I am just preparing some things for our annual ‘wilderness retreat’, which is this weekend. This is a thing that I have been doing with friends for more years than I care to remember- we charter a boat and spend a few days on a deserted Scottish island. It is usually a wonderful combination of the sacred and the very profane- time in silence and time in uproarous laughter around a fireside- incidentally there are a couple of spaces free on the boat if anyone wants to jump in last minute and join us. (Drop me a message for more details.)
One of the things I find really useful about these weekends is that they make me stop and take stock- both over the weekend, but also in the prep for them. I always try hard to listen a take a reading of my perceptions of what feels important spiritually both personally and more broadly. When we commit ourselves to this work, it often seems to me that we discover (or perhaps we are gifted) a space in which oxygen seems richer and we breathe more deeply for a while.
As part of this I listened to this podcast, which seemed to have a lot of echoes with my own journey at the moment- the importance of wilderness to our spiritual journeys being one of the obvious themes.
However, there were other resonances too; to do with a shifting of the central assumptions that have long unperpinned western Christianity towards (and this is my summary) two main things;
- Non dualism- a rejection of old simple certainties and a move towards a more fluid both/and approach to doctine
- Connection/one-ness- a return, or a rediscovery, of the interconnectedness of all things.
I could say so much more about this, but suffice it to say that one point in the podcast helped me see this more clearly. Victoria Loorz makes a point about the greek word Logos, usually translated in the Bible as ‘the word’. The most famous use of this translation is the magnificent searing beginning to the gospel of John;
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.
Loorz suggests that the translation is problematic, and that Logos is often used in a much broader sense. It is used sometimes to suggest things like- plan, presence, reason, or conversation. It is this latter word that opens us up towards what I think might be a new slice of resurrection. If you read the passage above and insert ‘conversation’ for ‘word’ or ‘him’ this starts to illustrate the point.
In this reading, we see all things as being in relationship and dependency. Held together and connected by the essence. The Great Spirit. The Christ. Space-time continuum. The Word. Love. Yahweh. Allah.
The real question here is what this might mean for us as individuals as well as our wider cultures, or even the whole created world that we are part of. It seems to me that this puts us in a very different place… perhaps you disagree, but that is OK. We are connected anyway.
Every year I have tried to write a poem for Easter. This year I struggled, and so this one is late. Here it is though;
- Good Friday
We are all dying
These molecules that make us are not ours at all
They are merely borrowed, soon to be passed to another.
All that we are;
The good, the bad
The broken, the beautiful
All our dreams. Our fears.
Our glories and grubby failures
All that we see. All the songs that sing in our souls.
All that passion that pulses where we are most alive.
The anger. The love.
The moments when we stand before the great big sky and wonder…
All of this lingers just for a while in our own Gethsemenes
On the way to our good Golgothas
Because without death, how can there ever be new life?
- Easter Saturday
There is no meaning when even God is dead.
There is no point to anything.
There is no truth to find.
There is no hope to draw us.
There is no solution to be found.
It is always this way; change is always preceded by pointlessness and defeat.
It always begins when we are blinded by darkness.
It even follows the loss of hope, as if to remind us of our own powerlessness.
Change begins with death.
- Easter Sunday
Behold all things are being made new
Then they are being made new again
In the beginning was not just the Word
But the Conversation.
In the beginning was an am-ness that held
Everything in eternal embrace
In the beginning, there was no thought of an end
There was only now, but this goes on forever
In the beginning there was you and me.
But there was also we.
In the beginning was love.
And since then there has only ever been