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.

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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.

Eve.

To be a woman in the church,

No matter the age.

Ah, that is a great source of shame.

 

Were you, like me, given the story of Eve

to blame?

That first woman, tempted by the power of knowledge,

Not smart enough to know her place.

 

And poor, innocent Adam,

So trusting of the woman,

Now defiled

After her tango with the snake.

 

Taking serpent’s words, and God’s fruit into her body

now changed.

Now naked and ashamed.

 

Man’s first words in his own defense,

“She tricked me!”.

 

What a witch.

 

Well, here’s another trick.

Blame.

Scapegoat a gender, get every last one of them.

Meanwhile, stripping God of any feminine traits.

 

If God is male, then male is god.

 

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?

That which cannot be named.

Only felt.

In our bodies.

This knowledge of God.

 

Who among us knew it first?

Eve.

And of course, she was afraid.

 

How does a fragile human body withstand the knowledge of God

Once consumed?

 

For me, it’s always some tender blend

of grief and grace –

Mixed.

Like Eve,

 

I cannot keep it to myself.

And, yet I too am rendered a bit naked

And ashamed.

 

But shame, beloveds, is not the toxic terror you’ve been told.

Just the stripping back of one or two dead layers,

Much like the snake.

 

Nearly every woman on earth would now pay

For the peeling

Of old skin,

 

Unearthing something new.

 

But this is not a surface peel.

The encounter with God we’ve been offered

By the snake.

 

When we eat the fruit, we risk becoming

A graveyard

For all the people we thought we were.

 

Scales falling from the eyes of Saul,

A new name, a new life, and here we have

Paul.

 

Not my favorite apostle.

Some thorn is his side about women still.

But,

Then I suppose we all have to drag our own humanity

Along

with us,

 

Long after consuming what’s been given

by Grace.

I AM.

The day Moses met God, he asked,

“What is your name?”,

 

“I have no name”, comes the reply,

From a Source now unnamed.

 

All alone atop that Holy Mountain,

Moses worries after those waiting down below.

 

“Without a name”, he pleads, “How will my people come to know

You from all the other gods

Belonging to these poor, lost, wandering men?”

 

Was it courageous, or cowardice to stand there in that place,

And so boldly ask God for the Grace –

To become small enough for them?

 

“This, not that” was the first and only Law given

By God to those two humans in the Garden.

 

An instruction for an era lost,

The Garden now invisible,

And yet –

 

Just like Moses and his people, most of us here

Are still believing “this, not that” will save us

From the pain of our uncertainty.

 

Shaped by years of wandering through deserts

Of our own,

Are we not guilty of thirsting after the image

Of arriving –

Somewhere, each one of us a beggar.

 

“This, not that, black or white, Please Lord, make it simple”.

 

Moses could have said that.

I hear it in his question.

 

Yet, God, unchanged and ever changing, always sets the tone –

A riddle for an answer.

Or perhaps, an Answer for minds too riddled to hear it:

 

“I AM”.

 

Do you ever wonder what that sound was like in the ears of the man who heard it first?

 

Could it have been pronounced “A-UM”?

 

I’ve heard that sound fall from the mouths of people

Perched atop holy mountains of their own.

Spandex on their bodies,

Twenty dollars for enlightenment.

 

Do they know the Holy mountain upon which they are standing?

They’ve at least removed their shoes.

 

“OM”, it is written, but as it moves from breath, to throat, to tongue, to lips

It sounds

More like this:

“Ahhhhhhhhhh—Ummmmmmm”.

 

The Beginning and The End.

The Alpha and The Omega.

The Atman and The Brahman.

Or can we say, The Ego and The Soul?

 

That which can perceive That which Is.

 

It’s strange and clear and merciful –

Each ancient tradition tells a story

Of this sound.

 

Do you recognize it yet?

 

It’s unclear whether Moses or his people could,

And most days it seems the same for you, and for me –

 

Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he bothered once again

To tell us,

“I AM”.

 

The way, the truth, and the light.

 

I think we needed someone to show us,

In the flesh.

I AM.

 

“Stick your finger in my side”, he says,

To his dear doubting friend.

 

But that’s not what I was taught.

Were you?

Instead, instructed over and over to literalize,

To flatten it down.

 

But, didn’t God warn Moses?

Oh wait, I mean,

I AM.

 

Jesus may have been the flesh and bone and blood encounter

With a God

We can’t nail down.

 

Genesis tells us of Creation from No thing.

Science claims the heart begins as a null-point,

A Zero at the center.

No thing.

 

Then a twist, and a spin, and suddenly a beat:

I AM.

 

And while our riddled minds are grasping yet again

After a Name

For the magic happening here,

 

The temple curtain gets torn straight down the middle,

From top to bottom, falling away in two –

Pieces.

 

Holy of Holies now unveiled,

Each one of us bracing to be blinded

By a glimpse

Of what’s inside.

 

Yet, those among us brave or crazy enough

To look

And see –

Will find

No thing is there.

 

No name.

No nails.

 

No thing.

 

Only

I AM.

 

Did not Siddhartha while sitting under the Bodhi tree

Find

No thing too?

Once named, then unnamed, and renamed:

Awakened one.

One who sees.

 

Would you look for yourself?

 

Try Within.

 

Each one of us already knows this Place,

It’s Only human

Beings who could mistake that inner space

 

For alienation.

 

Instead of what it truly is –

Our own Holy ordination.

 

— Whitney Logan, 5.8.17