In Tragedy, We Must Remember That God Is Love
We live in a world of fear, of violence, of madness. It is all a part of the great storm, and we stand in the center, watching the winds tear apart the last vestiges of our safety. We are no longer islands, but have our feet planted on the mainland. We are lost in the vastness of it, the dryness of the sea of sand. We taste death, and it throttles the good and evil within each one of us. We fear, we hate, and take up our swords to wreak vengeance on the innocent. Is this not the proof of our fallen natures, that the cycle repeats itself with blood-curdling accuracy?
But I will not be afraid. I will not let them make me afraid. I will not be forced to fear my fellow beings, nor separate myself from them, whether they claim the rainbow or wear the burqa. I will be a shape-shifter, both serpent and dove, as Christ told us to be. And I am marked by Christ. That is why I will measure my words and actions, but never become tight-fisted when I should extend the hand of friendship. I will guard myself, but never build walls around my heart. I will stand out to defend all the innocent, and I will stand in solidarity with the marginalized.
My religion is love; if your religion is love, then we are one with each other and with eternity. If I see you being mistreated, whether you are Muslim or LGBT or something else altogether, I will stand up for you, because we are all children of the same God. We are in this thing together; it is a blood bond, for all our blood is human, and our souls reflect the image of the same Creator. Let our legacy be of the ability to bless not curse. Spit out the apple of evil from the garden tree; it has too long grown bitter in our mouths. I will turn to the Tree of Life, and let the Blood of Life run back through my veins.
There is a transcendent common ground of goodness that has the power to unite us all. We may rationally dispute upon points of doctrine and lifestyle choices, but there is an underground well from which we all can draw. That’s why I can see goodness and beauty present everywhere in the world. Drink from it now; rinse out the flavor of vengeance, sweet and sickening as it is. I will be the woman who found her God at the well, and I will ask for Living Water. I will asked to be cleansed till I am clear like crystal, and the rainbows I shine are sharp enough to pierce the gloom. May they slice through the scales that blind our eyes to each other and to God!
We are made for Love; it is coursing in us and through us. Why, then, would we ever choose hatred? Why would we drink the poison of political savagery, why would be let such things stifle our heart-beats? We must keep hearing our heartbeats as a single drum, and the pulsing of the earth, and the energy of reality that flows out with all the strength of pure truth. Let anything that is not of truth be purged from us; and Love is the ultimate truth. The universe finds its deepest meaning in our finger-prints; the landscape is granted new life through the blessing of our gaze. We are each and every one of us irreplaceable and precious, gems of light in the vastness of special existence. Shatter one of us, and it is as if all humanity has been shattered, and for a twinkling, all the stars have ceased to shine.
I see the universality of the search for truth as reflected in the life-affirming aspects of so many cultures and spiritual paths. Pink salt of purity and pentangle of the elements, incense rising and bonfires burning, fasting and forgiveness, blessings of language and sacramental imagination, interlocking designs in Celtic crosses and Zen meditation and Arabic calligraphy. All different, yet bearing a common thread.
Bring to me the Islamic Rumi and the Catholic St. John of the Cross, and I see the same reaching out and reaching in, seeking out heaven in the breast of the earth and dust-hewn ribs of Adam. At the heart of all the doctrines and details, there lies Love. All other virtues proceed from and are grounded in it. And God is Love. If we embrace Love, we embrace God. We must never weary of repeating this all-important reality. It is what Pope Francis has been trying to say, and getting attacked left and right for it. He says: “Our infinite sadness can only be cured by infinite love.”
I am a teller of tales and a dreamer of dreams, a writer, a singer, a mystic, a lover of life, and I would use my every waking thought to transform first my inner heartland and then the outer sphere. I live for love. That’s what striving for holiness is; it’s about becoming more human. It is the ability to speak out, make a difference for the better if I can. Be an activist always. Speak out till it hurts. Spit out the things that make my ribs feel punched in. It may take street-smarts, not nice and fluffy forms of sanctity. But if so, I will be rough and tumble and real and human and before God I will “smell like the sheep.” That’s the kind of saint I want to be, pouring out my life until I am spent and return to the Fire from which all sparks proceed.
So come to me in the name of Love; I’ll embrace you, I’ll help wipe the blood away, and give you that cosmic stardust that is a part of my soul. See how it glitters just like your own; it is all shimmering from the same source. Let my touch be a blessing to you, whether you be a Muslim blind-folded in a Paris square (“I trust you; do you trust me?”) or a gay neighbor struggling to be understood. I will speak to the beauty I find in you, and treasure it as I would my own life. Remember this, if you are ever told that I am a monster for the observance of my faith or the color of my skin or the race of my ancestors. Remember it, please, as I will remember it of you. We are like the circle of the Celtic Cross; hands interlocking, we are forever joined in the spiral dance of the Divine.
To conclude with a quote from modern-day mystical musician Loreena McKennitt:
“Let my heart beat strong, a guide when eyes grow dim, when ears grow deaf with empty words, when I know there’s life within.”
February 28, 2017
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