Friday, May 16, 2008

My westernized retake on "Zen and the art of motorcycle mantinance"

Be still, and know that I am God
Be still, and know...
Be still...
In this long and trecherous road of life we drive on, sometime it feels like we were given an outdated handbook from the DMV or from Canada. We just look at the signs and think wtf. Yet we drive continue to drive on because it's the only thing we know. Our car (with the expetion of nessesary, or sometimes fatal offf roading) is attacted to the road. And so are we attached to life. We cling to it, we strive to fix it because it is the only thing we have on which we depend on. If life is good, we are happy. If life isn't so good, know. Sometimes we just run out of gas and pull off to the side of the road for help, or wait till the engine has cooled off. Reguardless of where we are or what happens, the road a head isn't changing. Sometimes yes, the road is bumpy, curvey, full of pot holes. The only practical thing to do is keep your vehicle maintained.
Lately, with the stress of work, playing a lot places and getting over a break up. I've been blaming the road. Wondering, trying to see what I can do to make the road easier, more flexible. Sure, I've found a couple of pit stops along the way which helped momentarily. But for the most part. I've been under maitained.
I've been doing a lot of reading lately. I've read a couple of self help books thinking maybe this has the answer, or this will solve my problems. But I've realized they have only given me parts to the answer, and the proper tools to keep maintained.
God and I havn't been at odds at eachother last month, but we havn't exactly had a Mother Theresa relationship either. I've cried for help, for answers. And the cosmos just seems to keep still and quiet. Frustrating. It's taken a month for me to realize that that battery source that I'm trying to charge and plug into also requires using the battery on the inside. I truely believe that there is divine spark in everyone. Not that we are God's, but God is deep within us. Jesus said, "the kingdom of God is within you".
That being said. I haven't until now actually started to act on this. But I know that getting the relationship back, doing great in my job, being the best damn cellist in bakersfield or anything else will bring me true satisfaction. It's not that God won't support or bless these things, I just have to look at the underlying factor that is missing in all of them. If I can't be myself and try to reach things to try and get God's attention, then I won't get anyway. Rather, the more practical and self disicpling thing to do is be still, and know that he God, he is within me giving me the same life which he uses to control the cosmos outside of me.
In reflecting on all this, I've given myself goals to be completed by fall of this year: looses at least 20 pounds, save at least $700, be on a normal sleep pattern (I look at the clock, is 3:20am), devoutfully pray twice a day, and keep my room clean. And anyone can please keep me in check on all this!
My plans so far are to be back at BC this fall. However, I am considering an internship in Sacramento with the Episcopal Church for about two months. I'd be helping out at a homeless shelter which provides for 60 people for 30 days, planning events, and helping out the administrative people. I should know in a few months.
In other news. I've realized I should probably have my paycheck made out to Chevron with the prices of gas right now...

Prov 8 reflections 4/3/08

Frick guys, It's already been a week. As I have to give a short talk on the event to parish this Sunday (as they gave me cash to come) and I'm sending some reflections to Glenn Libby, this is a good way to start.The gathering was amazing. I haven't had such a spiritually rewarding experiance in such a long time, and as I think about it, it was much needed.While I was in Salt Lake, many members of my parish were at St Johns in Lodi, CA for the first convention of the continuing Episcopal Diocese of San Jaquin. As they were gathering as grown old adults in an effort to reorganize and continue the mission of the Church, I gathered with about 70 young adults already organized with the same intent on continuing the mission of the Church. I was most proud and pleased (and I think I speak for Bryan also) to represent my parish as a member of the Episcopal Church in San Joaquin. I am also very happy that I am able to bring back much of what I have encountered and learned to this area help the church in this area.The theme for this year was At(one)ment and learning how we are "at one" with the church, eachother and the world. Much of the event centered around the Millenium Develemental Goals set for by the UN (and adopted as a part of the mission of this church) to accomplish goals such as gender equalization, the reduction of the carbon footprint, allow natural resources to last longer and combating the aids crisis. These issues effect us all. We are at one with them on this planet. And as God's people we are at one with eachother and must fix these issues for the betterment of all people and thus following the commandment of our Lord to love our neighbors. During the event we had a choice of worships to attend. I attended a workshop on Fundementalism in Christianity. I felt it was approiate to gain insight on how our more conservative breathren think and follow their theology, esspecially since I was raised Pentecostal and considering the area were I live. Saturday night we all watched the documentary "For the Bible tells me so" which has case studies of individuals and their families who were raised in the church and were gay or lesbian. After the film was done, tears were running down the cheecks of many who were present. Myself include. After the screening, we had a Service of Light Eucharist where we each lit eachothers candle from Candle of the Blessed Sacrament. Pastor Joel preached on the beatitudes and how Jesus started his ministry by blessing and how we ought to take that blessing and extend it to the world. Before the Eucharist, we were invited to come to the high altar for prayer and healing for anything we needed. Nearly everyone went. The priest and chaplains were very sincere and gave the most long and personal blessing. It was very moving. Those seated sang various Taize Chants and were led by a flute duet. In this moment, I felt "at one" with my fellow peers, and wider church. Everyone present had a wonderful time. The only disapointment was when we were all taken to the airport and caught our flights home.I most look forward next years gathering, and for the national gathering in December.

Good Fridday Refelections 3/22/08

For the longest time, I never understood how the death of Christ works and atones for our sins. I always believed, of course. Even C.S. Lewis said that just as man eats his meals knowing it is good for him no matter what science supports, so is the believing in the Mystery of our Salvation no matter if it makes sense or not, we know it works. As I reflected on the Good Friday lessons and looked at the cross that Christ died on and prayed, I thought about death. What it is, what it means, and how it makes sense in the big picture.

Death is essential in life and unavoidable. It marks the end of a life and recalls the beginning and all the time spend between. It is perhaps the largest event in life in which all mortal men will face. It is a universal symbol in all cultures which marks the twisted idea that in death, there is rebirth and new life. Whether it being reincarnation, or a life in the world to come, we as humans are deeply impacted by the ending of life in a very sacramental way.

In most cultures and religions, the spilling of blood is what often makes death transform into new life. Rituals which emphasize this are some of earliest man has practiced and is nearly universal. What can explain this phenomenon? Did our early primitive ancestors come up with the idea and it spread across the worlds and across the seas? I think not. Rather than being an ancient religious trend which survived today, it is a part of which is imbedded in all human behavior and endeavor. Just like religion itself, we know in our sixth senses and third eyes that the death and spilling of blood is essential for new life.

After the God of the Hebrews delivered Moses and the Hebrews out of Egypt he established a covenant where YHWH would be their God and they would be his chosen people and would follow the laws set before them. And once a year a high priest would stand before God in the temple and sacrifice an unblemished and perfect lamb on the behalf the of the people that theirs sins of being unable to keep the law would atone for.

The entire Old Testament, in a nutshell, is a number of stories how the chosen people would not keep God’s Laws and would call them to repent. A number of times God would not accept their sacrifices due to their resistance to him. And thus they remained in their sins.

Though God how wrathful he may be in delivering his people to their enemies is also shown through out scripture God to be slow to anger, quick to forgive, and full of mercy and love. God knew that Israel, let along the whole population of the world, was not capable of keeping his law and atoning for their sins.

God knowing this, Incarnated himself into the Virgin Mary that he would be born a mortal. Fully man, yet fully God. Jesus as God’s begotten knew why he was sent. To yet again repeat the words of the prophets of repentance and to bring back those who had broken Gods law. The only deferences, God was preaching to his own people face to face and the message of the law was summorized: to love.

In animal sacrifice, the means are temporal and profane. The affects they had only changed the soul so much and God could reject them. God in his love knew he would have to do it himself. Just as the highest and most perfect priest would represent the people and sacrifice a lamb to God for the forgiveness of sins, so did Jesus represent the whole population of the earth and sacrifice himself as a lamb for the reconciliation between the profane and the cosmos.

The word “sacred” is closely tied to the word “desecrate” or “defile” (or “poop” on). Jesus, being fully man, and yet fully God was desecrated in the worst way possible at the time. Being whipped by leather lashes with pieces of sharp rocks and glass in them, and having hands and feet nail to a piece of unstable wood, pulling on your pierced limbs in order to breath. In the death of the absolute sacred, God himself; came new life, and the sacrifice was perfect and complete. God alone knows how and why this law and pattern of the spilling of blood and death gives new life and forgiveness, but it works.

Of course, if Jesus had just died and that was the end of the story; then we would have no idea if his death was actually worth anything and if mankind was really reconciled unto God. It would be a normal death and shedding of blood which brought forth the means of nothing. However, the death of Christ the Sacred brought forth the new life in his resurrection from the dead, the ultimate miracle of miracles as a sign that the sacrifice was complete and our sins no longer kept us from God’s presence.

A lot of people think that the idea of death for life is primitive, ancient, non-practical, and ubsurd. And they are most right. It is ubsurd. It can't be be proven with means of modern methods of science and the results can't nessesarily be seen. But, so is all of religion in general. A person can't simply take an idea out of its context and expect it to make sense. In it's own context, it fits. Having all this in mind, makes me appreciate the coming Easter. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Will come again. Our sins are forgiven. Alleluia!