22 June 2012

Sixth Understanding


6. In this we are seeking to be authentic people, so that there is nothing false about us. We refuse to wear masks, seeing our lives whole and entire, being utterly honest with ourselves. Integrity toward others flows out of fearless personal honesty. There is a need to break down the difference between the sacred and the secular; to be the same on Monday as Sunday; to be the same at work as at home; to be the same with our family as with our friends and colleagues.

This Understanding piggybacks on the previous understandings. What I like about this one is the sentence, “There is a need to break down the difference between the sacred and the secular...” Indeed there is! The Celtic Christians didn’t see a difference between the sacred and the secular. While they did see a difference between our realm and god’s realm, life in our realm was not divided. They saw sacredness in all of life. There are plenty of prayers, rituals, incantations, etc., that reflect this. There’s a great story about men and women bowing to the new moon and offering a prayer. This wasn’t a pagan ritual but a reverential prayer to the creator god:

In name of the Holy Spirit of grace,
In name of the Father of the City of peace,
In name of Jesus who took death off us,
Oh! in name of the Three who shield us in every need,
If well thou hast found us tonight,
Seven times better mayest thou leave us without harm,
     Thou bright white Moon of the seasons,
     Bright white Moon of the seasons.
The New Moon,” Carmina Gadelica, Vol. 1

This way of seeing is critical for us today. For too long we have seen creation as something evil; something that is so corrupt that it must be destroyed. A lot of people understand eschatology (the study of the “end”) in this way. They interpret such passages as 2Peter 3.7; Revelation 20.11; and Revelation 21.1 in such a way that there isn’t a reason to work for ecological change. And while I don’t have the room to discuss these passages here, I will just say that there are other ways of understanding them. And this other understanding is what we are striving for in the Lindisfarne Community.

To see creation as holy, just as holy as our churches, temples, mosques, Scripture, each other, or whatever we deem as sacred is something that the world desperately needs right now. The other way of seeing seems to perpetuate a carefree attitude about the earth and its resources. However, if we were to see the earth as sacred, that “every bit of land is a holy land and every drop of water is a holy water” (Franti, 20061), then we will do what we can to make sure that it’s respected and protected.

This same type of seeing can heal, not only creation, but also our relationships within families, neighbors, communities, and nations. When we see each person as our brother or sister, then our attitudes toward them change. We would react to the acts of injustice done to them the way we would as if they had been done our Mothers or Fathers. Furthermore, if we see that everything we do as a service to god, then even the most mundane tasks become a prayer.

For me, this type of seeing is what we mean by “break[ing] down the difference between the sacred and the secular.” It is recognizing the light of creation, the light of god, in all things. And once we do that, we begin to view our lives in totally different ways. We see that we are stewards, co-workers with god in all of life. We will recognize that our call to be Christ in the world is not limited to those who view things like we do. We will see that the meaning of being Christ in the world is to participate in the vocation of liberation and reconciliation for the whole cosmos.

Genesis 1.31; CEB: God saw everything [that was] made: it was supremely good.



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In the Love of the Three in One,

Br Jack+, LC

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1. Michael Franti and Spearhead, “Hello Bonjour,” Yell Fire, July 2006, ANTI- Records, Los Angeles.

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