Sunday, September 3, 2017

the meaning of sacrifice

~ And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

I'm not a Christian but I have struggled my whole life to understand the meaning of "sacrifice", the mystery of the cross, and the human obsession with offering blood (goats, lamb, body parts or whole persons) to atone for our human condition.

Raised by hard-working parents who loved us well but, like many of their generation, reminded us daily that they bore the cost of our privilege and good fortune, I rejected and was unwilling to pass that burden on to my own children.  So in my twenties, I completed a Master's thesis entitled "Le Sacrifice et la Générosité; Réflexion sur Autrui" that skewered the notion of sacrifice in favour of generosity as an act of giving from the feeling of abundance rather than from the pinch of obligation. If this was not love for another, I thought, at least it was not a need for personal atonement.

Still I found myself drawn to churches, returning over the years with wonder and an inexplicable thirst for what was inside of them.

I could not understand the cross, confession or the ritual of communion, and saw in the expectant lineup of believers nothing more than a convoy of confessed failures and neuroses seeking redemption in a tiny piece of bread that dissolved in your mouth the minute you turned around, and was completely digested and excreted by the following Sunday.

I have prayed to understand.

Today, Labour day Sunday, I had a breakthrough (and I am grateful to my friend Oscar the Wild who let me break down a little last night to allow the light to shine through, because it comes down to that):

"Sacrifice" means SACRED ACT and "picking up the cross" following your heart by listening to that "still, small voice" that just knows what is good, what is right, what is love.

In this we are bound to encounter, in ourselves and the world, resistance in the form of misconceptions, fears and defenses which stand in the way of breaking us open to live that truth. (Hence perhaps the misguided notion that sacrifice is about suffering, and the cross about dangling from nails in perpetuity.)  But the story doesn't end there. It ends with the resurrection, the reunion with the source of life that renews us from within every time we are true to ourselves.

Sacrifice is living.

(Amen to that!)

Friday, September 1, 2017

on dry land

The thing that hurts the most is the injustice.

From the beginning, in response to sharing a vulnerability, a hurt, a need for a kiss, an I-miss-you
To be told:
You are controlling, demanding, ordering, cornering, complaining…
An (always unexpectedly immediate) punch to the belly
At your softest

The pain... is dizzying

You catch your breath trying to wrap your head around what’s just happened
And start to explain, at first calmly:
No that’s not what I meant, that’s not what I said, that’s not how I feel.
He's skeptical so you persevere:
What I said, what I meant, what I felt was…
Trying hard to bridge the gap between you
And shed some light on misunderstanding

But like a swimmer swimming against a current stronger than she is
The shore gets further away and the water murkier
You lose your composure
Treading water and drowning in the words
Don’t go!  Don’t go!  Don’t go…

He remembers that as the start: your panicked desperation
And uses it to justify leaving you alone.

That is the injustice. 

Then in the middle of the sea
For days, not knowing
You think

He loves me
He just doesn’t know
My feet are dangling in the water turning blue.

If he only knew, if he could only see
You just want to get closer
Not to grab him or take him down
Just to be on dry land with him.