o death, where is your sting

my lectio time with god continues to enlighten me. it is true that god sings
life into being through the word.

today’s passage, obscure as it was to me, is the passage which contains the
infamous ‘o death, where is your sting’ within the ‘assigned reading’ of 1
corinthians 15:51-58. i suspect this is probably the passage that those who
believe in the literal truth of the rapture quote, where some don’t have to
enter into death before being raised, but are taken directly, in a flash, into
the kingdom of god. (the perishable are clothed in an instant in the imperishable)

but this is what i heard. i heard that not everything in me must die in order
for the christ in me to be revealed. some aspects of my humanity will simply be transformed. they will take on the mantle of the infinite. they will be the very material through which love takes form in this world. as if love will come and wrap itself around my very humanness and use it to make itself visible here.

for a simple instance, take my sensitivity to the feelings of others. this part
of my humanity that has learned to be attuned to the emotional energy of the other. this i may have learned in my life’s journey in order to protect myself, i suppose, in order to ward off anger, rejection, etc. the ‘problem’ with this vulnerable aspect of my humanity is that i have used this gift to blame myself for the other person’s feelings, to be vigilant (putting out fires all around me), to fix things, etc.

what i am hearing in today’s passage though, is that the sensitivity, the
vigilance, the attunement, the heart knowing, need not perish in me. the ways in which i have believed false things about myself or my inappropriate sense of responsibility may need to die, but the tenderness of my heart can be used for good. it can be the form around which spirit wraps itself in order to make itself visible. that which must die (my wounded responses) can be ‘swallowed up’ by christ who can use my sensitivity to make Love real here in this place.

my humanity is gift to god, is nourishment for God. it is as if my very
experience of life is the fuel for the flame of love…like the sun i read
about in brian swimme’s book this summer, which moved me so much but i didn’t know why, where he talks about the sun burning itself up. it uses up its very physical form in gift. i remember when i read it wondering how i am using this form that i am in this particular life, how i am burning up this life, how the energy that i contain is being passed along, is transformative somehow.

yesterday, i spent some time with the text where jesus raises lazarus from the dead. what struck me in the passage was mary’s humanity. her staying true to the experience of her heart, its sorrow and grief, its lament and despair. i felt her falling at jesus’ feet the same as if don had walked into the funeral home where i had been alone dealing with my grief…the outpouring of what had been contained, the opening of her heart, her intense vulnerability of her humanity. what i noticed was how her emotion moved jesus, almost as if it awakened compassion in him. and this made me think of how important it is to be fully present to my own feelings…be they grief or sorrow, joy or hope… to be fully vulnerable to life.

i thought of the gift of welcoming prayer. how it is teaching me to be fully present to what is within my heart…and so is awakening compassion in me and aligning my heart with christ’s.

then i noticed that it wasn’t until this opening occurred that lazarus, the
brother of mary…the masculine to her feminine heart…came forth from the
tomb where he had been buried. and i pondered the masculine in me and pondered how it is that the key to opening that door is being fully present to and receptive of my heart. being receptive to my experience in the moment….not in a doing kind of way at all, but in a open kind of way.

i think about how it is that i was first opened to the presence of god within
the whole of life as i began to see the presence of God within my own life’s
experience. and the way it is that i have been called to be present and
receptive to God within each experience, within each moment, within each aspect of creation. the way i have witnessed God infusing life with Godself. the way i have come to recognize both the creativity and the struggle, the terrible beauty, of God within this physical world. all these ways that i have received the God around me and within me. this is a large part of my ‘all is well’..this seeing of God….this infinite consciousness.

but i am wondering now about this ‘Being Presence’ which is rising from its
grave in me…which is different in quality than ‘Being Present’… and i
wonder if at times the ‘all is well’ does not also in its own way bury
something. the seeing only god can become its own numbing of life as it can
overwhelm the very real experience of humanity (which doesn’t always feel so well). and it is this very humanity which is so vital to God’s becoming

this is just one more place where duality seems to be fading for me. both my
humanity and my divinity are necessary, vital, in order for love to be poured out.

my very humanity, (or my finite consciousness) is called then to wrap itself in the veil of God…the imperishable and immortal from the corinthians
passage….to let God take form, to wear and bear God into this place through
the vulnerabilyt of my very humanness. the marriage is so real. the union of
humanity and divinity, of the feminine and the masculine. they are not separate aspects of me, or of God, but are truly One.

cynthia bourgeault suggests that the most difficult thing jesus did while he was living was not at all the ‘passion’ (dying is the easy part) but taking on the
form of humanity, becoming finite. the incarnation, now that was the really
hard part. being real. being human. and divine. at on(c)e.

so to let my humanity die (my sensitivity, my heart knowing, my feelings, etc) is to miss the point (and the sacrament, the gift) of life. it is to not make
my life holy. but to be here fully, to feel fully, to be present to it all, is
to let my very humanity express God into being. it is to be alive. it is to Be
Presence here in this place.  it is to make my very life a sacrament (the
outward and visible sign of an inward grace), a place of divine
self-communication, nourishment and fuel for love. it is to become holy.

ps. i have pulled out the pages of the bourgeault book which i was recalling/integrating as i wrote this.

a couple of quotes from it are below

on being vulnerable—“the real miracle, the true crucifixion, was for the
infinite consciousness to come into the finite world in the first place. jesus
came with a dangerously ‘unboundaried heart’ that left him defenseless against the hard edges of this world.” (this mirrors my understanding during lectio that it was mary’s unfettered heart that brought compassion to life)

‘Christianiy holds a vision of God in full solidarity with the conditions of the
created world, fully at home with the conditions of finitude, so that form
itself imposes no impediment to divinity.’

life is “a bringing the hidden into full expression. could it be that this
earthly realm, not in spite of but because of its very density and jagged
edges, offers precisely the conditions for expression of certain aspects of
divine love that could become real in no other way.”

Sufi quote, “I was a hidden treasure and I loved (in order) to be known’. yes.

finally, Dylan Thomas, ‘Time held me green and dying, though i sang in my chains like the sea’

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