By Jim Birrell
Dear God, as the Eagle Forum gathers today, to incite one another from fear and to both sharpen and target their talons for (and at) their enemies—which they will assert are your enemies, too—help them, oh God, to stop and wonder about their cause. They love the law of the Lord; indeed, they fear the ways of man.
Open their eyes, oh God, to the truths great souls have come to know in all of time, including this: Deus est Ens, “God is being itself!” (Thomas Aquinas). In the at-one-ment of all that is, those whom these Eagles might call God’s enemy are no more your enemy, oh God, than they who profess to be your army are your army; they are their own army, doing their own works. How does a God who asks us to love even our enemies not do likewise? What army, then, does God require when God has no declared enemy? Men need enemies, not Gods; thus, men form armies in all their organizational varieties!
These are not armies of the Lord, or even a reflection of the Lord’s law; that law was fulfilled with a love so profound, so transformative, so breathtaking, so rule-breaking (i.e., grace) that law-lovers could only know the fruits of such love as “heresy.” Let them see, oh God, that lovers of law and the law of Love are not the same awareness. Saul did not know this until he became Paul, along his road to Damascus. Oh that blessed road wherein lovers of law come to become the law of love, where there is only love for all; thus, there is sky enough for all who fly. These lovers love differently, and that love confuses and frightens the guardians of the law, and the idealist who loves the “word” as the “right” explanation of Jesus more than an invitation into the “real” transformation of self “in” Jesus. They are not the same. It is not God they defend, then, but their explanation of (and limited experience with) God, as I do here, oh God. There is no way to know God apart from knowing the God you are, or believe you are!
That is the burden both the lovers of law and the law of lovers share; lovers become heretics because they will not pick up the stones, oh God, and defend you against those who violate your laws, as man supposes or believes nature imposes. Instead lovers insert themselves between the law and the judged, because their biases and fears are now out of the way, because such things are no longer the way; love is the way, with all its radical and impossible realities!
And in that way of radical and impossible love, there is nothing to defend, only all things to embrace for the God that is to be found within all living and paradoxical things. That is not an irrational and mystical place of fools, where the guilty are not held to consequence, but where the one holding the stone looks at the one about to be stoned and sees themselves first, and then sees you, oh God, in the other. And if they see you in the condemned, then they see the prodigal that they are; they “come to themselves” in that moment. They understand that the great commandments were not about the order of love, but the nature of love—that true followers do not just love God then one another as the self, but love all with that same love; they love all mankind with the same love that they love you with, oh God. There is no justification anymore, especially for distinction and then discrimination.
That is the law of love; it is nondualistic. If I deny anyone housing or employment, because I cannot see God in that, and, therefore God as that (i.e., Deus est Ens, “God is being itself”), then it is you, oh God, that I ultimately discriminate against. But when did we kick you out of housing, or deny you employment, or condemn you to second-class status as sinners and such, they cried on Judgment Day? When you did it to the “least of these” in power, declared Love. What you do to them you do to me; you cannot say you love me and act so unloving towards them. I did not call you to merely love my law. I called you fully into the law of Love, cried Love.
There is gulf that separates these two spaces of consciousness, and all mankind are invited to cross the bridge from love of law to law of love; that bridge is suffering. See your own suffering, says God; all creatures suffer on earth that they might cross over to love and know that thy Kingdom (hath) come for me as love! And once in that kingdom, while yet on earth, love thrives in the heart; there is no other way. There is no more gathering of Eagles in forum to strategize ways to protect privilege, promote fear, and defend the status quo. Love has no need of this!
But first, Eagle friends, you will have to lose your minds, and lose the smaller (and less than loving) gods you serve in order to truly know (and see) yourself—which will be painful in moments when you see it. You will have to surrender the war within if you wish to find the Kingdom of God within, which never was a warring kingdom, but a loving place, and an inclusive kingdom. Lay down your swords. Your moral outrage at the inevitable arch towards justice for all cannot be stopped by you, controlled by you, or defined by you. It simply cannot, thank God! The harder you hold to your truths from arrogance (and arrogance always excludes, denies, or condemns) the less you will experience any wonderful fruit of those truths you might otherwise enjoy. You will live in an increasingly frightening “inner” world, and project it outward as “the” truth about the outer world. The outer world is only perception from the inner world. The stories we tell ourselves about the outer world only mirror the inner world; thus, it is not the outer world that brings the fear and suffering, but what stories we have come to believe within about what appears to be outside of us, and outside of our control.
Moral outrage, then, at the perceived morals of others hardly serves God’s purposes, only your own fears of God’s seeming incompetence in allowing the world its evolutionary course within God’s own understandings and purposes—which you cannot know, unless your God is small enough to be comprehensible. Or perhaps it is not God’s competence you do not trust but your own righteousness; perhaps you believe God requires this battle of you in order to prove your own worth. Beware of those who teach you that you must prove your love to God or earn God’s love and presence; they are your masters. Learn what the brother of the prodigal son could not see, when—after declaring himself to be the good and faithful son—he could not love BIG enough to welcome home his bruised brother. Lovers of law do not like repentance so much as stones to toss at sinners; tossing stones makes them feel really righteous, rather than really repentant when they discover how truly unloving they really are—their righteousness, notwithstanding. Jesus was never righteous; he just loved! Love and law must cohabitate; both are essential, but they are not the same function or have the same transforming power to save.
Look inside, lovers of law, and see if you have blocked the conduit of love you are in your defense of discrimination against gays. Where are you guilty here of the unpardonable sin of denying the Holy Ghost by denying love and status to another in order to protect your own treasure or failure to love more? What you deny another you are denying yourself. Open your hearts to those who are different, who live different, and who love different from you. Without that transforming love, i.e., that love you meet along your road to Damascus that changes your name, your paradigm, your truth and your heart, etc., you might be tempted to control everything with an either-or attitude, or an “all or nothing” thinking, i.e., all for us, and nothing for them.
That mentality divides the world into “deserving” and “undeserving,” and confuses the truth, because power then presents itself as victims against the truly powerless, and justifies abuses of power as moral virtues—such as in defending the so-called rights of the privileged to use their power for their own ends at the expense of others, rather than grow a democracy that requires the best in all of us. See how your argument justifying discrimination is tantamount to power gripping the throat of the vulnerable, while exclaiming, “You’re hurting me! My marriage! My freedoms! My rights!”
And then power sleeps at night, satisfied that it has done well and right, without regard for where those denied housing will sleep, where those denied jobs will work, or how they will take care of themselves or their loved ones when law protects the virtues of the wealthy and powerful. Why should the righteous care about such things; do not the wicked bring upon themselves their own suffering, after all? In their dualistic minds, where no love or forgiveness can fully dwell, the righteous declare themselves to be the people of God, and worthy moral warriors, as their swords drip with the blood of God’s enemies, as they posthumously declare them to be in God’s absence. They have done their duty, fought the good fight, and separated the worthy from the lost, or the sheep from the goats. They have protected their own villages!
Help these Eagles, oh God, to see their own contradictions, and how they are dualistically locked into a small, frightening and mechanistic universe that is shrinking, while they meet to shriek about the world outside their metaphorical gardens of Eden. Help them remember to breathe, as they raise their fists to the encroaching lone and dreary world that threatens to engulf their garden, their innocence, and sense of reality. Help them, oh God, learn how to love all that is and to see that God is outside the garden, too. And especially help them understand that this pain of fear about the world they do not understand from their place of innocence and certainty, if not resolved by love, will only be transmitted to their children and charges. They will infect their own children with their sense of hopelessness (and hypocrisy), and the village of their faith will further suffer, and further empty out while they blame the devil for their losses, rather than seeing the devil they are, the devil they have become in their fear and anger and failure to love God enough to see God in all things, and to trust all things in God.
Help them, God, to give up their need for controlling what cannot be stopped, in order to have stopped the one thing they can control—and that is their suffering thoughts. Help them to walk out of the hell they live in called fear, and to experience and appreciate love in all its forms. Love, true love, is the true law of this land supposedly dedicated to God. Love is the defining—and most often missing—core value that undergirds true freedom. There is but limited freedom in being bound to endless rules and laws to protect virtue; all virtue taken to extreme loses its virtue. Freedom is at-one-ment, and at-one-ment is not a quality of righteousness but of consciousness. So is agency.
The law of love says simply this: because I love I cannot injure; or, because I love I cannot deny….the deeper the love the greater the likelihood that much of mankind will define that love as heresy.
Pure love is rare, and few there be that find it, because they are too busy looking past it for something other than it. Perhaps we don’t “find” such a love as this; it is not the effect of any cause. Like Saul on the road to Damascus, it finds us, often in opposition to our personal cause. Our unexpected encounters with love require a passing through of suffering in order to know mercy, grace, and goodness that cannot be explained in written terms or texts; it is the making of the “word’ into flesh, by making of the flesh into that one grand word, love.
Infinite certitudes and platitudes, absolutes and defenses define the world of laws—which are, understandably the first worlds of men or, rather, the egoes of men. But the world of human experience is far too complex for some laws, while demanding from us others; thus, the need for openness and thoughtfulness. Small men cannot wallow in complexity while defending “their” certainty; dissonance tends to make the small of heart also small creators of groups and definers of worthiness with little desire for (and movement towards) mutuality, only just membership and agreement. Strength in numbers comforts the war hawks. Come, they say, pick up the sword of justice in defense of “our” truth and “our” virtue; we are the good guys. We know the right Jesus! But Jesus never came to encourage us to talk about Jesus to one another, but to be Jesus to one another. That “being” transcends our understanding, paradoxically. Still, we do our best.
So on this day when Eagles meet to Forum, dear God, help them form an alternative consciousness, recognizing that the truth is never fully about what one side says about the other. Help them see how their dualistic frameworks become the enemy of the very work Jesus was about—the work of love, as well as challenging the discrimination and judgments of religionists too confident in their own biases. Help them see, oh God, even if they have to suffer to know this—as all eventually must—for there is a cross and a crucifixion to knowing the deepest human love possible (i.e., how to hang on a cross and observe, as Jesus did in that moment of pure suffering for others, the needs of others—including a crying mother who was losing her wounded child to a hateful world).
Let Eagles hear the cries, oh God, the real cries of more than just those mothers who are, as every generation of mothers have been before them, worried about the future for their children. Let these Eagle mothers also hear the cries of mothers who worry about their depressed and rejected LGBT children, and who wonder if those children will have a future or take their lives. All mothers of gay or straight children, to borrow a phrase, must learn to live together as sisters or watch their children die together in a world governed over by fools. Mother Eagles, may God bless you with children who teach you compassion for one another; men seem to come that place more slowly. But a mother…..how can she call her child evil, or not presence the deepest love in response to their greatest need? God help the Eagle mothers to shore up all others! This is a better use of your time and love. Eagle mothers, perfect love will cast out your real fears. If you fear too much, perhaps you love too little. You alone would know that.
Oh dear God, in Forum today these Eagles use their talons to scratch one another’s back. That is a better use of their energy, too. Let them not forget that what they see at the bottom, what appears to be beneath them, is life, is God, and thus, is equal to them. Help them grow up, from their dualistic impressions to nondualistic transformations where they understand that we do not see the world as it is, but as we are. Neither do we love the world differently than we can love ourselves. Bring us all, then, oh God, to a much more mature love. Let us remember that religion does not exist to give the virtuous ways to feel good about themselves, but to give all mankind an equal footing for honoring our differences while supporting our individual and collective struggles within our humanness.
That is the very meaning of salvation in this life, and from the inequalities and injustices of this world. We are not commanded anywhere to love AS God; that would be impossible. We are just commanded to love all the same as we love God. And God is all merciful. Small people, on the other hand, make everything small. Thus, oh God, make our hearts as BIG as your LOVE!