The Absence of Presence… August 22, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1983)

jonlolAs for me, I like my fireworks to be explosive, lighting up the night sky with beautiful colors. I am not interested in any kind of firework that has been diffused of explosion and can only muster muted tones of brown.

In our attempt to make everything safe, common, accessible and equal, we gradually have taken all the “presence” from the institutions and outreaches that make human life rich with experience.

Chief among them, to me, is the church.janlol

An organism that should exude life, energy, jubilance and spiritual unpredictability has been disemboweled by caution, tradition, suspicion and  judmentalism. It has become a Petrie dish for the study of prejudice or, at times, a sure cure for insomnia.

It is disappointing to hear those who have chosen a path of disbelief to win the day simply because the individuals who were meant to prosper and live abundantly under spiritual energy have decided to entomb their faith in the grave of repetition.

It is equally as disheartening to see a government that is “for the people, by the people and of the people” brought to a screeching halt, or maybe better phrased, a grinding cessation, by political stubbornness and arrogant posturing.

There are things that are meant to have a presence.

The word “church” should bring a smile to our faces and evoke memories of joy. And the utterance of the United States of America should put a chill of hope down our spines–for a world that struggles in tyranny and poverty.

Instead, we have surgically removed all the aspiration from our faith and our country, to whittle ourselves to a futile fussiness which we interpret as “adult debate.”

Jesus warned the Pharisees that they were concerned about the money and the organization of their religion, but had forgotten the weightier matters of judgment, mercy and faith.

Judgment: a decision to honor what is truly valuable instead of coins that can be counted.

Mercy: packaging what we evangelize to be appealing to human beings–our market.

Faith: being prepared to evolve toward greater understanding of God instead of diverse interpretations of scripture.

Until we put the presence back into our spirituality and our government, the absence will leave behind the anarchy of loneliness.

I am hopeful.

I refuse to be defeated.

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This … February 1, 2012

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This threatened to be more than she could bear. Her husband was killed–struck down in the street on his motorcycle, leaving her stricken. This was life without a companion. This was life devoid of repair. This was life minus a second chance. And now she had found out, this was also life deprived of justice–for the perpetrator of the accident was granted leniency instead of responsibility. This was painful. Not that she wanted revenge, or even an accounting of deeds. This just seemed to demand a sense of direction or purpose–or at least, meaning.
 
This generated some anger in her. She was ashamed of her anger. Being a good, Christian woman, she felt the need to forgive, even though the seeds of that emotion had not found any rich soil in her heart. This left her wounded.
 
She shared with those around her, and we, as people, did what we often do in these kind of situation. We comforted. We suggested. We offered an ear. We presented the possibility of our prayers. And we even pointed to some scriptural concepts of comfort. But even as these overtures were put forth, everyone knew how lame they were in comparison to her pain.
 
Actually, how inconsiderate it can be to bring up a God who was present at the accident, and even though He is bound by His doctrine of free will, still–He stood by and allowed her loving man to die. Yes, there is a time when even God wishes to shrink back into the shadows and not be a source of further anguish to us. For after all, prayers seem vacant of possibility in the stark reality of loneliness. Scriptures are similar to giving a box of powdered milk to a man dying of thirst. Without water, the powder can’t make fluid, and if you had water, why would you need the powdered milk?
 
This is not what she needed. This was not the answer.
 
In the midst of tragedy, three steps have to be achieved, and each one of them seems more impossible than the other:
 
1. Find yourself. Life will, unfortunately, go on–and the most valuable thing you can do is find out who you are and where you are in accordance with what you’ve done, and place yourself on the map of the landscape of life. This is hard. It demands that we envision ourselves without someone we love.
2. Find people who will let you grieve and who will listen without commenting. Grief was never meant to be alleviated by spiritual counseling or prayer. It is a process by which we replace our anger, frustration and disbelief–first with reality and then with a willingness to move on.
3. And finally, don’t stop doing what keeps you sane. The worst mistake in the world is to “take time off” to try to find yourself. The only way you truly find yourself is to use your time to make your gifts work for you.
 
This is often the “this” we have in life. We do not choose it. We would certainly select to escape it. But being forbidden any choice and finding no way of escape, we must take our emotions and let them run their course and find ourselves in the end.
 
She was a lovely woman with years of service to mankind. She wept as she told her story. At first I wanted to be a savior –a comforter to her soul. But as the moments passed, I realized I was needed only to listen and to remain still. Like watching a deer in the forest, this dear creature of God needed her moment to run wild. I will pray for her–privately. I will think of her for many days to come. But the best I can do for her personally is give her room to be human.
 
This … is my mission.
 
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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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