Wednesday, August 4

Prodigal Son Ballet, Barren Trees, and Other Thoughts

Lenten Reflection:

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven."

-Matthew 5:17-19


Centering prayer today with brief lectio.  Three things come to mind…

Jesus teaches that we are to fulfill the law and the prophets.  That again is Torah and speaking truth to power.  And as Karen so accurately pointed out in a comment several days ago, Jesus encapsulates faithfulness to Torah and to the prophets. Perhaps that is what some of us need.  To see someone actually put these principles and beliefs into practice.  In so many ways I think the three Abrahamic faiths are saying the same darn thing but to different learning styles.  It would be very interesting (said in my best German accent) to do a psychological study of converts to the three faiths and to determine what their learning styles are and how it correlates to the practices.  Hmmm…  Shh, monkey mind.

Our focus this week is on humility.  Maybe the image of God as parent believer as child is that because of humility or humbleness.  When we grow up, we typically don’t become so overjoyed that when we see someone, a dear friend, a long absent mother or father, that we run across the room and throw ourselves into their arms laughing and sobbing.  The only time we see anything close to this abandonment of decorum is when we see some soldier’s spouses reunited with their soldier.  And even then, there is a little decorum practiced although the emotion is plain on their faces.  A while ago, I saw the Pacific NW Ballet perform “The Prodigal Son.”  There was this scene where the father sees the son finally and the son goes to the father and throws himself into the father’s arms.  The father curls the son up like a child and holds and comforts him.  It is a beautiful moment.  The only way we can curl up and take total refuge in the divine is by laying down our pride, our attachment to self, and to practice humility.

Barren Trees
Barren Trees Preparing for Life

Last, I was left with the image of a brick structure and a barren tree during the contemplation process.  Let me see if I can accurately describe it.  There is this place in Owego, NY, where the buildings are very close together lining the streets.  In one small spot, there is an opening to drive through that is essentially a brick tunnel to access the parking that is behind all the buildings.  So that is the brick structure I was seeing.  I was in the tunnel seeing brick on both sides and overhead.  Almost creating a frame.  And at the exit, there was a beautifully strong tree in the season of winter.  No leaves, just resting.  However, humbly reaching to the sky and offering its nakedness to the world.  Taking rest from the world during this season and preparing for the fullness of its glory to come.  Hmm.  I am sure there are some creative juices running around in this somewhere.  It is a rich metaphor for the cycles of life.  The times when we are not so adorned.  The times when we are simply preparing.  The times we need to be noticed.

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