are” verses.
Often misunderstood, verses 1-11 tells us about the Jesus crowd circa 32 AD. The powerful of the mighty Roman Empire and the elite of the Jewish hierarchy judged the followers of Jesus to be insurrectionists, rebels and losers. The story of Jesus tells us that they were the target audience of the Gospel teachings, the ones whom Jesus loved dearly, for whom he was crucified.
I am a content misfit (according to today’s Western culture), a runaway, a loser. Join me in my insane, joyful approach to life, will you?
(the portions in red and underlined are my emphasis)
5 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and when He was seated, His [a]disciples came to Him. 2 Then He began to teach them, saying,
3 “Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit[those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant],for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].
4 “Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn[over their sins and repent change],for they will be comforted.
5 “Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the [b]gentle [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they will inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness[those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied.
7 “Blessed [content, sheltered by God’s promises] are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8 “Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart[those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God.
9 “Blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor] are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they will [express His character and]be called the sons of God.
10 “Blessed [comforted by inner peace and God’s love] are those who are persecuted for [c]doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].
11 “Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness] are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of [your association with] Me.12 Be glad and exceedingly joyful, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
I want to be one of the biggest losers in the Jesus crowd.
When living in Pennsylvania, I attended a small, country church, St. John’s Lutheran. The members were an accepting, loving congregation of people who, in my humble opinion, practiced the Gospel, they walked the talk. The pastor was ordinary, the service was ordinary, but the choir was magnificent.
These simply farm folks were renown for their ancestral singing talents back to the early 1800s when the community was founded. A special treat on Sunday mornings was when the men of the choir sang a cappella. It was absolutely, stunningly pure inspiration. I never could fathom how men who spoke English with heavy Pennsylvania Dutch accents could sing together in perfect English enunciation.
I discovered, on YouTube, videos by ACAPELDRIDGE. I want to share with you one of my favorite hymns done a cappella by an amazingly talented young man. Soak it in and be inspired.
1 Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to thy God to order and provide;
in ev’ry change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
thro’ thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
2 Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
to guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice, who ruled them while He dwelt below.
3 Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
and all is darkened in the veil of tears,
then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
from His own fullness all He takes away.
4 Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
Most of us know our kin, sometimes wish we did not. Can we imagine a world of kinship, a place where the man who is black, the woman who is Muslim, the neighbor who is gay, the co-worker who practices Buddhism, the homeless man on the corner, the drunk in the gutter – can we somehow see each of them as kin? Related? Worthy of our love and compassion?
Society, governments, and religions often, inadvertently or overtly, put separations between us defining our differences thereby reducing relationships to a status of “us” and “them” in denial of the paradigm which the great wisdom leaders throughout history from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Gandhi, to Muhammad, to Jesus of Nazareth to Lao Tzu to Gautama Buddha tried to teach during their lifetimes.
Even when placing our lives in service to others, we are not recognizing God’s dream for his/her Creation – being one with the other and not separate. Kinship is what Jesus practiced. He was one not standing outside the circle, but in the midst of those “… whose dignity had been denied…with the poor and the powerless and the voiceless….the easily despised and the readily left out…the demonized…the disposable.”cac.org
We, who are eternally hopeful that the time for non-violence, for peace, for kinship has arrived, read the words of one of the revered prophets of the Judaic tradition, HABAKKUK, who said, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time, it speaks of the end and will not prove false.”
“In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together, the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them.” ISAIAH 11:6
It paints a beautiful picture of what life on earth could be – was intended to be. Do you see it? Are you willing to live it? It’s our choice.
Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name. Green pastures, still waters, my cup is overflowing.
The bush beans and kale, planted in late February, have provided the dinner table with a bounty of fresh beans and greens for 3 months and are now ready for the final stage in their journey – the compost pile. The second crop of beans is popping from the ground and the tomatoes are in their prime providing delectable fruit far surpassing that which is available from the grocery store or produce stand. It has been a very successful season in the backyard garden. A few summer squash and perhaps pole beans will be given a chance to survive Florida’s summer heat and humidity. But, September is just around the corner with its invitation to plant a winter garden. Life is good.
So much can be learned about life simply by watching nature. Everything has a season and everything has a purpose. Every part of the Lord’s creation knows its purpose and lives life according to that intention – except for mankind. We are the only creature which has a choice in how we live.
Each of the world’s major faith walks endorses the simplicity and intelligence of nature. Christian literature tells us that we reap what we sow. Sow discord, disharmony, fear and hatred; that is what we will gather within our hears at harvest time.
What’s growing in your garden?
Sober today? Give yourself and your Higher Power a hand.