“When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field, I’ll meet you there.” — Rumi.
The Methodist church in our rural village recently voted out a young, [celibate] lesbian, political progressive with a strong commitment to service and community.
The new pastor is an older, white Evangelical male.
It took me months to show up again, after our Brené Brown quoting, Bible is not infallible, meaning inspired, hell is a modern construction, loving all and excluding none female was ousted.
(One afternoon I visited during her office hours, we enjoyed a long talk, I told her about my work, and she empathized without flinching and said, “there must be a lot of stigma you must deal with.”)
Here’s an important back story to this entry: a childhood friend is a rabid evangelical, and her conspiracy laden, 45 loving world view is dismal to say the least.
Apocalyptic, to be precise.
Years ago, she attended a church in Manhattan, where she now lives, and she mellowed and found supportive connections, until the message included upending the status of same-sex partnerships.
She left the congregation, and her spiral into extremism and conspiracies has escalated.
She’s a victim, a persecuted Christian.
So I hold her as a great teacher: the ego loves being right, it relishes victimhood, and works hard to create stories that have little to do with anything.
I don’t want to be that person.
Love binds. Ego separates.
I don’t want to be someone who is never wrong, for whom my opinions matter more than my Presence.
This challenges my well-developed ideas of right and wrong. After several stubborn months, I took the situation in my local church as my invitation to re-examine where I am, what I am doing, and to excavate possibilities, instead of closing doors.
Much as I have done under the regime of 45 — an invitation to dig deeper into a more authentic identity, the Self’s limitlessness, letting Presence and awareness flow through me as the change we need.
Closing doors, usually the ego and stasis. Opening possibilities, almost always growth and insight.
So I returned to the congregation, and I was welcomed with an overflow of “oh we missed you so much,” as well as hugs and kisses.
Last week’s sermon was palatable: I made a conscious effort to lift the myopic dogmatism into metaphor.
Yesterday’s message was egregious in most ways. I found myself simply going within and smiling as I often do when dealing with clients carrying pretty heinous imaginative depravity.
Not all clients, but a few, and I am sparing readers the details.
Banality and ugliness: evangelical sermons and aspects of phone sex work, usually two sides of the same imaginative coin: banal and bereft of intimacy’s possibilities, a rat wheel of empty mind chatter that self-satisfies.
There’s no misnomer to say that both are masturbatory, in the word’s most pejorative sense.
(I use the word lightly, because like whore, it assumes connotations that are socially conditioned.)
As I have written before, be careful about asking for wisdom, you’ll become a sex worker, at least for a short period.
For one navigates ambiguities that few are comfortable with but are necessary if one is to break our cultural myths and find a deeper well of Being.
Similarly, be guarded in asking to serve. Sunday morning, I’m listening to a well-meaning old white man who really seems to care, but is ignorant and short-sighted, probably a 45 supporter, spew what are essentially Jesus or hell, turn or burn theologies wrapped in faux Methodist intellectual humility.
He kept telling our small congregation that he was simplifying “very complex ideas” (thanks, that’s a problem for me), and all I can think about is the morning meditation reading I did which talked about complexity being the ego’s favorite playground.
Life is a choice between fear or love, in any given moment.
That’s pretty much it.
Life is simple — “consider the lilies of the field.”
The complexities we create are usually less about our real circumstances than the beliefs given to us, and into we’ve situated ourselves and our source of identity.
I smiled and nodded.
Because my showing up isn’t about the church or this pastor. It’s about keeping my heart and mind supple and open as I practice awareness, love, authenticity, and Presence.
Yes, it would have been nice to have a young, progressive female with a strong, sharp mind and huge heart.
But I have already learned more about myself and my path under these less than ideal pastoral conditions. I said “no” to being right. Don’t know where this community relationship will lead or for how long. But I did what I needed to do, because I am a heretical mystic, breaking down the seen and discovering the Beautiful unseen.
That requires letting go of ideas of right and wrong in service to Love.
What struck me vividly and intensely as I sat in the pew and shifted my focus from the words being said to my inner light was: “You take your miracles with you.”