“I don’t know who, but somebody said, “Who we are is who everybody else is.” It took me a while to understand this foundational truth. I grew up thinking that some people were less, and sometimes I even considered myself to be less, but then I discovered we are all pretty much in the same boat navigating our individual journeys to Grace Street.”
“In the garden of Gethsemane, the last words Jesus spoke to his apostles were, “Stay awake.” In fact, he says it twice. The Buddha offered the same wisdom; “Buddha” actually means “I am awake.”
Staying awake comes not from willpower but from a wholehearted surrender to the moment–as it is. If you can be present, you will experience what most of us mean by God, and you do not even need to call it God. It’s largely a matter of letting go of resistance to what the moment offers or of clinging to a past moment. It is an acceptance of the full reality of what is right here and now. It will be the task of your whole lifetime.”
(Full disclosure: The author of this book is my friend.)
Yesterday, while in the middle of reading Jeff Blake’s new book “The Seven Last Words of Christ: Meditations on the Cross,” I had to stop and write to tell him how powerful it is. This short book is HANDS DOWN the best book I’ve read on the message of Jesus. At less than 40 pages the message is distilled to perfection, cutting through any filler or unnecessary repetition while also offering brief personal experiences by Mr. Blake that never take the reader off course.
My belief or faith is far, far away from rock solid. Like reading a passage from Richard Rohr, Henri Nouwen or Thomas Merton the words in these pages feel like an anchor of truth. How so? While reading I felt the “how it isness” wash over me. I felt carried and at peace. I also became aware of wanting to flee to distraction in the other direction to avoid letting it all sink in. Am I the only one who does this? Stoping mid-chapter to write an email is a pretty good indicator I am misdirecting myself. (“Stop reading! Do something else! Tell the world!” You gotta love the ego. No really, you have to or it won’t leave you alone.)
I can’t say enough good things about “The Seven Last Words of Christ: Meditations on the Cross”, by Jeff Blake, so I won’t try. It’s awesome. Pick it up for Lent and read it. Read it more than once. You’ll be very happy you did.
“If history teaches us nothing else, it is that power is borrowed. At best, power is something granted not something taken. That means, in Western democracies at any rate, that those who have power need the gifts of discernment and judgement, because if we recognize the temporary nature of power, then equally, we need to recognize what in the activity of dissent is valuable.
The principle at issue is the temporary nature of power, and the necessity of service and humility, the necessity of seeing what truth is being cried out in an act of protest.”
The hill pasture, an open place among the trees,
tilts into the valley. The clovers and tall grasses
are in bloom. Along the foot of the hill
dark floodwater moves down the river.
The sun sets. Ahead of nightfall the birds sing.
I have climbed up to water the horses
and now sit and rest, high on the hillside,
letting the day gather and pass. Below me
cattle graze out across the wide fields of the bottomlands,
slow and preoccupied as stars. In this world
men are making plans, wearing themselves out,
spending their lives, in order to kill each other.