From Grief to Power

A friend was offering a sermon on his birthday yesterday, dwelling on the contradiction between his grief over all the things that we are losing in this era, and the joy he finds in seeing his community interacting. When I had the opportunity to speak, I offered:

Grieving is the prequel to the opening of the door of our heart to a spirit that would otherwise be lost.

That opening is not easy, because the expression of Darwinian selfishness has left so many of them traumatized. But once they have settled in to the experience of being cherished, they look back into the world they have departed and reach out to those left behind, giving them assurance, strength and guidance.

“They” are trees, flowers, fish, birds, mice, whales, children: anything living that is being displaced by a disappearing or polluted ecosystem.

Over the years my conscious welcoming has gathered quite an entourage around me. From that community of displaced souls I draw my power, power that is expressed in the t-shirt I started wearing six months ago to dance celebrations. Across the shoulders are a right and left hand framing a head and a heart. The words are:

Angel Gateways

They just want to be friends.
Please play nicely.

Filling the Holy Spirit

In Love Works, I have a short section called “Hat Trick” in which I explain the Trinity. The only subtlety is the Holy Spirit.

I have to start here: we are God’s medicine for the world. It might be hard to see, because our Darwinian programming coupled with the strength of our minds makes us incredibly powerful predators. We are the fourth of Daniel’s beasts – the huge monster that devours all before it with our iron machines. But we have been wearing down our Darwinian impulses and subjecting them to the discipline of love. It’s a slow process, in human terms, but when seen against the background of a billion years of creatures that came before us: we’ve made enormous progress over the last 30,000 years.

The reason love wins is because, where predators turn on each other after their prey is consumed, those that love stick together. They take refuge in Christ, who had the strength to be consumed by sin and yet continued to love. It is in his sacred heart that spirits that love find refuge from sin. From that refuge, as the Holy Spirit they dispense wisdom – the insights gained from their practical experience of loving – to those still trying to shed their attachment to sin.

Sister Gloria picked the parable of the Good Samaritan for our contemplation this week. During the discussion, several people mentioned that when confronted with the call to offer mercy and compassion to a troubled soul, they resisted, thinking “Well, you’re only getting what you deserve.”

As I see it, though, those are the most valuable moments for the Holy Spirit. The impulse to offer compassion and mercy is the Holy Spirit saying to us: “Yes, this troubled person represents a powerful pattern of destructive behavior. Bring us near to them. Be our eyes and ears, our hands and feet, so that we can learn how to bring strength to them.”

Every person that falls and is redeemed blazes a trail through human nature. They create a nexus in time that reaches out through the Holy Spirit to others facing the same struggles.

We sometimes fail to offer mercy and compassion because we are have been convinced by the materialists that only clothing and feeding is important. Ultimately, though, those things are meaningful only in that they bring the spirit closer to salvation, and thus a return to the place of our origin.

If you don’t have the means to solve the material problems (and that’s becoming true for more and more of us), don’t discount that power of mercy and compassion. Mercy and compassion bring the Holy Spirit close to those in need, helping them find the strength to resist destruction, and tendering hope that helps them seize the initiative in their lives. When we call it close in moments of need, the Holy Spirit burnishes our souls, preparing us for full citizenship in the kingdom in which love reigns.

Looking Ahead

It’s such a beautiful experience, moving through a crowd of gentle people, and then getting hooked on life, stretching out a hand and feeling the pulse of the Amazon, caressing the Andes and then making the leap from Tierra del Fuego to Cape Hope, gently cupping the Congo and pausing before merging into the thrum of Ethiopia. Stuck there, I reached across with the other hand and felt the rainforests of Southeast Asia, roamed over the Russian tundra, and then slowly squeezing inward around the pustule that is the Middle East, soaking it with the healing energy of life and love.

And later she said, hesitantly “It seems that it’s going to get worse.”

“I’m afraid that is what I see, too.”

With the air of one surrendering innocence, she hazarded “But it’s not going to affect people like us.”

I had to look away, trying to find a formulation that did not take air out of the joy she was sharing with me. “Well, in order to bring healing, we have to make a diagnosis. That means getting close enough to feel their pain.”

It’s the last hurrah of selfishness. It knows it, and so figures there’s nothing to lose.

As Matt Maher promises in “Hold Us Together”:

It’s waiting for you knocking at your door
In the moment of truth when your heart hits the floor

And you’re on your knees

And love will hold us together
Make us a shelter to weather the storm
And I’ll be my brother’s keeper
So the whole world will know that we’re not alone