Take Me to the River

The following is the Gospel reading from today’s Episcopal lectionary:

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Mark 1:4-11

This strikes me as an essential narrative about willingness to surrender, and the gifts it brings.

As Richard Rohr, OFM, points out, Jesus never said “worship me”. However, he did invite others to “follow me”. So, what would it be like to follow him into the water?

Symbolically, this act marks a desire for, and a process of, transformation known as repentance. As I mentioned in an earlier blog (https://soulintentionblog.com/2011/11/13/repent-repent/), this transformation acknowledges our need to go beyond the mind we have – which, as I have experienced it, is the ego-driven mind (which can be grasping, needy, petty and dualistic, at worst) – to the larger mind (unitive, or non-dualistic; the Self, as the Jungians might say; the mind of God). This is the mind that is caricatured in the following joke:

Q: “What did the Buddhist say to the sidewalk hotdog vendor?”

A: “Make me one with everything.”

But, don’t I love my small mind? The self-righteousness it affords? The attachments I deem so necessary to my well-being?

Then, by extension, I must also love the pain, isolation and defeat these bring. Or, at least, I find them safe and well-worn. Comfortable, like shoes too battered to ever leave the house; perfect for slouching about, but completely unserviceable for movement in the larger world.

At some point, I will need to move beyond my small mind if I am ever to progress. So, into the water I go…the water of surrender. Acknowledging that my small mind is with me, and shall always be, and expressing a desire to move beyond it.

Whatever we may believe, doctrinally, about Jesus, it is clear that he was a healer, a prophet, a wisdom teacher (see Marcus Borg on these points), and a master of unitive thinking.  He saw, and proclaimed, the One-ness of things. And, as a result, I believe, he was able to understand that he was, and that we all are, Beloved.

Easy for Him, we say! But, if I am not yet a master of non-dual thinking, how do I go about this? Cynthia Bourgeault maintains that Centering Prayer helps us move beyond our dualitsic operating system into unitive experience. (see Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening) So, practice, practice, practice!

And, in the meantime, to borrow sage advice from the recovery community, I can “act as if”, or “fake it ‘til I make it.”

What would it mean to act as if I am beloved?

To act as if all other people are, as well?

  • Those in my immediate circle?
  • Those with whom I come into casual contact each day?
  • Those across the country and the globe, even if they are barely in my consciousness?

To assume that all of creation – our Mother earth, and all she nurtures – is beloved?

For me, this week, here’s a simple action I can take: a different approach when I, again, call my cell provider about an ongoing problem. I would hope to be less adversarial. More respectful.

What would it mean for you?

About Soul Intention

"Spirituality is, ultimately, about what we do with...desire. What we do with our longings, both in terms of handling the pain and the hope they bring us, that is our spirituality." from The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser. Paraphrasing what Gerald May has said, in his book Will and Spirit, spirituality is our experience and interpretation of our relationship with the Sacred. The intent of this blog is to explore for myself, and to invite others to explore with me, just what is it we do with our desire? What is our spirituality? Mine has been shaped by many things...in my formative years, by the Roman Catholic church. In the last decade, by the 12 steps. Most recently, by the Episcopal Church. And, always, always, by the sense that Nature helped to reveal the Great Mystery, of which we are all a part. So, my spirituality includes concrete practices, like the Steps, as well as probing more philosophical matters. I was certified, in January 2011, as a Spiritual Director by the Haden Institute. During those 21 months of study, which included a broad range of topics from Celtic Spirituality, to the Christian Mystics, to Jungian Depth psychology, I was given the space and time to ponder my own spiritual journey, hear about others' paths, and benefit from participation in an intentional community. My hope is that this blog can engender a similar conversation. Peace, Paul
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1 Response to Take Me to the River

  1. brmark says:

    What does it mean for me? Feeling feelings and not acting on them compulsively/acting out on them…

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