Today’s “aha!”comes from a January reflection from CAC
…One of the most familiar of Jesus’ teachings is “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31, Matthew 22:39). But we almost always hear that wrong: “Love your neighbor as much as yourself.” (And of course, the next logical question then becomes, “But I have to love me first, don’t I, before I can love my neighbor?”) If you listen closely to Jesus however, there is no “as much as” in his admonition. It’s just “Love your neighbor as yourself”—as a continuation of your very own being. It’s a complete seeing that your neighbor is you. There are not two individuals out there, one seeking to better herself at the price of the other, or to extend charity to the other; there are simply two cells of the one great Life. Each of them is equally precious and necessary. And as these two cells flow into one another, experiencing that one Life from the inside, they discover that “laying down one’s life for another” is not a loss of one’s self but a vast expansion of it—because the indivisible reality of love is the only True Self.
Love my neighbor as myself — that is ultimate connection. Lately I’ve been dealing with some personal interactions that are making that goal extremely difficult. I don’t even want to think of this woman as my neighbor, much less to love her. She’s done her best to make my life miserable. And, she seems to have no regret, or even acknowledgment of the pain she has caused. This is going to be a tough one. After all she seems to be saying that it’s all my fault and even after I made a sincere apology she is still out for blood.
My first step is to spend at least a part of Lent praying for her. Even that is rather difficult. I know it is necessary, but not in any way easy.
I read the numbers and understand that so many of my generation, and even more of those who follow behind, no longer attend church or ascribe to a particular faith. I, myself, while still attending mass on a regular basis, find that I feel estranged in many ways from “church.” It’s not estranged from God/Jesus/Spirit, but from this whole organized church thing. I find much peace, strength and connection through yoga, and reflecting on daily emails from CAC (Richard Rohr’s daily reflections) and from a small group of women who meet weekly to share our walk through life.
There was a time when “church” was a center point in my life. I’ve learned much, loved much, grown much through Christian community. Ah! That might be it — What I can’t seem to find in church these days is Christian Community. Perhaps I have simply withdrawn.
Recent reflections from Richard Rohr have brought to my attention “the great comma” in the Apostle’s Creed. In the creed there one says “born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate.” That comma is Jesus’s life here on earth where he walked among people and showed the way. I’m far more interested in the comma than what comes before and after. The birth and death, to me are not nearly as useful to me as what came between. One can certainly state (and believe) the words of the Creed (Apostles and Nicene) but never be transformed by the example shown in the comma.
I think the Church and society would do well to dwell on the comma more that the phrases around it. For example, when I come to my yoga mat for a practice, the focus is not what faith or creed I might follow. The focus is on the present: how does this body feel, am I anxious, just be in this moment and see where I am. Be. Listen. A good instructor (with a small class) can give pointers on alignment without judgement about how bad you are for not being in the best alignment. Encouragement to shift a bit closer to the goal if your body allows. Oh — and acknowledgement that people are built differently and will not all shape up the same way. Wow! What if the church took that approach?
What if the Catholic Church changed its tune about Communion? Maybe viewing it as Food for the Journey that should be offered to all who desire it? A gentle touch to help one get into right alignment? A chance to be in the Presence of a great teacher who showed the Way instead of a reward for checking off all the boxes of belief and external behavior. Something to receive when one is lost, or unsure as well as thanksgiving for the gift it offers. Then, perhaps, there would be a place for healing and transformation and a new way of looking at the world.
As John Lennon might have said: “you say that I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one…”
A few months ago, we dropped cable TV and picked up Direct TV (satellite). In the process, the Food Network has provided a wonderland of entertainment. One of the more interesting types of shows are those such as Iron Chef America and Chopped! where the contestants/chefs are presented with specific foodstuff or odd-ball collection of foods and must create dishes “real fast now.” It can be quite interesting, to say the least.
This morning before mass (I’m on for 2 masses this weekend), my attention was drawn to an article in the NY Times – Finding Purpose in Serving the Needy, Not Just Haute Cuisine about trained chefs who work in homeless shelters. These shelters receive random shipments of donated food. The ultimate “challenge” in Food Network terminology. Hmmm… how to make dinner from 600 pounds of bologna and 20 flats of Orange Crush. Oh – and it has to be healthy and tasty.
More difficult, but not totally out of the arena of “what’s for dinner tonight?” when you haven’t been to the grocery store lately, or you have a neighbor who has an abundance of zucchini that has been left on your doorstep.Â Or even how the creativity required at the end of the month to send a child off to school with a lunch and your have only a hotdog bun and peanut butter as starters, and no cash to buy his lunch or go to the store until tomorrow.
There are many lessons to be learned from these situations — not so easy, but so necessary for survival.
In the end, you discover that at least one of these Homeless Shelter chef’s (who left a life of cooking in a high level Napa Valley restaurant) sees a bit of the feast of Corpus Christi every day when his consumers sit at the table and share not only the physical food he has prepared, but the spiritual food that comes of the sharing, the faith, and the interaction at the table. Both types of food are essential, and both are comfort food.
I was poking around on Susan’s blog rereading her post on an attitude of gratitude – or being grateful for the little things. I’ve tried to cultivate that attitude. And in the past few days I’ve been grateful for some “little things” that aren’t so little. These are the phone calls to check with me about how I’m doing with something that has caused me anxiety. Just quick chats to let me know that somebody cares, that someone is praying, that someone just wants to let me know that they are there.
These things might seem like small things. But when I acknowledge them, and give thanks for them, they grow and they make a change in me. It’s kind of funny – it’s not just the gift, it’s the receiving as well.
Hmmm… now to go out and practice being grateful.
I wish I had recorded the homily Saturday night — I keep trying to review it and remember the wonder of the words. The feast of Corpus Christi – the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. A reflection on just what that means.
As I attempt to comprehend another “body” that I belong to comes to mind…
I am an Auburn grad. I left and came back to work at the University 24 years ago. One could see Auburn as the buildings, the grounds, the town. That’s not what the word means to me. It’s more than the physical plant. We are a body: those of us who are a part of “Auburn” share a piece of our lives with each other and with the whole. On TV, you see football (or baseball or maybe swimming). But that’s not quite it.
My mother used to observe that just saying the word “Auburn” would evoke a faraway look – that there was something special about the place.
We worked and/or studied together. We shared ourselves. We travel all over the world and when we see the telltale signs ( a ball cap or a logo on a t-shirt or a car tag) most of us look at each other and say “War Eagle!” We represent the school in all manner of things and we identify with it. We follow our sports teams. We represent the school in our work, our research and in our trying to convince new, young recruits to join us. We even have a creed. Look around the campus on a Saturday afternoon in the fall and you see folks gathered for tailgating – just to be in the same space with each other (there are far more tailgaters than game attendees – and that’s a lot of folks.)
And how does this relate to Corpus Christi? The Body of Christ is so much more than just the human who walked the earth – more than his bones and muscles and blood. That man is the linchpin, but he commanded us to “take and eat” – to join in this Life. One would never expect a University community to be willing to do anything it took, including death, to show its love for us. But he did. When we celebrate this Body and Blood, we remember that we are a part of his body, that we are his body for all the world to see. We are many parts. We have different gifts. We are a part of his body. Each of us important. We come to the table: caucasian, african, asian, latino (and any combination),wealthy, poor, healthy and infirm, academically gifted and not so great at school and we stand as equals. We know that he is with us and we join him. One can only hope that when we see each other in the world, and see the telltale signs, that we too are called to greet each other with “Peace!” and we are called to show this to the world so as to encourage new recruits to join us.