Sunday, June 26th, 2011
Focusing Scripture: Matthew 10:40-42, New International Version (NIV)
40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
Both Episcopal priest Cynthia Bourgeault and Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chodron support meditative practices that are essentially about waking up to the whole wonderful catastrophe of our life. Cynthia calls the Christian system Welcoming Prayer and Pema’s style is called Tonglen. Both systems require us to turn and face issues, thoughts, and personalities that would normally trigger us to shut down and tune out and instead transform that avoidance behavior into wakefulness. Our reading today points out that when we really see the people in our life with open hearted clarity we not only wake up to them as they really are, but also wake up to the way our own minds function. Cynthia writes in her book Centering Prayer and Spiritual Awakening, “Dissociation - or to situate it within its more general psychological category, repression - is one of the primary occupational hazards of people on the spiritual path (144).” This reading calls us to face one another head on, and really see the wonder of the other and in that seeing find our reward.
Notice that by recognizing a prophet, we are party to a prophet’s gifts, and the same goes for seeing the righteous person, and even common hospitality is elevated to a spiritual art in the form of a glass of water. And the reward Jesus speaks of here, I believe, is that in order to see the prophet, the righteous person and even the “little one” who needs a cup of cold water, we must be able to see all of these in ourselves as well. That is the gift, the reward. When we practice this gift of deep empathy, it opens our eyes beyond ourselves to those around us and reminds us of the spiritual genius each of us, too, carries. And in the seeing, all are enriched.
Let us pray:
She was not,
a nice horse;
Liver chestnut, but fat
With wild white stripes across her face
Where genetic lightening had scarred her.
That hot fury settled there in her eyes,
Aggression, yes, and something more
That to my fifteen year old gaze
Spoke of freedom and breathtaking confidence.
God, she could buck, going perpendicular in the arena.
I saw the athlete.
God, she watched everything so very suspiciously,
I saw her mind.
God, she whickered for her food, gentle then,
And I chose to see love.
After a time, what I saw was what
And I learned from her how powerfully