Category Archives: Celebrations

2021: The Insignificant With The Sacred Unique

 

I hate marathons. I hate waiting. Especially for something that I know is coming. It makes me feel not only unsettled, but as if something terrible is going to happen until that thing that’s supposed to come, comes. Until that thing that’s supposed to occur, happens. (That feeling is called dread. Or a constant panic attack. Anxiety.)
That feeling like something is missing.
That feeling of being…incomplete.

Well I’ve been mulling over this whole new year business–a second time around–and I’ve come to only one possible conclusion:

Okay but…for real.
2021? THIS New Year Needs More Sister Act.

Last year, I was facing personal unknown, and I wrote about redefining our understanding of resolution. I had ZERO idea what was coming for everyone, not just me, because not a few months after that, the novel Corona virus caused everyone to lock down, and everything to change. And I spent the year rolling with it. I was excited to get back to teaching, only for my classes to get cut due to low enrollment, which itself was due to all in-person courses being moved to online. So I was ready to come back with a new energy and a new outlook, and then I had to adjust to teaching daily from my study.
And here we are, a year later, and…not much has changed. And yet at the same time, it feels like everything has changed. Maybe because I’ve changed. We’ve changed.

And yet…change doesn’t feel enough, does it? Because slow (possibly lasting) change doesn’t feel as noticeable as a drastic change. And it’s been a year of slow change for most. I don’t like that I feel I’ve personally changed, and yet also feel like I don’t show it. I made a goal of taking better care of myself, and connecting with my physical self (challenging as an enneagram 5), and I’ve spent the past year doing so. I’ve been flossing every day for a year now. I’ve been working out and exercising consistently for a year. I’ve watched what I’ve been eating. Meditate regularly.
Maybe that’s why I love getting new tattoos. There’s something noticeable, from before to after. I always feel like I’m closer to my fuller, more complete self after every new tattoo.
Or really, it’s that sensation of getting a new tattoo is more of a temporary diversion from the reminder of my incompleteness.
As such while I love that release, what I hate though is the time between booking my appointment, and waiting until the time comes. Because I want it now. Because I hate waiting. I want the visible, noticeable change right when I set about getting it. And it’s during the in-between, I’m facing a reminder that I don’t have the thing I believed will make me feel more complete, and I have to wait to get the thing that’ll make me feel more complete. Thus, I’m stuck feeling incomplete.

And that feeling seems like the worst part of this past year. The slow change, whatever those changes may be. The constant reminder of our incompleteness. The year itself dragged on and on, until all we’re left with is the personal and collective mindset of the “before times.Before last year. Before what we’re STILL in. A desire to go back to the time where we weren’t reminded of just how incomplete we actually are.

Ever wonder what does ‘Auld Lang Syne’ mean? It’s customary to sing it at New Years, but what’s it mean besides a call to remember?
Well, the most accurate plain English interpretation of the Auld Lang Syne’s famous title is ‘old long since’, or ‘for the sake of old times’.
Remembering the before times. And then looking forward to what will become the NEW “old times.” As I talked about last year, we mark moments like a new year as a fresh start. But how do you “fresh start,” when you can’t? When you have to wait.

How do you have a new year, when it all feels like a continuation of the old?

How do you live when we’re still stuck in limbo?

It’s not like you can just take your WaitMate pills until Covid is over, or the year, or the election.
Or until that point you believe you’ll finally be complete.

It’s not like you can just fake it and turn the clocks forward.

Here’s the thing. I really wonder how many are still holding onto the Auld Lang Syne, the “Before Times,” out of a desire to return to them when this is all over. I’ve talked to a lot of people who are so ready for this all to be finished, to return to the way things were before. Who want to return to normalcy and decency. Who view this time (or however long) as a stopgap, a pause, on life; and once this is all over, we all can get on with life.

But we can’t. Things won’t be same, probably ever again. Because we’re not the same. I know I’m not. And I won’t be. YOU won’t be.

As a teacher and as a reverend, I’ve had a lot of people ask me what I’ve learned, and what lesson I can give about this past year. Some…morsel of wisdom, to make sense of it all. To make them feel better about their incompleteness, or to forget about it.
And the truth is…I’m not there. Because I’m still struggling with mine. I can’t give something worth while. Not for anyone but myself, anyway.
I honestly just end up either sending them the following Monty Python clip, or singing it to them:

Over the holiday, my son had an experience causing him to suddenly believe Santa is real. You see, my kids have been raised a bit free to explore their own beliefs and come to their own summations. I happily and readily tell them what I believe and why (on a level they at their age can understand), but for the most part, things like Santa, Krampus, etc, are all things conveyed to them that are fun to pretend are real. I’ve never pushed them into belief one way or the other. But sometime over the holiday break (and I have a feeling I know exactly when), my eldest went from believing Santa was just pretend, to telling me one day while having a thousand yard stare in his eye, “Papa, Santa is REAL.”

santa is real
He looked just like this when he said it, cigarette and all.

And so this Christmas, for the first time in his 5 years, he actually believed that some of the gifts left for him from “Santa” were ACTUALLY from Santa.

The thing is, I never thought I would be a parent that would perpetuate the illusion. But then, I never realized how much joy I would personally get out of my children’s sense of awe and wonder. Yes. I could explain to him what he actually witnessed. I could explain to him who the gifts are actually from. And eventually, I will. I will share the truth. And expose the lie. A lie that I am currently perpetuating.

But for one, I don’t know if he’ll actually believe me.
Or the truth.

And for another, in a way that’s just a return to what came before his experiences. And as I said, there is no going back.

So how can I even think to give ANY sort of universal statement to any of you? Something just as personal, if not more?
For one, I don’t know if you’ll actually believe me.
Or the truth.

And for another, as I said, there’s no going back to everything before the experiences of this year.

If there’s one takeaway or “truth” I can give, it’s this:

Stop holding on to Auld Lang Syne.
Stop hoping to get back to the way things were.

 

The worst thing you can do in the middle of a panic attack is fight it.

But you fight it because you want to get back to how you were BEFORE the panic attack. My daughter struggles with getting too worked up, and it is like a panic. And all she wants to do is go back to before her tantrum. All the way back to before whatever set off her overwhelming sense of anxiety and emotion. But that doesn’t solve it. And you can’t just do that every time something overwhelming comes up and causes you panic and extreme emotion.
Instead, recognize it for what it is, and then trust that it’s not forever. Let it wash over you. And through you. And come out the other side.

I sit in it with my daughter. It can be overwhelming. But I live it with her. I strive to remind her that it’s okay to feel it. But that we’re not going back to the beginning. Because that’s not going to help. And because there’s no going back.

And I’m trying to get to the place of doing that with myself.

Because it’s not about getting back to how you were before the event. Yet here’s the thing, it’s ALSO not about doing whatever you can to just…get to the other side.

Sometimes it takes just sitting and being present in the anxiety. The dread. The belief.
The WAIT.

The incompleteness.

And so it’s not about finding the lesson (or the takeaway). It’s not about finding the purpose. It’s not about finding the point. It’s not about finding the meaning.

It’s not about finding your spark.

In the newest Pixar film, Soul, the lead character Joe Gardner has been holding out “living,” hoping for the day his life will truly begin. That is, when he gets to be an actual performing jazz musician, rather than just teaching band to inner city kids. He dies.
And the rest of the film ensues.
But the thing I kept thinking is this: How can someone die who hasn’t actually lived?

See, Joe doesn’t accept his death, because he died right on the cusp of what he believed to be his life beginning. “I can’t die now! My life is about to finally begin!

It’s only through seeing a soul that doesn’t want to live, actually live his life (in his body. Movie logic), that he not only helps said soul (22) accept life, but maybe on a deeper level, is jealous of that someone else is living his life better than he is?
And why? Or rather, how?
Not by satisfying what he believes to be his purpose, his reason for being, his spark (jazz musician), but just “regular old living.” Talking with people. Truly connecting.

The insignificant with the sacred unique.

Soul ends with Joe accepting his death. Accepting the great beyond. And looking back over his life and realizing he’s already lived.
So then…when he’s given a second chance…

“So? What do you think you’ll do? How are you gonna spend your life?”
“I’m not sure. But I do know…I’m gonna live every minute of it.”

Living is what happens in between the moments you think or believe you’re actually waiting for.
Living IS the incomplete.
Not being complete. Or in the things you think or believe will make you complete.

The insignificant with the sacred unique.

You ready? To come live?

I’m scared I’m not good enough. And I never got my spark.

Yes, you did.
Your spark isn’t your purpose. That last box fills in when you’re ready to come LIVE.

I don’t have anything to say beyond this: I think I’m done teaching for a while. I mean, I have to for my job. But I don’t want anything beyond that for now. I’m tired of treating life like I’m waiting for it. I want to live. And see life. I want to learn. I want to meet you. And hear your story. I want to see life through your eyes. Because THAT is living.
If we only ever live through our own life, well then how much of life itself do we ever actually get to know?

It took a suicide attempt to fill in the last box and give me my spark.
It took a year like last to make it really matter, and for me to get intentional about it.

I wanna know all of it.

How am I gonna spend my life?

I don’t know. I don’t want to plan it.
I just want to live it. And see what happens. Or rather, what happens next.
Good. Bad. Boring. Lively. Panic. Joy. Known. Unknown. Doing something. Doing nothing. 
All the “moments.” And the in-between.

For all the love you’ve left behind
You can have mine…

 

See you all around the bend.

Thanks to all my patrons, parishioners, and anonymous supporters for their encouragement and support in writing and publishing this piece:
Abel
Astrid
Caleb
David
Gabe
Jess
Jen
Kelly
Manis
Mathunna
Max
Trini

(I WILL be pausing all donations and billing during this time)

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Filed under Celebrating, Celebrations, Dreams, Uncategorized

Anarchy and Christmas: No Gods! No Masters! Just a Baby in a Food Trough (Or…How Christmas is Witchcraft)

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SoLogically…”

In the scene above, the crew of Monty Python, riffing on the absurdity of witch “trials” of the past, comedically imbue the proceedings with “logic” and “reason.” But the humor stems from just how illogical their logic is. Their not emotionally brash, feeble minded people, just looking for a biblical “scapegoat” to burn, if for nothing but perhaps to pass the time, distract from the pain of present existence, and feel something like feeling alive…

No no. They’re analyzing, assessing, and handling the situation logically. They’re giving REASON to their “NEED” …to burn a witch.
Otherwise it’d be chaos…
Anarchy!

Well it’s Christmas. And for anyone that knows me, it’s my favorite time of year. It always serves to remind me of who I am, in a good way, connecting with aspects of myself that get forgotten through the year. I always feel like singing. And I always cry when I do. All of this, inevitably paired with flare ups of some pretty extreme anxiety.
I think that’s actually the true beauty of the season. It reveals.
Today is Winter Solstice, actually, and when I was a Montessori teacher, my means of inclusivity for celebrating this season was to say that the entirety of the holiday season was ultimately a celebration of light. No matter the belief, or holiday celebrated, ultimately what was being celebrated was light. Because light is almost sacred, especially in the darkest of darks, deep in the dark of winter. Because there’s beauty in light. Because light reveals. Much in the same way a refining fire purifies. For those that celebrate Christmas specifically, they celebrate the coming of the light of the world, into the world. In John Chapter 8, Jesus calls himself “the light of the world.”
Light reveals. Like fire burns. And refining fire purifies.

Ephesians 5:13
All things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.

Anything brought to the light BECOMES…light.

And I always find it fascinating the promises (or indicatives) just glossed over without any further thought. “When.” Not, “if.”
ALL THINGS become visible WHEN they are exposed by the light. Everything becomes light when it is exposed to the light. And “when” means that everything WILL be exposed to the light.
Wow, that sounds kinda like a magic spell. Some form of magic or witchcraft.

Kinda like turning water into wine at a party where everyone is already drunk.

Witchcraft

A magic spell, that doesn’t dispel darkness, nor destroy it. A magic spell that changes darkness into light.
Hey, can you imagine being a kid and having that magic at your disposal?
Oy. To anyone and everyone scared of the dark, this sort of magic has got to be some good news.

When I was younger, I was confused about a specific verse in the song, “G-d Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

In Bethlehem, in Israel
This blessed Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn
*The which His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

See, I didn’t understand the English structure or meaning, so when I heard it, I heard it with the assumption they were calling Baby Jesus a witch. THE Witch.
In Bethlehem, in Israel
This blessed Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn
The WITCH, His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

Baby Jesus was a witch! A child of prophecy! Bringing tidings of comfort and joy…
And to my credit, the story isn’t THAT far off from what is often part of some story like that.

Good news of great joy. Tidings of comfort and joy “that will be for all people. (Greek: pas)” (Luke 2:10)
So was it good news of great joy? For all people? For literally EVERYONE?
And…is it?
IS Christmas “good news of great joy” for–and no exaggeration here–literally everyone?

What about Herod?

How’d Herod view Christmas and what it symbolizes? What about those like Herod? I mean, you shepherds, tending their flocks by night, what we would basically call backwoods poorfolk. More than just peasants. Hillbillies maybe. The lowest of the low. Bottom tier, on the social hierarchy. They get the proclamation from the heavenly host. Like a crazy LSD trip. And they go. Maybe because like the peasants in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it reveals something more than the pain of present existence. And, given their life, anything more is a good thing. But what about those at the top? The kings. The businessman. The Herods.

Well according to the story, we KNOW how Herod responded.

Herod went on a witch hunt.

But…why?

Was it for the baby’s magic? The same reason Queen Bavmorda hunted down Elora Danan in Willow?

Fuck Yeah Willow — “Turned against me…”“This child will have no power over me.”

Same story we’ve heard over and over. Good news to EVERYONE! Except…the one (or many) who will be overthrown.

By a baby.
A weak easily killable thing.

Later in Willow, the main character tells his family, “Under no condition, whatsoever, is anyone in this family to fall in love with that baby!

Isn’t that witchcraft?
LOVE??
At least according to ol’ Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, it is.

Those fingers in my hair
That sly come-hither stare
That strips my conscience bare
It’s witchcraft

Faith Hill sung a song about how a baby changes everything, and last year at this time, I talked about how that IS, indeed the case, and just what a baby causes you to face.

Both my kids fiddle with my hair. And there is just this look they both can give that beckons me over.
Like two little witches.

And their witchcraft DOES indeed, serve to strip my conscience bare.

Maybe there are just those that don’t like the idea of that. Maybe Herod just wasn’t ready to have his conscience stripped bare.

Or maybe it’s all about the loss of control. Specifically power. Herod was top tier.
And that good news of great joy for ALL PEOPLE, was bad news for non-peoples.
For those parts that don’t WANT to be all people. They want to be above all people. In some way or another.

What comes to mind when you hear the word, “anarchy”?

Lawlessness? The protests throughout this year? ACAB? Defund the Police?
The end of the suburbs?
An end to law and order? To civility? To decency?

anarcybgdc

Makes sense. Except lawlessness is barbarism. And anarchy isn’t barbarism.

Anarchy comes from the Greek for having no ruler, but really has more to do with being in opposition to archos—not merely a ruler, but someone above another. Basically, any “archy” is a hierarchy. And the preface “an” denotes being “anti” archy. Maybe not always AGAINST hierarchies of any kind, but perhaps simply being the OPPOSITE. Like an atheist doesn’t always denote being AGAINST theism, but just being the opposite of a theist, being NOT a theist.

Or like a king who chooses not to come in power, but the opposite of power. In weakness. Vulnerability. The lowest of the low. And invites US to care for the king like you would a helpless baby.
Witchcraft

You see, anarchy believes there is no justification to rule. That all rule comes out of force, not consent. And when you enter a RELATIONSHIP, well true love comes from consent, NOT force.
A baby doesn’t FORCE me to care for it. I give up myself to do so.
Like a spell or something cast over me.
Like some sort of…

WITCHCRAFT

Chesterton spoke heavily of the metaphor of Christmas in his book, “The Everlasting Man.
And in it, he refers to “The G-d in the Cave.”
He talks of how in that region, in those days, farmers and shepherds would more often take advantage of the caves in the surrounding region to shelter their livestock, than they were to build entirely new structures just for animals.
So Christmas is the story of the G-d most high, being born underground. Almost as if G-d was being smuggled in.
And in doing so, flipped the world upside-down. The G-d above all, was now below all.
The top, was now bottom. The first last, and the last first.

When I was younger, I used to believe in Christmas as G-d’s means of bringing order to a disordered world. A world CRAVING for order, and striving to create it anywhere it can.
(In fact, one of the only times the Bible mentions a vote is during the Easter story, when Pontius Pilate told the people to vote for which prisoner he was to free. And the people chose Barabbas. Barabbas literally means son of the Rabbi. Who interpreted the LAW. When faced with a choice between two Jesuses, between two SONS, the people chose “Law and Order.)

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that it’s the exact opposite. Christmas isn’t about bringing order to our disorder. But about bringing disorder to our order.

“…heaven above the earth, and hell under the earth. But in the riddle of Bethlehem, it was heaven that was under the earth.
There is in that alone the touch of a revolution, as of the world turned upside-down.
(Everlasting Man, pg. 173)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28

In Jesus, the “Light of the world,” there are no separations. There are no “dividing walls of hostility.” Because everything becomes light when brought to the light.
I wonder what else there is neither of in Jesus.
Maybe something like “there’s neither secular nor religious, there is neither rich nor poor, there is neither radical left nor radical right, communist nor capitalist, gay nor straight, cis nor trans.”
Powerful nor weak.
Those above and those below.

Basically, it sounds like what Galatians 3:28 is getting at, is that “there are no means of establishing “archy” of any kind in Jesus. There are NO HIERARCHIES in light, because it’s all light and it’s all ONE.”

ANARCHY…

Christmas isn’t about order. Its about disorder.
To OUR ORDER.

It’s like taking something and blaspheming it.
Like a punk rock edition of silent night.
Or a band called “Bad Religion” singing O Come O Come Emmanuel.

Christmas is ANARCHY.

To our “archy.” Our hierarchies. Our rulers. Our rulings.
Our RULES.

Because LOVE is the ultimate anarchy.

Anarchy Is For Lovers

No force. Consent.

And that’s good news of great joy to all.

Just not to power. And not to you if you believe YOU ARE YOUR POWER.
What would you say gives you power? Your masculinity? Your femininity?
Your money? Your position? Who you vote for?
That you’re an American?
Your smarts? Your skills?

What if Christmas actually poses a threat to those things?
What if you started seeing Christmas as something that scared you?
Witchcraft! Anarchy!
Disorder! Chaos!
An upside-down world!

A baby, the light of the world, G-d, the G-d above, willingly taking a place BENEATH you? Below you?
Where YOU are above G-d? The King of Kings, weak. In need of your care. Of your love.
All that you believed and the order you formed your life around, suddenly flipped upside-down and sent into disarray.
Like riots. Or a virus. Or an election.

Like Witchcraft.
Like Anarchy.

How much like Herod are you? How much like Queen Bavmorda?
Does Christmas insult you?
Does Christmas threaten you?

This child will have no power over me.

Does Christmas SCARE you?
Does it scare you enough…

If heaven and hell switch places, those closest to heaven end up becoming those closest to hell.
I would imagine they’d like to make sure they maintain their position.
Their proximity to heaven.
But not at the expense of themselves.

Which is often what love calls for.

Love calls to us, at the expense of ourselves. And it calls us to surrender control. Surrender our lives.

Maybe that’s why we hate magic.
We’ve “got no defense for it
the heat is too intense for it
What good would common sense for it do?

I wonder if the real meaning of Christmas is an insult to our common sense. Our reason. Our logic.
And because of that, its as much witchcraft as that witch in Monty Python was, simply because of logic. And weighing the same as a duck.

Maybe the fire the burns in you around this time of year is a spell. Meant to burn away all that is not. Refine. However long and however many Christmases it may take.

When you arouse the need in me
My heart says “Yes, indeed” in me
“Proceed with what you’re leadin’ me to”

Nevertheless, not my will, but YOURS be done.
Proceed with what you’re leadin’ me to.

Become light. Let go of your order. Become love. Let go of your rule.
Embrace the Anarchy and the Witchcraft of Christmas…

What I think I’m saying is, surrender.
And in Jesus’ name, see what a little Anarchy and Witchcraft does to you, and for your spirit, this holiday season.
->and the world WILL be better for this…

Thanks to all my patrons, parishioners, and anonymous supporters for their encouragement and support in writing and publishing this piece:
Abel
Astrid
Caleb
David
Gabe
Jess
Jen
Kelly
Manis
Mathunna
Max
Trini

 

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Filed under Celebrating, Celebrations, Christmas, God stuff, Holiday

What Is Love? (Baby, Don’t Hurt Me…)

Easter, Rick and Morty, Warm Bodies, and Asgard.
Just What IS Love, anyway?

Sometimes…what you really need is for someone else to pay a horrible price.

The clip above is from a Rick and Morty episode where Summer works for an independent business owner, at what is basically a vintage thrift store, “selling” items that grant the purchaser their deepest desires, while also cursing them. Needful Things.
Oh, and the shop owner is the Devil.
The idea is that Mr. Needful (the Devil) gives you what you truly want (or maybe…what you think you truly want), but makes you pay a horrible price for it.

The store’s only function and purpose is to curse people. And Summer, all the while aware of what’s truly going on and who Mr. Needful, her employer, truly is, is fine with it. Because, according to her logic, “Fast Food gives people diabetes and clothing stores have sweat shops. Is there a company hiring teenagers that isn’t evil? This is my first job and you’ve been nice to me. You respect me.

Well at the end of the episode, Summer discovers she’s just another con, and the Devil really doesn’t care about her. So feeling used, angry, hurt, sad, taken advantage of, and with no way of getting back at the one who hurt inflicted all this upon her, she turns to her grandpa Rick for help.
And do what it takes to physically punish the one who has it coming to them.

And then others.

“Because sometimes…what you really need is for someone else to pay a horrible price.”

Now you might’ve been a little incensed at the language or steroid use-the content, but admit it: Didn’t part of you relish in the physical pummeling of those who “have it coming”?

Don’t you wish defeating your enemies could be a task so easy as beating them up?

Don’t you wish those enemies could suffer? Don’t you wish those that deserve it, could suffer?
Even just a little bit?

Well anyway, it’s Easter. And last time I wrote about a spiritual holiday, it ultimately posed the question, “What do we do when we don’t know the end of the story?” When all we have is the beginning—the unknown.
When all we have is new life.
And Easter kinda has that air of the end of life. Or…at least when you continue that theme of not knowing or understanding the whole story. The end of all you knew. All you hoped for.
The death of dreams.
The death of hope.
The death of connection.

The death of life.

And it’s a funny year, this year, to talk about death like this, because of all that’s going on in the world.
It kinda feels like death is all around us. Knocking at our door. And all we have been doing is walling ourselves off to the inevitable. Death.

We fight. We hate. We fear.
And we struggle. Struggle to survive. And hold on to any bit of power and control that we can.
All in a bid to stave off death for that much longer.

It really is like being in the start of one of those apocalypse films.

All of them have similar themes: a fight for survival, warding off death, and extreme “othering.”
I have to admit, I love a lot of those films. Be they post-apocalypse, like Mad Max: Fury Road, or vampire apocalypse, like Daybreakers, or zombie apocalypse, like Warm Bodies.
In fact, those are actually my three favorite for each category (let alone in general).

For those that don’t know, Warm Bodies is like a zombie apocalypse Romeo and Juliet story. In fact, the protagonist of the film is a zombie named “R”, because he doesn’t remember his name, who falls in love with one of the living named, “Julie.” (See how close they’re riffing?)

But Warm Bodies isn’t like other zombie films. Sure, zombies pose a threat, they are the undead, and they feast on the brains of the living. But in Warm Bodies, zombies seem to be a metaphor for how society already is. Factioned. Divided.
Othered.
And with many now who already go through life like the living dead.

In Warm Bodies, zombies exist in this limbo state. Undead, but not yet all gone. You see, it seems the only fate for the undead in Warm Bodies is to become “bonies.” When they give up. And lose all hope.
Apollumi

But there’s another reason Warm Bodies is a different type of zombie film. You see, in Warm Bodies, the undead can come alive. Or rather, the living dead, become the living life. More alive than those that aren’t zombies in the first place.
In Warm Bodies, the dead come back to life. And not in the “Night of the Living Dead” sense, where the dead come back as undead.
No.
In Warm Bodies, the zombies hearts start beating once again. They’re…born again. So to speak.

And the old paradigms that had sustained society: walled off cities, social division, fighting to survive, othering; all of it dies with death.

At the end of the film, R bleeds. And he becomes fully alive. And he isn’t the only one.
The film ends with a summary of what happens in the aftermath. R comments that from one perspective, getting shot in the chest hurts him, like a lot. But ultimately, for him, it felt good to bleed, to feel pain.
To feel love.
To feel.
And for the rest of the zombies, they all learned how to live again. R comments that for a while, it seemed like everyone had forgotten what that meant: to live.
And the cure? The cure to death, to bring life?
Connection.
R goes on to say how scary it was at first, painful even. But that every great thing starts out a little scary, and might even hurt to begin.
The final shot is of the massive dividing wall being destroyed, and collapsing.
No more walls. No more divisions. No more others.
All are one. In a new life. A new world.
A kingdom that’s conquered death.

This is how the world was…exhumed.”

Many see Easter as the beginning of this new world. Or just like how they see Christmas through the lens of Easter, they view Easter through the lens of their dogma about a Second Coming.
A Reckoning.
Justice.

“X gon’ give it to ya!”

And yet…all too often, they miss the bigger meaning.
Sometimes when you stare at something massive, you actually run the risk of oversimplification, and of missing the actual scope of it all. Seeing only half the picture.
And so for Easter, this new life, this new world, has turned into one that is to come. It’s removed, distant. A hope for some kingdom to come. A promise at the end of a long bridge.
A place far away from here, that death seemingly can never get to; never reach, never touch. There are those on the inside, and those on the outside. And each “deserves” what they get. “Those bad people? They had it coming. And now we’re safe away from them, and from death.” It provides comfort. Stability. Perhaps even an assurance that you did right, did good, and that you’re right where you should be. (Maybe that’s why we need others to suffer. It’s easier to see we’re the good guys then…)

But…when faced with the whole picture, well then it very often feels like all hope is dead. Because the place that you hoped in, that you kept thinking was someplace else. Behind walls. Protected. Safe.
Well now it’s threatened.

To discover the whole picture can feel like Death has infiltrated the Kingdom; infested the place. Corroded it.
It may even make you feel powerless.
Broken.

Death is too strong.
And it can make you feel like nothing.

…Maybe the Cross makes you feel that way.

I would imagine it did for those in history, on that day. To see Him up on the Cross, it may have felt like Death itself had taken Heaven and…sundered it in two.

Asgard is not a place, it never was.
It’s a people.
Heaven (or the Kingdom of Heaven) is not a place, it’s a people.
And because it’s not a place, anywhere could be Heaven.
This could be Heaven. This could be the Kingdom.
But it might just take you being broken to see it.
A Kingdom here. Now. A new type of Kingdom.
A Kingdom of Life.
A Kingdom of Love.

It’s not a place. It’s people. And it’s here now. All around you.
Do you witness Heaven? Or do you fear Hell?

You see, it’s not the pain which ruins you, it’s what you do to avoid the pain.
If you’re afraid only of breaking, let yourself be broken.
BREAK.
Let spirit crack you open to discover (living) water springing forth like it did for Moses. Discover yourself being forged.
Transformed.
And discover that living water. Discover life.
Which can only come from the rock (of your hardened heart) being broken, its wall destroyed, collapsing.

I titled this message, “What is Love?” And I have to admit, I’m still trying to sort out a definition that sits well with me. What I can say is that I find myself in agreement with lyricists of the past as to what love is not.
Love is not some victory march.”
It’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.

True love is precisely this:
Forsaking the promise of eternity itself for an imperfect individual.

Love is something that breaks you.
But it’s a good break. It breaks you TO LIFE.

Jesus was broken by love.
And I think on a certain level, that is what we really needed: For someone else to pay a horrible price.
Perhaps this time away from each other, isolated and alone, is a lot like being in a tomb. But there’s the other thing Easter promises:
The stone rolls away. Walls fall.
And when that happens in your life, may it lead to so much more.
Instead of looking to break others in the name of “protecting” life, be broken.

Let love break you this Easter Sunday.

Discover life. Feel your heart beat. (Perhaps even for the first time.)

And see how glorious it is to hurt in your chest.
How good it feels to hurt, to be pained, to bleed (into one another, even).
What I mean is, see how good it is to feel love.

 

Ultimately…see how glorious it is, when everything is new.

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