Monday, November 24, 2008

Theology of Being - A Dream of Flowers

A Dream:

And the flower, having danced its dance, having connected with what it is to be a wild prairie flower, having grappled fully the contrast between simply fulfilling a destiny of the subjective self and taking up the seat of being to dwell completely in its existence as a flower, one finds (for the sake of metaphor) that the glinting streams of spring’s light are fading as a new and boding aspect of its being harbors on its brink - death and winter see their way to the horizon like a viper sliding on ice.

And, as if you the reader, were actually in some grand dream – slipping from consciousness to consciousness, the scene changes. One no longer stares at the flower in the wind. One no longer sees the onset of winter. So, as the glinting light of Spring fades into the cold and daunting pervasiveness of death, darkness and nothing else are the only things that can be seen for but a moment, when suddenly the first flickers of light begin to shade this abscence, this negative space, like sparklers on parade, and what begins as simply a fervent and yet erratic spark gives way to blindness of a different sort – to overwhelming light. The only thing perceivable is that rustling of cloth and the padding of bare feet as they take their steps onto rock and dust. You are aware. You think, and you are.

Your awareness reveals to you two men, seemingly full of vitality, sitting calmly at either end of the bed in which the Crucified Christ once lain; the guarding cherubim of that sacred place where God dwelt; the form of that to which was cast of gold atop the sacred Ark of the Covenant. When the eyes, finally adjusted to the awareness of light and following the foot tracks made in the dust, dart up to the entrance of the tomb and out to the bare and scarred back of the true king of Israel framed by the doorway, breathing in the fresh air of the garden, and soaking in the praise due him by even a single blossom, one realizes that he is witnessing the single most anticipated event in the entirety of creation. The king is ascending his throne. It is a procession. Christ, once crowned with thorns, walks amongst the praising creatures of his new and marvelous tabernacle; his new and marvelous creation; his renewed, impervious, and marvelous body. And one can almost hear the very grass and all of nature in their seemingly silent effigy screaming at him from every corner of the earth, “Hosanna! Hosanna!”

He turns to make eye contact, smirks and winks subtly, lowers his head as if waiting for an applause to quiet itself before some great inauguration, turns once more to admire this exploding newness, and then he passes. He moves out of the framing door and into the wild in order to will and to act in the manner He sees fit; in order to breathe life into everything; in order to let heaven intersect with earth; in order to let this new and Romantic tabernacle of nature release the thick curtains of dogma that man and creature might dwell with and in the risen Christ; that humanity might realize the words of Paul when he tells it that one can take up this seat of newness as well participating - one in BEING with the risen and victorious Christ - in this resurrection here and now as if heaven itself were descending upon Jerusalem; in order to free humanity up to BE those trifling humans He has made them to be.

And suddenly, the dream makes sense. The reader sees that the flower is real. One sees that the flower is a metaphor. The flower, caught up in the winds of its being, reveals itself and the human, and this tension is not merely a Socratic juggling of words but a real mystery in which one can “work out [his] own salvation [,]” and yet realize that “God is at work in [him as well], both to will and to work for his good pleasure”( RSV phil 2.12-13). And it makes sense that what philosophers can only gawk at with their existentialist jargon was the Christian message all along – that we ARE, and that is okay; That we ARE, and God loves us; that we ARE, and God continues to work in us; that we ARE perfect, because Christ, who is our being, is perfect; that we ARE, and Christ not only “saved” us from sin but put to death, like a sweeping Passover cloud, any manner in which we might be found blemished; that we ARE participants of this new creation, and we can walk with confidence in the positions of honor given us by the Almighty creator, just as no attention was given to the proverbial stains of the prodigal as he took his seat of honor at his father’s table; we ARE free…we are free to once more walk quietly with our God in the freshness of Eden and to drink coolly the river waters of a real spiritual life unbound by those nooses of religio-systemic squawkings.

God reveals to us the flower. God reveals to us our being. God reveals to us himself.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Juarez Reflection: An Ink Blotch

As the steam rises from a boiling pot of the sweet milky drink in this Mexican school kitchen, an elderly lady the people call Herman Santa (or “The Holy Sister”) meshes the corn flour mixture with her moist hands, preparing the gorditas for lunch that day. She hums a Spanish love song to herself in the absence of a radio, and the other women buzz languidly about the kitchen, setting their stations for the hordes of kids that would soon bombard the cafeteria for lunch. The smell of cooking meat, the heat of the propane powered stoves, and the chattering women give way to a feeling of normalcy and rightness as the morning overtakes this simple block and concrete lunch room.

A small cat passes by the barred window that allows the early morning light to stream through, and as it peers into the kitchen with its tail flicking from side to side; a sense of calm presides over the kitchen like a cosmic blanket settling lightly on fresh sheets. Then, its head jerks suddenly hissing as it turns to flee, and a flock of pigeons take flight agitatedly. The harsh whip of a military helicopter, with its high caliber rifle manned and at the ready, blows pass the school and its surrounding neighborhood darkening the room as its turbine wings wheel through the air daunting and low– circling and circling.

While I sit quietly cleaning the dishes and hoping for the return of day, my mind can’t escape the image of a grand and masterful painting with an ink blotch on it.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Juarez Reflection: I Saw A Storm...

I saw a storm. It was not at a distance, and its green hue shaded everything. I think, if I were to have focused on it, it would have been violent and tumultuous. I would imagine it in a snapshot, and there would be a young woman shivering in its midst, gripping her arms as she huddles into herself trying to find protection from the cold. Her hair would have been slowly dancing like a young virgin upon a pagan altar, and my entire being would have felt a cold shiver of upheaval, rebellion, in the dark presence of this storm. But, this is not the terror that haunts this dream. This is not the terror that stalks me even in the daylight…

Three men descend, resolved, from the dusty Mexican hill. An older man sits with his hands in his lap, enjoying a cigarette, letting his taped cane rest against his crooked knee, and his eyes are shifting slowly like the dangling rain clouds of a summer prairie storm; like a caged beast, hoping to break free his cast iron chains to dine a succulent jugular. My eyes wander back to the three men, and the blue bandana that one of them wears, sears into my mind. I turn to my companion in the truck to continue our chat. We have just pulled up, in the newest truck of our fleet, to the bottom of our hill in the impoverished landscape of the Juarez barrio. My mind is clouded by the warnings of my bias; I try to quiet the stereotypes in my mind, convincing my psyche to let go of the initial negative thoughts I had of the three men; I try to find the grace with which my Father views them – inviting them to dine on the supple Eucharist feast. I have only a moment to transgress these thoughts before the blue bandana blinds my vision as he flings open the cracked door of my traveling companion. He makes certain to cock the handgun he is pointing at us as he screams in Spanish for us to exit the vehicle. A hand seizes my wrist as one of the three opens my door to usher me out.

My companion and I sit dumbfounded breathing the carbon-monoxide of our truck as it speeds away. We head up the hill slowly as we try to catch our breath. The old man sits grinning and silent. He catches our eye and nods as the flash in his eye mimics the fierce tempest within him; there is a hole in the fence and this beast shakes free his chains to feast.

The harsh dry air, filled with that satiating dust, sears my lungs as the passing light of the bright and brilliant day gleams out from the setting sun. Time fades as the dark radiance of the blue bandana sets itself through terror into my psyche, and my spirit longs for the time when the tapping of my heart could find a peaceful tune of pattering rain; in which this fear would pass and it could once more see a stilled portrait of death and smile.