Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Noosphere

Contemplation and Action. In my reading and study of mystics, contemporaries, biblical witness, and other sacred texts, I consistently return to a call for a balance of 'contemplation' and 'action'.

Of seeking justice, moving and speaking, and organizing (action)--

and of centering, and praying, reading, and sleeping (contemplation).

Of working, and relating, talking (action),

and of exploring, and wondering, and meditating (contemplation).

It seems I am in a constant quest to find balance- to let go of the guilt that I 'should be doing more', or the guilt that 'I should be praying more'...

To listen to the needs in my body, in my family, and in my community- to act when action is needed- and to contemplate when contemplation is needed.

This week- as we move toward the Winter Solstice, I find myself resting in 'contemplation'.. and letting go of the need for constant action.

Today it was the noosphere; that called. The Noosphere is a concept that was developed by my favorite philosopher/ paleontologist/ priest, Pierre Tielhard de Chardin. The noosphere is the world of thought that exists in our mind and being. The world that we each carry with us.

Inside each person is a world that is as vast, complex, and mysterious as the layers of earth, biosphere atmosphere, and beyond.

Chardin posed in the mid twentieth century that great scientific and human discoveries and convergence will come with greater exploration of our 'noosphere'...

As we each as individuals and as communities take time to sit in 'contemplation' (in a variety of forms) we will move to deeper understanding and cooperation as humanity. Contemplation is vital to action. Outer change requires inner transformation.

This morning I awoke feeling called to the mountains. So I drove and hiked and explored trees and mountains and valleys. Snow was plied on the wiry branches of evergreens.  Dormant winter branches made visible every crevice and hill of the land below.

I can't help but wonder- If this is what I can see-- what is hiding in my brain- in my heart - that I can't see. What is calling, seeking to be listened to? What does it look like when more people have the gift of time and space to explore the noosphere?

How do we invite a world - and communities- that find balance between inner and outer, action and contemplation?

In this 'busy' season- may we listen for the call of the inner world. May we take time to rest and play- and may this inter transformation lead to action that increases love and compassion and justice in the world around each of us.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

So This is Christmas

"Shall not Lebanon in a very little while
    become a fruitful field,
    and the fruitful field be regarded as a forest?
 On that day the deaf shall hear
    the words of a scroll,
and out of their gloom and darkness
    the eyes of the blind shall see.
 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord,
    and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel."
~Isaiah 29:17-19

I have a confession. 

I struggle deeply with knowing when to speak out - even on things that I feel deeply passionate about. Even as a pastor- trained to 'speak out'.

As I've reflected on this- I see that there are three main reasons I don't speak out:

First: Fear

When it comes down to it- my defaults are 'pleaser' and 'conflict avoider'. There are many people I love who have radically different world views, religious views and political views than I do. So too often I remain silent, even when my heart is crying out. 

Second: Pessimism

Sometimes it seems like the shifts in collective conversation around the most pressing social issue can leave me with whiplash. There are so many needs in the world. So many injustices. And we often move as a society from one fire to the next very quickly. My pessimism and rebellious side keep me from wanting to be a 'bandwagon jumper'. I am cautious to assure that my support for the latest 'cause' is not comparable to my search for the latest style jeans: even if that 'cause' is something that is vitally important and I feel deeply about.

After a school shooting, we are all outraged over easy access to guns, our overly violent society, and the lack of mental health awareness and support. After the latest court ruling or public slur about immigration we all speak out and name our experiences and outrage over our broken immigration laws. Through social media each week things we never spoke of before are all of a sudden our lives passion: cancer, AIDS, marriage equality, environmental change, violence against women, homelessness and poverty- you understand, I'm sure.

While even if I totally agree with the need for support for each of these important issues- I can be hesitant to publicly speak out for fear of my support being 'bandwagon support'. 

Third: Privilege
The privileged place I hold in society keeps me from personally experiencing the consequences of so many of these injustices first hand- leaving me feeling unqualified to speak. My 'privilege' makes it easy for me to spend more time thinking about myself and less time thinking about others.


So those are my confessions. And here's my wondering:

In this season of Advent, as I've been spending time praying and reflecting and waiting for "the in-breaking of Christ in the world",

I wonder- What if what seems like an ebb and flow of care and concern in our public conversation- a crescendo of tweets and Facebook posts and breaking news, and grocery store conversation, and late night TV comedic truth... 

What if this rise and fall of focus does not speak so much to the fickleness of our society- 

but rather, what if these rising and falling cries for justice are actually the rhythm of the 'kingdom of God' pulsating and pushing and trying to burst through?

What if the cries for justice and equality, in all of its various forms, are the cries of God's justice trying to be known in the world?

Perhaps the push for each 'cause' is rooted in the same guttural energy for freedom and equality, for peace and possibility and thriving for all people? 

What if this is the cosmic Christ trying to break into the world- working in people's lives one tweet, one headline, one heated Facebook conversation at a time?

With each wave- perhaps one person 
has eyes to see the realities of the brokenness 
has found a voice to cry out for justice
has decided to reach out and look at the statistics
has come to see their own role in the pain of another
has engaged in a conversation respectfully
has found the strength to march, to cry, to listen, to sit with one another.


Today racial injustice is fueling our collective conversation.

After countless very visible incidences of extraordinary unspeakable injustice and inequality- people are speaking out. 

The statistics around the inequity and racism in our criminal justice system are astounding: 
Prison Policy Initiative

The statistics and stories of 'police on black' violence are beyond shocking:
Criminal Enforcement Inequality

The stories are especially baffling for a 'white girl' like me who has certainly been given the benefit of the doubt in the criminal system. Here are some stories to show that:

To keep up on the cutting edge thought around racial justice check out: 
Urban Cusp

As I watch and listen and stand in solidarity as people are marching, rioting, singing songs for liberation, expressing anger, and crying in heartbreak, 

I wonder,
What if this is God calling out from those most marginalized, maligned and oppressed? What if this is God calling from within our communities and our societies and our systems-
trying to enter the world- trying to be born-
So that all might experience life, equality, fullness, justice, freedom and healing?

"And his mercy is for those who fear him    from generation to generation.  He has shown strength with his arm;    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;  he has brought down the mighty from their thrones    and exalted those of humble estate;  he has filled the hungry with good things,    and the rich he has sent away empty." ~Luke 1:50-53

How does this reality allow my fear of speaking out fall away? How does this reality shape my pessimistic view of our public conversations? How does this call me to see and name the privilege that blocks my vision?

This morning as I watch and listen to those crying for their black sons, as I see images of college students 'dying in' to make visible the injustice of our systems, I can't help but see the face of God coming like a tidal wave, crying out so that life, healing, equality and justice may also be made visible in this world.

And I feel a new sense of hope- because though this moment may pass without the full justice we all want, and though the collective conversation may soon shift to the next 'cause'--

I trust that the rhythm of God is beating. I trust that people are listening. And with each wave of community outcry, the 'kingdom of God' may be little bit more 'on Earth as it is in Heaven.'

“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. 
Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. 
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love. 
No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.” ~Reinhold Niebuhr