land of rest

Land of Rest is a blog of Peter Jenks. Poems, quotes and photos are by Peter Jenks (unless otherwise noted or I miss noting an older post's photo) and are copyrighted, you are free to use these if you acknowledge their source.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A metaphor for today

Churches and Temples are like harbors along the coast, they are a safe place to begin and rest from the journeys of the sea, only in their case the seas of consciousness and the soul.
When any religion, church or temple starts thinking that they are the right, only or best they have only to look at the ocean to realize that they only are an opening to a much larger world. Each harbor has its place, its time, its mission to those who sail the seas. Each needs the other.
Each ship needs a flag to fly, a harbor to call home and to which it pays its taxes in order to help maintain a place for all. Though with each ship, it can sail to anywhere else on the sea, share stories and information about the various harbors and currents. By having a home we can better identify and relate to each other. To simply say I belong to the sea is to say I do not belong to any place, nor wish to support anyplace, only use and benefit from all others.
And with each ship comes a history, baggage and others who have been brought along, connected and information to influence even more people.  Sometimes disease and problems arise from a ship as with a religious community bringing harmful and controlling ideology to manipulate and dominate others.
Ultimately we all need to make our journey across the sea, some journeys are longer than others, some more dangerous, but we need the vessels to carry us along, even if it is simply rowed by ourself.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

the eternal earth dance

I  dance in heaven
When I wake from the dead.
I embrace the eternal
When I cease from my dying.
Today is that day,
When I have chosen to stand up
And meet my maker,
of heaven and earth.
No more waiting
For the burial of breath,
Or the miracle from away.
Deus ex machina est not coming
Down my road.
And I do not want it anymore.
Let the curtain fall,
I am going home today
To finally live my life.
I have found my woman,
I have accepted my fate,
The sun has set upon my journey,
And another day has come and gone.
It is today, that I dance, again.
And my feet are upon the eternal earth
Of love’s forgiveness.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Loving God

When I was a teenager growing up in an affluent suburb outside Minneapolis, I felt it was not cool to be from this place when I visited the city or other towns. There was a sense of entitlement that people felt went with living in this town and I did not want to be one of “those” entitled people. I wanted to fit in with the immediate crowd around me.
I have witnessed various relationships fall apart because one of the people found themselves wanting to please others in situations outside their relationship, and ultimately loose both relationships.
Being comfortable with who one is, where one comes from, with whom one is in relationship is a gift one gives to others. It opens up an honest beginning to first impressions, which is important. Being comfortable with oneself is not always easy, though. I have been working hard at accepting what my voice sounds like in recordings, and my image in photography. Over a number of years of deliberate effort I have come to a place of moderate comfort with my voice and looks.
Even more crucial and vulnerable is our comfort with that which is deeper and more intimate to our being, that being our faith. There is an aversion to not wanting to be seen as a radical or extremist, or perhaps an escape into such a role so as to avoid a more extended relationship. Simply stating that one is a Christian can lead being stereotyped by others. Revealing one’s hope in Jesus, or that one will pray for someone opens up a deep vulnerability. It is also a great gift. Most people want to know what motivates others. Simply stating that I will pray for someone is almost always appreciated. It is a sign that we care. But letting someone else know that this relationship with God is important also means that they will remember this when we do not feel very holy or are not living up to the higher standards others may feel goes with such belief. Being vague leaves us more wiggle room in our infidelities, it also endangers our intimacies. Loving God means loving God. In the same way as wanting the world to know about one’s romantic joy; so, too, is it important to come to the place of openness and comfort with our deepest and most defining love.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness Psalm 29:2

I remember as a child, I would put up a fight in order not to go to church - or to swim lessons, or piano lessons or almost anything that would cause me to leave my preferred state of adolescent atrophy. I would try to hide my Brussels Sprouts in order to avoid having to eat them, along with a number of other foods that I have since come to savor greatly. My long suffering mother had to endure all the whining and delay tactics that I used to avoid the things I did not like, nor want to do. Many times I have found excuses to avoid doing exercises, yet when I do go out for a walk, or take time to stretch and exercise, I always feel better.  I now love to swim, I grieve that I did not continue with my piano lessons, and I am deeply thankful for my mother’s persistent efforts to introduce me to new foods.
Exhortations to pray, to be still with God and to have time to read the Bible sometimes has had the same effect. Initially there is a reticence and an avoidance, something in us tells me it will be tedious. But we find that once we take the time to be still, to pray and to read the scripture, we are always touched by a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation of life. When we take time to finish all our requests to God and then simply listen, watch, and breath with God, we are able to let go of much of the stress that haunts us and the wounds and emotions that keep us on edge.  After such time we find that we are open to new ways of thinking and a greater compassion for those with differing experiences and ideas. 
Worship is not simply a public activity we participate in on Sunday mornings. Worship is a gateway for our healing and for our ability to be more creative in our lives. The daily engagement in worship opens us to face things and activities that are often fearful to us. For most of my life I have always had a deep fear of singing out loud. It is in the daily praise and adoration of God that I am able to let go and sing as I walk down the street and even down the aisle in church.  It is from moments of worship that when strangers come my way I am not timid and shy but, rather, open and expectant to see what the glory of God is bringing into my life by their presence.
I have found through the act of worshipping God the treasures of being able to move on, grow up and discover how brilliant these limited days are in our life.  I look forward to church and the gathering together of my family of faith, and know the immense gift and importance it is for me. The more fully we worship God and the more often we worship God, the freer we are to sing out, the bolder we are to put a swing in our dance, to be still and listen, to let go and forgive and to dive fully into to actions of love. Worship is not just a weekly event, it is daily; encompassing all the movements of our body, the depths of our emotions, the contours of our thoughts and the full commitment of our habits.

Sobbing as a form of Sabbath

In the midst of a conversation I was struck by the idea that sobbing is a form of Sabbath. When we are finally able to release the pent up emotion and sorrow in the form of tears we are able to enter a unique dimension of Sabbath rest.
Oftentimes, I will keep myself from being sick, there is too much to do, too many events where I am required to help make things happen, too many people who need my help.  Then when I have a time off I find myself able to be sick.  There are times when I cannot laugh or cough because it is in a public place and an event where it would disturb others. The more I try not to laugh or cough the more I need to do such.  Only by excusing myself and letting it all happen that I can return and enjoy the event. So, too, perhaps is a good sob.  Like a Sabbath time away from the events of our life, we are able to let it out, to let things be felt, to let our own soul be expressed for a bit.  And in so doing we are better able to return to our lives refreshed and able to be present and enjoy the sacred moment of today.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sometimes Opposing Sides are the Same Side

Over the years I have heard the debates between evolution and creation, basically between science and religion. It is easy to get caught up in the established thoughts and well defined sides, feeling exasperated at one side because of what they said, something that seems completely incomprehensible. Lawsuits and court cases have flourished. Communities and schools have fought and struggled over these issues. And it has finally struck me that the whole thing is completely misguided.
Good religion and good science are in fact probably the same thing. It is bad science against bad religion that makes everyone crazy and misrepresents both faith communities and science institutions. Just like bad politics tends to generally mess up the entire government. It is easy to listen to what is being debated, to try and hear both sides of an issue, and then assume that these are the only sides of the issue. The idea that there may be completely different ways of viewing something are not always evident, and it sometimes takes great courage to profess it. The young boy who cried out that the emperor had no clothes was either very courageous or simply naïve and ignorant to the danger of such a proclamation.
Both good science and good religion are able to accept that the initial thoughts and ideas might not always prove true, that we can always learn more. There is a sense of awe and wonder at the unending possibilities before us, the vast unknown of existence to which we face. Both good science and good religion appreciates the opinions and ideas of people who differ and who offer new insights. Both good religion and good science seeks to meet new challenges and new people, new dimensions of thoughts that show the vast interconnectedness of all things. Both good science and good religion are done, not for power, money, fame, nor personal glory – but for the simple pleasure of discovery and understanding. There is also a certain degree of humility that becomes essential to one in the path to good religion and good science. Rarely are preconceived ideas and long held assumptions barriers to growth when good science or religion are practiced. In fact new possibilities instill a sense of added excitement.
There are debates and controversies that give meaning to people, that fill us with rage, that separate us from each other and serve to define sides in society. The role of the scientist and religious pilgrim should not be to fuel the existing fires that destroy any potential of new growth, but to clear out the chaff of diversionary desires for power and to let in a growth of truth and seed of mercy. We are living in an age that revels in the controversies for their own sake and for the sense of purpose we gain from engaging in the fray of futile battles. We are also living in an age of new vistas of consciousness and opportunity.
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