In the manifest presence of God, people freak out: they do stupid things, sometimes burst into flame, or maybe, invent religion—a way to protect themselves from the unmitigated glory of God.
When Jesus took Peter, James, and John up the mountain on the seventh day and was transfigured before them, Peter proposed building three tabernacles (three temples). While he was still speaking, a voice boomed from heaven: “This is my beloved son. Listen to him.” In other words: “Don’t just do something. Sit there.”
Once upon a time, in a garden, Eve and that first Adam hid from the presence of God in some trees, two fig-leaf bikinis, and a string of lies. I wonder what would’ve happened if they hadn’t done something, but just sat there?
David writes “I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me…” Perhaps one of those “things” was the pressure of being the “mashiyach,” the “anointed,” also translated, “Messiah.” Perhaps another of those “things” was the distance between himself and his knowledge of the Good, who is God.
“I have calmed and quieted my soul,” writes David, “like a child quieted at its mother’s breast.” David at the “breast” of God. That’s rather present to God; that’s just sitting there.
Heaven is enjoying the presence of God.
“Hell” (Hades or Gehenna) is hating the presence of God, such that you want to hide in darkness, for God’s presence burns your ego like fire.
Your ego is your “fig-leaf bikini,” your “flesh,” maybe even your tabernacle of dust.
It’s interesting that Adam and Eve lost the Garden trying to get what they already had, and didn’t know they had—the Good, who is God, and was already with them in the Garden.
It’s also interesting that the Garden must exist within the sanctuary of the human soul, as well as the beginning and end of time, and several places in between.
When Adam and Eve took “knowledge of the Good” from the tree, they began to judge themselves. If I judge myself, I can’t be the self I’m judging. I’m exiled from myself, my own garden… and “I Am that I Am” who makes his home there.
Jesus is the Way home, the Truth about me, and the Life buried within me.
He said, “Pray, ‘Our father….’”
God is my father and I am a little child of God.
So, I often imagine what’s true—that’s called faith.
I imagine myself sitting on my father’s lap or I imagine him looking down at me, with deep compassion, as I float alone in a boat on a lake under the stars. I imagine him looking at me the way I would look at my son when he was a little boy.
I don’t talk; I float in his presence.
Lately, I imagine sitting on a beach next to Jesus.
He often holds my head against his chest—it helps me to stop thinking.
Most of my thinking is the way I process my knowledge of Good and evil, in an effort to judge and justify myself, that is, my ego.
So much of my life—and prayer life—has been about trying to suck goodness, life and love from everything around me.
But Jesus is the Life. God is Love and God is the Good in everything around me.
“I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother” is the more literal translation of Psalm 131:2.
Infants love women for their breasts.
I’ve got nothing against breasts, but if you only love women for their breasts, you’re missing the best part. You’re an infant, and you suck… or, at least, “suckle.”
A weaned child simply loves to be in the presence of his or her mother.
Suckling is OK for a time. But faith is not your ability to suck.
Mature faith is your ability to not suck. It’s a prayer spoken from a tree in a Garden, “Into your hands I commit my Spirit.”
It’s your ego that sucks; it’s your ego that compares; it’s your ego that won’t shut up.
It’s your ego that regrets the past and worries about the future.
It’s your ego that constantly seeks to justify itself, for it refuses to believe it has been justified.
It’s your ego that crucifies the savior, for it thinks it is the savior who saves us all from God.
It’s your ego that needs a problem, for it always wants to be the solution.
It’s your ego that takes the life of Love from the tree in the garden, for it cannot receive the Love that is Life, given on the tree in the Garden.
It’s your ego that sucks and Christ in you who is content.
when I can’t seem to calm and quiet my own soul,
when I can’t stop worrying, fretting and complaining,
I imagine what is already true.
Sometimes, we go to the tree together, we die together, then we begin to rise together in peace and incorruptible joy.
Who’s talking in Psalm 131? “I have calmed and quieted my soul.”
Maybe Jesus is talking, and David is his soul?
Maybe it would do you some good to just sit in his presence for a while?
Maybe he would calm and quiet his soul, his temple of dust, his body?