pathways

Traveler, there is no path. The path is made by walking. ― Antonio Machado, Borders of a dream: Selected Poems.

There is a romantic idealism in all of us that conjures up altruistic notions of a divine will for our lives that snuggly fits into a perfectly designed prescriptive, that it is only attainable if you act according to certain rules of engagement. Any deviation from the guidelines could cause you to be somewhat disappointed or destined to live out life at a below par existence. A plan B of sorts.

For example, the theory of a plan A that often over-promises a divine providence has also crept into our relational constructs by touting the idea of a ‘soul mate’ as one single individual who has the perfect mix of genes and personality to fulfil your dreams and match your wildest expectations.

Life is not a perfectly scripted or predestined agenda from on high but an often random and wonderfully risky adventure of discovery that includes some chaos and clarity all jumbled together. We have to somehow trust that our decision making process is guided by the transcendent inclination of free will that is intrinsically hard wired into all of us. God is not so much an extrinsic interventionist but an intrinsic chaperone that works in tandem with our conscience, intuition, intellect, emotions and longings.

“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?” ― Garth Nix, Sabriel

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The pathway of our unfolding life is a medley of instinctive calls that are a blend of experimental possibilities involving some outrageous guesswork and some courageous risk taking. Sometimes I feel like my life is a exercise in happenstance where I am bumping into opportunities and odd moments as I clumsily stumble into my becoming. The trajectory I find myself on has somehow been waiting for me to cotton on and enjoy the surroundings. Life always finds a way to include you in its purpose, even if that purpose has a degree of tragedy involved. Some days I feel like a constant conundrum of dissonance, where I am surprised by moments of amazement and at other times perplexed by the scenarios that emerge of which I feel powerless to rectify or reconcile. There is no perfect screenplay for my journey or way to avoid the danger and detours around the obstacles that test my resolve and willingness to trust the process.

“There are no wrong turnings. Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk.” ― Guy Gavriel Kay, Tigana

Someone once said that 'all-things-work-together-for-the-good.’ This is not so much a good that we self prescribe based on our societal expectations or cultural preferences, but one that has been hidden in the incarnation of God that we call life. The word ‘good' is such a loaded term, severely biased by an interpretation that resists or refuses to include difficulty or uncertainty in the blend.

The pathways we all walk are a combination of the good and not-so-good moments, experiences that enlarge our capacity to be comfortable with the broad range of emotions that emerge when we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. The good news is that we are not alone on this journey, many others are accompanying us along the way. It pays to slow the pace sometimes and interact with those who you find in this new space. By sharing the weight of your thoughts and concerns you are inviting others in to share the wisdom of their pilgrimage and somehow give you strength for the moment.

There is no sign that says 'stick to the path', you make the path as you put one foot in front of the other. Step out and trust the ground beneath your feet.

‘Blessed are those who lives are roads (pathways) you travel...'

rescue

I'd like to rescue people in trouble, like Superman.   - Sheridan Smith

As a child my imagination considered all the possibilities of another life, one that was far more interesting and exciting than the suburban space which seemed to somehow limit my untapped potential. Comic books were the go to narrative that introduced me to larger than life characters who performed amazing feats, rescuing damsels in distress and saving the world from the evil endeavours of our societal arch-enemies. Deep inside the psyche of all romantic idealists is a desire to make a difference and find some sense of recognition and meaning. We are all wired with the longing for significance and the need to feel important and valued in a world that is exponentially enlarging, all the while devaluing the uniqueness of our individuality.

To 'rescue another' is a basic drive of the human condition, to feel that rush of adrenaline which elevates your capacity to engage in some kind of significant transformation on someone else's behalf.

Design by witterworks

Design by witterworks

While I may never fly faster than a speeding bullet, be more powerful than a locomotive, or be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound I am still uniquely wired for some kind of remarkable impact on the world around me. Rescue cannot be about trying to fix everything and everyone or trying to create some kind of utopian society that aligns beliefs and behaviours, but rather a deeper consideration for how I can contribute to those around me with some kind of purposeful resolve.

We don’t really need super heroes we just need ordinary people to be super sensitive to the needs in front of them. If we all paid attention to the obvious around us it might just prompt a measured response of unified contribution. Humans are capable of super-human feats especially when they combine their talents in a non-competitive or combative way.

When I was a young kid I remember being rescued by a surf life saver while caught in a rip at a popular surf beach. That feeling of being hoisted out of the water by this god of the ocean gave me huge respect for those who serve the public and give their time to maintain our safety. It also embedded in me an empathy for those in distress, traumatised by uncontrollable circumstance. Maybe we never really rescue another until we have experienced it for ourselves? Perhaps then rescue might just be about letting someone else in in order to remind us that we were not meant to be doing life alone. And not to magically change our circumstances, but to give us the courage to persevere in order to find our own freedom. You cant rescue someone from themselves…this is for them to do.

Over the centuries humans have sought to create rescue strategies that would try to solve the universal mystery of evil. Religion took on the responsibility of universal salvation for all, touting itself as the answer for the dilemma of human self-destruction. We created institutions that would monitor and manage peoples rescue trajectories and in turn set in place a hierarchy of authority that would oversee the purity of our conduct so we wouldn’t displease the gods and be banished to some kind of eternal separation. We made afterlife promises that were inflated by reward schemes all the while struggling to help people live this life well. This system created a co-dependant addiction that made God our rescuer from the conundrums of life itself.

God is not my get-out-of-jail-free card, a rescuer who frees me from my humanity, but rather one who enters into my humanity in order to help me embrace the paradox that life is.

“I don’t see it as my role to save or rescue anybody any more than regular people feel the need to rescue each other from sleeping and dreaming.” ― Jed McKenna

wild

“She had a wild, wandering soul but when she loved, she loved with chaos and that made all the difference.” ― Ariana Dancu

There is something untamed in all of us, a chaotic inclination that rises up and revolts against the domestication that restrains our ‘wild’ side. At the core of our non-standard self is a desire to explore the realms of unhinged possibility and break free from the old ways of being. The human race has historically survived based on a flare for adventure where we searched for alternate new-world spaces in order to escape the mundane existence of our own predictability.

The ancient mariners sailed the oceans searching for new havens of sanctuary hoping to find the treasure at the end of the proverbial rainbow. In an ironic twist of events the great pioneers didn’t end up staying true to their ideals of learning and evolving but instead raped and pillaged the new wild frontier cultures in the name of their king and country, ultimately turning that which was wild and untamed into a replicate version of their origins. They didn’t come to give, (except disease), but ultimately took from others what was not theirs in the first place. Empires grow and survive by creating a system of uniformity that seeks to restrict our individuality and unique distinctiveness.

To some degree religion is to blame for the disintegration of indigenous cultures, somewhat convinced that ‘savages' needed to be converted and recalibrated in order to align with the dominant thought of the empires polity. Religions weakness will always be its fear of prophetic possibility, especially when those wild cultures start to challenge the institutional powers that be. Indigenous culture is the heart of incarnational human imagination, the product of our wild inner self who is constantly searching for meaning and belonging. Racism is the evil that occurs when we try to deny the wild indigenous self the right to express itself and be heard in the world.

In order to recapture my wild side it will require a degree of commotion and disturbance, an overturning of the tables moment in our temples so that our souls can be redeemed from that which has sold us down the river. It's as if we need to rebel a bit and question (again) why we have continued to do things the way we do them.

“And now," cried Max, "let the wild rumpus start!” ― Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

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In Maurice Sendak’s children's story about a boy called Max it opens with the scene of him dressing in a wolf costume awakening his wild side and wreaking havoc on his household. After being sent to his room without supper his room transforms into a jungle (metaphor for the wild) environment where he finds himself magically sailing to an island where the wild things live. All wild spaces, like oceans and jungles have a beautiful symmetry of connection that together provide an analogous backdrop for our inner journey. Max manages to intimidate the wild creatures into letting him become their king while enjoying a playful adventure with his new found subjects. Eventually his kingship over his wild subjects evokes a loneliness in him, a pining for home that eventually transports him back into his room where supper is waiting for him.

The wild side of life is not something to be tamed but something to be experienced, something to submit and be subjected to. Your wolf uniform is your personality and particularity, the thing that distinguishes you as undeniably unique. If you can manage to enjoy your wild side and not wreak havoc on others ( metaphor for control) then the wild-erness of life will always be a place you can enjoy rather than endure on the way to some kind of utopian promised land. The dreamer in us all needs other worldly possibility so that we can feed our need for human flourishing and the idea of heaven as an other-worldly idea has always been about this life more than an after-life place. In religious circles I have sometimes wondered if we have over-played our triumphalistic hand and have 'over promised' the promised land in a way that denigrates the wilderness as merely a disappointing inconvenience.

When I read the story of the Hebrew people I am more drawn to the wilderness adventures than their journey into the promised land, simply because of the brutality, plundering, and ethnic cleansing that occurred on their initial entrance. The scriptures say that “God” gave them victory over the fighting men but said said nothing about killing everything in their wake. Rather than embracing the new cultural experience they overlaid their dominant world view and sought to extinguish all potential benefits. By chance Rahab 'the harlot' became the divine answer to the importance of indigenous integration, someone who would be a distant relative of the coming messiah in Jesus. Thank God that we have not been left to ourselves in order to determine the outcome of humanity.

Our evolution as a species is not about divide and conquer but rather transcend and include, inviting the big wild world into our hearts, becoming a bigger people in the process.

The driving catalyst behind your wild side is the capacity to love life and live sacrificially for something more than just your own agenda. Your wandering soul is constantly on the move looking for ways to magically find something in the chaos that is all around you.

“I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and danger and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love.” ― Leo Tolstoy

Love the wild and she will love you in return

doubt

Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one. - Voltaire


We all face seasons of profound doubt where our belief systems are called into question and the so called reliable sources that had previously influenced our convictions no longer seem to make sense anymore.

Doubt is not an enemy that tries it undermine all that we have known to be true or right but rather the flip side of faith which challenges us to move on from our old ways of certainty. In the gospel of St Mark Jesus says to a man who is desperate to see his son set free from some kind of spiritual malady, “If you can believe, all things are possible for those who believe”, to which the man replies “I believe; help my unbelief!”

It seems that the journey of belief must pass through the valley of unbelief in order for it to be an authentic mystical experience. Belief is not some kind of mental ascent or positive self talk but an acknowledgement of our cynicism, suspicion, and uncertainty as it pushes to the surface of our life like dross that is emerging to make way for the gold.

I have been told that unbelief is primarily something that needs to be eradicated from our consciousness but unfortunately, dare I say it, we need it in order to help pave the way for an authentic version of faith that understands the paradoxical nature of spiritually.

‘The incredulity of St Thomas’  - Caravaggio

‘The incredulity of St Thomas’ - Caravaggio

One of my favourite disciple moments in the gospel story is when Thomas is told that Jesus has resurrected. His refusal to play to the script of the so-called hyper-faith spin doctors is evident in his reply, “Unless I seethe nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” [John 20:19] This is where the term ‘doubting Thomas’ originates, a testament to the reality of what we all experience when confronted with ridiculously outlandish or preposterous situations. Thomas becomes a honest voice for humans who struggle to cope with a belief structure that doesn't leave room for questions or skepticism.

The Italian baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio recreates the scene in his masterpiece, ‘The incredulity of Saint Thomas’ where Jesus invites Thomas to put his finger into his wounded side as if seeing him in person wasn't enough. For him, belief had to be a full sensory experience in order to be genuine. 'Seeng is believing’ entered into the human vocabulary as a mantra that would guide future generations on the journey of trustworthy and authoritative religious practice.


I am a mix of belief and unbelief, a beautiful conundrum that is ok with my humanity even if it means going against the upwardly mobile mindset of ever increasing faith that tries to suppress any doubt. Certainty has become the slogan for those who are afraid to acknowledge or embrace their 'doubting Thomas’ self, secretly nervous of somehow disappointing God or worst still restricting that Gods ability to bless or pour out divine favour.


I would like to suggest that ‘doubt or unbelief’ while a seemingly unattractive part of the human condition, the Divine does seem to find it irresistible. Jesus doesn't rebuke Thomas as much as he invites him into a mutual place of interpenetration, a cocktail of doubt and faith, belief and unbelief forever negotiating together in order to produce an intoxicating non-dual consciousness for us all to aspire to. In an ironic twist of events many historians believe that Thomas courageously travelled to India to share his faith with foreign peoples, something we would all struggle to do without a strong sense of conviction and passion.
Doubt is one of the most endearing qualifications for those who want to have a bona fide relationship with the transcendent. In fact it probably enhances and deepens our reliance on what it means to be truely spiritual beings.

Maybe this statement by Richard Rohr about gift and sin also applies to faith and doubt?

‘Your gift is the flip side of your “sin” and your sin is the dangerous side of your gift. You must accept and recognise both, which will always keep you both humble and wise.’ - Richard Rohr

becoming

“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”

― Michelle Obama, Becoming

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The evolution of our personhood is the inevitable reality of our natural human disposition. This mystical and magical calling peels back the layers of our emerging selves exposing us to a fresh version of our becoming. Sometimes I like the new revealing and at other times I am a little perplexed by it, especially when I have to face my discomfort with the effort required to process the change. While transformation is unavoidable we all grapple with our universal refusal to accept and comply with certain aspects of adjustment and adaptation. We are tortured wonders who are grappling with the complex nature of our mortality often aware of something really special - divine, hiding deep within that is trying to push its way to the surface of our lives.

Around this time of the year we find encouragement in the Easter story, this historical religious tradition that has had a profound impact on human consciousness and underlying agenda for human flourishing.

‘Jesus dying was archetypal metaphor for transformation’ - Marcus Borg

It is a reminder of how life and death are interconnected, constantly negotiating on our behalf as to the best way to advance our maturation. Every little death we experience makes room in our lives for the obligatory resurrection, the divine resuscitation that reminds us that immortality is not finished with us just yet. The kind of dying I am talking about is the surrender of my wilful temperament to the possibility of a ‘bigger’ me, a more extensive ‘becoming" of myself.

‘Becoming is my present me being introduced to the possibility of my future me’ - GB

The trajectory of the Jesus narrative inevitably leads us into the passion week. Passion for Jesus is not just an animated and heightened enthusiasm for God but a deeper surrender to follower-ship. That follower-ship is enriched as I lean into the storyline of Jesus’ companions who example a vast array of inter-relational responses and challenges around their commitment and love for the cause of Christ. That commitment or lack thereof helps to encourage and challenge my own allegiance issues.

One of my favourite characters in the Jesus plot is Judas, the proverbial bad-guy who everyone loves to hate, a larger than life reminder that we are all capable of taking matters into our own hands when things don’t go our preferred way, betraying the very things we love.When we can't see past our own bias we end up betraying the very thing we love the most. The etymology of the word betrayal, ‘hand over’ suggests that we can easily end up relinquishing the greater good for our own version of preferred outcome.

Judas has an idea about messiah-ship that was the antithesis of the Jesus way, a triumphalistic and dominionistic mindset that proposed the complete demise of the dominant empires rule and the repositioning of Gods remnant people as the superior overlords. Jesus was a new kind of messiah that came to deconstruct the old ideas of the so-called divine agenda, especially ones that put a certain group of people at the top of the food and favour chain. Judas was driven by his own nationalistic agenda, a reminder to us all that we must face our own partisanship or we will betray our own becoming.

Earlier in the gospel narrative Jesus reminds his disciples that when he comes into his kingdom they will all (including Judas…Matt 19:28) be seated on thrones with him, a reminder to us all that our betrayals are not the eternal death knell that we often considered them to be.

The challenging idea of Judas as compelling analogy for ‘becoming’ is a reminder that in order to evolve we need to let deconstruction do its work in us lest we deny all that we believe in on the way to an untimely death. Rather than betray our faith, it is probably better to betray (hand over) some of the old ways of understanding God in order to make way for a new emergence of theological thinking.

I wanna love you, But something’s pulling me away from you

Jesus is my virtue, Judas is the demon I cling to, I cling to.

I’m just a Holy Fool, oh baby he’s so cruel

But I’m still in love with Judas.. - Lady Gaga: ‘Judas’

Becoming demands that we face our demons in order to keep the work of constructive transformation going. Just like Judas we will all mess up, jump the gun and experience the depressing nature of regret that highjacks the life we all live. I am learning to manage my Judas self, those impatient and impulsive urges that try to take advantage of the immaturity that restrains and restricts my becoming. This love hate relationship is fickle and annoying but one that I must endure if I am going to enjoy the reward of any kind of personal accomplishment.

The 'future me’ has been secretly working in the shadows of plain sight giving me a glimmer of hope if I can be bothered to notice. If I open my eyes I will truely see who I am and who I am becoming.

“It's okay to Evolve and Change, and become more of who you really are. It's okay to Become More Yourself.”

― Jeanette Coron

kenosis

kenosis: to make empty, to lay aside, cause a thing to be seen as empty or void, a self emptying

“The way of kenosis, is the revolutionary path that Jesus introduced into the consciousness of the West. Jesus’ entire life demonstrates how God loves unconditionally and selflessly. What makes this mode so interesting is that it’s almost completely spiritually counterintuitive. For the vast majority of the world’s spiritual seekers, the way to God is ‘up.' Deeply embedded in our religious and spiritual traditions—and most likely in the human collective unconscious itself—is a kind of compass that tells us that the spiritual journey is an ascent, not a descent. . . Jesus had only one 'operational mode. . . in whatever life circumstance, Jesus always responded with the same motion of self-emptying—or to put it another way, of the same motion of descent: going lower, taking the lower place, not the higher." - Cynthia Bourgeault

The journey of Lent is a pathway of descent towards a renewed way of being in the world. It is a reconstitution of life as we know it, a necessary dying that uncovers the new life that hides below the surface of our evolution. Kenosis is not just the denial of ego or the letting go of the ‘unnecessary’ but the deconstructing of a 'thinking way’ that has pervaded our consciousness from the onset of institutionalised spirituality. Humankind has been guilty of creating models of certainty around mystical matters by positing institutional religion as the primary narrator of our spiritual maturation.

We have created a hierarchical pecking order of spiritual attainment that places God above us as at the top of the tree so to speak, calling us to climb to higher consciousness. This vertical mindset has produced a kind of spiritual vertigo, disillusioning many a seeker as they became somewhat disconnected from a grounded way of being.

If down is the new up then gravity becomes the mysterious presence of the divine that magically grounds us in the will of God, the very place we find ourselves in.

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Kenosis asks us to let go of our preconceived ideas, the notions of separation and detachment that keep us alienated from the divine. The real emptying that God reveals in Jesus is a departure from the distant deity mindset and an invitation into a fully human incarnation of Theosis, a discovery of what has always been hiding in our very DNA, the image bearing likeness of divinity.

Kenosis as my divine muse asks me to rethink my paradigms by letting go of my certitude in order to learn the art of trust, a renewed confidence in providence. Trust is the difficult pathway of believing in others in ways that defy the logic of my pain and disappointment. Facing my trauma and relinquishing victimisation is a lifelong challenge. I flipflop backwards and forwards on this, often afraid to admit that I have become addicted to my mistrust as a way to vent my anger and frustration with justified permission.

The Jesus narrative reminds me that kenosis is leading us to forgiveness and ultimately freedom from the need to hold things against the world around us. The last acts of release from the old me, in the words of Jesus is ‘forgive them’ and ‘I commend my spirit’ to the one who holds all of life in her hands... which is easier said than done. Then and only then will I experience a possible resurrection and ascension to eternal immortality. Even though I am a little agnostic around this big idea hopefulness restrains my skepticism.

In order to ascend to higher levels of consciousness I must follow the downward trajectory of kenosis that emblazons a path to the tomb of the dead where new life hides ushering me into a future with my ancestors.

(Christ)…who, being in very nature* God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature* of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

panentheism#2

Panentheism, in it’s simplicity suggests that we are all in God and God is in all of us yet it is crucial that we take the time together to consider what that really means.

The word pan-en-theism has been one of contention. Suspicion often emerges around any words that cause us to fear relinquishing control of the old ways of understanding that have ungirded a cultural bias that helps us maintain our status quo. Fr Richard Rohr says that Western theology in its attempt to preserve the transcendent end of the spectrum, (God is beyond or above the range of normal or physical human experience), invariably insisted on God as being separate, utterly beyond and different from creation.

This thought was prevalent in the monotheistic religions until a more immanent, or present consciousness started to emerge in the evolutionary thought of the new testament witness. This can be seen for example in the gospel of Luke where the idea of a distant Deity is demystified, as presented in the words of Jesus that the ‘kingdom of god is among you…even in you’

'Panentheism restates the sacredness of all things, the Divine in-ness in all things, the presence of God in all things, creation (Gk: basileia) as a Kingdom or Reign of God. Recovering this sacredness is to recover the relationship with this 'holiness of being’ - Matthew Fox

Growing in this relationship will mean redefining holiness as moving away from an extrinsic behavioural construct to a more intrinsic wrestling of becoming. The real transformation that defines me will be how I uncover the 'holy' treasure within.

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Panentheism is a reminder that the ‘indwelling presence’ is a call to share in the divine nature, a pathway to Theosis (divinisation). Don't be intimidated by the idea of what that could mean. When someone talks about 'union with the divine' our minds move to some kind of ethereal hyper-spiritual reality, when in fact it just means becoming more human, more fully alive, participating in the presence of God that resides in all things, after-all, were we not created in the Image of God?

The transcendent and the immanent are two sides of the same coin, so closely aligned that they cannot and should not be distanced by the need to minimise our humanity or maximise our God. Learning to become comfortable in a more unitive consciousness is the goal of a panentheistic theology; God in us and us in God

“I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are—I in them and you in me, all being perfected into one." - Jesus

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God is in all things; not indeed, as part of their essence, nor as an accident; but as an agent is present to that upon which it works. -Matthew Fox

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Every now and then a word comes along that revolutionises our understanding around long held traditions and customs that have dominated the beliefs and practices that we have deemed to be set in stone. The power and beauty of language offers our imagination and intellect the active resonance we need to move the conversation into new arenas of evolutionary elucidation.

Words that awaken new meaning in our lives are the whispers of an eternal muse that is committed to our growth and maturation. This inspiration is a reminder of the divine influence at work in us.

One word that has reshaped my understanding of "God”: or whatever word you choose to use to metaphor your concept of the divine mystery is PAN-EN-THEISM. The reason for the breaks in spelling are to alleviate the obvious misunderstanding that seems to surround its apparent link to ‘pan-theism'. In crude terms Pantheism says that everything is God whereas Panentheism suggests that everything is in God and God is in everything.

Matthew Fox uses the analogy of a fish swimming in water…the water surrounds the fish as a sustaining environment and the fish breathes IN that water in order to sustain its existence. Panentheism suggests that all life is infused with the mystery of God and that transcendence is immanently revealing itself to us in all of its many forms.

The suspicion around some words can be due to our fear of relinquishing control of the old ways of understanding that have ungirded society for generations. Panentheism suffers from the over bearing influence of dualism that posits God as a somewhat distanced deity who is committed to maintaining a holy stance of separation due to the infraction that has occurred in our behavioural conduct. Sin and holiness as the conservative dualist would say still have compatibility issues? In a strange kind of way we need them both if we are to understand our need for some kind of divine support and reliance. Panentheistic otherness helps us to see that when we think we are the centre of the universe so is everything else. It takes everything to make up the whole.

According to St Paul there is nothing that can seperate us for the love of God? Not life or death, any kind of power structure, our present predicaments or the future dilemmas, no feelings of elation or despair, even the attempts of other people to disturb our health and well-being. This suggestion is the heart of panentheism, the unavoidable inclusion in a greater purpose regardless of our behaviour or religious status in life. This changes everything about how we value our worth in God and alongside others, a subtle reminder that the life we have been given is a gift that needs to enjoyed and honoured.

If we can never be separated from the divine then what is the point of adherence to some kind of religious affiliation? Why go to church or even pray if providence has our best interests at heart?

Panentheism suggests that we are all in God and God is in all of us yet it is crucial that we take the time together to consider what that really means. Gathering with others in some way to discuss, reflect and contemplate this rich mystery suggests that true meaning and understanding in life is a meal best shared with another. What resides in the other could very well be the transformational balm I need. The result of this reciprocity could potentially help the human race to start caring and taking responsible for the world better while advancing good and confronting the systemic evil that we so often project on to some kind of d-evil.

Panentheism is a call to honour who you are and honour the wonder of God that resides in all otherness.

why

In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened. - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

We all have deep questions that find their way to the surface in times of tragedy and trauma.

Why did this happen?

Why do people do the things they do?

When will we start to act like the best versions of ourselves?

Where is God in all of this?

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As much as I have faith in humanity’s ability to go above and beyond for their fellow citizens, I am also aware that in a moment of insanity we are capable of the most heinous acts.

In these times we search for an explanation, often reverting to the age-old blame game of victimisation by playing the ‘totally depraved’ card or finding a scapegoat in the form of a Demonised other. While this can help us find some relief in the moment it is only temporary, as there is no absolute or satisfying answer as to why bad things happen. Sometimes you just can’t explain away an unimaginable tragedy.

A selfish evil hides in all of us. A healthy dose of morality and common sense restrains our willingness to act on it, but when our conscience fails us, the damage that we can do is deplorable. As far back as the Cain and Abel story we see our potential to take matters into our own hands without any kind of rational consideration for the ramifications. As Martin Luther King said, there is both good and evil in all of us - and it seems that we are all hardwired in some way to betray that good in a selfish, broken society.

But goodness remains, the very best of human endeavour that seeks to work for the betterment of humanity. When evil happens we can become bogged down in the complexities of injustice or we can step up and do some good despite our lament.

Of course, these altruisms are often easier said than done. Someone needs to be punished for the pain we are feeling. But retribution and vengeance, both perfectly acceptable feelings in times of mourning, will never give us the healing we need.

Yet we still need to be able to air our distress and grievance in the company of our fellow mourners with the honesty and rawness the situation requires.

Maybe hope and radical acts of goodness will be the therapeutic encouragement we need on the journey back to a new normalcy.

The ancient songwriter reminds us that goodness will have the final say and that if we stay with our questions long enough we will see the very best of life push through.

I'm sure now I'll see God's goodness in the exuberant earth.

Stay with GOD! Take heart. Don't quit.

I'll say it again: Stay with GOD

- Psalm 27

May peace and grace comfort you in your time of 'why'

disorientation

‘Every orientation presupposes a disorientation’   -Hans Magnus Enzensberger

Disorientation comes when we least expect it, its perplexities a timely reminder that life is mysteriously unpredictable and confusing at the best of times.

Discomfort and uncertainty arrive on our doorstep as the uninvited guest who is intent on disturbing the self prescribed equilibrium that we understand as normative.

The purpose of this interruption is to reset our understanding of stability as a static reality. It would seem that the journey of maturation and evolution is one of constant interruption, a pilgrimage that flexes and bends to suit the current emerging reality.

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As providence moves me towards the best version of myself there is a need for some deconstruction which is the precursor for the new-orientation that is lurking in the shadows. The old ways of being that were previously helpful have become more restrictive as the approaching grace for change appears.

Unlearning those old habits and behaviours is the hidden agenda of disorientation as it moves me through the liminal territory of transition. That which is ingrained in me as an old habit becomes a blind spot if I do not open my eyes and embrace the emerging divulgence.

The cultural environments that have defined our reality play a huge part in shaping our perspective on life. Our familial interactions can often get in the way of moving us into the next chapter of our unfolding story or conversely they can encourage us to take the plunge into the new unknown. The projected fears and fascinations of our fellow humans are our greatest ally or contrastingly our adversarial foe.

When we are in a state of disorientation everything is up for grabs and open to new interpretation, a hopeful forerunner of the possible newness. Learning to embrace the difficulty of this intermediary space will help determine your preparation for the next stage of your journey. The darkness that we feel as we move through the valley of the unknown is an invitation to embrace the mystery of trust as it does its work of kismet in our life.

The new coping mechanisms of trust that we adopt in the time of disorientation comes from the comfort and consolation that serendipity brings to our pilgrimage, the timely reminder that what we see or become overly anxious about is not all that is going on.

In the confusion we stay with each other, happy to be together, speaking without uttering a single word. - Walt Whitman

The valley of disorientation is not a fast sprint but a slow walk. We often try to move through discomfort rather quickly due to the perfectly legitimate aversion to pain that is hardwired into our system. Unfortunately the protracted nature of change works to its own rhythm and time frame.

While keeping one eye on the road stay alert and attentive to your fellow pilgrims who might be on the same path, a reassuring reminder you that you are not alone in experiencing excessive anxiety unaccompanied. In a strange kind of way we all like to think that others are struggling with the same things we are…maybe misery does love company after all? When I hear the travel stories of others who have gone before me I find the courage to continue and confidence to know that things may well work out in the end.

Be patient the new-orientation is coming...