Pondering While Having My Head Under the Faucet

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My senses are coming alive. The warm water pouring over my head is refreshing to my winter-dry skin and hair. Scrubbing, sudsing, rinsing, my hands work through, around, front and back. I become present to the moment.

An attitude of gratitude wells up within me. I can do this seemingly simple task which when you look at it is more complex than first appears. My science-trained mind begins to check off the many steps involved: first, go get a towel; second, get out the shampoo and conditioner; third, adjust the water flow and temperature – and that is just the beginning of what I calculate to be a 14 step regimen.

Yes, I can do this without having to have it done for me as it had been during a previous three month stay in a rehab center.

Other body care processes come to mind then in quick succession. From head to toe each of us needs personal care. As momma cats teach their little ones grooming  by their constant licking, we hopefully learn from our parents from the very first “wash behind your ears” and “have you brushed your teeth?”

There are those who, having learned well, center their lives around the washing, waxing, grooming, creaming and polishing of their personal machinery. Their identity rests on externals, but my, those externals are well cared for. Some, sadly, missed those lessons and become social outcasts as result. There are others whose life focus seems to be their mind. They develop their soul through endless reading, philosophical discussions on weighty matters, or politics and government. Here again a neglect of the basics as being trivial and inconsequential will lead to isolation because no one wants to come close, no matter how keen the mind and ideas that arise.

But we are designed to be relational – connected to one another, close. Hence the essential activity of personal body care. As tripartite beings, we need to find a balance in caring for each part. It is no good being so spiritual that you neglect the physical part of you. For to be truly spiritual requires being in fellowship with others, close – and no one will come close to the one who neglects or is unable to do the basic upkeep all bodies require.

About step 12 in my hair washing process, I realize that a true gift of God is the ability to care for oneself top to bottom, crown to foot, and that it is part of our equipping to experience a spiritual life, a life well lived in these temporal bodies. As I towel off, I give thanks to God.  “I can do this!”

So come on, world. It’s safe now to come close. Let the relationships flourish!

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The Open Door

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Jan 1, 2014  The year of Ayin Daleth, or the Open Door.

Reading this morning the Sermon on the Mount. I began by thinking that Jesus did three things in his ministry: teach on the Kingdom of God, drive out demons and heal people’s physical bodies. Nowhere could I think of a place where he was concerned about who they were to marry, or where they would get a job, or any of the other issues we often put on prayer lists.

The Kingdom of God is not only about the great news that God the Father wants to be reconciled to his people, and is not mad at us. Rather, He is providing a way to escape his wrath.
But I also knew it incorporated more than healing the body and bringing freedom from outside pressure.

So I began in Matthew chapter 6. At the end of chapter 5 there is a brief account of his first ministry after the time of his temptation. People flocked to him because of the physical healings; his emphasis was on the good news from heaven about the Kingdom of God.

All the way through the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is emphasizing the importance of attitude, heart and mind as contrasted to the outward observance of religious law and custom. It is a complete shift in the way of looking at and understanding God’s expectations and requirements. As such, it is revolutionary. One of the most difficult tasks is to get people (including me) to see things in a different light than what we ‘know’ to be true. Belief systems get well locked into place and often require an equivalent of dynamite to change them. What He is saying cuts across the grain of our well-established ‘truth.’ It is not just the religious Jews of 2000 years ago, but the solid, God-acknowledging person of today who has beliefs which need changing. The church of today honors outward righteousness, good little worker bees, high achievers, charitable givers. In so doing, people pick up the unspoken idea that their salvation is secure based on their good works or long service in the church. This may not be the church’s intent, of course, but many pick up that belief anyway.

In the middle of talking about storing treasure and looking for security, are two verses which stand out as off-topic inclusions.
Mat 6:22  “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.
           :23  But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how     great is that darkness!
It was here that I turned to the commentaries for better understanding. I can’t say it better than this from the Believer’s Bible Commentary:
“Instead of light, there is darkness.
The application is this: The good eye belongs to the person whose motives are pure, who has a single desire for God’s    interests, and who is willing to accept Christ’s teachings literally. His whole life is flooded with light. He believes Jesus’ words, he forsakes earthly riches, he lays up treasures in heaven, and he knows that this is the only true security. On the other hand, the bad eye belongs to the person who is trying to live for two worlds. He doesn’t want to let go of his earthly treasures, yet he wants treasures in heaven too. The teachings of Jesus seems impractical and impossible to him. He lacks clear guidance since he is full of darkness.
Jesus adds the statement that if therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! In other words, if you know that Christ forbids trusting earthly treasures for security, yet you do it anyway, then the teaching you have failed to obey becomes darkness—a very intense form of spiritual blindness. You cannot see riches in their true perspective.”

This is of particular interest today because Ayin in Hebrew means ‘eye’ or way of seeing, and Daleth represents ‘door.’

Seeing things in a new light then is of utmost importance. The door is open to walk into new insights and away from some dearly held, yet untrue “truths.” Do we have the courage to ask to have our beliefs examined? To discover where we have been deceived? To change our thinking? I submit that is as exciting an adventure as exploring the far reaches of Patagonia. This year of Two Thousand Ayin Daleth the open door awaits .