I sign my letters “Shalom”

Peace, and more than peace. A state and place and time of being. Utopia designed by creation in the light and call of love.

Writing shortly after the birth of a renewed urging of the love that resides in all things another man calling attendance on love, one Paul, formerly of Tarsus, now of Jesus, opened his letters with “The Peace of Christ”.

A radical opening in a time when the peace of Rome wreaked itself upon the people of Europe, Turkey and Northern Africa by means of armed might and crude repression.

Paul hearkened back to prophets of old. Isaiah, and Jeremiah, in deep communion with the ground of all being, called their people to see the love they were nurtured in and meant to be. As Jesus did.

Folk around us call us into love’s peace. It’s easy to tell who they are. As it was in Paul’s time, and Jeremiah’s and Jesus’. Easy to tell who is of love and who is of Rome.

Knowing the call to peace through love is no difficult task. It’s the path that sometimes seems impassable, not the call to walk it. Opening letters and signing them off is one thing, following the path with every breath and action is something else again.

Jesus and Paul and Jeremiah knew where the path began, where it wandered and where it would find an end. They spent their lives foolishly and endlessly and uncommonly seeking ways to bring sight to those who could not see.

The author of Mark, laid out Jesus teachings in a way that was meant for those seeking the path of love. In chapter 8 a blind man is healed at Bethsaida. Bartimaeus is healed at chapter 10, while in between Jesus tries to teach his friends to see, in themselves, the path to love.

When we read Mark’s gospel I wonder if we aren’t so lost in the literal healing that we forget Mark’s purpose in bracketing Jesus’ attempts to bring another kind of sight to his friends. There are so many ways to be blind to the call to love. So many ways to shutter our hearts, stopper our souls, rationalize our brains and immobilize our bodies. I wonder if we shut out the miracle of love reborn, in the face of our need to rationalize a healing that is commonly available in our time.

Bartimaeus knows he is blind, knows Jesus opens eyes to the light and, when he calls for healing, knows the path he must walk, especially once can see again.

Once he can see again. Did you catch that? Some of the folk at bible study did. Bartimaeus was once blessed with sight, and wanted to see again.

I wonder how many were blessed with sight and yearn to see again?

I wonder how many experience themselves as loving and beloved and yearn for this world to experience the same?

There is a path to love that beckons each of us. There is a path to a peaceful world that calls us to love.

Not a path without challenges, not a world without times of trial and measures of suffering. Not a cloudy utopia filled with harps and wings and halos. A green and verdant world with challenges and blessing, opportunities and fulfillments. A world that hallows its relations and its relationships.

The path is made by calling for sight and getting up from the roadside and walking. Walking through blindness into sight. It starts with a call to the living word to come alive in the heart, awaken the soul, startle the brain and nurture the body. A cry from the heart for healing and deep responding love.

Have faith in love, said Jesus, and love will let you see. Have faith that you are the love that breathes in you, and love’s own you will be.

Peace begins in love, and love can be carried in the world by you and me.

How then shall we love? How do we transform from blind to sight? How do we walk the path of Christ? How do we know ourselves blessed in light?

One current prophet, Richard Rohr, offers a prayer to help along the way. Borrowing from the Buddhist practice of metta (loving kindness), we might, every day:

Begin by sitting in silence and finding the place of loving kindness within you. Then speak the following statements aloud:
May I be free from inner and outer harm and danger. May I be safe and protected.May I be free of mental suffering or distress.

May I be happy.

May I be free of physical pain and suffering.

May I be healthy and strong.

May I be able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease. [1]

Repeat these affirmations as many times as you wish. When you are ready, replace the “I” in each statement with someone else’s name, gradually widening the flow of love to include: a beloved, a friend, an acquaintance, someone who has hurt you, and finally the whole universe.

Reference:

[1] The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, http://www.contemplativemind.org/practices/tree/loving-kindness.

Jesus came to a world yearning for peace and responded by teaching love. How then, shall we live?