Holy Week

Today is Good Friday. I love Easter, I love the way the world has the opportunity to stop and take notice of the ineffable beauty of the death and resurrection of Christ. To reflect on the mysterious way God’s love has been made manifest in our world.

Psalm 22 is a poetic, heart wrenching portrayal of the crucifixion. When Jesus cried out in anguish “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” He was not, as many of us were taught, experiencing the horror of abandonment by God. Rather he was pointing to the whole psalm- much like when you sing the first line of a song we can sing along with the rest of the melody. The psalmist pours out his heartache and suffering to God, and declares in verse 24:

” For he as not despised my cries of deep despair. He’s my first responder to my sufferings, and when I was in pain, he was there all the time and heard the cries of the afflicted”

Psalm 22:24 Passion Translation

God did not abandon Jesus on the cross, and he does not abandon us, either. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting our sins against us”. Jesus and the Father are one, who can separate them? And nobody is outside of God. The world-all of us-move and live and have our being in God. Breath by breath, beat by beat.

‘God formed man from the dust of the ground, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul’

Genesis 2:7

When it comes to Christianity, I guess I would have to identify with the ‘deconstruction’ movement. At one time I was very evangelical in my beliefs, however over the course of my life, particularly when my son died certain things just didn’t add up.

The idea that God would give us one chance to say a sinners prayer and if we fail to, we are destined to an eternity of separation where we experience divine wrath. It just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense because the very air we breathe is given to us by God. ‘Ruach’ is the Hebrew word in the Torah which means ‘breath’ or ‘spirit’. when we inhale, we breathe God in. In our exhale, God breathes us in…Every breath we breathe is given to us by God.

A beautiful passage in Ephesians joyfully describes how God knew us ‘before the foundation of the world’ (Ephesians 1:4). If we are alive, we are pre-destined, cherished and loved. It breaks my heart that the love of the Father is constantly maligned…”Yes he is love, But….” To me there is no ‘but’. God is in essence love, and what good parent would abandon their child? No, the Father will go to the ends of the earth to bring us to himself, and I truly believe that the love of God is irresistible. In the end, ‘he will draw all people unto himself.’

Deconstructing my beliefs allowed me to blow out the cobwebs of things that I thought or did based on my insecurities or feelings of lack- or just the hinderances in my own soul that led me to believe that love has strings attached. I have found profound comfort in the ancient mystics. Both Christian and from other religions. They all speak about this love affair we have with God. A two way joyful and honest dialogue which openly welcomes unanswered questions and unknowing.

What captures me today is the drama and sorrow over the way Jesus’ body was broken open, so much so that it was unrecognisable…But really it must be so, when you consider the brokenness of humanity. Even the most privileged among us experience heartbreaking loss and grief. It seems the only course of action for a God who is All Loving is to break open and in so doing pour out this immense solidarity and incomprehensible salvation.

And this is for all. “Gather up all the fragments” said Jesus “Let nothing be wasted” .

Dream Weaver

Sometimes a source of comfort and encouragement comes in the form of a song. This is not surprising, music carries a resonance that goes beyond words. A song can magically bypass the thinking, label-making brain and bring us in touch with the Divine.

If you have been following my blog, you will know how fascinated I am with dreams. For many years, I have written them down, sometimes analysing them or allowing them to inform my practise as an artist and also guide me along my spiritual path. To put this dream in context with my life, I had been experiencing artist block, and just a general lack of confidence and direction in my arts practise. I was working on a painting with a kind of frustrated energy, painting then painting over things, changing composition and colour endlessly. It felt like I was going round and round in circles with no sense of agency or purpose. I was hovering dangerously close to full blown depression. This dream occurred in one of those lucid moments that happen just before waking up fully.

The Dream

I was in a dark closet, playing a motivational tape by one of the teachers from ‘the Psychic Teachers’ podcast I used to listen to. There was ivy all around me. The teacher said, very clearly, “I am going to play a song and just really listen”. I recognised the song, it was ‘Dream Weaver’. My first reaction was how left field it seemed, it had never been one of my favourites or one I had connected to anything. As I heard the song I felt the presence of Jesus- a very real and palpable presence. Then I woke up.

The Investigation

I knew I needed to look into the symbolic content of this short dream. It had such a lucid and clear feel to it, like Spirit took an opportune moment to shoot an arrow into my psyche in the short moments where I was open enough to receive it. The first thing I found was the backstory to the song by Gary Wright:

“In 1972, my friend George Harrison invited me to accompany him on a trip to India. A few days before we left, he gave me a copy of the book Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. Needless to say the book inspired me deeply, and I became totally fascinated with Indian culture and philosophy. My trip was an experience I will never forget. During the early ’70s while reading more of the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda, I came across a poem called God! God! God!. One of the lines in the poem referred to the idea of the mind weaving dreams and the thought immediately occurred to me, weaver of dreams… Dream Weaver. I wrote it down in my journal of song titles and forgot about it. Several months passed, and one weekend, while in the English countryside, I picked up my journal and came across the title ‘Dream Weaver.’ Feeling inspired, I picked up my acoustic guitar and began writing. The song was finished in an hour. The lyrics and music seemed to have flowed out of me as if written by an unseen source. After the record was released and became successful many people asked me what the song meant. I really wasn’t sure myself and would answer ‘it was about a kind of fantasy experience… a Dream Weaver train taking you through the cosmos.’ But I was never satisfied with that explanation, and as years went by I began to reflect on what the song actually meant and then it came to me: ‘Dream Weaver, I believe you can get me through the night…’ was a song about someone with infinite compassion and love carrying us through the night of our trials and suffering. None other than God Himself.”

(Source: https://www.songfacts.com/facts/gary-wright/dream-weaver)

Needless to say, these words comforted and blessed me beyond my ability to express. Even the way the song came together for him gave me so much encouragement. The alchemy and co-creation we get to participate in with God, it is truly wonderous.

The collision of the sacred in ordinary spaces

“Nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see. On the contrary, everything is sacred.”

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

There is a quietness and comfort that can only be found in the everyday. I believe that the most intimate sense of the presence of the Spirit is found in the nuts and bolts of our daily lives. The rising in the morning, the dirty dishes, the mealtimes, the shopping. The things we must do in our daily lives are like sea masts that tether us to our sense of purpose, of usefulness.

We seem to be bent toward thinking that God lives elsewhere….somewhere majestic, or at least in some piece of nature that is particularly divine or spectacular. But God firmly and persistently meets us in the daily grind, right where we are, with no makeup and no pre-rehearsed words. In our clumsiness, our boredom, our failings, our addictions and doubts.

I can hear so many voices, from Jesus, the mystics and spiritual men and women throughout the ages, cautioning us of fruitlessness of seeking God as if God were to be found outside of ourselves. Together they form a beautiful life affirming cacophony of voices inviting us to embrace Divinity with childlike eyes of wonder…

Paul the Apostle:

“In God, (or Divine Source) we live and move and have our being”

Julian Of Norwich:

“Greatly ought we to rejoice that God dwells in our soul; and more greatly ought we to rejoice that our soul dwells in God. Our soul is created to be God’s dwelling place, and the dwelling of our souls is God, who is uncreated.”

St John of the Cross:

“However softly we speak, God is so close to us that he can hear us; nor do we need wings to go in search of him, but merely to seek solitude and contemplate him within ourselves, without being surprised to find such a good Guest there.” ~

Jesus in John 17:

“So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us”

God is at home in you, where you are. You can speak to Spirit just as you are. Divine presence is always with you, wherever you are. You do not need any earthy being to mediate between you and God. Where you are, that’s where God is. Right now this moment. In your sacred space, at home.

And it is not necessary to have great things to do. I turn my little omelette in the pan for the love of God.

Brother Lawrence