There is in every person an inward sea, and in that sea there is an island and on that island there is an altar and standing guard before that altar is the ”angel with the flaming sword.” Nothing can get by that angel to be placed upon that altar unless it has the mark of your inner authority. Nothing passes ”the angel with the flaming sword” to be placed upon your altar unless it be a part of ”the fluid area of your consent.” This is your crucial link with the Eternal.
Source: Howard Thurman, Meditations of the Heart
Recently a friend shared this with a group I was with and it has stuck with me ever since. It is a powerful image and progression that moves to the inwardmost parts. The piece that really connects with me right now is that “nothing can get by that angel to be place upon that altar,” nothing…
We may picture God as weaving a pattern with the lives of men and women. We can glimpse but small fragments of the whole design; in moments of inspiration we can see more clearly, while the saints see most of all. Through it there runs a Quaker strand. It may be only a single thread but it is not insignificant, for without it the pattern would be marred. Yet that thread of itself does not make the whole design. The Society of Friends is but a part of the Christian church, and the measure of truth which it possesses may only rightly be considered in relation to the whole. The work of the Church in the world today is surely not something to be carried out in miniature by each part, but it is a mighty whole to which each should contribute according to its special gifts and strengths.
The whole world is crazy…The only reason we’re not locked up in an institution is that there are so many of us. So we’re crazy. We’re living on crazy ideas about love, about relationships, about happiness, about joy, about everything. We’re crazy to the point, I’ve come to believe, that if everybody agrees on something, you can be sure it’s wrong. Every new idea, every great idea, when it first began was in a minority of one. hat man called Jesus Christ — minority of one. Everybody was saying something different from what he was saying. The Buddha — minority of one. Everybody was saying something different from what he was saying. I think it was Bertrand Russell who said, “Every great idea starts out as blasphemy.” That’s well and accurately put.
I never tire of Jesuit Anthony De Mello’s thoughts and challenges. Here is one that I have been reflecting on recently:
Now think of yourself listening to an orchestra in which the sound of the drum is so loud that nothing else can be heard. To enjoy the symphony you must be responsive to every instrument in the orchestra. To be in the state called love you must be sensitive to the uniqueness and beauty of every single thing and person around you. You can hardly be said to love what you do not even notice; and if you notice only a few beings to the exclusion of others, that is not love at all, for love excludes no one at all; it embraces the whole of life; it listens to the symphony as a whole, not to just one or the other of the musical instruments.
Stop for a while now to see how your attachments drain life’s symphony no less than the politician’s attachment to power and the businessman’s attachment to money have hardened them to the melody of life.
“If God is Love, then all Love is of God. Where Love is—there God is—without exception. If you truly love, or are loved, by anyone, then God is in that relationship, named or unnamed. God touches them through your love. And because God is love, and love is indestructible, as long as you love them you cannot loose them” (Peggy Morrison, Miracle Motors, p. 201).
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.
“The vocation of the intellectual is to turn easy answers into critical questions and to put those critical questions to people with power.”
“The quest for truth, the quest for the good, the quest for the beautiful, all require us to let suffering speak, let victims be visible, and demand that social misery be put on the agenda of those with power. So to me, pursuing the life of the mind is inextricably linked with he struggle of those on the margins of society who have been dehumanized.” –Dr. Cornel West in Hope on a Tightrope