Hallowed Be

by D.Thomas

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation…” [ROMANS 8:18-19a]

Hunter’s Moon: here in the northern hemisphere dawns are later, twilights, darker and sooner. The full moon was brilliant at seven in the morning, when I took that picture, and last week the half moon was radiant when I was out at six a.m. There were deer out, then, too, crossing the street ahead of me.

It has been rainy more days than not, and October was near-record warm, the leaf-change late, but the colors are gorgeous– vibrant, magnificent reds, oranges, golds, aglow like stained glass on the wet sidewalks, and yellow like tongues of flame.

The season is of the gathering in and laying up for the winter.

How do we know to do that? Watching the squirrels of urban parks and suburbia, the trees shedding leaves to conserve water during the freeze? Or just because it’s Football?

The generations pass down knowledge, information: what has been observed and noted, measured, learned, and practiced: when to plant and when to prune and what to cover, what to eat, what to avoid, and what soothes, what heals, among the vegetables, herbs and leaves as we forage and farm; where and when to catch the fish, to hunt, when the animals are fat from harvest times, the spring babies big enough to run, the does and cows not nursing, maybe not carrying yet (I saw a slim, young lady doe and a newly-muscled, six-point buck following: there will be fawns come springtime).

We still pass down information– our languages, maths and sciences, how to cure, salt, pickle, can, preserve so that over the winters we can eat; how to run our machines, boil water on a stove, drive; and traditions of heroes we recognize and holidays we celebrate, teams or sides we’re loyal to or hate.

Children are taught the skills of survival by the adults of the community; the elders hold knowledge and wisdom, and it sometimes breaks my heart that because the technologies change so fast, the screens on the desktops change with the updates, rendering old programs archaic, obsolete: nothing known yesterday is very useful today in cyberspace– you have to keep up or you’re left behind and, not lost, nothing on the ‘net is lost, but– out of touch, out of reckoning, out of the loop; the middle-school aged kids explain or run the tech, and shake their heads at Granddad– and: who learns the deep, abiding lessons if the very elders who have the wisdom of the life of mind, spirit, and nature are the lost, bewildered children in the Western World? How lost our older parents and friends must feel– everything they have lived and learned is laughed at, and they can’t keep up with all— their role in the community is not even wanted anymore, it seems. And if we live we’ll each end up there, facing winter with nothing but the blanket around our shoulders, a bundle of dry sticks on an ice floe, if that hasn’t melted.

To hallow means to honor, to keep holy.

Yesterday was Halloween; before COVID, I loved the chance to tell the little kids in Bible class that the trick or treating holiday comes from All Hallow’s Eve, or All Saint’s Eve before All Saint’s Day, when we honor the dead. We honor the “saints who have gone before”– who are “believers”, not only those especially good ones sanctified by the Catholic Church. We honor our ancestors. Parades and costumes, and dead people represented with masks and bones, combined with early twilights and bright big moons, became more and more of festival and bravado defiance of the unholy or restless, unsatisfied dead. People dressed as witches and monsters and fiends to keep the real dangers of dark nights at bay, and, like the dark tales that ended up Disney Princess movies, All Hallow’s Eve became the kids’ dress-up to get candy, merchandised fun, and the pranks of older kids, and the horror movies people like to be scared by.

the creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the One who subjected it, in hope that creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” [ROM. 8:19-21].

Human fear and human pride have led us to think that we are the ones who should and do subject Earth– and as much Creation as we can– to our will. Western civilization has built itself up subjecting the land and animals and water and other humans to men’s, Kings’ will– . Muscle and mind were power, and then accumulated wealth– food enough, food stolen, food hoarded, food shared or not, and water and materials of clothing and shelter and then of ornament; stone and iron weapons for hunting and fishing and fighting, protecting and invading. Wealth owned land and labor, and passed it down to sons, and when only so-called nobles were allowed to farm or hunt or fish upon the land, the poor could pay rent or tribute, or starve to death or be hung for poaching; Wealth bought the swords and guns to take over land, to chase off, kill off, enslave people with weaker weapons; wealth and the weaponry used to gain and protect wealth, and the ships and wagons to carry the materials that were bought, traded, sold, the silks and spices and poppies, diamonds, gold, oil; uranium, plutonium– thus the commercial centers , the city states, the capitalists, went out and conquered much of the world. Philosophy and religion followed, although the capitalists often set out with banners declaring “freedom” or “faith” or “democracy”– rather than “conspicuous consumption” or “disposable income”. We have Silk Roads and Spice Roads and Trade Winds.

Consider: “Holy Roman Empire”. Worldly, earth-conquering Rome spread through North Africa and Europe, and, via Italy (city-states and Merchant Princes), Portugal, France and Spain, and thence across oceans, around continents, to the “Far East” and “the Americas” (the Eurocentric names) and brought home tributes and goods. Wordly “Christian” Rome called itself Holy and the Seat of the Church–. But one cannot be a worldly Empire Power, and Holy, according to the Gospel words of Christ Jesus. He told His followers to go and make disciples, through Jerusalem and Judea and to the ends of the earth, but never by dominating:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” [JOHN 13:34-35];

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example, that you should do as I have done for you” [JOHN 13 :14-15];

“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave– just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” [MATTHEW 20:24-28].

And I think of the East India Company with its private army, the Dutch East India Company which was the biggest company on earth, or the Hudson Bay Company which was founded in 1670 and owns Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor, still; the Robber Barons, and the Apples and Amazons and 3Ms now…

“Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” {LUKE 12: 15].

We can learn history and math and how-to, all technical knowledge, from books and sites on search engines, but the things of the heart and of the spirit are not known until they are experienced. Like solutions to problems, things of the Spirit cannot be seen until they are seen, until one’s eyes are opened. One cannot understand suicidal despair if one has not felt it, or forgiveness, or love so desperate you could die for loss of it, or wish to–.

Childbirth pain, withdrawal, insanity; wind on skin, immersion in salt or silken water, the taste of mango— you can read all you like, but some things must be undergone to be known. Suffered and survived.

Here, I think, is much the point of the Fall in Eden story: humans must taste, must experience, must live, suffer, to learn and know to their depths Good and Evil. Our sin is how we know evil– when we see and feel and realize the wrong, or the results and consequences of the transgressions we commit. We know Good by the good done to us and that we somehow do– or God does through us. We can weep with thanks for forgiveness. Jesus was the example of Good, and the Christ in us is Love loving through us. Humans were set on their courses of Individuation– lived experience, assimilation of the lessons. On our own, forgetting to acknowledge the Creating, Generating, Sustaining God, we become mired in error, in dirt and muck, in hatred and fear and fighting, tearing the others down to gain a foothold to keep our own mouths clear– look at how “civilization” spread, how “western civilization” overpowered “savages” and “heathens”, took their lands and their natural resources to hold the idea of its own superiority or goodness. In Goodness, out of Love, God incarnated Themself as a human to learn, to undergo, to endure, to suffer human life, to know what it was to be human, the loftiest-thinking, highest-reaching, strongest, smartest, richest, and most beautiful of whom must defecate or will die. God experienced the hungers and pains, the itch and stink and sweat, the thirst, the temptation, the loneliness of human being.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

As I was letting ideas roll around and begin to build blocks, I glanced at the Google Discovery page and saw that scientists have found a new, apparently beautiful and charming tetraquark that lasts for longer than any other known, exotic quark, which interests them because it does not have the normal two quarks plus two antiquarks, but two charms and no antiquarks (at CERN); that scientists have failed to find the expected “sterile” neutrino, a type of neutrino that does not change flavor, which they were hoping for, for their math to make sense, meaning they will have to rethink their theories; and that, some particle physicists are beginning to think that everything– even those neutrinos, those hadrons, baryons, neutrons, electrons, protons, mesons, quarks, have consciousness of– an elemental sort; that everything that has mass or spin or charge has the experience of mass and spin and charge. “Panpsychism,” this idea is called.

(Very Hindu, this sounds: that everything is of the Mind and Being of God. Hinduism also suggests multiverses, and bounces rather than a bang at our beginning.)

Not that everything is God, but is in God, Creator and Sustainer and Reality; God gives the charge to the charge, the flavor to the flavor, the spin to the spin; and these become all that is.

Wherever there is being, each being that is abides in Being, and Being is the is-ness, life, of beings.

” The morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” in Job 38 (v7).

There is hope or promise built into this cyclical earthly life, in the nature of things: while in the northern hemisphere the season is turning to dark and cold, spring is stirring, warmth and light are quickening life in the southern. The whole earth is never in darkness at once.

All creation waits.” The storm calmed when He Who could walk on water and multiply bread loaves and fishes, heal the sick and rise from death, spoke.

…since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–His eternal power and divine nature– have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” [ROM. 1:19-20].

I was thinking that breathing– by animal lungs, fish gills, mollusks, trees– is the exchange of gases. Gases are molecuaer chains, composed of atoms composed of muons and gluons and mesons and quarks; detachments and re-attachments of subatomic particles or charges or spins in new configurations is, then, a sort of “breathing.”

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.”

[Psalm 150:6]

Hallowed be Thy Name.

Thunder Moon, and Trees For Healing

by D. Thomas

Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.” [EZEKIEL 47:12]

High summer: the heyday of the first fruits and berries has passed, and we are in the time of afternoon: the season of insect chirping, of growth happening out of notice, deer lying down; of waiting. The leaves and later fruits and the grains are fattening, and here it is green and green and lush and humid. I am lucky here in this niche of Pennsylvania, luckier than most, with no floods this summer, no wildfires– although we have been breathing the “haze” from the blazes ravaging so much of the west. My mind has been quiet– and it means I have peace that I have not been freaking out or despairing, that it has not felt like desolation and tumbleweed in the desert, that I do not feel like bleached bone in the sand. I have been working, instead, with hands, yes, and brushes and mops, and with my legs and my back.

High summer– Mission weeks and works, if one is so inclined; vacations, if one can. Summer, we sense, will be leaving, the seasons and skies will turn.

I have been wanting to write about Trees for Healing since I wrote the last entry about wells of water– and the fires, before that, for: there is always so much more. When I read, when I walk, when I look up at treetops, branches and leaves against sky, at the fireflies within arm’s reach, deer with new antlers, and look down at flowering weeds, growing plants, and running water over rocks, I have wanted to speak of, but have not had words. I did see– which annoyed it I think– a groundhog (Biblical rock badger-?) coming out from amid flat big rocks to the water, beside one under-street culvert, and in a friend’s yard by the little woods I saw and touched a little brown frog one morning, and a little toad that afternoon.

There are more gnats and mosquitoes than luna moths or dragonflies; deer ticks follow deer; and there is poison hemlock as well as Queen Anne’s Lace,(in addition to poisons oak and ivy). And, sometimes, copperheads amid the garter snakes and ground frogs.

The Thunder Moon was two weeks ago– and indeed we were having thunderstorms every day, deluges, brief downpours, light rains, wild winds, and intense heat. Mushrooms and strange fungi have sprung up everywhere, plentifully in lawns along root systems, at the bases and on the trunks of trees. Outlandish looking, yet of the very land and life here and wherever plants grow: Mycorrhizal fungi live in symbiosis with most plants and trees. The mushrooms and toadstools grow up through the soil to the surface and collect nutrients which they carry to the tree roots. Trees communicate through the networks of roots and fungi, even with trees of other species: ecologist Suzanne Simard (Finding The Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest) notes how they share information about damaging insects, for example, so they might produce defenses, and they share nutrients with other trees which humans thought to be competing for sunlight: the trees live together and cooperate for the health of the forest. The old Mother Tree feeds water and carbon to the seedlings to help them grow.

Throughout human history we have relied on trees and plants for our shelters, clothes ,musical instruments and dolls, tools, our food, our medicines; wine to make us glad and oil to moisturize our faces. Herbs of all kinds for helping with fertility and easing birth, to abortions and anointing the dead; stimulants and relaxants and hallucinogens, vitamins, fever-reducers, pain blockers, sterilizers, purges…And now, in that inclusive America that does not out and out swim witches, Ayurvedic medicine, herbal medicine, holistic medicine, has re-emerged. (When the “MMJ” dispensaries have Rewards points, I have to “get political”: legalize it, release the prisoners, expunge records, change lives and change the world. Change the country– which is exactly what White Supremacists dread; Fascism says, “We want to keep you incarcerated because it serves us well.”)

( Fungus growing at the base of a tree out front. )

There are sacred trees in most if not all religions, and often and often they impart Words and Wisdom– .

The Bhagavad Gita says of the ancient and giant fig tree Ashvattha “the everlasting,

“Rooted in heaven, Its branches earthward; each of its leaves is a song of the Vedas, and he who knows it knows all the Vedas.” [XV. 1]

In the Hebrew stories, the Tabernacle or movable Temple of Exodus, and the poles for carrying the gold-plated Ark of the Covenant and the Ark itself were made of wood, possibly acacia wood, sacred to many Greek, Roman, Mediterranean goddesses, and the poles which hold Torah scrolls are of wood, and the scrolls are of parchment or animal skins and this is very like Christ or Odin or Osiris hung on a tree for bringing written Words, Wisdom, and Fire to humankind. The seven-branched Menorah is a tree of Lights or Light– as is the Cross of Christ, the Light of the World.

The water of life feeds the Tree of Life which was that left in Eden and identified with Christ, and is in many, most, mythologies– the mother tree, the golden bough, again. The druids knew the medicinal benefits of trees and harnessed their powers and named seven of them especially sacred; there is a Celtic Tree Alphabet with letters named for trees (A–fir or pine; E–aspen; I–yew; O–gorse; U– heather; M is vine, and apple is Q.); there is the older Ogham script, which is of vertical lines crossed with certain numbers of lines slanting up or down, which remind me of the hexagrams of the I Ching, or Book of Changes, with arrangement of solid (Yang) and broken (Yin) lines, made by throwing three coins or, originally, yarrow stalks. Odin hung himself upon the Tree of Life Yggdrasil for nine days and nights to learn about the other worlds and to understand the Runes.

One of the several Runes I remember is the symbol for the Yew Tree, meaning protection (upside down it is the peace symbol)

The Yew is sacred in several traditions, and the Pacific Yew’s bark produces the chemical from which is derived paclitaxel, the chemotherapy drug for treating breast, lung, and ovarian cancer.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse” [REV. 22: 1-3].

It is my thought that, perhaps, the eating of the “apple” (Q–for “question”?) and subsequent Fall was– not of evil, not against Omniscient Omnipotent God’s plan, but the Eve and Adam and Serpent story–(“eat any fruit at all except that, don’t eat that--” seems a set-up) is a myth of human evolution or education: when the humanoid species were developed enough– after whatever ages and generations of waiting and abiding and intermixing, the “breath”, the Spirit, quickened the species to the next, new, revelatory level of intellect– and it was not good for this human to be alone; the helper possibly was the Serpent, and the knowledge seeking was and is in each one of us necessary for individuation: becoming wholly ourselves, mature and reasoning and self-controlling, and aware of, assimilating, all the Shadow side, all the forces, passions, emotions, memories, germs and dreams of our unconsciousness, our devils and demons and our better angels, our inner needy child and bossy know-it-all, our wise women, old kings, princes, tricksters, wise men, muses and Graces and pantheons of gods and beasts, our innerscapes of mountains, plateaus, caves, swamps, sloughs, gardens and deserts, and places within where we remember the comforting, feeding arms of the Mother.

This “Mother,” womb and grave, all nutrition and decomposition, this World Tree, Life Tree, Mother Earth or Mother Nature, A.T. Mann suggests (The Sacred Language of Trees), was carried along with all the Jewish and Christian myths, histories, tales, in the artifacts and symbols, and in the Shadow-y reversions to idolatries which are themselves corruptions of worship– I don’t know that the feminine energy or aspect or Yin was ever supposed to be written or driven out: after all, from Genesis to Revelation, off the top of my head: the Serpent talked to Eve; Sarah was blessed to be a blessing to all; Moses’ mother and Pharaoh’s Daughter saved him for the Exodus and the Law; Solomon referred to wisdom as feminine Sophia; prophetess Huldah identified and interpreted the Holy Scripture, long lost and found (2 KINGS and 2 Chronicles); Mary was chosen to bear Jesus, and Mary Magdalene was the first person to see Christ, risen; Timothy owed his learning and belief to his mother and grandmother according to Paul; and, in heaven, the Wedding Feast of the Lamb is with the Bride, the Church or the restored World.

God is Spirit, not male or female. Humans were created in Their image, male and female. We are nature, we are of the earth, we cannot live without the humus of which we’re made, the microbes we share our space and existence with, without mitochondria, without algae, without trees. We cannot be born without mothers. Jesus and even Paul tried to say that in Christ there is no male and female– no social order of one above the other, one more important, one subservient. No slave or free– no “higher” or “lower” or better, and, to followers of the Way (of Jesus)– no Jew or Gentile any more.

This World Tree, Life Tree, reaches up to heaven and down into the underworld, to highest consciousness and to deepest unconscious where we meet, where all are one, we dream of the same monsters and saviors and cities and rainbows and lights in their many guises.

We humans with these minds are designed to learn– to study, to take apart, examine, learn, build, make things from materials at hand– temples and statues, paintings, symphonies, plays, spaceships. We all leave the womb, that dark water, formlessness, brooded over by the Great Mother and each mother, born in convulsion into great light, murky eyes and nose and airways clearing, sensing soon individual lights and faces, discovering up and down and front and arms and our own feet, our own edges– an infant’s birth and coming into awareness is very like Genesis 1, is it not? We must all be expelled from the womb, or we will die, the mother will die. We must grow up out of infancy to some self-determination, and there are struggles and dangers, the world is no Eden… Experience runs us up against pleasure and pain, cooperation and contest, sickness and health, fear and courage, love and hate, all opposites and all ambiguities between.

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man” Jesus said [JOHN 3:13]. The New Earth and New Jerusalem, or, rather, in Ezekiel 48:35, the City named The LORD is There described in the Books of Ezekiel and Revelation have these trees for food and for healing, which means there is hunger and potential sickness or injury or poison, this new world is not “purely spiritual”– and here I want to be very clear that I mean in these visions recorded in these Books of the Bible, strictly; I offer a level of interpretation. and I hold that Christ and “The Kingdom of God” is an eternal, spiritual existence, and “eternal life” is, too.

And so: we are in a biological realm, somehow still, in these visions. The Kingdom of God as it can be here, as it can be among us, brought by those of us who can see it. The wars, Gog and Magog, the plagues, the poisons and fires and meteors and fighter planes of Armageddon– all the horrors might be human-made, and the third only may survive– but the new reign, the heaven-on-earth time of Peace, the King of Kings, Prince of Peace, Christ reigning– might be here? Christ Jesus, the Light of the world is also the Water of Life and the Tree of Life, and the Tree He was hung upon represents Him: we speak and sing of coming “to the Cross”, worship “at the foot of the Cross,” and He identified His body and blood with the grain of the earth that makes bread and the fruit of the earth which makes wine, He bids us eat and drink him, and every day we eat Mother Earth, which They made and declared Good: Incarnation reminds us that we need this Incarnated God to live at all, to sustain life on all levels, here in our present realm. We humans might make our way through the knowledge of Good and Evil and accept the Grace and healing offered, and wash in the water, drink the tea made from the leaves, live in love and peace–

We can, we can, we can. We could if we would. With generosity– of goods and services, of food and clothing, of sheltering and love. With help. The help of the Spirit, God within. And I know this will be saccharine to those who do not believe.

Seeds, according to geobiologist Hope Jahren in Lab Girl, are curled green embryos contained within the husk or hard nut, waiting for a crack, a weakening, to unfurl and become a green shoot, ready to grow into an oak or alder or yew or Easter lily. The seeds wait– as Jahren says, only they know what for– and some can wait for hundreds of years.

A lotus grew from a husk found in a peat bog in China where it had been waiting for two thousand years.

This makes me weep for joy.

And plant seeds:

” The Spirit and the bride say ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let them come; and whoever wishes, let them take the free gift of the water of life” [REVELATION 22:17].

Wells of Water

By D. Thomas

The cove was a cool, deep pool in a ring of evergreens. The green-gold water flowed over everything and remained itself, seamless and whole. In the water she was free. The water made room for her, welcomed her, closed protectively around her, soft and warm and silky like the water of a womb, with lily stems like umbilical cords from the cold mud bottom to the sunlit surface air. She had not realized how cut ad bruised she was until she felt the water’s healing …

Water seemed to be her element, her home, left sometime long ago but remembered deep in her cells; all her life her sweetest dreams were about swimming rather than flying, and she regretted the loss of her ability to breathe underwater.” (D.Thomas)

The earliest dream I can remember, which for some reason I think I dreamed at my grandmother’s, whose house, in many many dreams, has “the secret playrooms” which I might know are here somewhere in this dream landscape or that, so I will look for them, but which did not in fact exist– the first dream was of water. I was best friends with a prince, which I suspect comes from Saint- Exupery (The Little Prince) or Twain’s Prince and the Pauper ; I was the pauper, and it had come time for the prince to learn to be one, and so iron gates were to be closed between us. In rebellion, we ran away, and we dove into the water because we were being chased, and we swam down and down, and I lost all sight of my friend and soul mate; he vanished, but I discovered that I could breathe underwater, and it was cool and silent, the most peaceful state in the world.

In many dreams since, there have been oceans and storms and turbulence, and I have remembered that I can breathe under water, and have dived down under the turbulence to the peaceful quiet safety.

There is nothing as refreshing as clear, cool, unpoisoned water.

Salt water heals– cuts, scrapes, gerbil bites ( ah childhood!), sore throats. Salt water heals hearts when they well in tears of gratitude, of joy, of grief, of sorrow, of anger, of repentance.

Our bodies are mostly water, and we need water more than food to live; we need water as we need air.

Water is a primary symbol of the unconscious in Jungian psychology; the archetypes of humanity’s collective unconscious he calls riverbeds for the waters of life, those ways of understanding which flow through stories, histories, dreams, myths; particular images and symbols fade out of use or dry up from loss of meaning, from loss of value, but which can rush back, which can flood the riverbed, its banks, the cracked dry plains around it.

The Nile valley was fertile because of her yearly flooding.

If a soul or a nation is in a spiritual drought and prone to fires, when rain does come, there are too often torrential floods and mudslides, one disaster changed for another if the psyches will not be transformed in gentler ways. Transformation, from the first life on earth, has begun in water.

The Earth herself began with water, it is said.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and void, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was brooding over the waters.” [GENESIS 1:1-2]

Then, this sounds like an ancient or alchemical text intuiting the steam and vapor from the cooling planet clearing, or the hydrogen and oxygen molecules and atoms acquiring bonds to carbon and selenium and salt:

And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.’ So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse ‘sky’… And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry land appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry ground ‘land,’ and the gathered waters he called ‘seas,’ And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation…’ [GEN. 1:3-11].

And, I am diving into the Bible again because I do believe in Christ Jesus, wholly man for thirty- three years in Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, and wholly God, ever and always, and this man Jesus read, quoted, taught, and fulfilled the prophecies within the Hebrew scriptures, the Christian Old Testament, and inspired all the New.

“I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my strength and salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” [ISAIAH 12 :2-3].

Water was and is for baptism, ceremonial cleansing away of the sins one repents of– symbolically for infants– in preparation for the coming of God, for any sitting at the table with God, the Wedding Feast of the Bridegroom Christ, the Love Feast. Communion– remembering Jesus with the bread and wine which represent his body and his blood, is also called the love feast, shared by all who desire Him ( small h for the man, Jesus state, capital H for Christ the LORD, the Godhead); turning water to wine at the Wedding at Cana (JOHN 2: 1-12, his “first sign,”) was turning the water in jars used for washing hands into wine that, at every love feast since his death and resurrection, symbolizes the blood he shed to wash us clean of sin.

(At the very human wedding, his mother Mary asked him to help the groom and the family out– they’d run out of wine, which probably meant they were poor, and this late, better wine, was for joy– and signals the better joy. He multiplied bread and fish to feed crowds more than once, but he did not turn stones to bread for himself when Satan tempted him in the wilderness, when he had been fasting and was very hungry. He said that man does not live by bread alone, but by the words of the Father. He told the crowds and followers that he was the Bread of Heaven. He referred to the Father’s will as his food again later, in JOHN 4: 34: “‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.'” Food: what feeds us.)

Most of the Psalms and hymns of praise, and prophetic verses of restoration and healing mention the springs of water flowing in the dry and desolate lands; water springs and trees are planted and flowers bloom in deserts, and the animals come to drink and eat. God provides the water for the wild donkeys and all the animals to drink, and at the wells the people have established, men and camels drink.

Tears are prayers, of sorrow and want, of thanksgiving and Joy. They well up from our souls.

Two of my favorite Bible stories involve possibly sketchy women– with whom I identify– and wells.

In the Old Testament, when Abraham, who was a friend of God, who followed God’s instructions and who argued with God on behalf of the possibly virtuous residents in the cities God was going to destroy for their wickedness, was waiting, waiting, waiting for the promised son who would be a blessing to all; Abe was pushing one hundred, with wife Sarah getting near to ninety. Impatient, he had a child by the Egyptian maidservant, Hagar. Sleeping with her had been Sarah (Sarai)’s idea, but then she was annoyed by the pregnant girl’s superior attitude,

Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, sevant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?'” [GEN. 16: 6-8]

Hagar received a blessing and said, 16:13, ” She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.'”

I love that.

After Sarah had borne Isaac she threw Hagar and her son Ishmael out of the household and camp, jealous for Isaac’s inheritance ( no one is perfect). Hagar and Ishmael then wandered in the desert, and when they had run out of water, she put the boy under a bush and began to cry.

God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him a great nation.’ Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.” [GEN. 21: 17-19.]

A sermon could be built on that paragraph: God hears you. Open your eyes, open your eyes. And when you see the well of water, fill your container, give the kid a drink. Take his hand, lift him up– this is faith.

Ishmael is the patriarch of the Islamic peoples: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all begin with Genesis, these People Of The Book all come from the same Abraham.

But there has always been trouble in and between human kingdoms with mortal kings or emperors, with children born of mortal women and men, by blood and the will of the husband, to many wives and concubines, and the long history of the Hebrews’ division into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms after the deaths of David and his son Solomon, born to Bathsheba with whom David committed adultery and for whom he committed murder, the corruption and idolatry and covenant breaking led to the Assyrian exile of the Northern (Israel, later Samaria) about 720 B.C.E. and the Southern (Judah or Judea) in 586 B.C.E.

(Bear with me as I “geek out ” a minute: The Prophet Isaiah, who is the one most quoted by Jesus and at Christmas [“For unto us a Child is born...”] lived and wrote in the late 8th century (B.C.E.) during the reigns of Judean kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah; he foresaw the Assyrians’ conquering of Israel and the Babylonians defeating Judah if there was no repentance, and also, that Cyrus, the King of Persia, would permit the Jews to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild their Temple. Nebuchadnezzar invaded and destroyed Judah in 586 B.C.E.; the exile or captivity lasted seventy years. Daniel and Ezra and write of this (Daniel lived in Babylon from the time of Nebuchadnezzar [ DAN. 1:21] to the reign of Cyrus [10: 1], and Ezra was in charge of the rebuilding when Cyrus decreed it around 530 B.C.E. [ EZ. 1:1- 6:14]). The cool thing is that Isaiah mentioned Cyrus by name:

(I am the LORD) who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, ‘Let it be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘Let its foundations be laid. This is what the LORD says of his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him… I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor though you do not acknowledge me…” [ISAIAH 44:28-45: 1, 4-5, 45:19, and, several verses later, 45: 19:] “I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness.”

See, the former things have taken place,” God said, in 42:9, “and new things I declare: before they spring into being I announce them to you.” )

Springs and wells of water. Streams run to rivers.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse.” [REVELATION 22: 1-3]

Jesus called Himself Living Water.

The Woman at the Well in the Gospel of John was a Samaritan woman. The Israelites who stayed in the area and intermarried with Assyrians and other Gentiles worshiped differently than the Jews who did, thanks to King Cyrus of Persia, rebuild their Temple, and the descendants, Samaritans and Jews, loathed each other. However, Jesus and his fellows often traveled through the land, for it was between Galilee and Jerusalem. One day, Jesus got tired and thirsty. He sat at Jacob’s well near Sychar, and while the disciples with him went into town to buy food and provisions, a woman came to the well at about noon to draw water.

…Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?”..The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’…Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink you would have asked him and he would give you living water….Everyone who drinks from this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.'” [JOHN 4: 7-15].

She did not understand quite yet that he was not talking about physical thirst, but, although she was a woman who had had five husbands and was living with a man she was not married to– on top of being a Samaritan ad even just a woman–, Jesus told her:

a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and truth.’

” The woman said, ‘I know the Messiah’ (called Christ)’ is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’

” Then Jesus declared, “I who am speaking to you am he.'” [JOHN 4:23-26].

Tears are prayers. The Spirit enters us– and is spirit but is the creator of molecules, of atoms, of electrons, of sky and of seas and of earth and bodies; Jesus the Word through which all things that are made are made became a human with a body of calcium and carbon and hydrogen and salt; this Spirit enters our cells. We are transformed from within, in our very cells, and in the deepest darks of unconscious mind, before, below where we we even know of it– from which we might dream, from where we act, where we break forth and pour over walls and dams and riverbank, destroying old ways– if uncontained, misunderstood, unacknowledged, damage can be done– canyons are carved, the known world (of the Fertile Crescent) was flooded– and tears well up; life and joy can bubble up. We can drink deeply, we can swim, swim ourselves clean.

The end of a story, a paragraph of which I opened with, is:

She had to wash. She slipped down the dark stairs, out the unlocked front door, and ran across the road, down the dirt path to the lake. She threw her stained night dress onto the dock and dove into the black water. Its cooling warmth closed around her, closed over her softly, dark and quiet like a womb, protecting her and taking her tears into its great bosom. She swam and swam, and the lake washed away the sticky filth, the sweat, the blood, the fear– as the sea sloughs off the skin of a dolphin so he can swim faster, ever clean and ever new…

When the sun rose, it painted every needle and branch with gold leaf and varnished the surface of the cove with gold dust in its medium. A night dress lay crumpled on the wooden dock like a discarded skin, and the white water lilies on green pads opened like lotuses.”

I do not want mine to be a last word, however, so I’ll offer a sip more of Isaiah:

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” [Is. 55: 10-11]

Rings Of Fire

by D. Thomas

“Were our hearts not burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” [LUKE 24: 32]’

I’d had intentions of writing weeks ago: I wrote about the Holy Spirit appearing as fire, and wanted to jump in with the Ring of Fire solar eclipse created by the new moon, two weeks after the Blood Flower Super Moon lunar eclipse, another noteworthy celestial event in the year of conjunctions and alignments and plagues, insurrections and rumors of parties that still think trump won.

The photos of that solar eclipse here in Pennsylvania (I could not see it from where I was) show the bronze, bright crescent which looks to me like a darkly burnished, burning moon, and makes me think that something cosmological might be being born.

The name, “Ring of Fire,” first brought to mind the Johnny Cash song.

The June Carter song. June Carter wrote it; Johnny Cash, the Man In Black, made it famous– a devout, faulty Christian who worked hard on prison reform.

Brynhilde, the Valkyrie, sprang to mind even as I was humming the chorus of the song: She was a favorite of the god Odin in the Old Norse Eddas and Volsunga and the Germanic Nibelungenlied,( made famous by in the Wagner Ring Cycle opera). She took to Valhalla a warrior who was loved by Odin but barred from the halls where the brave fighters were hallowed after honorable death in battle. For her disobedience she was put into a sleep, and surrounded– protected and imprisoned by fire; the hero who could leap the flames would wake her, as a type of Sleeping Beauty, but then this immortal woke mortal, and forced to desire and marry this Sigurd (Germanic Siegfried). Her “hero” later fell in love with another woman and tricked and abandoned her, and Brynhilde ended up committing suicide by throwing herself on his funeral pyre.

This reminds me of the curse upon Eve as humanity was expelled from Eden, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” [GEN. 3:16, NIV.] ( Interestingly, the New Living Translation of the Bible says “And you will desire to control your husband” and the English Standard Version puts it “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband;” all three seem to fit Brynhilde. Glancing at thirty translations here, two say that she will submit to her husband, and the remaining twenty-six are “desire“.)

Rings of Fire: Brynhilde and Johnny Cash, Prometheus and The Inferno and The Fire Next Time; global warming, the two heat waves, here, in June, and, the Comet C/2014 UN271.

“Then the angel took the censor, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.” [REVELATION 8:5]

There was too much, and then, I was going through fire. Sin and self- torment (where I’m a Bergman film– Ingmar). My head can burn and can generate heat and darkness; in relationships, I too often imagine things, invent, and overreact– which is “borderline personality” disordered; I sin, and I fear the LORD, and it is sometimes not “reverence” and “awe” (which it is), but fear. I condemn myself, damn myself for my unrepentance; desire can be like impalement on a lit flame and hot melting wax– hellfire exists within myself, like acid, like bile, like shame.

“God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power.” [2 THESSALONIANS 1: 6-9]

Are our hearts not burning within us?

Oh yes, and scientists have found that the largest comet ever known is heading our way, will enter our solar system in 2031, a comet with a diameter of about 100 miles– 1000 times the size of any others so far known, which turned up in archived images taken during a survey of “dark matter”. The Club of Rome (Limits to Growth) reports put our end-of-life-as-we-know it at 2030: on Facebook now I’ve been seeing a movement to conserve 30% of the earth’s natural resources by 2030. To conserve 30%. 70% will dry up, burn out, be poisoned?

As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: ‘Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!’ The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth….A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke, and sulfur that came out of their mouths….The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent… ” [REV. 8:13, 9: 1, 18, 20a]

I had no intention of reading the Book of Revelation– I was looking for the reference to the Fire Next Time, which James Baldwin used; the rainbow is the Biblical promise that the world will not again be destroyed by flood. Peter says “By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgement of ungodly men” [2 PETER 3:6-7]. He was speaking of scoffers who forget that God made the world with a word ( a “sound”, a bang, and the Word making wine and blood, flesh and bread) , scoffers who forget that the earth was formed out of water and by water– as is everyone born.

He says, “the world of that time“– that area? There was flooding, the earth was covered with water, it was cataclysmic when the earth plates separated, the continents appeared and drifted– the myths of oldest humanity tell flood stories– some earth memory recorded in our matter, in our cells– our fetal development is in water, our bodies are mostly water. Global warming and greenhouse gasses will melt the surface in four billion years, science suggests; nuclear war, nuclear holocaust, would be fire of Biblical proportion and I never read Revelation without seeing that, and I always suspect that, if you can line up any of the images from John’s trippy visionary dream with reality, the locusts like fighter planes and bombers and the eagles are probably us. The U.S. is as like Babylon as any kingdom on earth– and why, with all our CGI, has no one yet made the movie?

I do not think we are supposed to line things up point by point, but if you start, you can make a good argument for the U.S.A. also being the last, different from all others kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2 and Daniel’s dream in chapter 7, and you can fear that we are indeed in End Times.

Which people have thought countless times.

We all do face our own End Time, at our own ends.

This does not mean that sinners and “unbelievers” will all go to Hell– Hell is not a Place; it is a state of mind or psyche, it is burning and twisting, in obsessive love or self-loathing or addiction or clinical Depression, it is the dark caverns of suicidal despair and dread of the Beast within, at the bottom of the self where mind is brain stem is body which is part of us or, to materialists, what one is; Hell is regret, is guilt and shame. Hell is being trapped in a room with no windows, only mirrors, all warped but one but we don’t know which one…

Prometheus took Fire, which had belonged to the gods, and gave it to Humans. Warmth in winter, cooked food, light to read and sew and tell stories by. Fire to burn houses, forests, books, martyrs, heretics, witches, KKK crosses, by…

The Club of Rome is a group of scientists who programmed computers to project what would happen if agricultural and population trends, if industrial development and manufacture continued on the twentieth century trajectories, and determined that the Earth could not sustain the continued economic and population growth. The study results were first published as Limits to Growth in 1972; I own a 30-year-updated version, and I think we have passed our window of radical change for healthy sustainability. A few of the very rich will be more or less okay, of course, but the rest– well, isn’t it happening? Record hot years, year after year, and more and more species dying out and spreading diseases to humans as they seek food before expiring. Biodiversity is disappearing under parking lots and industrial one-crop farms, rainforests are being razed for fast-food cattle grazing and junk food ingredients, and–.

The wild dreams and visions of the Biblical Prophets don’t seem so crazy. They also tell us that we cannot judge each other– we do not even know or control ourselves. Obedience to God is choosing to act as Love suggests, not as hatred, fear, and wrath do. Not lashing out like jealous or avaricious monsters, our Shadows grown king- and queen-sized and taking us over. Wait, be still, pray and yell and weep in secret until the rage is spent, and preserve its victim/cause from it, and act, more rationally, later– after the nap, the run, the smoke, the bellowing to punk or metal or P.J. Harvey, and some cooling down. Love is the choice to refrain from harming, from lashing out, from hitting “Send;” and sometimes that is one’s best effort– often, when one is wrong about whatever sparked it, and as often when one is the one in wrong in the first place, sitting on one’s hands is loving.

The Holy Spirit causes much of our burning. “Convicts” us of our sin, our wrong. And frees us: shows us the way out of torment, is and shows the Light. Light, Truth, Life. If we can imagine “Justice” and something “better”, I think a God can, and one has to sometimes leap–. Oh, seek justice, work for social justice, advocate for the animals and plants and streams and oceans and earth– yes, anger is not all bad, anger drives, anger and outrage directed to growth and health are of the Spirit. Spirit opens a room with windows, eyes that see with compassion, a heart wanting to help, to heal, to care for, to shelter, to feed, to release one’s bitternesses and charges against– to forgive.

Can one forgive what was done to someone else?

James Baldwin took his title from a slave spiritual:

God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time!”

In the first part, My Dungeon Shook: Letter To My Nephew On The Hundredth Anniversary Of The Emancipation, he tells his nephew to not believe that he is what the white people tell him that he is, and that he must pity and love those very whites who try to keep the black people down, in the ghettos and kitchens (and jails) out of their own fears for themselves and their places and their guilt, their fear of change admitting Truth; it is the white people who need to be freed, because their minds are the ones imprisoned . (And just look at the Jan. 6 crowd!)

How many times will we have to weep and protest against White Northern European racism? How long must anti-racists sing this song? Because or though I am cis-gender and white, my heart breaks, my heart breaks. There is a movement with promise in the world, so, there might be hope. There is, daily, war.

I cannot celebrate the Fourth, when a private militia made of Colonizers rebelled against the Home offices, the absentee King, but left the natives of the continent disenfranchised, savagely murdered and interned, imprisoned, enslaved, as their brothers and cousins did all over Africa and India for Empire and Profit. Juneteenth celebrates the days that the last (known) slaves, in Texas, were informed that they were free— two years after the law made it so.

The most stunning verse in Revelation is 8:1:

When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”

As Heaven is existing in/experiencing the Presence of God (“God”), Hell is– existing without, experiencing not being with God. The Creator, Life itself, Love. The outer darkness where the worms gnaw at, the fire burns, consciousness, and there is the gnashing of teeth: living with oneself– alone. No one to hear you, see you, love or fear or want you or serve you or think of you at all.

The Tree of Life in Eden is protected on all sides by an Angel spinning swords of fire.

“The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand,” Revelation [8:4] says, just before the angel hurled the burning censor onto the earth.

Light My Fire

By D. Thomas

In those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophecy.

And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs

on the earth below,

blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;

the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood,…” [ACTS 2:18-20, Peter quoting JOEL 2:29-31]

I wanted to write sooner about Pentecost, because it is fascinating, and the Christian celebration marks one of the most important things in the Bible, and because something wonderful happened on that day during church, but over this week and a half I have been a weepy mess. Of course, there was that Moon– again, the Moon, the Super Moon!

The Blood Flower Super Moon, and its eclipse– the only total lunar eclipse of 2021.

The moon has been in Sagittarius, a mutable fire sign. According to astrologists and anyone who works regularly with children, full moons always affect and intensify emotions, personally and collectively. The astrologers say that the effect is more potent in these close super moon phases, and it is all amped up if you happen to be of a mutable sign–Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces. The thinkers and philosophers of the zodiac, it is said. I’m a Sagittarius, a fire sign, so…

The moon appears blood red in these “Blood Moons” because the light from the sun bounces off the earth’s atmosphere with all its particles and molecules and dusts, which, glittering, reflecting, light the moon’s surface even as the earth’s body blocks the sun’s direct light– which at night we see reflected, calling it moonlight.

Every day and night our eyes are seeing reflected and refracted and bending, not direct, light, within a narrow spectrum (without various cameras, lenses and filters). And every day and night and tide change, we on earth and the sun, we on earth and the moon, pull, bend, influence each other– moon and water, sun and chlorophyll; life.

Air, fire, water, earth: existence.

“Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise Him in the heights!

Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him all , all His host!

Praise Him, sun and moon, praise Him all you shining stars! Praise Him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!” [PSALM 148, 1-4]

So, Pentecost: in the Christian calendar, this marks the day that the Holy Spirit filled the disciples and apostles, and they began to preach and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ Who had risen.

(For the mythology/ theology/history nerds:)

Jesus had been crucified and died (and the sun went dark, dark as an eclipse, and the earth quaked and, Matthew says, graves opened), risen, and appeared to and talked with and taught His followers for forty days, and then He told them to wait in Jerusalem for the Spirit that He had promised. (I love the scene in Acts 1 when He left them– He rose as into the sky and disappeared, “And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?” [ACTS 1:10-11] — it’s sort of like, in John 21, when He appeared to them on the beach at Galilee where the men were fishing: Christ the Risen LORD called from shore, “Did you catch anything?”)

In Jerusalem, then, ” they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James …together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus and his brothers,” [ACTS 1 : 12-14], and, while I wish names of more of the women were also listed, I must point out that female disciples were present with the eleven (Judas Iscariot had hung himself). And:

“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on them, each one of them. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit” [ACTS 2 :1-4].

They began speaking in languages that they did not know, telling about Christ Jesus, who was killed (“You killed the Author of life” Peter put it another time), and rose. Peter quoted the prophet Joel, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” [2:28].

Peter and the disciples were speaking in all the known languages to the Jews and God-fearers who had come from throughout the diaspora to the city for the Feast of Pentecost.

Passover was the beginning of the Festival of First Fruits– which is older than Moses, older the Joseph and Jacob and Abraham, as old as humans’ consciousness of the need of food and the harvesting of food, thanking the gods of the fruit-bearing trees and vines and the grains, and celebrating the first wheat grown in the nation of Israel. Israel was intended to be ruled by God, not a human king, and governed by judges (such as Deborah), a holy– or, set apart– people, according to the Covenant God made with them, through Moses, at Mount Sinai (sealed by the blood sprinkled on the altar and the people) This, the giving of the Torah or Law to Moses and the people of the Exodus from Egypt is the Jewish element.

Fifty days after Passover (pente=fifty) was the Feast of Pentecost/First Fruits. Jesus (the Lamb, the sacrifice, sealed the New Covenant with his blood and body) was called the Firstborn, and all who believe are called His sisters and brothers and will rise as He did, and are children of God as He was, and have God, the Spirit within– a particle/wave kind of thing? I do not know exactly what this means or how it works, but can go with the “force and bundles of excited wavelike force becoming particulate force- bearer” analogy. We talk about “fruits of the Spirit”– or manifestations of the Spirit of God in us, Love and all the behaviors that flow from loving and helping and teaching and healing instead of hating and fearing and fighting.

On the feast day the city was crowded, as it had been for the Passover, and Peter and the rest preached the Good News of Christ’s resurrection, and believer’s adoption, and how being sons and daughters of God, “co-heirs of the Kingdom ” with Christ, made of them– or us– a “holy people”, a “nation ” and “royal priesthood”. Any of us can preach, can witness, testify, help and heal; do what Jesus did and, Jesus said, even greater things (advancement in knowledge and technology has wrought wonders, moved mountains, saved lives; unfortunately the demonic and evil have gained these same tools.)

We are supposed to reflect God. God is Love. We are supposed to be “the hands and feet of Jesus”, feeding and clothing the poor, healing the sick, visiting the prisoners; we are supposed to show compassion– this is the Spirit in us. Why are many so-called Christians so blocked? So hateful? There are brightly shining Christ-followers in our world, though, too– that is how we know Spirit is.

On Pentecost, two Sundays ago, during the church I worship with online, a family in the chat said a daughter, aged nine, asked if and how she could accept Jesus; she can’t talk. We all chimed in, crying Oh Yes! God can hear thoughts and silent prayers! We all prayed and encouraged, and were crying happy tears and she accepted Jesus and we welcomed her into the family. We returned the next Sunday eagerly; the little girl has not reported miraculously being able to speak, but she did take over the typing/talking on the chat for her household, and brought us to tears again: she likes to paint; she has to hold the brush in her mouth. She said, and I quote; “I have become able to do many things since I am broken.” The church is in the Pennsylvania boonies, and the streaming service was glitching and being lost, but we of the chat church have found that great things sometimes happen then; our host sighed that they tend to lose internet when it rains; the little girl said, “We are your rainbow.”

The Spirit is still more powerful than our science and technology.

I have been a weepy mess. Good tears– thanksgiving and Joy– and sad tears, loneliness, sorrow and grieving, and a dose of self pity which leads me to admit that I surely am both ends of the centaur of Sagittarius. Oh, and I got my second vaccine, right before the Eclipse and full moon, on Pentecost. I am wary of things opening up too much, too quickly; I’m not sure I’m ready to give up the mask. I know I’m not ready to go out much into the world. I think I am most afraid that humans will not retain and learn and live what they have been taught in this pandemic. In this nation, especially, memories are short.

Remember the “opioid epidemic”? My friend would be fifty today if he hadn’t kept using pain-killers for the wrong kind of pain, if he hadn’t found it so much cheaper to get heroin. (When my Mom was dying I told her to give him a big hug and a kiss and a smack upside the head, in any order.)

I’m afraid the huge Pharmaceutical and Natural Gas and Oil profits will keep us and our habitat destroyed and sick, and that the White Supremacists will stride around with guns and act so pro-life that they’ll shoot anyone they don’t like the general look of and call it “Standing their ground.” I’m afraid the idolatrous nationalisms might lead to War. The next World War could go nuclear, if the Superpower enemies standing off aren’t both predominantly Caucasian, if trump-lovers win in ’24, and see China as the evil, as Americans once called the U.S.S.R. (remember that?) The USA used nukes in the Asian Pacific already– against two Japanese cities in World War II, and detonated hundreds in the air as tests. (Just warning: stay awake, watch!)

I do not trust humans much, including myself. But I believe in the Spirit, and Spirit is greater than nations, than kingdoms and dictators and moguls, vaster than the internet, than space, and as close and intimate as breath, and that this Being gives and loves life.

The past weeks have been lushly, richly, gloriously green! Cheers to the Big Guy as my friend wrote.

“Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons and all deeps;

Fire and hail; snow, and vapor; stormy wind fulfilling His word:

Mountains and all hills; fruitfull trees, and all cedars:

Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl…” [PSALM 148 :7-10] (KJV)

I pray that the Spirit will roar over us and through us, opening hearts and eyes and minds, igniting creativity and change, igniting love for one another and love for the earth, setting us on fire.

I Don’t Know…

by D.Thomas

May Day, May Day!

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;” (Isaiah 49:15-16a).

Is it in The Passion of the Christ , or was it in a dream? The bloody, battered Jesus looked up and said, “No one comes to the Father except through me,” and it suddenly, concretely, meant: this physical living and dying is the way to the “Father”, the eternal. The earth is our mother, the material of which we’re made and fed, our bone, muscle, oxygen, blood, every tissue, membrane, fiber, and Jesus was made of earth, of flesh, was made of blood and bone taken from his mother Mary, and he ate the fish, the bread, the figs, the grapes of the earth; he suffered hunger, tiredness, weariness, thirst. He suffered crowdedness and loneliness and sorrow and anger, and he loved. He loved his friends, he loved people enough to stop and talk to them, listen to them, touch them. He touched people who were “unclean” in his culture, talked with women who were taboo, and he healed the sick, the leprous, the blind, those crippled by sin. We “get to heaven,” we know God, by being born, living, suffering, loving, dying. Our Creator is going through it with us. They joined the cycle of life which They made, abiding in and with, like vine and branches, and also soil, water, sunlight, leaves and air. We are one. He wept for us; He weeps with us, and brings Joy.

We are still in Eastertide, the season celebrating Christ, from His resurrection on Easter morning to His ascension into heaven after forty days of walking and talking and eating with His followers, and teaching them what the scriptures had said about Him; He was proving to five or six hundred people around Jerusalem and up in Galilee that He was real, He had died as Jesus and risen.

( I use “he” for Jesus, “He” for Christ which is God, or, “God,” Creator, Sustainer, Ground, and Spirit.)

After his death on the cross, He walked and talked and ate with His disciples, He was seen by 500 people at one time, according to Paul ( 1 Corinthians 15:6), Thomas touched his wounded hands and side (John 20:27).

He appeared to the women, first. In all four Gospels, the women were present at his death, and followed Joseph of Arimathea who took the body to his own new tomb, and hurried back to the tomb as soon as the Sabbath– from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday–was over, so they could wash and anoint him. With myrrh, which was one of the gifts the Magi from the East took to the infant Jesus, the gold for the king, the frankincense for the priest, the myrrh for the burial. The women, Mary Magdalene in all four versions, and several other female disciples, saw the rolled away stone and the Angel(s) who said “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” and Jesus himself.

These women ran to tell the others, the Eleven– but the men did not believe them; the men thought they were nuts. Mary Magdalene, who went back to the tomb when Peter and John at least did go rush to see that the body was gone, saw Jesus again; she did not recognize Him until He said her name.

The others, the two walking away from Jerusalem, did not recognize Him even as He walked along the road to their home in Emmaus, showing how the Prophets and Psalms and Scriptures had told of his death– until He sat with them and broke their bread, giving thanks–.

I had been looking forward to writing about this, and beginning a feminist apologetic, with great excitement, and Spring was so full of spring warmth and buds appearing and enlarging daily, first near to the ground, and then on shrubs, on trees, and the purple blossoms were beginning to unfurl along them– but heat and then autumnal cold, and the news. Not the Good News, which I was full of for a week or so, but– the national news–.

Why did Jesus have to die? My sister was asking– between physics lessons she was sending me in emails. And, everyone asks. Why did the Son of God have to die? To appease a blood-thirsty, Old Testamental God? Why did God demand blood and death?

I don’t know– But– look at us!

During April, Eastertide, when Christians should have been sharing the joy of Jesus Christ assuring His followers and teaching them to teach so that they could carry His message of Love and His work of Loving, there were– 45 mass killings in 30 days. I was relieved last fall (rejoiced) that trump was voted out, I was not shocked by the insurrection interrupting the due process of America’s peaceful transition of power on January 6– “Epiphany,” in fact, when those Magi brought the gifts, but–

Google search headlines:

April 16, forbes.com :”More Than One Mass Shooting Per Day Has Occurred In 2021.”

Two days ago, nytimes.com : “A Partial List of Mass Shootings in the United States in 2021.”

A wikipedia listing of the mass shootings shows May 5, May 3, May 2, on the search page, and says, “View 188 more rows.”

Yet it seems the 2nd Amendment is the most important line in the Constitution to white American men (I sweepingly generalize, and I sincerely hope that a lot of them are wounded and offended by that). Regulation would, it seems, be positively unAmerican? Well, so I am…

But, also– during the Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd more than three people a day, according to the New York Times, were killed by police. Now, some of these were, no doubt, best choices in the situations, but there was something about Daunte Wright, shot “by accident” when pulled over on a traffic stop, because of a–what? Questionable air freshener hanging on his rearview– that made the black- man-a-day-killed-by-cops sound like gang initiation killings. What the f– Most cars have air fresheners or feathers, saints, masks, hanging on rearview mirrors…What is wrong with people?

In the detention center in Georgia, forced hysterectomies, uteruses removed without the women consenting or knowing ? In the 21st century? Where are all the Pro-Life activists in the face of that?

I have been avoiding news. I had been focused instead on feeling the earth awakening, the energy running under the ground, stirring the snakes and worms, tickling tree roots, and tingling up the trunks to the excited ends of branches, and women were standing, claiming and naming themselves, and Spirit was rising so that I was even preparing to write that this Feminine Nature Earth power, real and wonderful and necessary for life, for healing and feeding, must also be done with care; I wanted, I want, to say, Yes! but remember that it is the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit Jesus spoke of and promised and sends, not some other, instead-of Spirit. The spirit of the earth, the spirit of the trees, the spirits of the waters are the Holy Spirit of God (“God”)– in Their hopeful mode?

I was seeing Totems in the trees– snakes, a fox, a bear, a chipmunk, eagles– the images shift and change: I have “seen” my deer spirits, glimpses of great hooved ones– no, a tree, and the great Bison-Head god along my way shaking his massive dirt-clumped wild mane-y mop of hair at me, and a deer spirit that was, no, not deer, quick: a dancing woman in an antler-y headdress; but, no, when I stopped and looked, it was a tree. Faces carved by nature have been peeking at me, shape-shifting– in the tree trunks, the stumps and roots and logs and sticks upon the ground ( sometimes looking like a battlefield, which makes me think that Satan and his forces might have tried to win Nature, but did not defeat the plants and trees, and moved onto animals and the “advanced,” the “intelligent” animals, the humans, succumbed to his rule.)

When it was still getting dark early, before the time change, the ground was reaching up and tripping me until I stopped talking talking talking in my head while walking ( to manage sciatic and psoriatic pain), and felt my feet on the earth, my animal muscles moving my bones and brain over the rise, down the slope, around the bend beside the little stream that came from the underground spring. I walk at the same hour, which has been light, and have been watching spring coming, step by step, purple and yellow low to the ground, then little buds on bushes, pussy willows, then suddenly the pinks of cherries, dogwoods, red maples– suddenly, over night by night, day by day despite rain, winds, chills, there is pink and yellow and blue and white and more and more and more green, filling in the trees, the ground. The yards– violets and bright sunburst dandelions, and lilacs– isn’t it early for lilacs? There is all this, there is– and this is God (“God”)– this is God at work even to this day. No one knows “God” without this : Life being born.

Somehow, through the explosion of being into being, the intense rush of forces o’erspreading the universe, the excitations of miniscule bits of energy into photons with no mass and the electroweak field bumping and breaking against the bosons,( excited bumping together flickerings of the force) as fields do, (fields being the stuff of “empty” outer and inner and between space which do not have sizes but strengths and pull and are measured, examined, as particles which carry characteristics) and spun out electrons, neutrons, neutrinos, mesons, quarks etc., existences slower than the “speed of light,” through the cooling and bumping and sticking and solidifying and liquefying and transferring and decaying and evolving, God is at work making the lovely little fronds of wild carrots, the delicate, lacy red leaves of the Japanese maple, and the mass of every perfect, tiny, star-shaped weed.

Incarnation: The Inconvenient Fact of Jesus

D. Thomas

My first birth scarred my mother,

My second scarred my LORD.

In the last post I said that when gods and goddesses have proper names and specific characteristics as personalities and interact with fates of cities, they have descended from their origins in nature and spirit, and have been made more and more like humans– and here I am now about to speak of Jesus of Nazareth who is called The Son of God and Messiah.

Yes. Well; here we have gone beyond a city (Athens, Thebes, or even Jerusalem) or a state ( Abraham’s descendant would be a Light to all nations, a blessing to all people), and His birth in Bethlehem and death outside Jerusalem are recorded-history specific: His birth was when “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria,” [LUKE 2: 1-2], and His death was when Pilate was the Roman governor of Judea; these things could be verified by Roman records, as His cruifixion was.

This once, anyway, the myth was real, God became a man and was born, lived, died, and rose to from death to Life.

Last Sunday, to Christians, was Palm Sunday, celebrating when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey colt for Passover (commemorating the Israelites’ firstborn sons being saved from the Angel Of Death, and the nation’s freedom from Egyptian slavery). Crowds of his followers and of crowd-followers waved palm branches and cried out “Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Jesus knew that he* was entering Jerusalem to suffer under Pontius Pilate, to be crucified, to die, to be buried. He’d told his disciples this half a dozen times already and called Peter– the Rock– “Satan” when Peter said they’d never let that happen; Jesus said, “You’re thinking like a man, not like God,” [Matthew 16:23, my paraphrase]. (* “he” when he was the living, fleshly Jesus, ‘He” when He is the risen Christ.)

The crowd was making a disturbance, and a Pharisee told Jesus to quiet them. In one of my favorite verses, “He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out,'” [LUKE 19:40].

The very stones would shout Hosanna. The mountains and trees rejoice and clap, tremble throughout the Psalms and poetry of the Prophets– the ground, the Earth itself makes straight the way for the LORD, rejoices when the LORD is passing. Jesus is for all creation, not just humans. He is LORD of Heaven and Earth; he showed this when he walked on water to catch up with the disciples he had sent ahead of him in a boat– and scared the heck out of them when he did [ MATTHEW. 14, MARK 6, JOHN 6]; and again, in a boat, when a wild storm came up, frightening these same fisherman, naturally– except that that time Jesus himself was in the boat, asleep. They woke him up crying “Aren’t you going to save us?” and he opened an eye, said “Really?” [I paraphrase MATT. 8, MARK 4, LUKE 8] and quieted the elements.

All last month, before the buds themselves appeared, there were springtime stirrings in and under the ground, and the tree-tips were standing up in excitation and anticipation.

Today is Good Friday. I do not know why it is called “good” when it is an awful day, but: Jesus knew what he was alive for, knew what he was facing in Jerusalem that Passover week, and fulfilled his life-purpose. He prayed till he was sweating blood that, if there was another way, it would be presented quick, because he dreaded and feared the ordeals of torture– being slapped and spit on, flogged with Roman whips with shards of bone and stone to catch and rip the flesh twined in the leather ends, and being nailed to a cross and hung there until he suffocated from his own weight and died.

He was human; his flesh was terrified of torture. The flesh is weak. He submitted to the Will of God.

He was God. He was accused of blasphemy and presented to the high courts for execution, chosen by the crowd who voted for the guerilla Barabbas to be freed that day instead (the Romans’ nod to the Jews’ high holiday), was whipped and crucified.

This is what the Christian New Testament tells us. Over 300, some say up to 500, Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus, and for today I am going to stay in the scriptures that the Jewish-born man Jesus and his nearest disciples quoted and alluded to, although many sacred books from other cultures and groups, telling of dying and reborn gods, gods of heaven and earth, and incarnations may be precursors, pointing to Him, and are probably as valid as the Hebrew texts as history. I have not yet found a place in either Old or New Testament that says that this is the only recorded truth or the only place where truth can be found; in fact, the opposite: the truth is in everything around us [ Romans 1: 19]. Nonetheless: who can read Isaiah 53, written 700- 800 years before Jesus’ Passion, and not be shaken, I wonder.

Neither the Jewish guards nor Roman soldiers could have done a thing to him if he had decided not to go through with it– and I picture Gabriel and Michael, all the Hosts of Angels watching, waiting, twitching with the tension, ready to leap in to save him at a sign, an outcry from the man or God–.

The horror of this death, the horror “of a God who demands his Son be killed this way,” or of “a God who demands sacrifice and blood to” appease, atone, pay for, redeem…all of this is here, relived wherever Good Friday services or scriptures are attended or considered. It is horrific. Why did he have to die?

Why do any of us have to die?

Is this the greater mystery, or is the wonder, Why are any of us born?

I can’t answer either, except: “Because I AM said so.”

Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness was to do this salvation thing differently. Less painfully. The way most people would. Before he began his public ministry, Jesus went to where John the Baptist (another John than the Gospel writer, who may have been a disciple of the Baptist’s first) was baptizing people in preparation for the Kingdom of God which was coming near; John did not know the man Jesus, but upon seeing him, cried out “Behold the Lamb of God!” John was Jesus’ cousin, and another “miracle baby”; his mother had been barren and his parents were old when his father, High Priest one year and able to enter the Holy of Holies, the space behind the curtain in the most sacred precincts of the Temple, where he was visited by an angel and told that his wife Elizabeth would conceive, and the child would be blessed, a prophet of God who would be the “Voice crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way for the Lord” as written in Isaiah [40:3]; Elizabeth was a relative of Mary’s, and Mary was visited and told that she would bear a son by the Holy Spirit when Elizabeth was six months pregnant, and Mary went to visit her. “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” [LUKE 1: 41-42].

The Nativity story is in two of the four Gospels, the baptism and temptation in all four. John baptized Jesus, and, in all four Gospels, the Spirit, appearing as a dove, descended upon him from heaven and the voice of the LORD said “This is my Son”, and the three Persons of the Trinity are present all at once, as in Genesis 1, the “first” creation of this earth from the waters or chaos. Immediately after, the Spirit took Jesus to the wilderness where he fasted for forty days and was tempted by the devil– to rule the world, to win over mankind by making bread from stones, by performing grand miracles, by being a king on earth with vast kingdoms and wealth beyond that of any Pharaoh or Caesar. Jesus did perform signs and wonders, healing diseases, blindness and leprosy, lameness and deafness and demon-possession and raising at least three people from death– a widows’ son, a little girl, his friends’ brother Lazarus ( and though he knew and told his disciples that this was planned, he nonetheless wept over this death); soon before Jesus raised Lazarus, four days dead, to life — he said to his accusers: ” do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father” [JOHN 10:36-38]– (“Father” is metaphorical, as is “Lamb”: Jesus the Lamb of God, the sin-sacrifice, taking our place as the lambs did in Egypt which Passover commemorates, and as the ram did, replacing Isaac after Abraham and teen-aged Isaac had followed, obeyed, trusted God in Genesis.)

— But the prophets Elijah and Elisha in the Old Testament and Peter and Paul in the New also brought dead people back to life, and healed sicknesses, and doctors do so; these are not the reasons believers believe. Jesus fed five thousand men, plus however many women and children with five loaves of bread and two fish, and knew that many would follow him because of this, but that they would fall away when he was no longer passing out the free food; he told Satan, “Man does not live by bread alone but by the word of God,” and he said that he was the Bread of Heaven, and the bread was his body, remember him when we eat it. The stones that he could have turned to loaves of bread when he was hungry from fasting are the same stones that would cry Hosanna if the people did not.

But why? Why this bloody death?

Why were the Roman roads lined with crucified criminals, why were roads lined with the heads of enemies or convicts on stakes? Why are humans so cruel to each other? Why is there war and child abuse and rape and lynching?

Jesus was one of three men nailed to crosses that day, placed between them, and the one mocked him, Why don’t you save yourself? and the other recognized that while he was guilty of his crime, Jesus was innocent , and that thief recognized him as holy and entering His kingdom, and asked to be remembered [Luke 23:42].

Jesus said, “ For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father,” [JOHN 10: 17-18].

Why? Maybe exactly because humans are so ready to torture and kill what they fear, to keep their own position, power, money, land, or even for fun, which must be evil, if ever anything is?

Jesus was formed in a woman’s womb, his flesh and bone and brain from her flesh and blood and bone, as we are made of the flesh and bone of earth and stars, hydrogen oxygen calcium carbon selenium salt etc., and he was born in blood like we are. (I want to know how those who think that all the steps of evolution from singularity to volcanic rock planet and mist and single cell protazoa– all of which I am fine with– how, though, do they imagine the first living creatures of any water- or muck-dwelling, let alone mammalian kind, came to be? How was the first Neanderthal made? Were the first batch adult, or infant? What were babies born of if there were no adults of the species before? This is why I believe that, as each step was ready, the Creator created living beings– in batches, they’d have to be, or community, to survive– and set them in their proper habitat, where they adapted, bred, evolved according to their kind.).

Jesus’ DNA traced back through Mary’s people to David, through David back to Jacob, Isaac, Abraham and Sarah, back and back to Noah and back, they believed, to Adam and Eve. For Christians, the Old Testament contains the stories of the people who generated these ancestors, that DNA strand, of Jesus; He pointed out where He was spoken of in those scriptures. Through the Old Testament stories, God repeatedly warned the Israelites and Judeans that they were not chosen for their own goodness, and that if they were wicked enough the land would vomit them out as it would have the people they were chasing out of the Land Promised to Abraham (who was imperfect but trusted and followed God– and who knows how many people God addressed before him, if any, who said No?). The Eden story is mythical, but also true in the way of poem, story, myth. The universe is imperfect, orbits out of the perfectly round, because things are in motion and subject to change– this is being in space and time. When the singularity blasted out neutrinos and they banged into each other making quarks and electrons and atomic elements, there was order formed leading to solar systems, to habitations and creatures, and at some point order, which was Good, was skewed, and has been slipping out of the round, out of perfection, toward entropy, science says– will all the stars die and everything that is dissolve into chaos?

We are told that humanity Fell, through Eve and Adam, and is Restored through Christ Jesus who came to die to be resurrected and returned to Godhead. The Light became flesh, and the Darkness knew him not; the people who loved Darkness did not want him. Those who worshiped wealth or power or their own works or minds or pleasures did not want to know of love and forgiveness and equality and sharing the food which grows from the earth and would feed the world if the rich did not horde the produce and keep it from the poor as in the Great Potato Famine where the food rotted in ships while the farmers starved to death in Ireland in the 1840s.

We worship what we value before all else, what is most important to us, what we give the most time and energy and mind, and offer ourselves most wholly to.

In Genesis, humans male and female were given the job of taking care of the land, of managing the plants and animals so that all would thrive and have enough to eat and drink and have room to move, and we have failed in this. Humans have lived as if they are the only living things, the only beings with agency, with thoughts or feelings, too often, and the result has been poisoned water, toxic air, dead dirt, starvation and extinction, malnourishment and cancers and auto-immune disorders and neurological and developmental disorders–diseases which are probably as natural as malaria, as mosquitoes and tse tse flies, but out of sync, out of proportion, out of order– who feels that the world is, these COVID-19 days, all as it should be?

In Genesis, the Earth was told to “put forth life”: “And God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, each according to its kind, on the earth. And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation…..And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds…” [GEN. 1:11, 23]. Every plant, every animal, is a living thing with a life; God cares about each sparrow, Jesus said, and all creation waits, creation moans as in the pains of childbirth and waits for the children of God to be revealed, and shall be restored. The stones perhaps did not shout Hosanna aloud because children were, but when Jesus died at three o’ clock on the Friday, there was darkness over the lands like at an eclipse or Demeter’s mourning for her daughter, and there was an earthquake— the stones cried out and graves opened and the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies in the Temple was rent from top to bottom.

What was the sin that separated us from God, from Harmony, from Order? Was it, as with Lucifer, Pride and worship of our own beauty– these long legs, round glutes, these wondrous hands?– or of our intelligence that led us to want to be gods instead of shepherds and vinters and stewards, which still makes us consider homemakers, nurses, child care workers, custodians, fruit-pickers less important, much less paid, than corporate CEOs who decide what accounts which exist only as graphs and numbers to invest money which is no longer even gold but data entered into this program or that? Is the banker who backed the factory operation more valuable than the workers who turn iron ore and coal into cable? Are mine owners more important than miners, and is a diamond worth more than a human life? Hubris. Old fashioned, Greek, Shakespearean hubris, inflation, self-worship: Pride?

And the Garden has become wilderness and desert and waste.

Jesus showed the Priests and Pharisees of Judea that in their pride at being bearers of the Law of Moses and the Words of God through the Prophets, they had fallen away from God and hidden the way and truth of It from the people– and they killed him.

Oh, I am guilty, guilty!

And I have so many ideas about the Fall, Individuation and knowledge and sin. I have theories of everything. I even worked up a whole thesis with a huge binder of notes “proving” that the God revealed by Jesus in the Gospels “was not” the God in Exodus, which could be read as Lucifer finding a people to set him up on a throne as high as God’s and to worship him, and I think this was a temptation of Intellectual Pride, because I was thinking that I should get my butt back to church. What I did believe was that Jesus was God and God was Love, and decided to make the leap even with the OT doubts– to leap to Jesus. That “theory” sort of dissolved as I read again, read more, studied the Bible, although I confess I sometimes wonder…

I left church in late teen years because I did not trust humans, and wondered how many human hands had been in the copies and translations of copies of copies and typesets of the book; I have come to have faith in the Holy Spirit’s guidance of copying, or writing, of reading, as it influenced my own reading and seeing. That was my biggest leap of faith– putting trust in the sciptures and that they are pretty darn close to what Isaiah said and what David sang and scribes wrote, and that the Gospels were written by people who knew him, that the epistles were written by John and Peter, by Jesus’ brother James, by Paul who was alive at the same time, a Pharisee converted, who was accompanied much of his time by Luke who researched and got stories first hand. Over 5,000 manuscripts, handwritten copies of the texts dating from within about a hundred years of Jesus’ death have been found. No ancient writing by anyone named Plato or Aristotle or Pythagoras or Ovid can be dated to any nearer their lifetimes than 500 years. Seven copies of Platonic dialogues were found which were 1200 years later than he lived. Nine copies of plays by Euripides (The Bacchae, The Trojan Women, The Frogs) were found 1300 years after he lived. The differences in the 5000-5600 copies of the New Testament were along the lines of spelling and grammar and exact towns and which order, but none doctrinal, and the differences make them more like humans’ accounts of events, for no three of us will describe any remembered vacation the same. (Just ask my family which day at Disney World we got the Invisible Dog.) The canon contains those writings which claim that Jesus was human and died, and is God and rose, which the gospels of Thomas, Mary, Judas, do not. There are many other writings, and John tells us that there are many other things that Jesus did that were not written down.

This Jesus came, reversing everything, blowing minds. He was a King who came as a carpenter’s son, a shepherd, a steward, a storyteller,a servant, a sacrifice– like the old primitive, agrarian kings who died to make way for the spring rebirth of the vegetation. He restored worship to that so-called “primitive” form, wherein any man, woman, or child could– talk directly to God in prayer, confess and receive forgiveness, baptize others, share scripture, make disciples, participate in the love feast of holy communion, eating the bread and drinking the juice, anyone could have visions and speak prophecy and heal, and worship could be in a house, beside a river, in a barn, in a field. (Paul established churches and church rules.) There is no recorded word against any other religion (sacrifices to specific “gods” and idols in the Old Testament, the idolatry God hated, was akin to the love of money over others’ lives, profits over others’ lives or health, love of Power and a palace over anything, devilish self-worship and Pride, not a love of God under another name, I think.)

By taking on a body, eating and drinking and fishing, He reminded us, that God made it all and made it good, and that this body is temporary, to be shed like a shell we outgrow for a new life. He called himself a Vine, and we his branches. He called himself bread– the wheat. He washed his disciples’ feet at the Thursday night, Passover, Last Supper, and he prayed that night for them and for the people who would hear of him and believe –like me– because of them. He had many more disciples than that group of twelve, including women. He talked with, had conversations with women– unmarried women, the Samaritan woman at the well, a Syro-Phoenician woman. When He rose from his horrible death, He appeared and spoke first to women; the men; Peter an Andrew and Philip, didn’t believe them when they first ran to tell them. They didn’t believe until they saw him and he spoke and ate with them again, and Thomas touched the wounds in his hands and side.

For fifty days after his death and Resurrection He hung out, teaching them and explaining scripture and preparing them to take over, to share the Good News of abundant eternal Life and the forgiveness of sins, freedom from bondage to sin and death, the Gospel of Love.

When Jesus had gone and the Holy Spirit had come upon His followers, Peter and John were ordered by the Temple rulers not to preach, but did anyway, so that “they were enraged and wanted to kill them. But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher in the law held in honor by all the people, stood up …And he said to them, ‘Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” [ACTS 5:35- 39.]

Peter the fisherman who denied knowing Jesus three times ( before the cock crowed) on the night of his arrest had just stood before these high priests himself and said, “ The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.“[ACTS 5: 30-32. The commandment was to love one another.

Humans had made of themselves their own gods, and brought spiritual death (physical death is being-in-time); Jesus was God become human, and resurrected spiritual life for all who will believe.

Mythical Histories

D. Thomas

Basement room. Black room.

Black berth in the bowels of the steamship,

The inside of the mountain;

I fell to its bottom,

A reverse of birth,

But not a death.

Persephone did not die, and does not;

She just dwells among the dead,

Lives in the Land of Shades under the earth,

With Hades for her husband,

Landlord there, the dark force,

Alchemical nigredo, Shadow, chthonic dark

Chaos: this self-destruction,

Symbolic death

Before rebirth…

Part One

I have always identified with Persephone (Greek Proserpine), the Corn or Spring Maiden who is also the Queen of the Shades: she was kidnapped by Hades, Lord of the Underworld, and made his bride; but she ascends to the surface, again and again each year. She blooms and blossoms and she puts forth plants and crops for food, and she withers and descends again and again and again, after harvest.

This is, of course, an age-old vegetation and agriculture myth, found in all cultures over all the–at least, temperate-zoned– earth under various names and faces; it is the cycle of earthly seasons.

The full mythical story is that Hades (Pluto) kidnapped the maiden who was in a meadow picking flowers, and her mother, Demeter (Ceres) mourned; she looked for her daughter everywhere, and was so sorrowful that no crops or plants would grow and there was a great famine in the world. The people prayed until Zeus (Jupiter) arranged that Persephone would live with her husband for about a third of the year, and above the ground for the rest, with her mother.

She is unusual among the vegetation gods, not only for being a second female, the daughter of the Mother rather than Lover/Son, but because she does not die. Osiris, Attis, Adonis, and even Dionysus die; the Old King of the land is sacrificed, killed, and the power/spirit of fertility of fields and animals and peoples, passes to a New King, a reborn Dionysus. Persephone descends, but does not die. Her mother is stalk and cereal and fruit with seeds, and she is the seed that breaks open and grows up, a shoot breaking to the surface .

In this Mother-Daughter myth we have the cycle of all living things, in life, during a life. We grow from a single cell to infancy, through puberty to fertile adulthood, age — and women cease menstruation– die, and within that, we sleep and wake, we are sick and healthy, we are depressed and manic, and we continue. We go around and around each day-night cycle, each yearly turn of seasons, each orbit and revolution until we have fulfilled our days.

Persephone provides the perfect myth for my bipolarity, with its bright bubbling hypomanias and grave depressions, those deep despairs like falling down the inside of the mountain to the bowels of the earth where no light reaches and you feel forgotten by God.

This is not how I was intending to begin this entry, but I opened Frazer’s The Golden Bough, and was caught up…

Creation myths and origin stories are what I wanted to look at, and mythical histories. Persephone and Demeter by way of James G. Frazer does offer a lead, which can hook on Jung and archetypes and the Bible…None of this is more strange than quarks and anti-quarks, quarks with up and down spins or anti-up and anti-down quarks I was reading about the day before: we and all the planets and their creatures and the plants the earth puts forth for food are made of the same stuff, sharing old stars’ molecules and atoms, atoms composed of nuclei of electrons buzzing around protons made up of combinations of these quarks.

Frazer points out that the detailed Demeter-Proserpine (to be correct) myth is a late development of antiquity; whenever the gods or spirits of the earth, or cereals, trees or rivers or oceans, have Proper Names and definite characteristics, have human emotions and human forms in art– are anthropomorphized — they have been separated from the realms they rule, set apart in Valhallas, Olympus: Demeter is not the spirit of the corn, but a goddess who has power over the corn crops. This makes the corn mere matter, spiritless itself. The goddess must be propitiated, prayed and sacrificed to; offerings are made to her, and the success or failure of the crop is up to her. Which makes Proserpine/Persephone seem oddly redundant, perhaps indeed merely a type for the manic-depressive except that–

Nature does not tolerate a void, nor does human nature. Before the more “advanced” thinkers separated the spirit from the tree/plant/cereal crop and set it above and outside and gave her and him appearances like beautiful humans or like half-animal half-humans (also a perfect type of humans themselves, no?), most humans believed that the woods and fields and animals and vegetables had spirits which housed themselves in this and that tree (field, stalk), but could move from one to another, and were the Life and Spirit of the living things. The most ancient rites and ceremonies were not to propitiate gods but to participate, to influence them by enacting the burying and returning, through sympathetic magic. Pounding the ground and shaking the tree might bring rain, for one simple example. (The Golden Bough is a survey and study of ceremonies and rites of antiquity and still performed among peoples the world over even late in the 19th century, and the 20th and ours– Maypoles and (spring-cleaning?) May Queens, Straw Man festivals– and Yule logs and evergreen trees brought into houses in the winter…). When the Corn Mother was removed from the corn to Olympus, the people “created” or recognized, or the earth put forth, a new form of her spirit, which in turn became the Corn Maiden or daughter– but her time underground keeps her nearer to the natural world which some of us still sense as alive and having spirit, agency, and life.

The Old Testament Genesis even posits this: “And God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit…’ And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation..” [Gen 1:11-12]. “And God said,’ Let the earth bring fourth living creatures according to their kinds–livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.’ And it was so.” [ Gen. 1:24] And throughout the Psalms and Prophets the mountains and plains and trees tremble and rejoice, and “all that has life and breath” praises. “For the creation waits with eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed” [Rom. 8:19].

Verbs imply agency, nouns capable of acting.

There is bread, and there are trees and trees and trees throughout the Bible, trees for food, trees for the moving temple, trees or healing of the nations in Revelation, Cedars of Lebanon and fig trees, olive gardens, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Tree of Life, and the “tree” that the Son was hung on.

Odin was hung on a tree and was given wisdom and the Runes for writing, trees and groves were sacred the world over, and effigies and dolls hung in them for the fertility of the crops and people and cattle. Trees provide air, food, shelter, water, protection; there is the Norse World Ash and the Celtic Tree of Life, and even 21st century science has shown that trees do indeed talk to each other, they share information and nutrients through their root systems.

As humans “advanced” their religions to the propitiating worship of frightening and powerful gods, they fell, at the same time, farther from the (albeit imagined, but how could every culture and generation imagine such a Golden Age if it was not an idealized archetype or memory ?) Edenic state of living in communion with the plants and animals, walking with God, honoring the spirits of all living things. They began to fashion thrones and images of gods and goddesses, giving them names, assigning powers, and making sacrifices to them– not just of firstfruits but of firstborns, of animals and of people, captives from wars or, in the case of Baal-worship, of children, when the sacrifice of the King or son of the King was not enough. These were inventions, gods made in man’s image, and, too, “projections” of the collective unconscious of each culture.

The more “sophisticated” and “advanced” we become, even unto decoding DNA strands, mapping stars, reconsidering gender, and colliding particles, the more archaic, infantile are our unconscious projections, our mass eruptions and neurotic crises. In nations, we see signs of ego-inflation and narcissism and the demonization of the convenient “other.” Patriotic people Idealize and Despise the same things, in normal times of prosperity and peace, and must Idolize and Demonize the same heroes and enemies when gearing up for declarations of war.

We project ideals and also enemies, what we desire and what we fear. We become more whole by acknowledging these things within ourselves, addressing, “assimilating”– by owning and by shining light into the dark places, naming things and accepting our many levels and facets; we become more fully, roundly, Selves. The Self is not the ego or identity or conscious self called I or me, but includes that. To some, Self is the Image of God, to some the Self is God within man, to some the Self is the Archetype of God and to some, Self is God, all that there is, all differentiation being illusion.

I have been known to wordlessly scream, to slam objects across rooms, to tear open my own flesh with my fingernails in eruptions of outrage, although I’m a pacifist. I have met my Shadow, my husband Hades, and I have heard and sensed with terror his Mother, the Dragon, the serpent which is not Satan but which is the prima materia of myself and mother earth, the chthonic dark that does not care about my identity, my intellect, but is Biology. I am “one of the guys” and have theories about everything and am a weak, easily-seduced- by -flattery, “foolish woman” such as Paul warned Timothy to watch out for ( this the anima of my animus as Jung would say-?). Examining and writing my own history, I use third person point of view, past tense, and call myself “Jane,” or “Mary” or “Anna” or “Pam” and give eras titles: Autobiographies of Ann Onn is my favorite, or Jane’s Book of Love and Ammunition. “Anna” and “Mary” are the polar opposites, the Spring Maiden and the Queen of the Underworld.

Part Two

Yesterday was the Vernal Equinox, bringing in Spring here in the northern hemisphere, which is celebrated still with rabbits and eggs as pagan as May Kings and Queens and the making of puppets, dolls, and effigies, hanging them in trees, and variously sacrificing, burning, drowning, burying them to transfer the powers of tree spirits from the old to the new.

Beginning next week is the Jewish Passover and the Christian remembrance of Good Friday leading to Easter.

The Passover remembers and celebrates the release of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and the beginning of the exodus to the land promised to their ancestor Abraham. In the time of his Abraham’s grandson Jacob, famine had sent them to Egypt where Jacob’s son Joseph was a high official, responsible for having stored up grain enough in bountiful years to distribute in these hungry years, and the twelve sons of Jacob settled there in Goshen in Egypt and flourished for 400 years, multiplying until Pharaoh feared the power of their numbers and “did not know Joseph” [Ex.1:8 ] and made them slave laborers, and ordered the midwives to kill the boys they birthed. Moses was an infant who had been hidden and found by the Pharaoh’s daughter and raised by her, who was swept up in ethnic loyalty and fervor when he found out his heritage, killed an Egyptian overseer, and fled. YHWH, I AM, appeared to him and instructed him to return and demand of Pharaoh that the Israelites be released to return to their promised land– this is an extremely crude, quick sketch of all of this, of course.

YHWH, the LORD, “hardened Pharaoh’s heart,” [ eight times in Exodus, from 7:13 to 11:10 inclusive. ] against the release of the slaves, and the LORD sent ten plagues until the last one convinced him. The last plague was that: the Angel of death swept through Egypt, killing the first born son of every person and every animal except those households where a lamb was killed and its blood smeared on the door frames, marking them: death had already been there.

Jesus of Nazareth was born a Jew in Bethlehem to a mason/ carpenter; he read the Torah and went to the synagogues in Judea, and the Temple at Jerusalem; the Last Supper with his inner circle of twelve disciples was the Passover seder ( and “the Twelve” were by no means his only disciples, but paralleled, balanced, the Twelve Tribes of Israel, which could lead discussion back to atomic elements with up- and down- spins, but not here).

After the dinner, Jesus and his friends went to Gethsemane where he prayed for some other way to fulfill his purpose, if that was possible, if God would, but “Thy will be done,” not his very human wish in his human dread and fear of the coming human death. He was arrested that same night, tried by the Jewish high priests and convicted by them of blasphemy for the claim that he was the Son of God, of Elohim, YHWH, I AM. The only begotten son, the Firstborn. Under Roman law they could not execute a criminal, so Jesus was taken to the Roman consul, Pontius Pilate, and at the Jews’ insistence he was crucified like a common criminal, on a cross between two thieves, and there, in the afternoon of the Friday, Jesus died.

On the Sunday, considered the third day, his tomb was found empty and he appeared to the women who went to it to wash and anoint his body, and to disciples– different, not recognizable at first, but him, risen from death.

Jesus’ suffering and death fulfilled over 300 prophecies from the Old Testament, or Hebrew scriptures.

Throughout the gospel records of his life, Jesus told his Jewish disciples to remember their Jewish scriptures, which spoke about him, and he quoted from Psalms and Prophets, and showed them, after his crucifixion, the passages about him.

I think it is entirely possible that God lived and walked and talked in other incarnations on earth, among other peoples, and I believe that wherever in the universe living beings are, he would live among and love them also. I believe that Jesus was a man who was formed in a womb like the rest of us, born and grew from infancy through puberty to adulthood, and died, and that he was God. That he sacrificed his Jesus life to God to be the Christ, and to send the Holy Spirit of God (the Creator, the Light, the Life) to all who would accept it. Eating his body, which is bread, and drinking his blood, which is wine (or juice of the grape), is a sacrament of participation: eating the god, one takes the power and spirit of the god into, onto, oneself.

He was called the Lamb of God by John the Baptist, (who was also his cousin and a child conceived miraculously by parents who were old, a mother past child-bearing which itself echoes the birth of Isaac to Abraham and to Sarah who was too old to bear and laughed at the idea), before Jesus began his ministry. Lambs were sacrificed to atone for the year’s sins. From the beginning, in Genesis, when sin got Adam and Eve exiled from Eden, animals died to cover their wage-of-sin deaths, for “And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” [Gen. 3:21].

The blood of lambs on the houses covered or protected the Israelites from the Angel of death in Egypt. Jesus as the Lamb covers sin and death with his blood, and balances, in a sense, the deaths of the firstborn sons, dying as the firstborn Son.

The Gospels and the epistles were written in a relatively modern era, of written books and letters, translated documents, international travel and trade, aqueducts and advanced mathematics, and are as true as probably any biographies written then or since. He was never on a throne. The Old Testament histories were transmitted orally for centuries before they were written, and are, like most or all creation and origin stories, some truth and a lot of poetry and legend and myth. There is no external historical verification of the exodus. There is some archaeological evidence of a king which might have been David. The Jerusalem Temple was built and was destroyed when the city was besieged and destroyed by Rome in 70 A.D. (The Ark of the Covenant has so far only been found by Indiana Jones.) I do not know if Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Essau, Joseph, really lived or not, but the scriptures and stories, which Christ said showed him, provide a richly detailed, cross-referenced underpinning of signs and symbols of Himself, His death, of the nature of God and of nature and of humans; I do not think these symbols and signs are only in the Jewish texts; the God which creates all life is evident in creation and with all Its/Their children on this planet and all planets that bear life.

How then, should we read Genesis, Exodus, Judges, Chronicles, Kings?

In the 1943 preface to his translation of The Bhagavad Gita, Swami Nikhilananda says that intellectual understanding of religious texts is only part of worthwhile reading; Scriptures are keys to the stores of knowledge we possess within our own souls, that reading them opens our eyes that we might see Truth, to realize Truth directly, to experience it.

The Bible is called a living word; the Living God, the Spirit, the Word, acts upon and in the reader. Words are inspiring, incendiary, healing, up-building , down-tearing, revealing.

Poems and stories bear truths of the peoples and histories they relate. Myths tell truths about ourselves and our world.

The Psalms– songs and poems, and prophetic poems and books, especially of Isaiah, tell about Jesus hundreds of years before Jesus, and his cousin John called him the Lamb of God and his friend and disciple John called him The Word, (“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” [John 1:1]) and the true light (“And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light” [Gen. 1: 3]) and that he became flesh and dwelt among us [1:14].

Adam and Eve are mythical parents– in Genesis 1 after the other animals, the humans were created, male and female and told to be fruitful and multiply and steward the earth; Adam and Eve are a second creation-of-people story placed in a Garden which is given an earthly location like the later, “advanced” (remember) religions of antiquity, and are the mythical ancestors of the Semitic people from whom Abraham and Sarah Isaac and Jacob and Judah and David and Mary and Jesus descended; the story nonetheless has truths to teach within its poetic, artistic details. The man was made of earth– the atoms and molecules that our ground and carbon-based life and stars are made of, (and the woman “made from his rib” may be the anima projection, the archetypal female “soul” of a man, the lover/wife/mother/earth; Anima Mundi is the world soul and this came into the story when God had breathed spirit into the man of clay and brought him to life). The fruit trees and green plants the earth produced were for food for all the animals, and the humans were told to eat any but the one, which was the one of knowledge of good and evil; the crafty serpent may have been the helper God decided “the man” should have; the serpent tempted the woman Eve, not Adam, with the wisdom that the fruit would bring (and was, in this, the animus of the woman, which is inflated intellect, stubborn opinion, like that of “weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” [2 Timothy 3:6b-7]). The eating to inflate humanity to godhood and the shame and separation of goodness and spirit from the body led to the expulsion, and need for reconciliation. This was probably necessary for humanity to grow up from its spiritual and intellectual infancy to adulthood, whatever that might be.

Humankind fell away and advanced at the same time, and from walking with God made idols, thought the spirits out of the living plants and creatures into the sky; they made gods in their own images in their pride, and fashioned statues and worshiped them, forgetting that there was spirit, except for necromancers, soothsayers, prophets and shamans and seers; and they had to be brought back; salvation and enlightenment through another reversal, God as a human, and the religion of Laws, Priests, Temples with the innermost Holy of Holies where God on his Olympian Throne could be addressed by the High Priest only, the hundreds of laws and taboos was upended by Jesus who spoke to and touched, fed, and healed, bleeding women, Samaritan women, sinful and unmarried women, crippled and demon-possessed women and men, lepers and dead bodies– the unclean and unsuitable and taboo, and he proclaimed the equality and adoption as children of God of women and men and children, Jews and Gentiles, slaves, masters, mistresses, barren women and eunuchs and sinners and doctors; he showed that God could be worshiped anywhere, in the Temple courts, in houses, on stream banks; He whose body as bread (the wheat) was eaten by all and any, whose blood as wine (the vine) could be drunk by all and any, whose Spirit will dwell in any and all people who will die in this dirt-made, carbon-based, stardust body, yet will live, reborn in spirit– however that is.

Words or letters, knowledge, and trees have age-old associations throughout the world. One of the most fascinating, far less famous elements of the Eve and the tree in the garden story is: there was another tree. God didn’t say a word about it to the human couple, and the serpent didn’t either:

“Then the Lord God said,’Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever–‘ therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” [Gen. 3:22-24].

“Seeing, Believing?”

By D.Thomas

This is a Part Two of sorts, because the last entry was complete, but the idea was barely opened; also, I threw out some dangerous words:

I put Proper Noun God in ” ” and called “God” an image or symbol;

I compared the CERN Large Hadron Collider to Hot Wheels– but let me tell you about the Hot Wheels track I got for Christmas! This was the first Christmas in our lifetimes that my younger sister and I were not together; when she asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I said “Hot Wheels track.” At the nursery, I have distracted, soothed, and won over many hesitant and weepy children by rolling cars down the loopy exit ramps of the Fisher-Price garage; I can run little cars down over and over for an hour. We have not held nursery or M.O.P.S in this year of COVID-19, though. My sister believed me, and sent a Loop Launcher and an Ultra Booster and– I laughed and clapped my hands like a child and crowed to all my friends and have never been so thoroughly delighted with a Christmas present. The loop can’t be attached to other track, but if you line things up right you can launch a car onto track that will enter the turbo-booster and rev up and shoot out… I only have two turn pieces, U-turns, so it took some experimentation, some engineering and construction with some books and boxes for hills and supports, but I managed to make a continuous loop, and got five cars running on the loop at once…Looking up correct spellings and so forth just today, I found a Google entry under the Large Hadron Collider for the “Proton Synchrotron Booster” (protons put together, “revved up” and shot out) and thought, “Parallel complete.”

I also said that the Holy Spirit tests and proves things, for which the only proof I offered was Bible quotes from the Gospel of John. I may as well confess here that the main purpose of my starting a blog is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ– to yank the name of Christ and the terms “Christian” and “evangelist” out of the hands of Hatred and Destruction, Harm, and Deceit so that they can again be spoken to bring Good News.

But first– the moon, the Moon!

That full moon Saturday night!

It was large and bright and pink like a pearl; the night wore midnight-blue silk with an inky dark velvet overlay of silhouettes of rooftops, treetops, hills; and that one stunning pink pearl.

I step out with my head full of things I read and my awareness of the infinitude of particles, quasi-particles, tiniest crystals of being within me, around me, scattered through the universe, and am stopped by the burbling of the water running where the stream bed was bone dry for months last summer and fall; by deer, crossing near me, by trees, by the moon, and exclaim my thanks, sing praise.

Awareness: my eyes in fact see an infinitude of glitter sparkles, pixels but a million or trillion times smaller– the cells of my cornea or lense? The stuff which makes my eye or the air between my eye and all that’s seen? Does anybody else see this– all colors, no colors, a field of– I wonder what? Lighting and background don’t change this. Do I see a quantum field, or am I going to have cateracts or macular degeneration later, I wonder. I think about seeing: how different our ancestors’ eyes would have been, without electric lights, headlights, street lights, television, computer, and phone screens.

We “understand” concepts when we can “see” them. I’ve been reading lots of science blurbs, physics articles from the web, and conversing with my older sister who studied this and helps clarify the definitions of things, and we talk about proofs and speculations and what researchers are exploring with their equations, inventions and contraptions. There was an excited headline that said there may have been discovered “Time Crystals” or “Space-Time Crystals”– and at Room Temperature! (SciTechDaily 2/24/2021). Shouldn’t these fuel a Tardis, or something? It was about “quasi-particulate spin magnons”.

Quasi-particulate spin magnons are, in my own epiphanal paraphrase, not things but movement suggesting a thing is moving in a wavelike way according to the experiment being conducted; physics, now, considers every action, at least on the quantum level (force, wave) to be moving particles (quasi, quantum, sub-atomic and otherwise tiny) bumping into tiny bits of particles, causing motion and change. ( I can visualize this.) So a magnon is not a thing but a motion? Forces like magnetism and weak and strong are force-bearers in action.

Straight off of Wikipedia, I gleaned that a quasiparticle is “a collective excitation” of the electron’s spin structure in a crystal (space crystal, or, particular thing), and a magnon a “quantized” spin wave;

A spin wave is “a propogating disturbance” and all of this is like a wave in quantum mechanics. A wave is a collective of excited moving bits in “elastic arrangements” of atoms or molecules in solids and some liquids.

(Solids and liquids are “condensed matter.”)

I love “collective excitations.” That should be a chapbook title.”Collective Excitation of Angels.” Funnier is the term for the change in the momentum’s direction of the quarky, quirky bits of time crystals: “Umklapp scattering”.

Outside the lab experiments where electrons and photons are shot at atomic nucleii, we don’t know what excites the quasi-particles or propogates the stuffs or forces. Cosmic background radiation, the tiniest oldest bits of light radiating everywhere in all directions, since and still radiating from the big bang/ creation of the universe? Are these ripples light, photon-stuff, or phonon, sound?

When I look back at words and definitions, pieces of thought scrawled on loose sheets of scrap paper here and there, they do not by themselves make much sense, and I imagine actual physicists would want math symbols, but– I do kind of know what they mean. Black holes confound me less as I think of “antimatter” not as the opposite of matter but matter of an opposite charge, neutralizing or negating, not annihilating.

I did not study or understand any of this in school, and I do not know the alphabet of mathematical equations, but read more recently, with interest and enthusiasm, explanations and illustrations of quantum and cosmological laws and mechanics, and, with the right descriptors, I saw. The pictures in my head give me at best the graphic novel version of the classic and the quantum texts, but to this degree I see, and what I see I understand.

In order to see, I had to be able to construct an image out of parts that I could picture. To picture the basic parts (even, proton, neutron, electron with their positive, no, and negative charges), I had to follow the descriptions or directions: “imagine a balloon, blown up”– as the expanding universe; any markings on it would move further from each other with the expansion which is in all directions at once. (The balloon’s expansion is generated by breath– the cosmos from the “Bang” of somehow suddenly beginning being.) Nouns, verbs, modifiers, those parts of speech and human grammar. A meets B and the reaction is C.

I had to stop objecting in my mind–“How do they know? That was to fix an equation, that’s a hypothesized particle they’re slipping into their equations; we can’t really test any space, and temperatures, atmospheres, original colors to prove even red shifts, nor black holes, nor ever ever experiment in the Big Bang or Bounce itself, nor pluck a single, basic-most string to see or hear its own frequecy; that has only ever been registered during that type of experiment in a lab setting— no meson, gluon, no anti-quark, in fact even no Number ( no 27) has been seen in the wild.”

To read and comprehend I had to willingly suspend my disbelief. I followed the images and logical lines as if they were true and– I saw what they were talking about. I can “see” these tiny, glittery bits of energy, of light, of being by which they categorize variable factors– flickering in and out of existence, dancing and brushing, bumping, changing themselves, each other, their colors and flavors, oscillations, gyrations, the waves and forces of flow that are altered by the beat of one butterfly’s wing. This randomness of coming into and ceasing, of excitations and changing spins on the quantum level still, despite the massless, mass-generating Higgs boson or field through which massless flickery things pass and take on their masses, still conflicts with the known, sound-seeming laws of general relativity within which all the natural laws we actually do know, dwell. We walk, and expect the ground to be solid enough to hold us (snow makes one think of that, when it bears you up here, gives and you sink knee deep the next step), and expect ourselves to be held within touching distance of the ground by the earth’s gravitational pull (tripping on nothing makes me think that her gravitational pull is not constant, that sometimes she plays). I have tried and sat on that chair a hundred times, so I trust it will hold when I sit on it or stand on it to change that light bulb overhead. “What if it didn’t?” is, I think, the source of the narrator’s dis-ease and unease, in Sartre’s NAUSEA: What if it stopped holding together? What keeps natural laws working? Other, opposite laws? What if they slipped? That solid chair might be bigger, one day, there in its space, or smaller. Just that one thing, in relation to the rest of the room. Coffee tables can do that. String basses. Sometimes cats. The way that distances seem to expand at night. Nothing is solid, nothing is fixed. Neutrinos seem to bloweth where they listeth.

What if each such wave or oscillation is a breath? The Pneuma of being, the Om of the universe, Being or Living Source. If there was a Big Bounce or Bang, something catalyzed it– there is no conceivable opposite of being (”Nothing” is an idea, a concept, a non-physical thing).

As physicists and mathematicians use their alphabets of imagery, create numerical and function stories of relationships, of origins and family groups and governments and spun-off exiles, wars and alliances and deaths, so do the storytellers of our myths and epics, histories and legends, wars and heroes, origins, trials or tasks, prophecies, and fates. Humans speak in story. A encounters B and the reaction, what happens , is C.

It is only the scientists who run the experiments or math who know which propositions are still hypotheses and what is proven enough to work with, to make 3-D printers, vaccines, and Mars Rovers actually work. Headlines and popular essays make it seem that all these theories have been proved, the deep space of eighty billion years ago mapped and bits of the first balls of flame held in test tubes and all equations solved, but this is not so, and to think so is sloppy reading of the information. Dark matter and dark energy are still unknowns, “that which probably must be something because otherwise our math isn’t making sense.”

Theorists desire a Central Doctrine or, if I may, a Logos that will explain all the Laws of Nature that so far seem to hold, and that they posit as true in all spaces and for all times.

As the physical world has electromagnetic and gravitational fields and particles and particular active, observed, excited “bundles” of, for instance, protons (bundles of protons are visible light), so the psychic field with its unconscious (or, not-conscious-now) has particular bundles of constellated psychic matter (archetypes), excited into observable effects, reactions to stimulus encountered in the space-time we dwell in. The psychic field is energy as the quantum fields and particles are energy. Love, desire, fear, anger, inspiration are high-energy states or forces.

Willing suspension of disbelief: what if we can agree that the ancient tales of nations’ origins and humans’ conversations with Gods are probably mythological, distilling the experiences of earliest humanity into stories– like what we remember and tell of a dream which is never really the whole dream, yet the details we do recall tell some truths about our selves: bodies, minds, or souls. One’s psyche, in the dream, is the place and shifting places, and the characters and the events, the battles between good and evil. Around the fire, the story tellers tell the remembered stories and dreams of the social group. And every culture has in its beginnings stories of gods interacting with women and men. By the time the gods and mortals have names, and by the time tales get written down, they have taken on political biases and slants, have shrunk, have fallen. ( And then we come to historical record by first-hand witness and the general relativity of truth from particular points of view.)

The old stories are also our psyches’.

None of my reading makes it seem more impossible for Generation or Generator of All to make itself a being, to be born, be alive as animals are, and to die; to walk, talk, touch, teach, humans– on this planet, once or more than once, on any planet where created beings exist and are, because things that are can be nothing else than “Children” of BEING . Why cannot Life live, Love love, Death die? This is a great mystery– but so is it a mystery how I can think about and analyze or know myself, on the one hand, or anything not-myself, on the other.

Why do humans have a spirit of wondering and seeking to know What set existence all in motion, first propogated, excited, disturbed things that are, into being, and Why?

What is spirit, or “a” spirit ? At least, That which moves, which causes, which is not seen but is known by its effects on things which can be.

Jesus told the scholarly Pharisee Nicodemus, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God… Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit;” (John 3: 3 – 6).

Seeing, and entering. Seeing, and believing. The ancient belief in the existence of a Creating-Preserving-Destroying Being has not been disproved, and has not disappeared from the earth. After reading about the neutrinos that can change flavor and color and the magnons that can change spin and electrons that can try out every path at once and then “take” one, I do not find it so very strange that one could be a “Son of Man” and also the Son of God– born, that is, of a woman’s blood and bone, of earth, and also, Being; “Son of” and “God” being, necessarily, metaphors for the relationship of the mortal man to Creating Sustaining Being Called, for brevity, God. Individuals of all genders and races, almost all languages, of all economical and social positions have tried, have experimented by trying and testing this idea of birth “from above” or “again”, have made notes and built upon one another’s experiences, and the Christian faith in God incarnated on the earth in the man Jesus and His Good News of salvation and eternal life– has not been disproved or destroyed. No Jewish or Roman documents have been unearthed that disprove his life, his healings and exorcisms, his death or resurrection.

In Aion, C.G. Jung talks about quaternities, how our psyches seek wholeness, and a four-square, solid quaternity seems more symmetrically complete than a trinity, and (while the Devil is a creation and not equivalent of Christ) the Ascension of Mary the Mother into Heaven seems a modern attempt to resolve the desire. Mary as a woman, the personal Mary, is too small; Mother Earth is closer– older, more encompassing, but not enough. “Creation,” I think, might be the fourth:

“Father/Mother,”- “Spirit,”- “Son,”- and Creation.

Scientists say that 3/4 of the energy of the universe is “dark” (i.e. unknown) energy, and it’s a similar percentage of matter that is “dark”.

What if “God,” “Spirit,” what if BEING is a verb? What if The Creator And Sustainer is BEING, both Noun and Verb at once? That which is and does.

My sister challenged me to try to visualize in four dimensions (one–line, two–square, three– cube, four– tesseract). Like most, picturing a geometrical thing just radiates in deeper longer wider thingness , and I confess the geometrical explanation of polytopes lost me for now, but– the fourth dimension in our universe, would be time, wouldn’t it? Height-Depth-Width-TIME. or space: Past-Present-Future-PLACE. so I picture:

Whether cube or sphere, if the observation point is PLACE (and I’m a particle, say), I see all the past, present, and future of this place at once, which is what I think prophets may have been shown.

If TIME is the viewpoint (I am wave), I would see this space of height, width, and depth, be it city or star cluster, through all its revolutions and buffets and changes along all its lattices and surfaces, and see light that began billions and billions of years ago, see the beginning of things and end, which is how a “God” might see, and humans dream of seeing.

“How Can They Believe That?”

D.Thomas

How can “they” believe: Multiverses? Virgin birth? Aliens crashed in Nevada? Men landed on the moon– or didn’t? The moon is hollow? QAnon conspiracy theories? That one nationality or race or gender or religion is superior to others, any is inferior? That there is a Creator of the universe? That there is not?

What is belief? I will say: belief is a conviction that some statement is true. Belief is based on what we know about ourselves and the world around us; what we test and prove to our own satisfaction.

How do we prove a statement (concept, fact) is or is not true?

How do we know anything in the first place? How do we learn?

Most basically we know by our personal experience: I encounter myself and the world (infants are so excited to discover their own toes, reminding me of kittens surprised about their tails). Our senses give us information about ourselves and our surroundings– rather, our command center employs specialized cells and organs for sampling and recording information about our surroundings. Information as electric impulses and chemicals makes its way to our brains to be registered and categorized– but there must be enough individual items of sense and experience to develop categories– which we can watch infants and toddlers develop.

Things happen directly to us, and we witness other things happening in the near world. We encounter, experience, and acquire knowledge of, arguably, the world.

The stimulus and information enter the brain where it is converted to idea, a concept. Enough information and idea formation, “gained experience”, becomes “acquired knowledge”.

C.G. Jung tells us that it’s a mistake to think that the basis of our knowledge is from outside us, from the world; rather, as the nerves and synapses take what is sensed (seen, heard, smelled, felt) along our circuits, we convert the information into ideas. Images. Electro-chemical and Psychic processes. Our own psyches color and affect our ideas of things that “are”. We experience emotions, we assign values, we give more attention to this than that, more weight and importance to what grasps and holds our attention.

We interpret and imagine. We cannot say things about the world with absolute certainty.

To learn more, we must move ourselves to observe more world, and we do learn from others. Others experience themselves and observe the world, and then we attempt to share our information to increase each others’ and everyone’s stores of knowledge. How do we communicate? This seems simpler without, or before words; we make sounds, we gesture. We wave, we blow kisses, we make and show fists: palm towards others means “for”, the back of the hand means, “against”. Watching toddlers again, we recognize the little boys’ universal need-to-pee signal.

“Common” experiences, collected experiences of ours and others’, become recognized ideas– representative sounds become words, become shared, communal names of things and categories of being.

How complicated is the process of considering the concepts we hold in our psyches, translating these into language, words which we can present to another, and, hearing words, re-translating them back into concepts and recognizing them, squaring them with our own filters of experience… When we understand well enough to add that information to our knowledge, we still may or may not believe it.

Who is it who is offering this information? Is it of their own personal experience or first-hand witness? Do we trust them to be telling the truth? Do we believe their “truth” to be “objective”, or colored, twisted, turned by faults, weaknesses, wants, of their own?

The process, when we get to written words and numbers is exponentially more complicated. The writer must deconstruct the experience or vision and translate it into nouns, verbs, prepositions of relationship– or numbers and functions; sentences and equations have socially agreed-upon alphabet systems and grammars. Then, the reader must decipher the signs– the eyes or ears must run things through the physical channels to the brain, the brain must interpret the marks or sounds, and then the mind must understand that arrangement of parts into an idea.

Number systems were used in northern Africa by approximately 35,000 B.C. Numbers count and record things, events, sizes, distances– on the whole, nouns. Written language developed by around 3500 B.C. in the Mesopotamian Basin.

The oldest known story, The Epic Of Gilgamesh, is from about 2100 B.C. Words illustrate things and their interactions, those that are and are not and might be, their adjectives and adverbs, their qualities and consequences (which the most advanced, higher, speculative equations of cosmology and physics are also doing)– philosophies and stories and supposed truths.

How do we know that we are thinking the same thing? Is my pictured tree the same as yours? Is soft as soft to you as to me? Is red, red? Is far, far? How big is your big, and how do you imagine a galaxy? An atom ( do you see it as the 21st century A.D. scientists or as the 5th century B.C. philosophers do?) ? How do humans ever communicate ideas?

According again to Jung, the human mind or being is structured to include Archetypes, the forms or constructs or templates by which we categorize and experience our experiences; collective unconscious is the species-common knowledge of archetypal functions, patterns, meanings. Archetypes in themselves have no shape or character, but appear in our minds, our imaginations, in characteristic figures and forms, and involve our emotions and intellects, dreams and decisions.

Archetypes are in a way Forms, I think: Platonic Forms are Ideals or ideas, in which particulars here in the physical universe participate, or are the qualities which earthly things share. The Beautiful, the True, the Good, are Forms. Equality, Justice, Mercy are Forms, and particulars can be to some degree beautiful or just, true or equal. (Man or Human might be a Form, and Horse and Lion, and a beautiful horse has horseness, but the categories of Forms blur when we ask if soil, if clay, if carbon has a Form, for if so, does not everything and, if not, where does one draw the line?)

Plato suggested that we do not actually learn new things, but remember them (Anamnesis). He held that the soul is immortal, and a separate thing from the body in which it incarnates; the soul has learned all truths, and in this and that life we remember: questions, events, experiences, sensations and investigations spark this memory, and we then “know” that which is known.

But if this was so, one would think we would believe the same things because we would remember participations in the same Forms.

How do we trust the sources of our shared information, conveyed ideas, and over against what do we test statements to determine their truth or falsehood ?Natural and physical laws are testable, to a point– which science has speculated beyond; everyday, common nature has proved pretty measurable and actions proved repeatable, so we can flick a switch and have electric light usually, can boot up a word processor, fly jets across continents and oceans and conduct experiments on an International Space Station; we can build enormous accelerators and smash atoms into each other like Hot Wheels. But statements of value (even that of exploring space, smashing atoms ,of building or tearing down walls) are of a different kind. More psychologically complex, dealing with thought and emotion and self-image, identity, our definitions of who and what and why we are.

We do not all value the same things to the same degrees, which is where the fact of psychic processes coloring and toning all the information we receive comes in, and leads to cooperation or conflict, compassion or aggression, fear and hatred or empathy and inclusion.

What does one test things against, to prove them true?

When I was thinking about this yesterday, my scripture reading– I have been reading the Book of Isaiah, a chapter or two most days– was this:

"Isaiah said, 'This shall be the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he has promised: shall the shadow go forward ten steps or go back ten steps?' And Hezekiah answered, 'It is an easy thing for the shadow to lengthen ten steps. Rather let the shadow go back ten steps.' And Isaiah the prophet called to the LORD, and he brought the shadow back ten steps, by which it had gone down on the steps of Ahaz." (Isaiah 38:8)


This story appears in three places: in addition to Isaiah 38, it is in 2 Kings 20: 9-11, and 2 Chronicles 32: 31. (Which, I realize, does not give it more importance if you don't give worth to Old Testamental writings, but even so, it's interesting.)

Now, one might believe that because the Lord God created the heavens and the earth and is outside of all nature and time, he can do with time and nature whatever he pleases, and reverse the flow of time or the rotation of the earth– except, wouldn’t this have destroyed life? Have been a cataclysm? Been recorded, like the Flood? The Flood or a Flood is recorded in the aforementioned Gilgamesh epic and other peoples’ stories, and the Romans mentioned the strange darkness that fell over the land the day Jesus was crucified. One might say it’s an allegory. After all, nowhere do the books say exactly where the staircase was, what the steps were to, or what was casting the shadow.

Truth and fact are not exactly the same. In any poem, drama, legend, scripture, tale, or text, the details mean something, are telling something, some symbolic or mythological or psychological truth using allegories, metaphors, imagery; I do not know what the story, the sign, means, but it might be showing that the Lord who is Lord of life and death is Lord of time as well. And time, as we now know, is not constant.

Subjective experience of time is inconstant. Time runs at different paces depending on velocity and gravitational pull. Time is not necessarily a thing– there is “really” only motion and change.

To my mind, inspiration for a play, poem, novel, drama, painting, symphony, song, statue, ballet, building, prophecy from God, comes all at once, a vision: there, at once, is a whole. Then one tries to describe or sketch or somehow catch it, bring this Ideal/Form/Vision down to be copied in letters, in notes, in clay or stone. The prophets and visionaries were “taken up”– to the Throne, to a Heaven, to Indra’s palace, and shown– the world. Not everything and all time because they were mortal , they could only comprehend so much, not yet infinity, but great swaths of past, present, future, and space, and then they tried to write about them, to describe them, in Isaiah, Revelation, the Bhagavad-Gita, in poems, epics, in geometries, calculus, string theory…

Today when I was letting paragraphs roll in my head, my phone’s Google “discover” page showed a PHYS.ORG headline from the Center for Computational Astrophysics : “Supercomputer Turns Back Cosmic Clock.”

Today is Ash Wednesday. For practicing Christians –and there are no other kind than still practicing– this marks the beginning of Lent. These are church traditions, established around the 4th century A.D. as a time of retreating for reflection, of giving up some worldly things to detox, fast and cleanse. Ashes remind us of our own, not conceptual, mortality (“ashes to ashes, dust to dust” which God in Genesis tells us we shall return to because we were made of these, long before science recognized us as carbon-based life forms). And ashes are for repentance. Repenting means turning, and we are intended to turn to God– “God”. The term, the name, the character or figure of “God”– “God Almighty,” “The LORD your God,” “God the Father,” and so on– is a symbol, and archetypal symbol of that which we mean when we refer to it in the shorthand label, “God;” “God” is an image of “God”. But– that which we mean is that which we are to turn to. One of the names or active functions of God The Creator Sustainer of All Nature and Natural Law, is called Holy Spirit. The Christian belief is that the Spirit convicts us– of Truth, of sin, of righteousness.

Jesus said, in John 15: 26, and 16: 8 and 13, “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father…” “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement… when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth…”

The Spirit, then, is what the practicing Christian, the believer, is to test statements against, to prove truth or falsehood– or, the Spirit will prove them. It does require a willed, decided leap of faith to believe that.

Paul Tillich explains that we humans must have faith in something, and what we put our faith in is our ‘Ultimate Concern”: what do we put before all else, what do we worship? God, Country, General Theory?

I believe that Jesus was a particular man who was also That Which We Mean By “God” .John 15: 26 :” When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.”

I can’t prove the truth of this to you; you’d have to let the Spirit prove it in you yourself.