Every Journey must come to an end and this is the end of our journey in the Salvation Army. It has been a great journey of trials and growth personally and professionally. So what does one say at the end of a journey?
Stepping into the blue
We are taking a step out into the unknown. A jumping of point of sorts, not unlike hopping of the board when flying on a trapeze.
I stood on the tiny plattform to high up for any logical sense to be ok with. Looking down, I realise it is a long, long way down. A firm hand is holding the harness strapped tightly around my waist.
HANDS TO THE BAR!
I swallow hard and lean out towards the bar of the trapeze in front of me, I am forced to lean out over the edge and simply trust that Arlie will hold me and not let me fall. My hands clasp the bar and the weight of it pulls me further out.
BEND YOUR KNEES!
My mind sends the command to the knees to bend but my knees simply say, no way! I force them to bend, knowing I have no time to hesitate.
My mind goes blank….
I don’t know how and at this point I don’t know why but I do it any ways I hop of the board and swing across the trapeze rig. Gravity is pulling me down towards the blue net.
Aided by the momentum I place my heals to the bar.
I stretch my legs out in an upside down straddle, waiting for the inevitable …
I let go of the bar with my hands and whip my body around, suspended up in the air. I know he is there even though I cannot see him. JC is going to catch me, I can feel his presence. For a split second time stands still, I float through the air, my body in a spin, my hands stretched out. I am one with the universe, I am one with every person looking up at the trapeze and I am one with JC who catches my hands in a solid grip and time resumes. I float down on my back into the net and realise that not only did I step of a plattform and swing in a trapeze, high above ground, I also just for a second had a moment of bliss, connection and belonging. I had a moment, where I was truly present and I could see the truth.
The truth, that we are all one, interconnected with each other and with god. In that moment god was not distant but present in me and I was present in the divine. This truth is, of course, always true whether we feel it or not, whether we believe it or not.
We are stepping out into the blue, into the unknown. This is for me what spirituality is all about, what the inner journey is all about. This is what we have tried to convey in all that we have done here.
To believe is to loose your footing for a moment, to not believe is to loose yourself forever — Sören Kirkegaard
Let me share with you one of my favourite poems of David Whyte:
The road seen, then not seen, the hillside
hiding then revealing the way you should take,
the road dropping away from you as if leaving you
to walk on thin air, then catching you, holding you up,
when you thought you would fall,
and the way forward always in the end
the way that you followed, the way that carried you
into your future, that brought you to this place,
no matter that it sometimes took your promise from you,
no matter that it had to break your heart along the way:
the sense of having walked from far inside yourself
out into the revelation, to have risked yourself
for something that seemed to stand both inside you
and far beyond you, that called you back
to the only road in the end you could follow, walking
as you did, in your rags of love and speaking in the voice
that by night became a prayer for safe arrival,
so that one day you realized that what you wanted
had already happened long ago and in the dwelling place
you had lived in before you began,
and that every step along the way, you had carried
the heart and the mind and the promise
that first set you off and drew you on and that you were
more marvelous in your simple wish to find a way
than the gilded roofs of any destination you could reach:
as if, all along, you had thought the end point might be a city
with golden towers, and cheering crowds,
and turning the corner at what you thought was the end
of the road, you found just a simple reflection,
and a clear revelation beneath the face looking back
and beneath it another invitation, all in one glimpse:
like a person and a place you had sought forever,
like a broad field of freedom that beckoned you beyond;
like another life, and the road still stretching on.
Kosmos, Hagios, Ecclesia, Basileia
Let me summarise the last few years of sermons and in doing that also our journey for you.
We have found that gods beloved is not a select few humans who have elected to belong to a small sect. In fact the most cited verse in the bible states: “For god so loved kosmos that he gave…”
We are part of this kosmos and therefore we are gods beloved, big and small, poor and rich, gay and straight. We are all gods beloved, becuse before we loved god, god loved us, when we where still lost and confused, lonely and broken we are gods beloved and god is ours. Together with the fish and fowl, the stock and stone, the river and the forest.
According to the Jewish tradition we live in a good world, with goodness all around us, but we also live in a broken world. And the ongoing activity of god is the care and evolution of this world. In Jewish tradition it’s called Tikkun Olam, healing or repairing the world.
Those who follow Jesus are to become wholemakers, uniting what is scattered, creating a deeper unity in love. … Christian life is a commitment to love, to give birth to God in one’s own life and to become midwives of divinity in this evolving cosmos. We are to be wholemakers of love in a world of change. – Ilia Delio
Though Tikkun Olam is about healing kosmos we as persons must start with ourselves and let Jesus bind together our fragmented hearts and fractured personalities, we must become whole, holy.
The greek word hagios means to become like god united and whole. That is wholeness is something we find inside ourselves, at our core.
What quantum physics indicates is that, on the subatomic level, nothing exists in isolation; rather, everything exists as one interconnected whole, or what the physicist David Bohm called “implicate order.” Being is intrinsically relational and exists as unbroken wholeness. Each part is connected with every other part. At the quantum level, autonomy is a misnomer. Rather, the whole is the basic reality. We are, fundamentally, wholes within wholes – Ilia Delio (Oneing)
Thomas Merton writes:
Therefore there is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find Him. — Thomas Merton
When we find this wholeness we also realise that we belong together, that we are interdependently interconnected then we will start to attract one another, to gather and congregate together. The bible calls this ecclesia which is translated “the church” but actually means the great gathering.
This gathering is not the creation of another in-group creating an us and them, it is merely a manifestation of what is. As people become whole the simply recognise that they are and have always been part of this gathering.
When we are gathered together in love, we manifest god in the here and now and therefore manifest basileia the queendom of god. The dream of god. Heaven on earth.
So long and thanks for all the fish!
So here we are gathered together, creating a space of love, the queendom of god. We are gathered here to celebrate our belonging and our interconnectedness. We are also gathered here to say goodbye.
In “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” it is the dolphins who send the message “So long and thanks for all the fish” as they are leaving the planet. We are not leaving the planet, we are not even leaving the city, but we are leaving our positions as Officers in the Salvation Army.
Dolphins have long been the poster children of the New Age movement. When we have talked about interconnectedness, love and divinisation many people have listened with fear and cried New Age. This is why we are leaving, not because we are preaching a different gospel but because we have been dolphins, misunderstood in a pond of fish lovers. The fish in the Christian tradition is of course Jesus. As partakers of the eucarist, we all eat Jesus, like the dolphin eats fish, so in the end that makes us all dolphins.
We are all one in Christ and so no one can leave not really. We are one with the kosmos, the creation, the manifestation of god’s love and as we become whole and manage to clearly manifest this around us we will realise that we are all gathered up in god’s unconditional, scandalous love, we are one, one gathering, one flesh, one.
So until we meet again, in whatever setting, in whatever form:
So long and thanks for all the fish!