THE TOMB

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And so it ended. The hope of the Jewish peasants, the radical Jesus who was to be their new king, the friend of the sick and oppressed was laid in a tomb without fanfare. His betrayer was dead, his opponents were victorious and his disciples were shattered. The Roman soldiers had followed their orders and crucified a commoner just as they had done to thousands of other insurrectionists who threatened the empire.

Christ followers will say that this was God’s plan, that the prophets had foretold of the death of their messiah, that the divine Jesus Christ, son of the virgin Mary was born to die for our sins in a very bloody and ignoble ending.

Non-believers will say that Jesus was just a man, albeit a very good man, who challenged the authority of the Romans and of the Jewish elite and lost. They will say his body was stolen from the tomb and that accounts of his resurrection and appearance again to his followers were acts of hysteria and hallucination.

Whether the Jews lost a savior and messiah or whether the world lost one of God’s messengers is a debate that will remain a part of God’s mystery until the end of time. What is a certainty is that Jesus of Nazareth was 1) a historic fact supported by numerous independent sources, and 2) a man with hope, truth, and tolerance for a hurting Jewish nation. He was murdered by a society of hatred and intolerance. His message of love and compassion was buried in the tombs of religious tradition and inflexible doctrine. And thus the world’s humanity continued in its blinding darkness waiting for God to reveal to us his next messenger.

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Were you there,
did you see it,
the cross, the nails, the soldiers?
Were you there?
He called himself the Way:
the truth, the life.
They mocked him,
tortured him,
nailed him to a cross.

Sign said ‘King of the Jews’,
they did not believe then,
why should we believe now?
Were you there to see it?
Did you talk to Mary…..
or John or Peter,
see Jesus on the road to Emmaus,
witness his ascension?
How do you know?

Were you there?
Did you see what I saw?
In spirit we witnessed,
in spirit we collaborated
to murder God’s messenger.
We did not defend or shield
as the soldiers raised him.
Did you weep,
did your turn your head away?

Jesus – my conscience, my spirit, my soul.
The world did not know him,
does not believe him,
mocks and ridicules him,
says he doesn’t exist,
wants to crucify him.
Where will I be?
At the foot of his cross watching
or nailed with him to the crossbeam?

O, Supreme God, save us from ourselves.
Give us faith,
fill us with trust,
let us revere the unseen,
show us the Way.
Nail our doubts
to the cross,
crucify our unbelief.
Let us be redeemed.

“……I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” [Matthew 17:20]

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TREKKING WITH THE MYSTICS

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Peggy Lee, a popular contemporary vocalist of the 1950s and 60s, recorded a song which reached into the top of the charts in 1969.  “IS THAT ALL THERE IS” expresses  disillusionment and disappointment with a life which should be filled with unique experiences.  She suggests that we “break out the booze and have a ball—if that’s all there is”. Peggy Lee died in 2002.

Sometimes our life’s experiences parallel the lyrics of this song of hopelessness and melancholy.  We strive to achieve, to find acceptance within our communities, to perform according to the edicts of our traditional religion.  We fear the god of vengeance and punishment portrayed by exhortations from the pulpits of our churches while we fervently pray to that same god for forgiveness and redemption.  Yet in the secret recesses of our inner selves we intuitively know that the god of our religions and churches somehow misses the mark of truth, compassion, and relevance which we earnestly desire in our lives.  This inner search drives us to search for another day when we can sincerely say “yes, Lord, I will follow”, when we can finally change the word god to a capitalized God.

“9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Luke 11:9 KJV

That day of transformation from god to God reveals to us an inner trek which fills our lives with the beauty, mystery, awe, and inspiration which God intended for us.  It is not a new realization; rather, it has been practiced for thousands of years by Teachers sometimes called “mystics”.  They and their followers shared the wonderment of God residing within and without, present in all beings and all creation, available to any who would seek.  The Kingdom of God is not reserved for the righteous; it is not a distant, heavenly sphere of religious correctness; it is not the eminent domain of any of the world’s religions.

“21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”  Luke 17:21` KJV

The writings of the New Testament attribute the above verse to Jesus, one of the Teachers who understood the mysteries of the inner search for truth.  When his sayings, as recorded in the Bible, are processed in the realm of spiritual rather than worldly understanding we become keenly aware of the depth of inner communion with a God who becomes intensely real and personal.

Luke 17:21 is the essence of “TREKKING WITH THE MYSTICS” and the basis for a necessary life-changing redirect.  If our “rock and fortress” dwells within then surely hatred, bigotry, intolerance, government agents, worldly oppression shall be powerless in the presence of the great “I AM”.  We are proclaimed to be instruments of and witnesses to that which is Truth and Light.  We are destined to walk the earth fearlessly pursuing for all people equality, social justice, and personal liberty.  Doing so is our birthright and our Supreme duty.

THE HAPPY MYSTIC

Have you ever momentarily experienced in your meditation a time of absolute serenity and peace?  All trains of thought have stopped.  The world around you is non-existent.  It is tranquil and quiet within.  All is well with your soul.

You try to hang on to it as long as possible but, the phone rings, the kids scream, and the dog barks. Poof! It’s gone.  That brief, unearthly respite was a God moment.  For a mere second you and the God within were in communion.  This mysterious indwelling essence became the Lord of your life on the day you made sobriety the top priority of your life.

We alcoholics are not unique in this discovery.  Many before us, many who are not addicted to any behavior or substance have also known the God within and have fully experienced the pure joy and peace of inner communion.  Buddha and his followers, Jesus and his followers, Muhammad and his followers all exercised the mysticism of an inner experience of meditation and contemplation.  The Kabbalist Jew in his esoteric practice also embraces mysticism.

This has nothing to do with his God, her God, the church’s God.  This is your very own, very personal Higher Power which has no need to be translated by religionists or theologians.  You don’t need dogma or faith creeds or a list of “thou shalt and thou shalt not”  because it is within the deepest recesses of your soul’s being that the God of your understanding can be found.

Faith in this inner God experience of the mystics does not negate or diminish the presence of spirituality that is enjoyed by worshipping with others corporately in the church, the mosque or the synagogue.  This time of singing, prayer, and teaching only enhances that which we know within.  However, we can experience an exhilarating freedom when we understand how and where to find a personal God of our understanding.  Scriptures which we have learned and known for a lifetime come alive with new and deeper meaning.  Our journey is no longer hindered by questions concerning the right pew in the right church with the right congregation worshipping on the right day of the week preaching the right gospel with the right Bible, Torah or Koran in hand.  That spiritual experience which is deep within is always right.

“To thine own self be true.”

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