May 4, 2007

Clear Your Temple

I've been having a moment. A moment of seeings and dialog. I guess it came out of the one discipline I took back with me from the cabin. Writing. Well I haven’t been writing on the book every day, because I started a writing project for DirecTV.

But I’ve been journaling and reading the Bible. Quiet Time. I haven’t done this in a long, long time. Back a couple years ago when my entire faith fell apart, I couldn’t read anything in my bible. SO many verses had been underlined through the years, promises I had held onto, rebuke I’d taken to heart, things I believed were for me.

But when I went through that change, I didn’t know what to believe. What if I had read it all wrong? What if I’d just taken total verses out of context that had never been meant for me? i.e. “Judas hung himself … go and do likewise."

Well I sure felt like that was the case. What if it was all the wishful thinking of men. What if God were far more removed? I couldn’t read any of it. Except for the psalms of lament

O Lord, how long o lord will you forget me?
How long o Lord will I look the other way?
How long O Lord must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have such sorrow in my heart?

I guess I’ve come not full circle but most of the way around. Even if some verses had been written by people and for people of a certain time, they reflected God’s character, or even as little as reflecting what seekers have always longed for god.

In Jeremiah, he describes Israel as once having loved God as a bride loves her groom. And then he goes on to describe Israel’s apostasy to a whore going out and laying down for whoever went along. That guy was pretty gritty.

Well, OK, so all this longing I had in my heart, for intimacy with God … maybe it wasn’t for nothing. People for generations have longed for intimacy. Religion means re-ligion. Ligament joining. Re-joining. Getting back to god. Yoga means oneness. So it’s not just me who’s wanted it.

Lectio Divina

The Catholics practice Lectio Divina, where they read the scriptures and try to see it as it happens. Put themselves in the scene. What do you see? That’s what Jeremiah recounts, that God asked him, ‘what do you see?’

So reading John 2, Jesus clears the temple of the people selling junk. Interesting thing in the footnote: the area of the temple where the people were selling animals .. well it was right to sell them, people traveled far and wide to come to the temple, they wanted to bring a bird or a lamb to sacrifice, and these people sold them those things so they didn’t have to haul it with them. Good thing. But here’s the juice. The area they were using was inside the temple courtyard, ‘the area where Gentiles were allowed to pray.

God had provided a place for the heathen, the unchosen, the outsiders, the seekers who weren’t part of the fold, to pray and seek him. How cool is that? We think God was so distant or exclusive, and yet he made a place for them to come and pray and ask.

And what did we do? We filled it with STUFF TO BUY. That’s what Jesus was clearing out. A few verses later he makes that incendiary remark, destroy the temple and I will build it in three days, and then the writer, explains Jesus was referring to his own body.

Well before I got on my high horse and thought, yeah, those OTHER Christian materialists who’ve turned Jesus into a commodity, selling self help books and WWJD jewelry, al THEIR Jesus Junk, … Jesus says his body is the temple. And if it’s true that my body is a temple, so what junk have I got floating around in my courtyard that prevents seekers access to God?

What crap, materialism, self centeredness is clotting up the avenue through which others can get a glimpse of what Jesus is like. If I am a conduit through which God can reach others, bless them, give them hope. What crap have I got in the way?

My friend Chris Myers said that for Lent, God asked him to fast “from your lousy attitude.” Well I think I got that assignment too, and I ignored it. Or rather, I remembered it every time I was in the middle of a bad attitude. Namely driving.

Sure it’s easy for me to sit at the table and write, pray, contemplate how amazing God is and how loved and full I feel.

But then give me the car keys.

Yeah I’ve got stuff to work on. It’s not just driving, it’s some of the people I run into out of the car. Like Whole Food, the place I love to hate. Everyone there seems to be on a path toward enlightenment. NO a beeline to it, and you’re always in their way. OF course I tell myself, I’m IN the store, not OF it.

And then I heard something come up in my head. A word from God or a mantra: Everyone is Jesus. Everyone here is Jesus. Treat everyone here like they were Jesus.

It helped. A lot. And so I went driving home, the new spring sun in the air, trees budding flowers, and, despite the assholes on the road I was able to let a lot of their assholness pass by. And think, everyone is Jesus. And I’m the temple. So clear out the wreckage of my past, and present, out of the temple: me and my thoughts. They’re all Jesus.

I’m getting better. Some days, though, I should just stay at home.


Annina said...

Lectio Divina. I am so non-ritualistic, baptized Catholic by atheist parents (just by virtue of being born in Italy) and never practiced. But oh, what beauty in some of the ritual! I've been attempting Lectio Divina every morning, with more or less success. This morning, with less success, I really needed what you wrote. Thank you.

(And think of the assholes as "assholy." Works for me.)

soulpadre said...

I especially like the Ignatian style of reading you refer to...putting my whole self in the text, as I attempt to put the whole test into me!

Fiddledeedee (It Coulda' Been Worse) said...


I found you through Lori's blog. I'm an OLD friend from Los Angeles. Remember Tom and DeeDee? Friends of Sarah's.

Anyhoo, I'm a fellow blogger, living in Florida. Mostly I write about boogers and poop. Really spiritual stuff, I know.

I'm so glad I found you!

Levydry said...

Well Susan you certainly have got me thinking.What stuff have I cluttered my temple with that is hindering my relationship with God?
After my third divorce in April I have lost interest in spiritual matters and socially I have put myself under "house arrest".So let me start again, when an unlined and unmarked Bible......

Ted and Lori said...

I miss your blog. I know you're busy and all now, but don't forget us poor folks out there without book deals who really like your writing and find your blog inspiring...:)

GravenRecords said...

hey susan
i've been catching up on some of your old writings - glad to hear everything was fine after the fainting. my sister in law fainted recently - it happens sometimes. the key is not to dwell on it too much. if there is something seriously wrong, health-wise, it usually rears its ugly head in a more noticeable way. live your life. i struggle with anxeity a lot too - some days, weeks and months i'm fine and then BANG - meltdown. just take it one day at a time with God and with my amazing wife. glad you have Larry to be with you.

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