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Reflections of the ministers and senior staff.

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4 minutes reading time (811 words)

No Other World But This One

wildfire

This is what was bequeathed us:

This earth the beloved left

And, leaving,

Left to us.

No other world

But this one:

Willows and river

And the factory

With its black smokestacks.

No other shore, only this bank

On which the living gather.

No meaning but what we find here.

No purpose but what we make.

 

That, and the beloved’s clear instructions:

Turn me into song; sing me awake.

                     ~ Gregory Orr, “Untitled”

 

I once often thought of elsewhere. If not heaven – and it was never really heaven – then some other dimension where life and existence were quite different. Where I Am and quite different. More sure of myself, more balanced, more deeply connected to All That Is. More powerful. More radiant. Safe. More wise. More confident and helpful to others. All that I perceived I lack in this present dimension, this place, I believed that perhaps I Am all those things elsewhere. And that all these various parts of me that existed in other dimensions and places, as other forms, made up my whole. I know there are others who hold a similar belief.

At some point last year I gave up wanting to know and understand all the mysteries of life. Irrespective of whether parts of my soul exist in many places, the Beloved has left me as the consciousness I Am fully aware of here, in this place.  “No other world/ But this one”…. a world where there is beauty and ugliness, love and hatred and everything in between. A world with “Willows and the river / And the factory / With its black smokestacks.” 

This is the world I’ve been bequeathed in this here and now. I do not know all the mysteries of life, and it really doesn’t matter, does it, if all is hell in the here and now. If I do not find a way to exist in peace right here. If I don’t do my part in making peace in this place, and the small part of it that I occupy, better.

I am thinking of how I have often told my sons that a place needs to be better because you have been there, not worse. Whether it’s a room you occupy, a job you’ve had, a relationship, whatever. How are we making things better because we are here?

I realize when I have been caught up in thoughts about other realms, dimensions and worlds, it seems to excuse me from dealing with the truth of this one. From wondering about the meaning that is here:

No meaning but what we find here.

No purpose but what we make.

I have become more interested in the meaning I make right here, the meaning I find here. To consider it, turning it over like the underside of a rock and simply seeing it as it is and attempting to understand what I can of it. I don’t need to journey over to some other realm, Afro-futuristic, speculative fiction lover though I might be. My work is here where the Beloved left me. And if it does happen to be that a part of me also exists in some other dimension, then my work is being done there where that part of me is. For now, my purpose is to be here in Now, perhaps singing the Beloved awake. Whatever that means; however I might.

Palms Together,

Rev. Jacqueline

What’s Sustaining Me

After several requests from others, I’m adding this section to Palms Together as a resource for explorations that might sustain you:

What I’m reading: How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, ed. by James Crews

What I’m watching/listening to: Really Love on Netflix, a quiet beautiful love story about art and young black folks in love and with a wonderful soundtrack / "The Keep Going Song" (Live From Our Home at the End of the World) by The Bengsons. They came out with this poignant, fun, cathartic song at the start of the pandemic. I dug it up again when Delta arrived and discovered it’s now a full album and someone even wrote an essay, “The Keep Going Song and Process Theology.” Watch their video and read the essay (which covers the entire album) here.

Who I’m learning from: Black, mixed-raced woman Zen priest Rev angel Kyodo williams, a visionary justice maker committed to love, and whose work inspired me to create this section to Palms Together.

What’s giving me joy: I was too ill to do all the cooking that everyone was into at the start of the pandemic, but I’ve found my way back into the kitchen as part of my mindfulness practice using the delicious recipes and meal planning system for busy folks on Cook The Seasons (thank you, Deb!). The meals are filling my belly with all kinds of joy.

Almost Done (AV Update part 3)
AV Update (part 2)

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