Cosmic Christ.

“The Christ. It’s all embracing. It’s nature itself. It’s something that was available to the Stone Age people. I mean could God have really created Stone Age families and said, ‘well, you’re just throwaways. I’m waiting for America to come and to discover the gospel’. It’s so narcissistic when you think of it, the way we’ve interpreted Jesus, and pulled him into a tribal god to support our country club religion. We’ve got to re-position salvation in Creation itself. In the very beginning God planted grace inside of whatever He created, to evolve us towards wherever we’re evolving now.”

― Richard Rohr

 

 

 

Do you know this poem?

Magdalene—The Seven Devils
by Marie Howe

“Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven devils had been cast out”

Luke 8:2.

 

The first was that I was very busy.

The second—I was different from you: whatever happened to you could
not happen to me, not like that.

The third—I worried.

The fourth—envy, disguised as compassion.

The fifth was that I refused to consider the quality of life of the aphid,
The aphid disgusted me. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
The mosquito too—its face. And the ant—its bifurcated body.

Ok the first was that I was so busy.

The second that I might make the wrong choice,
because I had decided to take that plane that day,
that flight, before noon, so as to arrive early
and, I shouldn’t have wanted that.
The third was that if I walked past the certain place on the street
the house would blow up.

The fourth was that I was made of guts and blood with a thin layer
of skin lightly thrown over the whole thing.

The fifth was that the dead seemed more alive to me than the living

The sixth—if I touched my right arm I had to touch my left arm, and if I
touched the left arm a little harder than I’d first touched the right then I had
to retouch the left and then touch the right again so it would be even.

The seventh—I knew I was breathing the expelled breath of everything that
was alive, and I couldn’t stand it.
I wanted a sieve, a mask, a, I hate this word—cheesecloth—
to breath through that would trap it—whatever was inside everyone else that
entered me when I breathed in.

No. That was the first one.

The second was that I was so busy. I had no time. How had this happened?
How had our lives gotten like this?

The third was that I couldn’t eat food if I really saw it—distinct, separate
from me in a bowl or on a plate.

Ok. The first was that. I could never get to the end of the list.
The second was that the laundry was never finally done.

The third was that no one knew me, although they thought they did.
And that if people thought of me as little as I thought of them then what was
love?

The fourth was I didn’t belong to anyone. I wouldn’t allow myself to belong
to anyone.

The fifth was that I knew none of us could ever know what we didn’t know.

The sixth was that I projected onto others what I myself was feeling.

The seventh was the way my mother looked when she was dying,
the sound she made—her mouth wrenched to the right and cupped open
so as to take in as much air… the gurgling sound, so loud
we had to speak louder to hear each other over it.

And that I couldn’t stop hearing it—years later—grocery shopping, crossing the street—

No, not the sound—it was her body’s hunger
finally evident—what our mother had hidden all her life.

For months I dreamt of knucklebones and roots,
the slabs of sidewalk pushed up like crooked teeth by what grew underneath.

The underneath. That was the first devil. It was always with me
And that I didn’t think you—if I told you—would understand any of this—

Jihad.

I don’t really want to write

this

poem about the Religious

“Right”.

 

You see,

for me, so far,

most of my poems

come

 

from this really nice,

luminous

inner landscape.

 

But

the moment my mind lands

on these robbers,

these thieves,

these defamers of my faith

 

The light goes out in that inward space.

 

Blind guides!

Vipers!

Fools!

Bleached out sacks of bones!

 

And, there I go.

 

Empty of light,

though it may now be,

I’ve learned to sit still and listen

Long enough to see.

 

Rage,

Fury,

Despair and doom.

Blame, name calling, near murderous,

and full

of self-righteous, know-it-all –

ah, here we have it:

shame.

 

Can you see what I mean now,

darlings?

Shame is not the toxic

tool

of the psyche

we fear it to be.

 

Instead, if we let that storm move

through

unidentified with it, but watchful still

it might just be able

 

to set us all free.

 

We are not so different,

in truth

you and me.

 

Anger has it’s place,

it helps me look at something

and say

“No way, not like that,

(beat)

 

you assholes”!

 

And then shame comes around to correct me.

 

Fine.

“No, not like that”!

(I’ll leave out the asshole bit).

 

Very good,

that softening in the heart.

Now, onto mercy.

 

We have to start at home,

and of course,

you already know

how.

 

What needs mercy right here,

you ask,

right now?

 

Oh, my,

can it be?

Is it true,

you miss the days when you used to think

you knew

everything.

 

When the Bible, as interpreted by the village chiefs

was all you felt you could possibly

need.

 

Sure, you wound up feeling tortured

by that

hierarchical machine,

 

when there was room for little more

than hypocrisy.

 

But you also knew

where

you were going, or so

you thought.

 

Now, you never know.

And this is hard,

Everything requires your full heart.

 

No more hiding behind a wall of words

you don’t understand.

But, you remember how that felt

frightening

 

Of course.

 

which is why you then relied,

so desperately

on all those village chiefs.

 

Men, who wrote books,

or gave speeches.

 

Professors,

Preachers,

Teachers’ teachers.

 

Can you look at your “enemy” now?

 

Is it possible to see

how they too

might be

frightened

 

Oh,

maybe

Just.

Like.

You.

 

It’s so vulnerable,

to not really know.

And, who’s faith among us is strong

enough

to admit

 

to any of this?

 

Remember how you used to think

God wanted

you to convince

everyone

else to believe

just

as you

believed?

 

And not

because that’s what the Bible calls you to do!

 

We like to be validated

psychologically.

 

The more people believing

as we do,

the less doubt will creep

into our own view.

 

Well,

darling girl, you still

so often do

all of that

 

when you’re mad.

Vipers!

Money-changers!

Crooks!

 

Sure, maybe –

But,

even if that’s all true

 

How is it written?

Let the person who’s never missed

the mark

cast the first stone.

 

Fine.

 

“No, not like that” then.

(I won’t even type the a-word).

 

Try again.

 

Did you know the term “Jihad”

means something like “war within”?

 

A holy war,

a battle for the soul.

A process of removing obstacles to righteousness.

by going in, and in,

and in

 

again.

 

 

Forgiveness.

I once heard Marie Howe say

that being present

hurts

a little bit.

 

Some people call her

a religious poet.

She says she isn’t sure

that fits.

 

I do think,

however,

Only a religious person could admit

any of this.

 

Religion,

That word.

It means to re-ligament.

Or, to reconnect

 

what was once adjoined.

Now separate.

 

It’s in the body,

That gap,

And also the way back

Together.

 

She’s right,

you know.

Being present hurts a little bit.

 

You have to say you’re sorry

every time.

For having ever left

 

And forgive,

and forgive,

and forgive

 

And come back.

 

Right here,

Right now,

Re-ligament.

 

I’m sorry,

you say.

And then you let go

 

Of

Getting caught up

in all your separateness.

 

Shame,

or blame

My excuses are limitless.

 

These human traps,

sticky,

and seductive, and so real

when we feel it.

 

But not true.

 

Have you ever seen a pebble shame itself?

Or a raindrop cast around blame?

 

The lilies of the field don’t worry about their clothes.

 

What did Rumi say?

“I’ve gotten free of that ignorant fist

that was pinching and twisting”

me into an illusion

of separateness.

 

So we forgive,

but we don’t forget

It’s very hard to stay.

 

Right here,

Right now.

I’m sorry, you say.

 

Followed by, “it’s okay”.

 

And then, come back, come back,

come back.

Re-ligament.

 

Of course, that hurts a little bit.

 

Nevertheless,

it’s all still here for each

and every one

of us

 

Right after forgiveness.

Virgin.

You, there.

Yes, you,

girl.

 

Mary.

 

Do not be afraid.

I have a message for you.

 

God is in your body

Growing,

gaining shape,

 

Fingers and toes soon now.

 

Oh,

pregnant woman,

now what kind of super food

diet

would you begin to make?

 

For God,

Is there.

Sharing in everything you take.

 

I once saw Jesus in the sky.

Not a wishful thought,

or a trick of a sleepy mind.

 

There, right there, taking shape.

Ten fingers, ten toes.

 

As above, so below.

 

My friend Jeff was there

with me.

The blades of grass were radiating

all this light,

we had never seen

Before.

 

Now I can’t unsee it.

 

This world is screaming,

Even the rocks cry out,

About your glory.

 

On that first day,

when I started to really see

God everywhere,

in everything.

 

I also finally saw Mary

In me.

 

Pregnant with the divine.

But she knew it.

Whereas I did not,

for nearly all my life.

 

I was taught to think this way,

You know.

 

Original sin.

Man’s fall from grace.

But really,

woman’s fall.

 

She just took man with her.

 

And so I was told

only the Virgin Queen,

Could house God

 

in her body

now.

 

Purity for women.

Bravery for men.

 

Even Joseph,

Magnanimous for not having stoned Mary outright.

A hero for marrying her.

 

Why is a woman unto herself

So threatening?

 

I have a hunch.

 

Virgin,

it’s original meaning

Suggests a woman

Who is not owned.

 

By any man,

or system.

 

Belonging to no one but herself.

 

Is this how we give birth

to God?

 

First, by claiming our Self?

 

 

 

 

Beatitudes

The beatitudes.

A phrase so often used, I stopped asking what it means.

Supreme blessedness.

 

Before you read it,

what would you have guessed?

 

It’s hard to hear something old as if it’s new,

 

But you have heard it

Said

Blessed are the poor, the mourners,

and the meek,

 

Poor in spirit, but how can this be?

Empty vessels.

Capable of receiving something.

A willingness not to know

Everything.

 

For those who mourn,

Somehow this is the holy fountain.

where

Jesus wept.

 

What’s on the other side of mourning?

For me, it’s always grace.

Just enough letting go to come away –

From that sticky, intractable place.

 

I know you’ve mourned more than people –

We can lose our grip

On all sorts of things,

Ideas, identities,

Comforting fantasies.

 

Blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for what is right.

The right way, the right thing.

To hunger and thirst,

A human body

Never drinks enough to again never drink.

 

So goes the soul.

Never done with it’s searching.

Or it too will die.

 

Blessed are the merciful, for that comes back around.

You start right here at home.

On yourself,

Then your neighbor,

And that neighbor down the street.

 

It gets tricky eventually.

You can’t fake it.

So, you come back home, again.

The next day it’s easier.

You remember now how it feels.

 

And what of those with pure hearts?

I don’t hear this Jesus saying “good” hearts here,

Although, where I come from,

We have corrupted the word

Pure.

 

Like the surface of a lake, without a ripple.

The sky’s reflection undisturbed.

 

A heart without disturbance

Above or below,

Can gaze upon itself, and see

what’s there.

 

God.

 

What then is honest here in my heart?

A cascade, like water,

Over and over it turns.

Always hoping.

 

This world is hard, and nothing bright is seen

through the lens of more light.

We need shadow.

 

There’s shadow in my heart.

Living there alongside the light.

I know I can’t see God if I turn that into a fight.

 

But when the waters calm,

And everything undisturbed is seen,

Maybe that feeling –

Like coming home,

Is itself a way of seeing

 

God.

 

Blessed are the makers and maintainers of peace,

he says.

What did I do a moment ago inside my own heart?

 

Seven devils were cast out of Mary Magdalene.

A holy number of completion.

Meaning,

the accusations must have stopped.

 

“You should not feel this way,

don’t think any of those thoughts”.

No longer true for the woman called Magdalene,

now undisturbed

about what’s in her heart.

 

Woman, where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you?

None.

 

The Kingdom of God is like this.

 

Blessed are those persecuted for doing what is right.

Every pure heart asks,

“But how will I know what is right?”

 

A second emphasis from the One

Who spoke the words first.

Supremely Blessed are you –

When people are cruel,

 

And unrelenting in their cruelty

On My account.

 

Don’t be cruel, I hear.

Not to yourself, not to others,

There’s always half of you that will never know

Another.

You answer to your own heart.

 

A third emphasis on this kind of blessedness

In case you didn’t hear.

If you are in Me,

and I am in you,

Your process will involve pruning,

but it’s easier than you think.

 

Remember those dirty, despised old prophets?

Not one of them beloved

In the way

Part of what exists in your heart

Wishes.

 

But beloved is not the same as Blessed.

Supremely blessed.

Do the prophets act like they have regrets?

Shining faces, sure footed.

 

How honest are their hearts?

Another word for honest is sincere.

Meaning,

without cracks.

 

Another part of you already knows this,

Of course.

 

When I sit and I listen

to Jesus words,

From this famous sermon on the mount,

 

Long after the sounds

Are finished,

And although he never said it

Out loud,

I hear the question,

Still.

 

Can we get all these parts of ourselves together,

Inside one human heart?

 

 

 

 

Job.

Job.

The one God loved the best,

The apple of His eye.

And yet, when prompted, God agrees

To take it all away.

 

Did Job roll over, kiss the floor, and say

“God is still on the throne”?

No.

 

He reached his fist to heaven, and nearly cursed

The Holy Name.

 

“How could you, how could you, how could you?

Are you even there?

Show your face.”

 

Job’s friends, those good church-going types,

All warned him.

“Don’t speak of God in this way”.

 

“He must have a plan,

It’s not yours to know.

You’re making us uncomfortable in your pain.”

 

Job, more intimate with God than these church goers

Could hope to know,

Still rages,

cries out,

Demands an explanation for his shame.

 

“But, how could you not trust in the will of the divine?”

These so-called friends chirp from the sidelines.

 

Get down on the dung pile with your suffering friend,

You jerks.

Still looking for a reason,

They appear so blind.

 

A peek behind the scenes, however,

And we the reader know –

There is no reason.

Just a test.

 

Of faith.

 

Faith in what?

Good behavior begets good reward?

Obviously not.

 

Job’s anger is so intimate,

As if he’s been betrayed.

 

And who is God pleased with at the end of the day?

Not Job’s friends.

 

But their words were nice.