Thursday, December 31, 2015

Unity Candle Wedding Poem

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Unity Candle Poem
by Kim (Beyer) Nunneley

I wrote this poem for my recent wedding. It's lovely to honor all the names of the two families that are also being woven together. Enjoy! 

Any marriage is more than two becoming one
for we could not
any of us,
be without the holy litany
Of lives around and within us.

Today is a day of marriage—
But it is also a day of weaving.
Of creating warp and woof with light,
with the threads of individuals supporting and in turn
supported.
With each pass,
we hereby trust
the shuttle of Time
will design
a whole and rich life for all herein named,
a handwoven fabric of family both complex and delightful.

Here we weave with candle flame for
just as light holds all colors and yet is One,
so, too, does a marriage seek to
illuminate and warm
scent and transform
small and solitary beings
into
something somehow greater than
the mere sum of 1+1.

The first candle we light for
Ashley and Michael Young, Joshua and Courtney Nunneley
For Karen and Wes Nunneley
For Tim and Becky Nunneley and their children Macie and Spencer
For Sue and John Spurbeck
For Nathan Young
Mike’s children, parents, siblings, niece, nephew and grandchildren

The second candle we light for
Rob and Ashley Yeager and Ian Nelson
For Marilyn and Del Beyer
For Brian and Kristy and Bryce Beyer
For Gabe and Isabelle Yeager
Kim’s children, parents, siblings, nephew and grandchildren

The third candle is the loom built fresh today
But from ancient ancestral wood;
The third candle is
The beeswax and wick of
Impossible honey-flight and nodding rootedness wed;
It is both prayer and vow,
the place where the rain touches light
And creates an arch linking
Two minds,
Two hearts,
Two souls.
 (Kim and Mike Light the Unity candle)

From two families,
two individuals.
From two individuals,
A single intimate gaze
Illuminated by plain weave and light.
Lord of all creation,
Let it be.
Let it be.
And Bless it all with Thy grace.

Amen.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Beyond "I Love you, BUT..."


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We sometimes believe we are clever or practicing tough love when we say “I love you, but…”

But the problem is, most people only hear the “but”.

The phrase, in fact, is a practice in control and manipulation, a poor substitute for directly addressing an issue.  It makes full Love conditional on a set of prescribed behaviors and actions.  With this phrase, so many children (and adults) have set out on an impossible search to find the correct way to be wholly and totally Loved.


Let’s just keep it simple. Let’s just say we Love without boundaries and conditions.  Then separate out what needs to be communicated and be clear with those communications.  Love is never anything but whole, complete, and unconditional.

Amen.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Labyrinthine

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My life is labyrinthine now
wandering a one-way path,
face forward,
bending, gaze down.
Trudge,
bungle along,
side-eye to escape routes,
curling-the-spiral thinking
and knowing
it’s only inevitable,
centered in God for a few breaths,
then sliding onward
the exit spilling out
in seasons and
actually
contented
sighs.


KB

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Humming to Myself


I have not hummed words to myself
since the tomatoes ripened and flooded
our hands.
But now,
the white bird feeder sways in a colder wind,
the feathered-ones somewhere else, hunkered,
the browned leaves restless on the still-green grass.
Such a joy to sit, and watch clouds race each other,
to feel my dog lean now and then against my knee.
Love needs such easy waiting,
watching for white snow and candle-light and
the hot-chocolate comfort of a Christmas wedding.
I don’t SEE well when time guzzles gasoline and miles,
when the florescent lights smear colors and calendars
into a mush of Halloweenthanksgivingchristmas gaudiness.
Later, when I put my head against my horse’s neck,
I will not be thinking of blue ribbons and white gloves,
but rather,
 the earthy smell of him,
his long neck bending and wrapping around me—
an equine benediction,
a slow and rambling love poem,
to the other half of my soul.


KB

Monday, October 26, 2015

Classroom Guha Lifelong Learning is born!

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Are you curious in what faith looks like in your second half of life?  Do you chew on theological words, have a curiosity in world religions, want to experience more deeply what we mean by "walking with Jesus" and not just worshiping from the safety of a Sunday morning pew?  Then I hope you will look me up on www.classroomguhalivelonglearning.com.  You will be able to work through the lessons there alone or pull a group together for even more fun and interest.

If you live in the Michigan area, I am always available to do retreats for your community based on the work you will see here.  Feel free to contact me at kim@classroomguhalifelonglearning.com.

Blessings and Joy,
Kim Beyer

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Maturing Faith: Retreat Sept 26th, 2015

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THIS CLASS IS NOW ONLINE AT CLASSROOMGUHALIFELONGLEARNING.BLOGSPOT.COM!

On September 26th, I will be leading a very interesting retreat about second-half of life Christian faith at the First Congregational United Church of Christ.  That day, we'll explore some of the models of spiritual development, work through some group exercises to come up with our own model, chew on the words of saints and current authors, take time to eat together, sing, worship and play a little.

I'll be posting the order of the day here after the retreat, as well as some detailed notes about what we discovered as a group.  That way, even if you can't attend the retreat, you can follow along with our little group in Alpena, MI.  I'll also be posting some links to some great explanations of the many ways thinkers classify spiritual developmental stages.  Not sure any one of them is "right", but I have always believed that knowledge is like pure white light streaming through a stained glass window-- interpretations, even wildly different ones, can still be quite lovely and add to the whole picture of our deeper self understanding.

Here are some of the quotes I will be offering folks that day!

1.       “Every time God forgives us, God is saying that God's own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to create with us.”
― Richard RohrFalling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

2.     " In the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for 'finding himself.' If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence."  Thomas Merton

3.      "As we experience this love, there is a temptation at times to become hostile to our earlier understandings, feeling embarrassed that we were so "simple" or "naive," or "brainwashed" or whatever terms arise when we haven't come to terms with our own story. These past understandings aren't to be denied or dismissed; they're to be embraced. Those experiences belong. Love demands that they belong. That's where we were at that point in our life and God met us there. Those moments were necessary for us to arrive here, at this place at this time, as we are. Love frees us to embrace all of our history, the history in which all things are being made new.”
-Rob Bell, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived

4.      “Philippians 2:5: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” The words call us up short as to what we are actually supposed to be doing on this path: not just admiring Jesus, but acquiring his consciousness.”
-Cynthia Bourgeault, Wisdom Jesus

5.       “The Christian life is not about pleasing God the finger-shaker and judge. It is not about believing now or being good now for the sake of heaven later. It is about entering a relationship in the present that begins to change everything now. Spirituality is about this process: the opening of the heart to the God who is already here.”  ― Marcus J. Borg, The God We Never Knew: Beyond Dogmatic Religion to a More Authentic Contemporary Faith

6.       “One must not always think so much about what one should do, but rather what one should be. Our works do not ennoble us; but we must ennoble our works.” ― Meister Eckhart

7.       “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which to look out Christ's compassion to the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; Yours are the hands with which he is to bless (people) now.” ― Teresa of Ávila

8.       We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light. --Hildegard of Bingen

9.       “You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.”― Thérèse de Lisieux

   “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” --St. Francis of Assisi

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Why Practice Qigong? Some Web Resources


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Here are a few important web-based research resources that show how effectively qigong meets the challenges of depression and anxiety, chronic pain, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, bone density issues, cardiac and cancer rehab, falls and balance problems, immune function, and addiction.  

Kim teaches Qigong Monday mornings at 10:15 at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Alpena, MI



Some Research-Based Information about Qigong

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085832/

This article is highly technical but if you are willing to wade through it, gives a very well researched overview of the health and psychological benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi.

Results from the Abstract Page

Seventy-seven articles met the inclusion criteria. The 9 outcome category groupings that emerged were: bone density (n=4), cardiopulmonary effects (n=19), physical function (n=16), falls and related risk factors (n=23), Quality of Life (n=17), self-efficacy (n=8), patient reported outcomes (n=13), psychological symptoms (n=27), and immune function (n=6).
http://www.qigonginstitute.org/html/papers.php
Fascinating research that ranges from cancer rehab to helping kick heroin addiction.  Technical reads, but fairly accessible to the general public.
http://www.qigonghealing.com/qigong/research.html
Well-known qigong instructor and therapist Ken Cohen shares some of the strong evidence that qigong is useful in fighting cancer.  Easy to access tables and commentary.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304373104579107190526946048
A very easy to read short article in the Wall Street Journal about the benefits of Qigong for folks suffering from depression.  Mention of a cancer study as well.
http://www.springforestqigong.com/index.php/sfq-for-health-professionals/medical-studies
Easy to digest look at a range of issues helped by Qigong practice, including chronic pain and depression.
http://life.gaiam.com/article/more-studies-confirm-tai-chi-and-qigong-heal-and-prevent-disease
Highlights of recent studies include:
  • A review of clinical trials of t’ai chi and qigong in older adults reported in the March 2009 issue of the Western Journal of Nursing Research notes that qigong improves physical functioning, limits fall risk, alleviates symptoms depression and anxiety, and lowers blood pressure in older adults. Last year, that same journal reported that qigong improved the physical health of middle-aged women
  • According to the February 2009 issue of The Journal of Nursing, “evidence-based research supports the argument that qigong improves cardiovascular-respiratory function and lipid profile, decreases blood sugar, and relieves anxiety and depression.”
  • Meanwhile, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine(NCCAM), part of the National Institutes of Health, has funded many studies related to both practices, linking t’ai chi to improved sleep quality in older adults, increased immunity to shingles virus in older adults, and healthy bone mineral density in postmenopausal women.
  • Clinical trials are underway investigating the use of t’ai chi for fibromyalgia,osteoarthritis of the knee and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Researchers are studying t’ai chi’s benefits for cancer survivors and patients with bone lossheart disease, type 2 diabetes and other conditions.
You will find, if you peruse the web, many more sites with interesting research.  As always, if you are not sure you are a good candidate to begin Qigong, check with your health professional. It is very possible to do qigong not just on land, but also in water, and to use a chair for balance assistance.  Seated Qigong is also a lovely way to enter into this ancient martial art.



Monday, August 24, 2015

Thoughts on the Emergent Church and the Sacred Mystery of the Religious Nones

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I attended a very intellectually stimulating discussion about the Religious Nones and the Emergent Church movement last Sunday and decided to add my own voice to the discussion!

As I listened yesterday, I began to realize that too often, these connected but also wildly discrete topics miss some subtle but also foundational elements.  For instance, we are learning a great deal of statistical information about the “nones”—they are not politically active (often they do not vote, in part because of the shift in this country that has led to politics and religious affiliation becoming more visible bed-partners); they are not comfortable with labeling of any kind; they are as likely to come from conservative as liberal, Orthodox or Catholic backgrounds; they are connected socially through technology; they have probably been there for a very long time (Gallup polls and the like only added the category “None” on their religious affiliation questions in 2007! It simply was not an option to check before that.) In general, it is simply more socially comfortable to say “none” than it was back in the 1950’s and even then, specifying church affiliation did not equate with church participation.  As interesting as all this is, we folks who are “churched” tend to see this group as those we can “bring back into the fold” without understanding that this stance is equivalent to a missionary going overseas to bring Christianity to the natives—we would rather make strategies and impose our way on this population instead of stepping back and listening to what the fringes are finding out there on the borders and wild lands of what has gone before.

I once asked a church I was working with to seriously open their pulpit to religious “nones” once a quarter and just honestly listen to why folks opt out of any church (and in many cases, ANY religious affiliation or practice). The congregation was horrified, in part, because they could not control what might be said to them. That is a very telling sign of what current writers might call “first half of life” reactions—the stage when we are concerned with the “bowl” of our religious lives.  That bowl is made up of tradition, authority issues, identity issues, boundaries and laws (doing it “right”).  If we are to meet the religious “nones” on their own turf, it must be in a spirit of second half of life theology and practice: inclusion; boundary-breaking; community service without sense of reward and taking many unusual shapes; selflessness and with a lack of tribalism; and a firm and mature experiential and even contemplative acumen. 

Christianity has always been about the fringes, as Richar Rohr so beautifully points out time and time again.  It has indeed been the fringe-folk and marginalized that have actually determined the new shape and theology that Christianity has and will take over time, not the established tradition and its heavily invested professional staff. Ministers and other “churched” folks will have to take seriously the injunction to become as “little children” or as Suzuki-Roshi once said, “put on the beginner’s mind” to sit at the knee of the “nones” and allow them to lead us, not the other way around! There is precious little evidence that this is being done, perhaps in part because it leads to a much more difficult question:  what is church actually for?

And, ironically, this is perhaps the central question driving the Emergent Church movement as well.

At different times in history and in different theological veins, this question has shifted and changed.  Each generation must ask it again, for their time and place in the development of humankind.  Certainly, for some, it was the primary way to insure a safe and happy afterlife and stay out of hell.  In other times and places, it was primarily an agent for social aid and action (once churches were the cornerstone of healthcare, education, the arts, public assistance and what have you—all elements taken over by our governments now to ensure a broader and more fair and equal delivery of such services). Sometimes, it was a membership card for an active citizen in a community—and unless you were churched, you suffered very real economic oppression and social shunning. Another face the church has worn is the tool or partner of a given political system, a trend we are currently experiencing again as American government tries to identify itself as Christian alone.

So I ask again: what is church for today, here and now, in America?

I hope you will notice the “reasons” for church above are all first half of life constructions—identity, safety, authority, “doing it right”, boundaries and laws.  In any given population, these will usually be the main driving force behind most organized religion, but currently, many people are actively challenging and calling into question these old “reasons to be” religious. And in this time of change, both church members and those on the outside are asking, in essence, “is this all religion is?”  For some, the clear answer is yes—this is all religion is--and they opt out of the entire enterprise.  But many of those who are choosing to stay in the faith (if not necessarily under a given Protestant, Orthodox, or Catholic label) have one very important thing in common that most people scratching their head at the externals of the Emergent Church movement miss when they try to understand or even implement the ideas of the Emergent Church in their own pre-existing systems and buildings: It will not matter how much you change the externals of worship, participation, music delivery and membership! First and primarily, you must change the theology of the faith from first half of life concerns to those of the second half of life realizations!

The theology of the best examples of the Emergent Church tends to reflect selfless service not done for God or the Church but because it simply needs to be done; a more interactive, constantly evolving and thinking/feeling theology versus a pat set of answers based on church creed, doctrine and dogmas; a willingness to step back from tradition and open one’s self to new “breaths of the Spirit”; and a commitment to deep inclusion where none are rejected or outcast. This lead to some very real changes—taking the experiences of people of other faiths seriously and even joyfully without losing the touchstone of one’s own spiritual journey; union and walking with the way of Jesus and the consciousness icon of Christ (the Wisdom Jesus movement for example), not merely worshiping or thinking one’s self “less than” or “beholden to” or "glorifying" a savior figure; taking seriously the arts, new media forms and music as avenues more powerful than words and abstract verbal ideas; dispensing more and more with the cult of the personality—the minister up front and exerting control and influence over his or her flock; children as active participants in all the parts of church and not relegated to Sunday school; taking seriously the personal practices and disciplines of a life of faith such as meditation, body prayers, art and journaling; on and on.  This emphasizes the importance of a looser ego structure, silence (rather than doing all the talking “to” God), inclusion and boundary breaking.  In a sense, this is the deep call of “standing” that is such a critical part of the Gospels and works of a more ancient Christianity like the Gospel of Thomas.  It is not about membership, social and political correctness, tribalism and law or personal identity building.  The Emergent Church is, I think answering the great question of “what is religion for” with a resounding and exciting idea: just as it is said that the Sabbath is made for humans, not humans for the Sabbath, religion is for humankind, not humankind for religion.  Religion is for the experiential framing of a mature thinking and feeling life, lived in communion with God and others, so it once again becomes true to its roots: Religio: To Bind Back.  Bind back this fragmentation, alienation and the tender fears of a new Axial Age people to a center that holds, always and forever, far beyond the vagaries of this building, this tradition, this label, this denomination, this pastor, this nation, this political system, this race, this dogma and creed. 


Ameyn.

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Maturing Faith: Two Analogies


Image result for public domain image of preparing soup 

Faith is like preparing a soup in the fall, adding all the vegetables that comprehend the dark like dusty potatoes and hairy carrots and papery onions as well as those that kiss the sun like fat red tomatoes and bounding little peas and the swoosh of yellow bean curves.  I crush in dried and fresh herbs, splash in the water that has seeped over centuries into my well, stir with wooden spoon that once nodded and bobbed in the wind as part of a tree. It all flows into my pot and I turn up the heat of life until everything is bouncing and boiling together, and if I am patient, I then let it simmer for a very long time. The moist and savory smell is the very breath of the soup, and my dog’s nose trembles as she reaches up cautiously to the stove.  I have a choice when I serve this beautiful moment in time as a meal.  I can sit it on the table and worship that bowl until time decays everything and dries it all out or I can take it in, mouthful by mouthful, savoring, making it part of me, and understanding that it will also mean a trip to the bathroom to get rid of what will poison this body, mind and spirit. Either way, the bowl of soup will participate in the on-going transformation of all things, including me—how could it not?-- that is the great constant of reality.  Is this not communion?

Faith is also the camera lens I favor, that which frames and clarifies the picture of the world I alone see. This is not selfishness or conceit. Give a thousand people the same camera and lens and have them shoot the same still life and not one picture will be the same.  Discerning each object my eye falls upon, I can also change lenses, from one focused on the microcosm to one taking in wide angles and sweeping vistas.  It is not that reality changes, it is how I see it that is altered and captured and preserved for a moment in time.  I could lay all my pictures out, and say this is reality.  But already the light has shifted, the objects moved, and the “I” who discerned what was beautiful and clear and logical and right cannot be found either. Yet the scene is set anew, flowing on, ripe for creative participation. Is this not grace?

I have spent my life trading in the theology of words, but such things are only camera lenses and soup ingredients.  Who I am God, and who are You?  Come, your meal is ready and afterwards, I will share my pictures with you and we can giggle, our heads inclined to one another.


KB

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Nothing grows in straight lines

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Today, I wish for you
A clear morning on the lake--
the waves wandering into ripples,
the fish hanging in the water,
their tails slow undulations
holding their space in motion.
Light bends through breeze-woven weeds,
while the music of the dam rises and falls,
Jazz cords of rock voice.

Yes, I know.
This day is pressed on all sides with memories

But remember--
Nothing grows in truly straight lines;
Nothing that speaks
can ever be perfectly still--
the rain-scented wind carved these words for me.

KB


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Audio Version of The Hidden Message of the Lost Gospel of Thomas Available NOW!


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Click on the link below to order your copy of the audio version of my newest book.  Previously published as Yeshua's Yoga, this work explores the message of non-dual awareness that permeated this widely read Early Christian text.  Original responsive poetry, textual exegesis, Eastern literature cognates and important supporting essays by the late Rev, Dr. Tom Thresher, Rev. Sue Sutherland-Hanson and theologian Lynn Bauman contribute to a fascinating and exciting introduction to this important and ancient document.  Be prepared to meet the man we call Jesus in a way that is fresh, relevant, compassion-filled and at times brimming with humor.  Blessings on your journey!

 http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Message-Lost-Gospel-Thomas/dp/B013LIFSBS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1439390130&sr=8-2&keywords=the+hidden+message+of+the+lost+gospel+of+thomas

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Seeded in Snow

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Have you walked the upper pasture in the wind,
And counted the nodding clover there,
Each head, a handful of seeds sipping light?
I remember wading through spring snow to cast
Little dark flecks, laughing
As we plunged through the deeper drifts.
How absurd, planting flowers in grayness and cold.
But that is how I trust all things, Love—
Purple and green and sugary scents burst
From the darkest and plainest of nudges,
And the ridiculously joyful act
Of simply beginning.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dressage: A Poem


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The words drudge,
shred this wildflower language tangle
petal by petal.
How can I explain to a gardener
how four hooves cup the bare dirt,
dusty, unforgiving, even to my shock-absorber ankles,
But OH!
The rhythm shudders creation
Awake
long before
mere craft
can even grasp the movement of the whip.


KB

Different Kind of Heat


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Do you know
somehow
I lay beneath the trembling fan
feeling every one of these 92 degrees,
staring at the way the blinds ribbon the light
and thought about how you 
stand
in air conditioning and a tie
greeting the hot, the frustrated, the tired.

A different kind of heat,
and both go to the bone.

I want you to text me,
to say you heard me,
sometime
today 
but
it will have to be enough to send my mind's eye
to peek at the spread of your shoulders
and dream of cold and snuggling and venison stew
scenting the air.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Learning to Stand: A sermon for August 9, 2015


Image result for public domain images of royal ease quan yin

I recently purchased a Quarterhorse mare and started consistently riding for the first time in many years.  Because I’d been away from the horse world for so long, I was sort of curious about how to transition a young horse from Western to Dressage. I turned, as many my age do, to the wisdom of YouTube.  And there I found a trainer doing quite remarkable things with difficult horses, largely by teaching human beings to stand.  Now, I will tell you when 1000 lbs. of horse decides she really wants to occupy your space, and you in turn decide not to give it up, takes a rare kind of trust in the universe!

OK, so I admit it was not a wrestling match at all.  This trainer knew how to use his upper body to create distance between himself and the horse, how to direct the horse’s energy around him, and make use of clear behavioral stimuli to keep himself out of danger.  But the principles we are going to talk about today—about how to Stand with a capital “s” were all in play there, and I found myself grinning away.

Let’s back up just a bit now.  The work I’d like to explore with you is called the Gospel of Thomas and before you think you know anything about Christianity, I want you to uncross your arms, put both feet on the floor and breathe!  The Jesus of this ancient document, found in its entirety close to Nag Hammadi Egypt in 1945, is very different from the stories of him that made it into the accepted canon.  At the Council of Nicaea in 325, convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine, about a third of the Bishops of the young Christian church were asked to define the faith for the first time, and this widely read and disseminated work was out on its ear.  As we shall see, the main reason this ousting occurred was because the text asked seekers to explore, challenge, reason and finally, to Stand up into the cosmos with dignity and a sense of regal awareness rather than simply “believe”. Such teachings created strong, faith-filled individuals but what Emperor Constantine and the bishops really wanted was a faith that would undergird an empire and help control a given population. The Gospel of Thomas is wildly anti-institutional, very snide about academics and priests, and firmly grounded in an egalitarian belief in the basic goodness of humanity. It reads much more like a Buddhist or Vedantic text than the more familiar Matthew, Mark and Luke, something I explore in more detail in my book The Hidden Message of the Lost Gospel of Thomas.

To convey to you the power of this text, you need to know that the work contains a number of concepts that are signaled by particular words or phrases.  For example, most Logia (or sayings) about grapevines address how a student should function in community.  The word Inebriation, unlike the Sufi’s code for “drunk on God to the point of union” is more closely related to the inability to see reality as such.  Children are often used to illustrate the willingness to respond to reality but without the discernment that allows an adult to truly choose his or her actions. In other words, concepts are consistently encoded into the text and developed Logia by Logia in a way that theologian Lynn Bauman has called “symphonic”.

The other idea that is important to grasp about this work is that it actually serves as a treatise on the stages of an individual’s spiritual journey.  The first 19 Logia address the search for a meaningful path, the next 19 explore what happens when you “find” your path, the next set looks at the “trouble” that arises when your comfortable  and well-patched paradigms begin to shift.  “Wonder” arises when you begin to see the world through new eyes, and as you become more skilled in this seeing, you begin to learn to “reign” over yourself and your habitual responses to reality. Finally, the path is so much a part of you that you can rest, but not in the sense of being a couch potato!  Your rest is more like wu wei, the effortless and easeful actions of a being deeply in his or her center both physically and emotionally.  Find a picture of Quan Yin in her Royal Ease pose (or see the picture at the top of this blog entry)—that is rest par excellence. Or watch a Grand Prix freestyle dressage rider on YouTube.  These are good examples of both Standing and Resting.

Today, we’re going to explore on fascinating concept—what it means to “stand”.  Earlier in the service, you heard two of the logia that illustrate just what this spiritual practice demands—the warrior’s bravery to separate from tribe and family mixed with more subtle but no less demanding ability to shake free of internal misconceptions and neurosis because you have a “bigger” sense of what it means to be an individual unified with your Beginning Place. Standing is, in a sense, the ultimate goal of this spiritual path.  Like the horse trainer, it means being able to hold the ground with your feet while you respond accurately, calmly and effectively to the chaos of reality around you. 

But rather than spell everything out for you, I’m going to invite you to listen to how I respond to the great themes of standing.  As we work through the logia and my original poetry together, keep mental notes about what you “heard” about what it means to stand.  I’ll have my list at the very end—see how it jives with your own!




Logion 28
Yeshua says,
“I stood to my feet
in the midst of the cosmos,
appearing outwardly in flesh.
I discovered that all were drunk
and none were thirsty,
and my soul ached for
the children of humanity.
For their hearts are blind
and they cannot see from within.
They have come into the cosmos empty,
and they are leaving it empty.
At the moment, you are inebriated,
but free from the effects of wine,
you too may turn and stand.”

Until you believe
with each inhale
you share in the very rise and falls of stars,
emptiness
will fill you instead.
Until you see that
standing,
you connect heaven and earth,
you are blind
to even the presence of light.
Until you hear that pure note
ringing through everything,
everyone,
you crouch alone,
hands covering your head,
and this fecund mud
of your mind
will never really appreciate
the flesh that wants to bloom.

Logion 3

Yeshua says,

“If your spiritual guides say to you,
‘Look, the divine Realm is
in the sky,’
well, then, the birds
will get there ahead of you.
If they say,
‘It is in the sea,’
then the fish will precede you.

No, divine Reality exists
inside and around you.

Only when you have come to know
your true Self will you be fully known—
realizing at last that you
are a child of the Living One.
If, however, you never come to know who you
truly are,
you are a poverty-stricken being
and it is your ‘self’
which lies impoverished.”


Wisdom has no single place in sky or sea,
no one place to rest its head on the earth
because
all places vibrate with it,
 a spinning yin-yang
we can only glimpse
when we jerk it down
into blacks and whites.
But I challenge you:
lean toward the gray,
toward the dust of the caravan ahead of you,
and feel the wind of process and paradox.
We are not called to merely sit,
staring,
but to dance.

Logion 6
His students asked him,
“Do you want us to fast?
How shall we pray?
Should we give offerings?
From what food must we abstain?”
Yeshua answered,
“Stop lying.
Do not do what you hate
because everything here lies open
before heaven.
Nothing hidden remains secret,
for the veil will be stripped away from all
that lies concealed behind it.”

Bind me back to a time
when religion was not
another word for psychology;
when the shaman’s journey
or the Christian Mass
told the story of relationship,
illuminated the ties that bound
life to life to
Mystery.

We work too hard now—
what does life mean?
How does the past haunt today?
Who are all these voices clamoring inside?
I wonder—
why not invite it all in and serve tea?
and afterwards,
gently,
walk the line between earth and water and sky,
hum a tune from childhood,
and recall
not one of us arose from independent nothingness.
Reweave yourself, but intuitively,
in the meal served,
in the hat knitted and passed on,
in the laughter in the grocery check-out line.
If sin is simply that which is “unripe”,
then explode with flavor, with juice,
or if it is time,
with a fearless releasing to earth.
Live interwoven with it all,
and tell me
where you can really fall?


Logion 18

His students said to him,

“So tell us, then,
what our end and
destiny will be?”

Yeshua answered,

“have you already discovered
your origin so that now
you are free to seek after your end?
It is only at your source
that you will find your destiny.
Blessed are those who come to stand in their
place of origination,
for it is there that they will know their end—
never tasting death.”

Spin these cycles round again,
the seed to plant to seed,
the egg to hen to egg,
the nut to tree to nut,
and when your mind reaches out
to stop that glorious
spiraling
creative
breathing of the universe,
remember
fence lines and
walls
lines of words
and moats of thought,
all must one day swirl away
in stardust.
Endings are for those
who are a little afraid
of
their
beginnings...
so
spin these cycles round again
and this time
laugh
out-loud.


Logion 22

Yeshua noticed infants nursing and said
to his students,

“These little ones taking milk are
like those on the way to the kingdom.”

So they asked him,
“If we too are ‘little ones’
are we on our way into the kingdom?”

Yeshua replied,
“When you are able
to make two become one,
the inside like the outside,
and the outside like the inside,
the higher like the lower,
so that a man is no longer male,
and a woman, female
but male and female become a single whole;
when you are able to fashion
an eye to replace an eye
and form a hand in place of a hand,
or a foot for a foot
making one image supercede another—
then you will enter in.”

Are we not, all of us,
the answer to every paradox?
From two came one,
 sexual union
then
a fetus
 now female, now male—
mixing and trading genders in the darkness.
Did we not sense the oneness in that womb,
and even when we became two,
our tiny lungs gasping in our first taste of separation,
(we cried, remember?)
we, you, me, I
returned again to a oneness to suckle,
both fed and satisfied at once?

In every creative act we dance,
first one, then two, then one again;
seer and seen,
leaping
from that union of eye with form
only to swirl together
in the unity of consciousness,
the place where
we dip
and put brush to canvas.

No great effort to see and then
form foot from foot
or hand from hand--
it is as easy as
just catching that playful blink
that separates the
elements
of
every
paradox.


Logion 23

Yeshua says

“I choose you,
one from a thousand,
two from ten-thousand,
and you will stand to your own feet
having become single
and whole.”

I notice what is missing—
when a number is given,
hinting at
special-ness,
chosen-ness,
I automatically
understand it in terms of human beings.
One in ten-thousand...
but really, ten-thousand
whatsits?

I miss how we all stand up out of
clay and rock,
wave and sky,
fir, birdseed,
wing,
four-legged ones,
scales and forked tongues,
and bi-hooves
ice and stars
dust and waterfalls.

But then, maybe,
those entities don’t need to recognize themselves
as already single and whole,
as
endlessly and effortlessly
standing.


Logion 39

Yeshua says,

“Your scholars and religious leaders
have taken the keys
of knowledge and
locked them away.
They have not used them
to enter in, nor have they allowed those desiring
it to do so.
You, therefore, must be
as subtle as serpents and
as guileless as doves.”

It’s tedious to weed the labyrinth,
walk a few steps, winding
into some designated middle,
flick the bit of green
from its grip on reddish stone and
pocket it for the compost pile.
Every now and then I look up—
how much further
or worse
what’s for lunch?
I swear the path in
is longer than the path out,
but maybe that’s a good thing...
I laugh when I see a chickadee flit
over the lines and curves
and drop
gracefully into the center.
A moment’s jitterbug and startle
and she is away again.

I used to color like that in kindergarten—
no respect for lines at all.


 Logion 42

Yeshua says,

“Come into being
as you pass
away.”

What editors of life we tend to be,
adding the brush of highlights to good memories,
squirreling away the shadows at the back of closets,
giving the bad experience the sanctifying spin of lessons learned,
categorizing, objectifying,
everything piled up on the shoulders of a weighty
“I”.

Editors are experiencers of an experiencer’s experience.

What, then, is being?
Take ten breaths
after
this
period.


Logion 47

Yeshua says,

“No one can mount two horses
or draw two bows at once,
and you cannot serve
two masters at the same time.
If you honor one,
the other will be offended.

No one drinks a vintage wine
and immediately wants
wine freshly bottled.
New wine is not put into
old containers lest it be ruined,
nor is aged wine put into
new barrels lest it spoil.

Also, old cloth is not sewn
onto new garments because
it only makes the tear worse.”


Sometimes,
we mistake our own narrow path
for the only one,
the best one.
And that’s because maybe it is
for us.
Still,
I lived in a woods riddled with paths,
some wide and crafted two-tracks,
some the deer tramped
on their way to living water.
I’ve walked them all
and really
any of them are easier
than tripping
through the bracken and ankle-deep mud.
Sooner or later,
they all get to the river
or the asphalt.

But when you are really turned around and lost,
the light shadowing the trees,
the cold pinching your nose shut,
the darkened forest rustle startling you,
I hope you have a compass or GPS,
magnetic north or satellites,
something
with
the
bigger
picture
that can lead you home.


Logion 52

His students said,

“Each of Israel’s
twenty-four prophets
spoke about you.”

Yeshua said,

“You ignore the one living in your
presence and talk only about the dead.”

There are times when the words fail,
no wisdom in the past,
no expectations of a future,
and I can only touch the holes on my flute,
breathing through them
what sorrows and joys have short-circuited
 the cement logic centers in my mind,
eyes closed,
tiny rays of light sneaking into the carved instrument
getting mixed up with O2 and spare change,
emerging just loud enough
that the beaver cutting through the first cattail shoots
drums his one-beat response--
a flat tail hitting the water
as he dives into his own
mystery.


Logion 66

Yeshua says,

“Bring me the stone
the builders discarded.
That one will be the key.”
There are times when the words fail,
no wisdom in the past,
no expectations of a future,
and I can only touch the holes on my flute,
breathing through them
what sorrows and joys have short-circuited
the cement logic centers in my mind,
eyes closed,
tiny rays of light sneaking into the carved instrument
getting mixed up with O2 and spare change,
emerging just loud enough
that the beaver cutting through the first cattail shoots
drums his one-beat response--
a flat tail hitting the water
as he dives into his own
mystery.

Logion 68
Yeshua says,

“Blessed are you, who
in the midst of persecution,
when they hate
and pursue you
even to the core of your being,
cannot find “you” anywhere.”

In some Buddhist teachings
we’re told:
“drive all blames onto yourself.”
It’s a brilliant strategy, really,
because then you’ll come to
 understand
that
persecution
comes out of
stiffening
before
another--
denying their words,
decrying their actions,
creating of them an “other”
and
you’ll suddenly see
only rigid things can contend—
watch the grass and the windstorm
the fish in the current,
the slim slip of green breaking through rock,
water hollowing out canyons.

And then,
the ultimate joke hits--
who is this “self” you’re
driving the blame into anyway?
(Yes, you certainly can smile now
or say
amen .)

Logion 70

Yeshua says,

“When you give birth
to that which is
within yourself,
what you bring forth will save you.
If you possess nothing within,
that absence will destroy you.”

Have I looked into Your face,
and not seen a thousand-thousand ripples
of creative outpouring?
Forgive me then,
I did not understand.
Words and walls You’ve
pushed aside now,
and in the place where
I once imagined a labyrinth laid out
in stone and shell,
the sheep are grazing, knee-deep in greenest grass,
their winter coats dirty
but their ears flicking,
as they walk, spiraling.

Logion 88

Yeshua says,

“The angels and the prophets
 will come and bring you
what already belongs to you,
and you will give them
what you have to give.
But ask yourself this:
when may they come
and receive back from you
what already belongs to them?”

What is the exchange rate for a
prophetic voice in the wages
of our age?
How do we value the angel,
the miracle,
or
the times when we stood in all
our glorious aloneness
and
could
do
nothing?
The very cloth on your body is
woven of under and over threads,
cotton relationship caught up
in nap and hue,
and tell me
where does the prophet or angel
end
and you
begin?
When you can effortlessly name that weave,
in your own word and metaphors,
then,
with grace,
will you reign.


Logion 98
  
Yeshua says,

“The Father’s realm
is like a man wanting
to kill someone powerful.
So he draws a sword
in his own house
and puts it through the wall
to test whether or not
his hand is actually strong enough.
Then he goes out and slays the giant.”

How tired they seem,
a surging mania,
their social action signs waving,
their breath like so much mist
dissipating on the air,
their fingers gripping their convictions
like plants in loose soil.
The firs lean close,
ever polite,
and the water laps not far away,
its rhythm set by the lamp-light moon.
All things must act,
even God
but
what heavenly bodies
nudge those demonstrators,
and Who do they see
when the soldiers
come
to the fence line?

The owl hoots one last greeting
from the deep
and closes his golden eyes.

Logion 101

Yeshua says,

“Whoever does not reject
father and mother
in the way I do
cannot be my student.
Whoever does not welcome
father and mother as I do
cannot be my disciple,
for my mother brought me forth,
but Truth gave me life.”


The child must awaken.
The sleepy smiles and acquiescence
morph into the slammed door,
the silence.
It’s not forever
and doesn’t mean
he or she doesn’t love you—
indeed,
without the walls
even the most well-meaning
parent consumes in the end
the delicate and separate
Becoming.

The butterfly-adult is only holding the tension
between the parent and their values
and
the deeper agape
that sees into the universal heart—
we love for the sake of God
in all things.

Logion 104

They said to Yeshua,

“Come, then,
Let us fast and pray.”

He said to them,

“Have I sinned?
Have I been overcome?
No, only when the bridegroom
leaves the bridal chamber
will it be time to fast and pray.”

   There is an urge today,
to lay my head down on the keyboard.
Not to cry, no,
that would mean
a trip to the city to replace the tech—
it doesn’t do well with salt and water
splashing on JKL;
rather,
the surgery drained something I’d taken for granted—
a nice, smooth round belly,
with fiery stretch marks, true,
and
my usually bounding energy that now
runs on three huge mugs of green tea.

It’s all a passing piece of elevator music-
energy and the lack of it,
this new body and the way it looked a year ago,
and if I shut my eyes here,
filling my little sac of mostly water with
breath,
ruach,
and re-find
refine
the notes that hover always--
an internal sky alive with vibration,
melody that precedes words or songs or baby cries,
I will have my fast and prayer
and
will
enter into the bridal chamber where
the Beloved laughs and traces my scars
and helps me try on the different tattoos
of transformation.


Logion 110

Yeshua says,

 “Whoever finds the cosmos
and becomes rich
must ultimately let the cosmos go.”

At eighteen,
I never would have guessed
that my riding and art and showmanship trophies
 might end up in the dumpster,
the ribbons that once ran the circuit of my room,
 squashed together and thrown out
with mash potatoes and steak bones,
my old Miss Thunder Bay sash
wadded up in some corner of my
son’s dresser to plug a hole.
It wasn’t a painful letting go—
just so much plastic and faux-marble,
just so much fake silk and yellow thread—
and I need less tangible things now
to mirror the worth of my existence.

And now, lets put this all together!

To “Stand” means:

1.     You are able to respond to reality as it is.
2.     Understanding who you really are—both an individual, but also a participant in a greater Unity.
3.     Being authentic.
4.     Understanding that where you began is where you will also end—and that this is good news!
5.     You Reconcile all opposites and contradictions within.
6.     You grasp personal wholeness and “enoughness”.
7.     You actively practice discernment in all your experiences of life.
8.     You release the separate and grasping egoic part of yourself.
9.     You are unified in both your outer and inner actions
10.                        You stop your idealization of the past and its prophets and live mindfully in the NOW
11.                        You laugh when you “get” that your imperfection IS your perfection
12.                        You develop the ability to take criticism and emotional pain precisely because there is no “you” there to for it to attach to.
13.                        You understand that you have the resources to stand within you.
14.                        You actively practice reciprocity and equality—you show you never stand wholly alone.
15.                        You befriend your own strengths, weaknesses, motivations and biases so you can stand confidently in the world
16.                        You have found that the cosmos is never an either/or; you accept the concept of Both/And that allows you to stand.
17.                        You are discerning in the use of your spiritual tools, rather than simply relying on rote tradition or discipline.
18.                        You release even the concept of enlightenment, the feeling of the “specialness” of standing.


Your list might be different; indeed, that is the magic of any piece of good spiritual literature! But I do hope we have, together, come away with the sense that once there were forms of Christianity that encouraged wisdom, expression, discernment, and leadership in a way far beyond the confines of mere belief.  Indeed, that a man named Yeshua once gave us his greatest gift—his trust that we would learn to Stand!  Ameyn.

If you would like to read more about the Gospel of Thomas, I invite you to read my book: The Hidden Message of the Lost Gospel of Thomas.  Here is the link to the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Message-Lost-Gospel-Thomas-ebook/dp/B0106CG23U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1438011664&sr=8-1&keywords=the+hidden+message+of+the+lost+gospel+of+thomas