A Prayer from Dorothy White

“You are the branches of the true Vine, you Spouses of the Beloved, you Daughters of [Zion] and Sons of Jacob…let the tribulated [rejoice] and sing, let the poor in spirit be glad; let them that dwell in the Valleys [rejoice], who drink of the Springs of the Fountain of Love; where Peace and Joy encreaseth, whether Love to the Brethren is multiplied…For our God is Love, and we must be made like unto him in all things. O little Love, overcome, overcome all your hearts, that Life may fill your vessels, that bowles of compassion and tenderness may flow one into another, that every Soul may swim in the fulness of Love, that all may be filled with the eternal Power, that the new Wine of the Kingdom may be poured from vessel to vessel, that all your Cups may over-flow with the Conslation of God.”

-Dorothy White (A Trumpet of the Lord of Hosts Blown Unto the City of London, 1662)

‘it defines itself in terms of the growing edge’ -H. Thurman

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ reminds us once again of the penalty which any highly organized society exacts of those who violate its laws. The social resistors fall into two general groups – those who resist the established order by doing the things that are in opposition to accepted standards of decency and morality: the criminal, the antisocial, the outlaw; and those who resist the established order because its requirements are too low, too unworthy the highest and best in man. Each is a menace to organized society and both must be liquidated as disturbers of the peace.

Behold then the hill outside of the city of Jerusalem, the criminal and the Holy Man sharing a common judgment, because one rose as high above the conventions of his age as the other descended below. Perhaps it is ever thus. Whenever a Jesus Christ is crucified, there will also be crucified beside him the thief — two symbols of resistance to the established pattern. When Christianity makes central in its doctrine the redemptive significance of the cross, it defines itself ever in terms of the growing edge, the advance guard of the human race, who take the lead in man’s long march to the City of God.

-Howard Thurman (Deep Is The Hunger)

On the Harm We Have Done

Here is a prayer from Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918) that seems as timely as ever, and one we ought to be praying regularly, especially given the state of the church and its too often unfortunate behavior in American society and politics.

OUR Father, we look back on the years that are gone and shame and sorrow come upon us, for the harm we have done to others rises up in our memory to accuse us. Some we have seared with the fire of our lust, and some we have scorched by the heat of our anger. In some we helped to quench the glow of young ideals by our selfish pride and craft, and in some we have nipped the opening bloom of faith by the frost of our unbelief.

We might have followed thy blessed footsteps, O Christ, binding up the bruised hearts of our brothers and guiding the way ward passions of the young to firmer man hood. Instead, there are poor hearts now broken and darkened because they encountered us on the way, and some perhaps remember us only as the beginning of their misery or sin.

O God, we know that all our prayers can never bring back the past, and no tears can wash out the red marks with which we have scarred some life that stands before our memory with accusing eyes. Grant that at least a humble and pure life may grow out of our late contrition, that in the brief days still left to us we may comfort and heal where we have scorned and crushed. Change us by the power of thy saving grace from sources of evil into forces for good, that with all our strength we may fight the wrongs we have aided, and aid the right we have clogged. Grant us this boon, that for every harm we have done, we may do some brave act of salvation, and that for every soul that has stumbled or fallen through us, we may bring to thee some other weak or despairing one, whose strength has been renewed by our love, that so the face of thy Christ may smile upon us and the light within us may shine undimmed.

-Walter Rauschenbusch “For God and For the People.”

What is Enlightenment Like? Anthony De Mello

This is a story from Anthony De Mello’s book “Awareness” I used in my sermon yesterday:

Somebody once asked, “What is enlightenment like? What is awakening like”? It’s like the tramp in London who was settling in for the night. He’d hardly been able to get a crust of bread to eat. Then he reaches this embankment on the river Thames. There was a slight drizzle, so he huddled in his old tattered cloak. He was about to go to sleep when suddenly a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce pulls up. Out of the car steps a beautiful young lady who says to him, “My poor man, are you planning on spending the night here on this embankment”?

And the tramp says, “Yes”. She says, “I won’t have it. You’re coming to my house and you’re going to spend a comfortable night and you’re going to get a good dinner”. She insists on his getting into the car. Well, they ride out of London and get to a place where she has a sprawling mansion with large grounds. They are ushered in by the butler, to whom she says, “James, please make sure he’s put in the servants’ quarters and treated well”. Which is what James does. The young lady had undressed and was about to go to bed when she suddenly remembers her guest for the night.

So she slips something on and pads along the corridor to the servants’ quarters. She sees a little chink of light from the room where the tramp was put up. She taps lightly at the door, opens it, and finds the man awake. She says, “What’s the trouble, my good man, didn’t you get a good meal”? He said, “Never had a better meal in my life, lady”. “Are you warm enough”? He says, “Yes, lovely warm bed”. Then she says, “Maybe you need a little company. Why don’t you move over a bit”. And she comes closer to him and he moves over and falls right into the Thames.

Ha! You didn’t expect that one! Enlightenment! Enlightenment! Wake up. When you’re ready to exchange your illusions for reality, when you’re ready to exchange your dreams for facts, that’s the way you find it all. That’s where life finally becomes meaningful. Life becomes beautiful. -Page 32.

The Dead by Denise Levertov

Earnestly I looked
into their abandoned faces
at the moment of death and while
I and aged their slack jaws and
straighter waxy unrestraint limbs and plugged
the orifices with cotton
but like everyone else I learned
each time nothing new, only that
as it were, a music, however harsh, that held us however loosely, had stooped and left
a heavy thick silence in its place.