Tuesday, September 20, 2011

glad you asked...

In the final chapter of my book, I talk about God making us in His image – as creative beings. Along those lines, a poem that came from a combination of reading a great book on the history of Heaven, and some time in prayer:

I was captured late one evening, watching Leno with my wife.
Feeling fine, and looking forward to his guest.
I remember getting lost in admiration as she yawned,
and I knew my wife was needing to get some rest.

I would never again tell her, that I was filled with love,
For her presence, for her comfort, and her heart.
As I was captured somewhere else, no moments to look back-
No telling her that I was to depart.

But sadness wasn’t pressing in on me, no mourning tears in my eyes.
The rush of “other-ness” was close at hand.
In all my years of praying, reading scripture, and imagining,
Nothing prepared me for how I left this land.

From dreaming into consciousness – I was born again, again.
Like going underwater, or emerging from a tent.
From darkness into light, and from parched land into flooded-
I didn’t so much as “go” as I was “sent”.

The atmosphere was buzzing like I had never seen,
My eyes struggled to bring images into sight.
Slowly from the haze, clouded warmth, and all the “other”,
There began to make some sense of overwhelming light.

I was being led by someone, who knew my name quite well.
I tried to look, but they moved like rushing wind.
In an instant, I felt assured of forgiveness-
Granted release and pardon for my sins.

We arrived somewhere I’d never seen in all my years of thinking,
Of dreaming and of wondering what comes next-
Surrounded by what I somehow knew were 72 virgins,
In the midst of a giant gardening complex.

He saw my confused and surprised facial expression, as I took in my surroundings
I was forced to change position into sitting.
I saw a grin sneak up upon his face,
He pulled my hand with a wink, and said, “I’m only kidding!”

In an instant we were surrounded by a giant grassy field,
Guitar was strumming somewhere distantly.
I was guided to top of the largest mountain around,
And at the top, a simple Bodhi Tree.

But once again, he saw my face had not expected this
He asked me to describe what I was thinking.
I found myself at a loss for words, I looked back and saw Him smile,
As the tree and the mountains started shrinking.

The physical world I was used to began to disappear from sight,
And I wondered what might still remain in store.
When suddenly we were reclined sipping Arnold Palmers
As the ocean waves crashed upon the shore.

“Is this Heaven?” I asked him. First, He took a sip,
And looked over his sunglasses silently.
He gestured up the beach at my ancestors lounging
As a sailboat passed us by He said, “You tell me.”

“I guess I didn’t know what to expect exactly”
I said to him not knowing what to say.
“I just figured as long as I was in your presence
Whatever that was like, I’d want to stay.”

He nodded his approval, like he’d heard it all before,
And grabbed my hand gently one more time-
We ascended and ascended until my head was spinning wildly,
And I didn’t think there was much more we could climb.

He sat me down upon a cloud, the curb of golden highways-
Angels strumming in the distant shining sky.
I looked to see a mansion with my nameplate on the mailbox,
He looked at me, as if expecting a reply.

I wept without preparing, I worshiped at his feet.
I sang every song that I had ever heard.
At several points I thought of telling him what I was thinking,
But every time I found myself absurd.

Finally when time had passed, he gently dried my tears,
And gave me time to rest my tired eyes.
Letting go of what I wanted to say, I found some words,
And waiting for me to speak, he helped me rise…

“I have a lot of things” I said, “That I think Heaven should be,
Most come from books, and pictures and stories told.
Still some are things that I want to experience, but now that I’m here,
I’m not sure that I’m buying what I’ve been sold.”

He flashed a loving smile at me, as a Father would his child
With a look that assured me I was up to the task.
As I looked at Him, all I could say was “What did you have planned?”
His smile growing large, he said, “I’m glad you asked…”

1 Corinthians 2:9 “However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”

Monday, September 19, 2011

placing Jesus.

"We were left to believe that Jesus was physically raised from the dead but no longer present in any particular place." - Ken Wilson, Mystically Wired

In chapter 4 of his book, Wilson talks about prayer as a location.  As something we participate in by "going somewhere".  I find metaphorical hungers being fed in this chapter, that have been grumbling for quite sometime now.  So much so, that even as I begin chapter 5, I highly recommend this book to anyone launching into new realms of prayer. (note: my entire local church family) :)

In his book, he is gradually re-introducing Christianity as a religion with roots in Eastern/Middle-Eastern traditions, while remaining very scripture/experience/reason centered as well.  He begins with the frustrations that I'm well familiar with, and would venture to say many others would be as well.  Wilson reminds us of what prayer truly can be, and that our frustrations with prayer generally stem from our attempts to make it something else.

Later in the book, it seems, he introduces many prayer techniques that may be new to many people.  These techniques and prayers find their sources in ancient practices that have been used by Christ-followers and God-seekers for a very long time.  I remember being introduced to many of these back in college, while reading The Sacred Way, by Tony Jones.

What I hadn't received with Jones' book, was the much on the theology of space/place.  The words from Wilson's book here, as quoted above, help to fill a gap that has existed for quite sometime.  It's something that is simultaneously quite complex and mysterious, and yet simple for us to grasp:

1. We pray in the resurrected Jesus, and in His name.  We believe He stands as the bridge between the world/creation as it is (broken and dying from sin), and the New Heavens and New Earth God desires to bring about.  (Colossians 1:18)
2. We believe Jesus has been bodily/physically resurrected, and exists somewhere/somehow as the resurrected Christ.  Scripture tells us He has gone to be with the Father (John 16:28)
3. So it follows, when we pray in Jesus, we are connecting/participating in that place where God is.  We cannot explain/rationalize this away, and probably cannot grasp just how important it may be.

Wilson reminds us that for ages, "heaven" was believed to be "up there" somewhere.  At some point, science allowed us to see/travel much further than eyes had previously seen.  We discovered there was no "up there" besides the seemingly infinite "space".  When that happened, heaven took the form of an "idea" and became spiritually intangible.  Prayer became more and more an introspective "what happens inside of me" journey, and the focus became more and more within...even though we still believed we were connecting with a very real God.

That same realm of science is discovering there are things we cannot know/explain.  There are atomic and quantum levels of existence that we cannot know or predict, and some things seem to point toward parallel universes/dimensions.  So what exactly does prayer accomplish in regard to our relationship to a God who may be "located" more fully in another "dimension"?  What does that even mean? :)

I don't know. :)

But it certainly increases my urge/desire to spend more time going before that God, and praying in Jesus' name.  Not because I believe in some gnostic magical passage I'll discover, but because I believe in the bodily resurrected Christ who has called us to pray in His name...perhaps I'll even take my family with me. :)