My intellectual effort has led to this: a full explanation of the final book of the Bible, John’s Revelation. I am not capable of a deeper expression of my compelling sorrow and hope.
I could get theological regarding the tyranny of the “pro-life” movement. Read Genesis: “God breathed His Spirit into Adam, and made him a living creature.” Thus “Thou shalt not murder” does not translate to “every sperm is sacred,” it means “do not destroy any creature that has been inhabited by My Spirit.”
How do we know whether a little blob of cells has been inhabited by God’s spirit? Well, if you’re taking a strictly legalistic perspective, I’m certain that you don’t. You are actually part of a self-defeating, law-of-natural-consequences demonstration set up by God after the Flood. In effect, “As you won’t listen to me, try making your own laws, hmmm?”
John tells us God is Love. We are the instrument by which God redeems the world. The Savior was explicit: “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of Heaven: what you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” If we do not cast our blessing upon something, it is not inhabited by love.
What I do know is using the penalty of law to force a woman to carry an unwanted child is not loving her. If conceived of rape, such a law is in fact an act of hate speech. And any child born outside of a stable union will be denied love, and live in a world of reduced opportunities. The spirit that God sent into the world might actually prefer to wait until those opportunities are accessible.
God gave us a mind so that we could express creativity – and we should recognize that the only thing that separates creativity from destruction is a loving intention. Children should be brought into the world as an act of loving intention. The law has no influence over that process, and should simply keep its nose out of it. That would be the quickest way to render Roe v. Wade irrelevant.
This month Ecstatic Dance LA starts its seventh year. Next month, I start my seventh decade. That could be an a coincidence, but I find an odd meaning in that parallel.
The Hindus chose seven chakras and the Holy Books have seven days of creation. Understood correctly, the two are related. I look back at the last three decades and I see the chakras progressing through the heart (seat of wellness and social trust), throat (seat of social expression), and third eye (seat of personal realization). Looking forward, I pray that my seventh decade will lead to divine manifestation.
In entering its seventh year, Ecstatic Dance LA has no other path forward. Until January, I made the trip down from Ventura twice a month to join you physically on the dance floor. In February, facing financial ruin and suffering from a premonition that disaster was about to befall us, I stopped. It was only a month later that the doors closed and the dance became a virtual experience.
That may be frustrating for many of you, especially those that rely upon physicality to engage reality. The body has its perks, but also pitfalls. Confronting its dominance during the dance, over the years I did my best to raise consciousness. Sometimes the response was grateful; sometimes incredulous; sometimes hostile.
Ecstatic Dance merges personalities through music and movement. Through physical contact, we facilitate that merger, negotiating control and surrender. If Ecstatic Dance is going to survive, we must see beyond the physical metaphor. We must reach up into the divine realm, knocking humbly at the gates of love, and allow it to temper us as we merge in the realm of spirit.
I hope that you will join me there.
When I dance, I project emotion. Often the expression is of joy or compassion. But over the last two years at Dance Tribe in Santa Barbara, I have been dancing around a woman to whom my heart is compelled to open, and I fall off the cliff into sorrow and grief.
She is graceful and very pretty, and used to being pursued by men on her terms. The benefits of her charms are obvious to her, and she is generous with them in turn. So this grief was alarming to her, and drove her into the arms of a man that she understood.
But we come into orbit when she is there – often she is not, for reasons that I don’t understand. The last time, I projected to her: “You are powerful enough that every motion you make should be a metaphor for healing.” Then two weeks ago I encountered her at a meditation on climate change, and when the masculine rejection came up again, advised her to cultivate serenity.
Yesterday she came in again, and I chose to respond to the negativity that our proximity generates by standing still, or walking out to stand in the sunshine. I projected the thought that I would try to be gentle so that she could find her way to me. She danced with others, but didn’t surrender herself to them. Eventually, we danced slowly around each other, arms and legs tangentially clearing the space, she backing closer and closer to me until she turned and pressed her arm against mine.
Her focus was incredible, a sense of awe in every movement. Twice I teetered again on that abyss, inhaling to hold my breath against the pain. Both times I found her there ahead of me, assuring me “It’s ok. You don’t have to enter through that door. Go this way instead.”
I lifted her up on my shoulders twice, that sweet slide of skin against skin as she descended toward the floor. When the dance was over, she posed in Namaste and looked up at me gently from under her eyelids. I stepped forward to shield her from doubt, and found myself saying:
I’ve missed you so very much.
Not the dancing, though that was wonderful. No, it was a reference to that woman of authority over my heart, the woman I lost so many lives ago, and whose strength and serenity she has inherited as a mantle.
When I finished the exegesis of John’s Revelation, I went around to several local congregations to advertise the work. I went first to the pastor of the church for the Bible study I was attending – a meeting that went so well that I was soon disinvited from the Bible study.
I then went to the Center for Spiritual Living just two buildings down the street. Having read Ernest Holmes’ work, I thought that the ministers there might be receptive to other work that clarified the intentions of Christ. The conversation with the two female leaders was uncomfortable, the energy shifting decidedly when I handed over my business card, turning even more sour when I suggested that “there were certain constraints on the focus of our intention.” On the way home that evening, I was nearly run off the road by a man that I clearly perceived was under their influence.
Oh, boys and girls.
The marketing of the power of intention for our society – whether as “The Secret” or “Spiritual Living” or “Neuro-Linguistic Programming” – tends to treat it as magic. You set your intention, and the “Law of Attraction” brings together the elements that will manifest your desires.
Unfortunately for the neophyte, the management of intention has a lineage that predates even humanity. Among the pre-historic intentional fields we might include “predation” and “lust.” These fields accumulate power by giving those under their control a brief moment of satiation that requires persistent struggle to attain. In every other moment, their subscribers focus intention toward that satiation, making others in their community susceptible to the same urges.
At one time, human society recognized these intentional fields as corrupting personalities – known variously as devils or demons. But the devil’s greatest trick has been convincing us that he doesn’t exist. The sexualization of romantic love follows from the idea that we’re just acting naturally – like all the animals around us. The “dog-eat-dog” culture of high finance is seen as a defense against the testosterone-fueled aggression of our peers. The problem is with other people and the cultures they create, rather than with the sinful intentional fields we inherited from our Darwinian past.
Purging sin was the challenge of monotheism as undertaken by the ancients. Socrates preached that there must be one God, and this was also the conclusion reached by Abram, the father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Both observed that the gods fought among themselves for our attention, forcing upon humanity patterns of behavior that corrupted our societies. So they chose to celebrate one god – a god of higher human intention.
A god that was eventually refined into pure love.
So try not to be distracted by attraction. Yes, it will draw people to you that share your intentions, but when you reach a certain critical mass, you will come to the attention of those ancient animalistic tendencies, and the weight of their power will humble you if you do not take refuge in love.
It’s not magic. There are mechanisms, and the choice of mechanisms is still a choice that binds your soul – even if the devil no longer appears personally before you with a feathered pen and parchment in his hands.
So choose love, and trust that love will choose you. After all, that’s its only purpose.
I have been conscious of the prevalence of twelve in the traditions of Abraham: the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve Apostles, the twelve wives of Mohammad, the twenty-four (twelve masculine and twelve feminine) elders in Revelation, the twelve stars in the crown of the Sacred Mother (in Revelation 12, of course).
Sometimes the individuals have names: the Apostle Peter, or the tribe of Reuben, but the repetition suggested to me that there was a through-line, something in common that linked the individuals. As the twelves are sacred, I thought of those links as virtues.
But what are they?
This came to the forefront yesterday as I flew out to Fort Lauderdale. The image that had been developing, over the last week, was to bless the students by creating the shelter described in Revelation 21 and 22: the New Jerusalem whose gates are guarded by the twelve masculine elders and within which the twelve feminine elders distribute the Waters of Life. I wanted to drape that aggregate over the school, allowing the students to focus on healing.
To organize such energies, the mystics needs names. Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, offered such a list. There’s no reason for it to correlate with the masculine virtues, but every time the problem comes up, the list comes to mind. So yesterday, on the plane from Phoenix to Fort Lauderdale, I decided to run with it.
In the invocation that follows, the philosophy behind the word choice is that every virtue is a gift that brings choice – particularly the masculine virtues that generate change. Each pairing below, then, ties the first masculine virtue with the goal that allows the feminine virtues to permeate our lives.
I offered the first version of the invocation last night. The campus is accessible only on two sides, so I wasn’t able to walk the entire perimeter. Passing traffic was a distraction, and my concentration was interrupted by contrary thoughts (“This is meaningless” and “You’re not going to change our culture”). Thoughts need time to focus, though, and I worked over dinner to memorize the list, and refined it last night before falling asleep.
I developed a serious back spasm on the plane yesterday, and went to bed resolving that I would go back to the school when I woke up. That came to pass at 5 AM, and I was back at the school around 5:30. I played some music first, and then walked along the front of the campus, reeling somewhat under the weight of grief. Then I walked back to the entrance and addressed the moon, low over the opposite horizon. The Lady who rests her feet there united her intentions with mine as I spoke these words:
Let those that are Trustworthy,
support Trust, in which Love flourishes.
Let those that are Loyal,
support Unity, from which Love builds strength.
Let those that are Helpful,
support Compassion, whereby Love sustains virtue.
Let those that are Friendly,
support Accommodation, by which Love multiplies opportunities.
Let those that are Courteous,
support Gentleness, whereby Love preserves autonomy.
Let those that are Kind,
support Kindness, with which Love inspires effort.
Let those that are Obedient,
support Commitment, by which Love prepares its reception.
Let those that are Cheerful,
support Harmony, whereby Love announces its presence.
Let those that are Thrifty,
support Conservation, by which Love preserves its works.
Let those that are Courageous,
support Endurance, by which Love overcomes selfishness.
Let those that are Clean,
support Purity, in which Love is magnified.
Let those that are Reverent,
support Grace, in which Love is made manifest.
May the Most High bless these children with Love.
To be loved is to receive power. If you are loved, you should feel stronger every day.
Don’t fall in love.
To fall into love is to surrender to mutual emptiness.
Awaken to love.
Awaken to new perspectives. Awaken to new feelings. Awaken to new possibilities.
Eyes open, clear-headed, self-controlled.
But most importantly:
Awaken to JOY!
At all-hands meeting on Wednesday, I shared with a colleague that I had spent the Holiday weekend with a cold, lying on the floor watching movies. He himself had taken in “Lawnmower Man,” with it’s “gratuitous sex.”
Before remarking upon the similarities to “The Kids Are All Right,” I let slip: “As much as I remember about sex.”
I am single, but women make it obvious that I am attractive. It’s the sudden pause in their activity when I come around a corner, the frown and determination in their eyes when they look away, the staring when I dance.
It happened twice at the store on Christmas Eve: coming around the corner of an aisle to receive a woman’s astonished regard, frision all over my extremities focusing inwards as she fell into my heart.
As David Koresh did, I could make a real mess in the world. But I understand it this way: it’s not me. They are falling into the light that shines from me. They hunger for it because it promises surcease from the dirt that the world pours over them – the lust, the sloth, the greed. Freed from those burdens, they can manifest their most virtuous aspirations.
What I recognize, though, is that I can’t guarantee that to them. It is their right, but it is a right secured only in relationship with the Most High.
I am only a window that they can look through. They are responsible for securing the relationship.
And so I am single because I refuse to submit to their desire that I be responsible for that relationship.
Women have a biological clock: menopause, the point beyond which they cannot have children.
This is my version:
For about a decade, whenever I entertain romantic aspirations, I gravitate toward a vision of lying on the couch with my head in her lap while she strokes my hair.
I’m 57 1/2, ladies! Will I have to settle for a scalp massage?
In the years from 2006, I made every effort to be down at the LA Cathedral for Christmas Midnight Mass and Easter morning services. Having given my heart to Jesus “for healing” back in 2002, on first encounter I was pretty direct upon approaching the crucifix set behind the altar. Looking into the serene visage, I gestured to the twisted limbs and observed, “It’s time to clean all of this up.”
My interaction with the brotherhood has been complex, and sometimes contentious. So when I moved another twenty miles up the freeway into Ventura, it was with some relief that I decided to spend Christmas down at the local parish, rather than making the trip to Los Angeles.
Though my mother asked pointedly whether I intended to go.
I also passed on Easter.
For some reason, I feel a greater receptivity now. I’ve had a number of dreams about Christmas Eve down at the Cathedral, including sharing words with the community. I began this writing before Thanksgiving, but became mired in theological resistance.
I sent out the message that love won’t manifest against resistance. It must be welcomed. A breakthrough of sorts happened last weekend, and I felt the resistance melt away. The words come forth easily.
I was down at the Ventura Government Center for jury duty, and worried through the last of the wording this morning. I do tend to become a little abstract. I hope that it conveys the meaning.
We are so very close. I do my best to mark the way.
The Age Upon Us
Hello, dear friends.
May all the blessings of this day be upon you.
Summoned by the cry of broken hearts, I first came here fifteen years ago. Thus it was to the sweet virgin, witness to the suffering of her people, praying that the Father might bring forth a savior from among her sisters. After Gabri-el revealed her role, the jewel of feminine compassion said simply, “Here am I.”
So I say now: “Here am I.”
That is all the introduction I have for you. The rest is not important, for the gifts of this day descend from a greater source.
In Genesis, when God arrives, the earth is declaimed as “formless and void.” That is to say: nothing found there had any purpose, nor any soul. The molten lava flowed and cooled. Rock ground against itself, creating nothing. Water washed against the rock, forming beds of clay, but no life sprang forth.
The Love that is God seeks to make relationships marvelous, and the Bible records His gifts. The first were simple: light, ground and rain.
Of these gifts God sought to raise creatures that loved as He did. Three billion years later, He crouched on the ground, remembering, and bestowed upon Adam the ability to love. Having compassion on Adam’s loneliness, God found a companion, and Eve was given Adam’s heart to tend, and bore witness to Adam’s virtue.
I remind you of these things to clarify the gifts of this day. Jesus lived forty years on this Earth. He walked among us, and we remember this day because he died to give proof to the undying power of love. But we should set that forty years against the three billion that preceded it. If we are amazed at what Jesus accomplished in forty years, how can we describe the tenderness, strength, and determination of the Father? Can we even begin to grasp it?
Three billion years. As it is said: “I am less than a worm.”
But the Father finds joy in us. Look around you. See the rock, polished and cast. We give form and purpose to it. Our gratitude secures a sanctuary for the burdened. Our souls expand, filling the world with the love we receive.
That is to say – as he is love – that we fill the world with God.
That is the specific gift of this day. Love descended to us. Secure in Mary’s incorruptible womb, love joined flesh, and walked among us.
This sounds simple, but is not easy to understand. What did it mean for Christ to descend from heaven? Why did he need to come in the flesh? Why did he need to suffer and die on the cross?
We come together tonight not only to honor Mary and Jesus, but because on this night the Most High comes closer to us. We see beauty, we hear it in voices and instruments, we see it in the faces of those we love. This beauty washes against our troubles and strife, and if we raise our faces and hearts in gratitude, we feel the Most High fill our cup to the brim.
There are those among you that know this to be true. You are near to the saints.
But is it for you that Jesus came?
Why would that glorious spirit, replete in the presence of his Father’s love, descend for the saintly? Would they not be served better if he stayed to prepare a place for them?
Let me remind you: there are those among us that dare not raise their hearts. They are like Peter on the boat after the fish rush to fill the nets, fallen to his knees, pleading “Go away from me, master, for I am a sinner!”
How many of us have felt that shame? Feared that God would turn away from us?
“Oh, you of little faith!” was the rebuke from Jesus. That was to say “Believe in yourself! Believe that you are beloved by the Most High! Believe that you should share the joy of my service to Him!”
St. Theresa of Avila wrote:
O Lord of my soul and my Good! There are souls so determined to love you that they gladly abandon everything to focus on nothing but loving you. Why don’t you want them to immediately ascend to a place where they may receive the joyful gift of perfect love?
The answer being: because God needs us here to fill the world with love.
Not only on Calvary. Not only on Christmas Day. Not only in this church. But everywhere, every day.
In this Age, Jesus commanded that we “pick up our cross.” But that is not the goal of love. Let us talk of the New Age: A day will come without suffering, without fear, without grief. It is the day from which the power of the love that surrounds us will chase those experiences from our lives.
In that future we will find, like the five thousand, that when we gather what little we have, it is multiplied until it is more than enough. Illness will fade when our sister gazes upon us with compassion. Conflict will flee when our brother prays that our ambition be tempered by good will.
Can we glimpse that day? Here? Now?
Let us try!
Oh, you saints, remember the grace of those two: the woman and the child that were touched by heaven, yet chose to serve us. Take the hands of those you love, and lift your hearts to the Most High. Feel his gaze upon you. Feel the tenderness, the patience, the strength. Behind it the unending ocean of his love. Allow that love to fill your heart.
Thus was the Sacred Mother. Thus was the Lamb.
Rest there, you saints, for now I must address others.
Oh, you weary and burdened. You that bear witness to the sorrows of the world. You are not forgotten.
They descended to serve you. Mary and Jesus: they became flesh so that they might feel your anguish, and bear witness to the sin that oppresses you. It is you that matter, you weary and burdened, for you test the submission of the saints to the love of the Most High.
Lean your sorrows upon me, oh you weary and burdened.
Here am I.
Oh, you saints, do you feel them among you? This is the purpose for your hearts: that as did Jesus, you might share your love. Open your hearts and minds now, and robe the weary and burdened in your grace. See in your hearts that they will find, in the coming year, all that they need, because those that have means to comfort them will receive something in exchange: the certitude of the New Age prophesied by Jesus. Not as a distant promise glimpsed from 2000 years ago, but as a palpable nearness in the heart.
That will be an age when the rich will not hoard their wealth, because they will have the security of fast friendship. It will be an age in which no one asks “What’s in it for me?” because they know that in sharing what they have, their hearts expand to receive ever more of the limitless power of the Most High.
Do you not feel it, oh you saints? Is there not still more? Let it pour out from you into the world! Through the streets, into the dark corners. Across rivers, plains and oceans. Into every heart that craves the hope birthed on this day.
Jesus was not born into comfort. Mary did not labor in a feather bed. This is the gift of this day: they brought love to the world so that we might know that all the world is sacred, that we were meant to be sacred, and that the Most High is determined that all should be redeemed.
Mold with the redwoods. Worms with the eagles. Shepherds with kings. And those oppressed by sin with the saints.
Oh my friends! Let us be worthy of our brother! Let us worship with every breath, with every touch. Let us worship in the temple of the Most High. Let us worship in the temple of our hearts.
Merry Christmas! And blessings be upon you all!