for you do indeed become like unto them.
Or maybe you prefer choosing one
affirming who you already are?
That too is a menu option.
Take some folks claiming Jesus, for example.
If their idea of him is racist and homophobic and sexist
so shall they be or become.
If one’s idea of God
is of good in cosmic struggle and warfare against evil
then one will create enemies
and allies to play the roles.
Muslims, Christians, Jews, gays, Blacks, gun lovers…will do.
The point is
have someone to hate and be against
someone to blame
the evils of the world on
someone to be better than.
Welfare recipients, drug addicts, criminals, Mexicans,
immigrants, Israelis, Iranians, Republicans or Democrats…
any will do.
I choose to listen to what is within
mirroring what is above and what is below
the two as one converging—
here. In me.
“I think I’m finally ready for a teacher,” I heard a friend say the other day. And living in Santa Fe, NM, it is not uncommon for one here to hear advice or declarations prefaced by, “My teacher….”
On the other hand, with roots in the plains of West Texas, I know the second sentence of personal introductions in Amarillo might consist of an exchange something like:
“What church do you go to?”
This question is answered with the name of a local brick and mortar human construction.
“Oh, isn’t … the preacher there?”
Not so distant, I suppose, is the friend who said later, of another friend of his whom he’d just introduced me to:
“We went to school together.”
“Oh. Remind me where that was?, I asked.”
“Browns.” he continues, laughing, “Funny, that’s the first thing everyone asks back there: ‘Where did you go to school?'”
Identity, and the underlying questions of, “Who am I?”, “Who are you?”, are the uniting themes here. And the search for politicians or teachers or preachers or schools, or cars or clothes, that reflect back to us something of what we want to see or affirm in ourselves is usually a primary criteria; we humans seem to innately categorize ourselves and the world around as means of orienting.
We seem to hate feeling lost, enough so that, rather than confront the insecurities of disorientation or of ‘not knowing,’ we pretend our categorizations of the world and each other are real. Take a corollary of the identity questions above. For example: Who am I not? With a Fundamentalist preacher as a father, whose self-declared expertise was reality, I learned as a child: I am not… Baptist, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Republican, Black, Mexican, female, gay, homophobic, animal or angry….
We didn’t get angry in my family, cause that was a sin. And when dad “blistered” my child-white butt with his leather belt, till it bled, it wasn’t cause he was angry. He was simply trying to save my soul from the Devil. From sin. From eternal damnation and suffering in Hell fire and brimstone. He later said, also, “I thought you had too much pride.”
Now pride is a sin. So is being a Catholic or Baptist or Methodist or… being of any tribe but our particular varietal Christian flavor of God’s only one true Church and the only people possessing the Truth. That was us; God’s people. We were the only few humans on the planet not lost.
Now I spent many decades lost and in recovery from that God and father and childhood. The days and years have now blessed me with many moons spent exploring the wilds of deserts, forests and rivers and have revealed this interesting thing about being lost:
Only those lost can be found.
And only those who know themselves lost,
care to be found.
In today’s world of increasing economic and social and religious and political insecurities, it is natural people reach and grasp for the surety of knowing, for confidence in the realities of our naming. It requires a certain spiritual maturity to stand in the presence of a burning bush in the desert, in the presence of an un-consuming fire, and to not shrink the encountered mystery by naming it.
We ourselves are that mystery. Life is both the consuming and the un-consuming fire, feeding off itself like the great Ouroboros. Choose your teachers of this territory well, I suggest, lest they shrink-wrap your life and identity into a worldview of separation that is less than the wonder and awe of the wholeness you are.
In this great unknown is the ground of our innate belonging, to each other and to ourselves, for there is not one without the other. The human, and the other than human—we two are woven of the same fabric.
These wild ones, the other than human, they too are who we are. We deny them respect and relationship at our peril. So my teachers anyway, Wind in the Trees, whisper into my heart .