Be Opened! (poem)

Who is this man, the one who speaks to us?

We’ve never seen anyone like him.

He speaks with authority,

He heals everyone who comes to him –

the deaf, the mute, the blind.

He even raised people from the dead!

Jesus knows, we are beautiful on the inside.

He sees our treasure, when all we see is trash.

He tells us that we are the light of the world,

to share that light with others.

Don’t hide your light! Be opened!

“Ephphatha” he said to one person.

“Talitha, koum!” he said to another.

Both times, calling to us, here, now.

“Be opened! Arise from the dead!” Awaken!

Peter said “Command me, Lord”

and he was able to walk on water.

He commands us too, and we can do anything

because he asks.

Our brokenness is God’s doorway.

He stands at the doorway of our hearts and knocks.

Be opened!

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I am with you

During spiritual direction at the retreat at St. Meinrad’s in Indiana, I was asked to visualize being on a road with Jesus.  Where was he, in relation to me?  Then I was to imagine I found something on the road that was interesting.  Do I show it to Jesus?  Do I have to run to him to show it, or does he have to catch up?  Or do I just point to it and hope he figures it out?

I don’t normally like to spend a lot of time with these visualizations.  I usually feel very self-conscious doing play-pretend as an adult.  I’m also a little afraid that I’m going to be smacked down – that this is a trap.  It wouldn’t be the first time that a religious leader has purposely tried to make me look silly – and thus shame me into silence.

But I decided to a) be brave and trust and b) not go with my usual habit of trying to get to the good part too fast.  I’m not very good with waiting in the stillness of time that it takes for things to gel. Jesus and I are working on that.

I imagined I was walking on a dusty, rocky road, like the Camino de Santiago.  I was walking ahead, and Jesus was  behind me.  He was far enough away that conversation would have to be in gestures and shouts, but we could still see each other.

I saw a rock that was interesting and decided to wait for him to catch up to show it to him.  There were a lot of rocks on the road and I wanted to make sure he saw this specific one, because it was so different.

When he caught up with me and I showed him the rock, he smiled and said “Yes, I put that there for you to find.”

And my mind was blown.  How?  He was behind me.  But this is Jesus.  Jesus transcends time and space.  Jesus is everywhere.  He is before, behind, above, below, and within me.

Where I’d been wondering about him being behind me – aren’t I supposed to follow him, and not the other way around – he answered it.  He was behind me to watch me, to make sure I stayed on the path.  He was behind me to make sure I didn’t turn to the left or the right.  He was behind me to support me, to help me.

Years back, he had to be in front, but I watched his walk and matched my pace to his.  Now I can walk ahead and see new things.  My view is unobstructed.  I can go to new places, because he has shown me how.

The Walk isn’t about doing the same old things again.  It is a pattern, not a map.  You aren’t supposed to recreate his life, like a diorama, like a museum.  It has to be a living path.

The retreat theme was about rocks – about us being the living stones of the Church, about how even the stones would cry out if Jesus made his disciples be silent, about how we are like geodes – that being cracked open reveals our beauty.  I’d decided to take pictures of different examples of stones to meditate on, and took this one before the silent direction time.

rock

It was only later when I was looking at my pictures again that I noticed the one almost in the center that has a cross shape, revealed inside the rock itself.

rock

I went back to that area several times to try to find this rock, to take it home.  In a way, I’m glad I didn’t find it.  It is important to not iconize things, to not be weighed down by them.  It is the One who left me the stone in the visualization and in real life that is to be noticed.  The stone is just a symbol.  Symbols have to point to the thing – they aren’t the thing.  The trouble comes when we focus on the symbol.  That becomes idolatry.

The parable of the vineyard owner.

Jesus began to teach them again using parables.

“There once was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it and included a winepress and a watchtower. He leased it to tenant farmers and then he went away for a very long time. When it was harvest time, he sent his servant to the farmers so that he could collect some fruit from them. Instead of giving him fruit, the farmers beat the servant and sent him away with nothing. The landowner sent another servant and they treated him just as badly. Then the landowner sent a third servant and the farmers killed him. He sent other servants, and they were all either beaten or killed.

Finally he decided to send his much loved son thinking ‘Surely they will respect him.’ But the tenant farmers talked amongst themselves and decided that since this was the heir they should kill him and collect the inheritance for themselves. They did just that and then threw him out of the vineyard.

Because of their shameful behavior, the owner of the vineyard went there himself to destroy the farmers and let other people manage his land and crops.”

Jesus asked the religious leaders if they had ever heard the verse from Scriptures that says ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. The Lord has done this and it is wonderful to see!’

“Therefore it follows that the kingdom of God will be taken away from the original tenants and given to those who are good stewards and can produce healthy fruit. All who stumble on this rock shall be broken, and all those who this rock falls on will be ground to dust!”

The chief priests and scribes started to look for a way to arrest him because they knew he was speaking these words against them. However, they were afraid of the crowds because they regarded him as a prophet, so they left him alone for the time being.

MT 21:33-46, MK 12:1-12, LK 20:9-19

Rock with holes

I found this rock at a thrift store in Boone, NC.

rock2

It cost a dollar. I was on the lookout for something to use as a “talking piece” when I do a circle. That is the thing that you hold while you talk, and everybody has to listen. Then you hand it to the next person.

But I also like cool rocks. I have a collection of rocks from all over.

I was wondering what could have caused these holes. Erosion? Animals?

I Googled “rock with holes” and came up with the most likely option so far – pholad boring.

“Pholads are small bivalves that bore holes into shore rocks a few centimeters across, living their lives inside that shelter and sticking their siphuncles out to filter the seawater. If you’re at a rocky shore, or if you suspect that a rock has once been there, then look for these biological holes, a type of organic weathering. Other marine creatures make marks in rocks too, but the real holes generally belong to pholads.” (From the article “11 Types of Holes in Rocks” on the Geology section of About.com)

These pholads are known as “angelwings” because of the shape of their shell.

pholad4

Here are some pictures from that article.

pholad3pholad2pholad1

Then this started a whole line of thinking. The rocks themselves are made of limestone, which is, in itself, derived from other sea creatures’ shells. Many animals with shells lived and died, and their shells degraded and got compressed together and shaped into a rock. So these modern shelled creatures are actually living inside the remains of other shelled creatures, which are many many years distantly dead.

Also, I find it interesting that these creatures have a shelled body, but they feel the need to dig a hole into a rock for even more protection. They never leave this hole. They live their lives here. Reminds me of some people I know. They’ve traded in safety for boring.

But, back to the rock with holes.

This is known as “bioturbation.” It happens any time a living creature disturbs soil. Sea creatures do it, insects do it, animals do it – including humans.

Back to the About.com article – “One of the agents of organic weathering, bioturbation is the disturbance of the soil or sediment by living things. It may include displacing soil by plant roots, digging by burrowing animals (such as ants or rodents), pushing sediment aside (such as in animal tracks), or eating and excreting sediment, as earthworms do. Bioturbation aids the penetration of air and water and loosens sediment to promote winnowing or washing.”

Cool, right? And I just thought it looked like a potato with the “eyes” cut out. I’d seen rocks with these kinds of holes before but never knew how to look it up. I’m so glad that a search term as simple as “rock with holes” was enough to get me on the right track.

Later I was playing with it and found out that the holes can be used in a flute-like manner. Yes, this means I can play my rock. More importantly, it means that I tried to play it.

I’m glad I’ve gotten back to the state of being a child.

Edit 7-4-17:
I have learned that rocks with holes all the way through are sometimes known as “Hag stones”. From the Etsy shop “SeaMadeDesigns” – – “Hag stones, in folk magic systems, these are often believed to ward off the dead, curses, witches, sickness, and nightmares. They are also used as windows or doorways to see ‘otherworlds’, invisible spirits, or how a being ‘really’ looks beyond their physical image. They have always been deemed a rare and treasured stone.” The item description also refers to them as healing stone, Odin stone, adder stone, fairy stone, alter stone