Sunday, May 29th, 2011
Kimberly Beyer-Nelson - Bainbridge Island, WA
Focusing Scriptures: John 14:15-21
15“If you love me, keep my commands. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
Here in the Pacific Northwest, all the children know a special term: nurse tree. The nurse tree is an old tree that has fallen to the forest floor. Moss, ferns, salamanders and slugs all make their home in the decaying bark. Sometimes a new tree (or even a couple of them) will sprout right out of the ragged old stump. As the tree decomposes, it become a hillock of rich biomaterial - God in the tree, the tree in the fern, the fern in the tree. The nurse tree, like parts of this reading, show the interpenetration of life into life, over and over, a rich, ever composting and ever sprouting unity.
John can be considered the sly hand of Gnosticism that wiggled its way into our Bible. For that, am I thankful. It is the most expressive of Gospels, the one most prone to abuses from literal readings, the one most like poetry. The way to read most of John is to experience the words, rather than try to rationalize them. What is it that passes from the dead tree to the living organisms? Yes, chemicals and nutrients and all kinds of things with neat Latin tags I am sure. But to the artist, to the poet, what is passed along? If you shut your eyes and rest one hand on your belly and one on your heart, tuning all your sense to the rise and the fall of your breath, you will begin to see without your eyes, and know without cognition the reality of the I AM in this passage, THAT which is never born and never dies.
The commands Jesus asks us to keep are so simple: Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. Yet, neither is possible until you breathe in that simple I AM, until you knowbeyond logical thought, social programming and the tricks of your very senses that there are no boundaries, no dying and no birth, only this current we call by various names: God, Light, and most importantly, Love.
Prayer: Let us pray.
I have been the hawk’s cry in the morning,
And I have been the hen, cringing in the open field.
I have been the salmon, scraping aging belly against the rock,
And I have been the fry, hiding in the deep shadows.
I have been the fir tree, bending with the northern gale,
And I have been the fern, nestled against its trunk.
Rumi says, never did I die
and become anything less.
Or anything more, Rumi.
Or anything more.
And that is the