Tag Archives: Kingdom of God

Kingdom of God

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“Chafer Beetles and Moss” DS

A sky-full of pink flowers came up on my inbox this week.  I sat mesmerized by the hijacked blue space above blackish tree trunks with picnickers below.  I noticed that the branches were not symmetrical, nor were they asymmetrical.  They grew in a misplaced tangle of branches.  The master gardeners at VanDusen could have stopped this mess.  Surely they could have pruned saplings into a pleasing pattern of limbs.

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I felt the same way when I first moved to B.C.  “Couldn’t some one clean up the dead tree trunks in the forest?” I thought. I came from a city of manicured lawns, of new plantings, of clean tidy suburbs.

Only gradually have I come to realize the great cost of having arborists prune every tree here.  Stanley Park would be like a hothouse for trees.  Was it not enough to see all of the chain saws after the blow-downs of the 2006 windstorm and re-plantings?  It is the wildness, immensity and density of the growth in the park that make its beauty.

https://globalnews.ca/news/3123909/watch-10-years-since-major-windstorm-hit-stanley-park/

“So could it be this way with humans too?” I ponder.  We look at the tangle of behaviours, that annoy and confuse us, especially our own, and wonder how a perfect God could love us.  An ad on TV pleads with us to “bring back our children’s ‘wildhoods.’”  What!

https://gorving.ca/bringbackwildhood/

I admit that wildness can be ugly as seen on the blackened wet sidewalks of the Downtown East Side of Vancouver.  Yet the sense of community there can be strong.  I think of the saying that God lets the tares grow with the wheat until a future time to burn them (Book of Matthew).  The question comes to me: “Do weeds have beauty, have necessity, have purpose?”

Out my front window I see a lawn that is the worst mess ever.  Lime-coloured winter moss has crept over it.  The gardener came with his rolling drum cutter and took regular round plugs of soil out of the earth “so that the lawn can breathe”, he said. The chafer beetle had already done that, but I guess the gardener needs his earnings.  The scene is an ugly mess that cannot be called a lawn.  “It would have to be replaced.  But it would just come back again,” I mused.  I don’t know: “Can I live with this collage of green and brown?”

Questions with solutions arise: “Would more plantings of colour this summer take the eye away from the chaos?  Could I sow wildflowers in the remaining grass?”  Perhaps my yard will become a mini Stanley Park with the wildness/wilderness barely controlled.  “Is this the way to handle family get-togethers too?” comes the thought.

Spring chafered lawns and canopies of pink flowers co-exist.  Can this be perfection – at least for now?

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Acrylic on Gallery Canvas8” x 8”

” Burning Hearts” Acrylic on Gallery Canvas DS

The Spirituality of Sin

Luckily I will keep it short if not sweet! (Oops, not short either.)

Sin is a bad word now. It is worse than all of the other bad words of swearing, cussing, foul language or whatever the term of the hour. The word ‘sin’ is so bad it is unmentionable. You will never hear it pass anyone’s lips, of any age, young or old – perhaps not even in a sermon if you hear one.

The Book of Romans says: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” All – wow. Surely some of us are good. Sin in the Greek means ‘to miss the mark of perfection’. “Well”, we say, “no one is perfect.” Yet the Book of Romans continues: “The wages of sin is death.” Surely not really, we think.

What to do, what to do, we worry. Indeed, what is there that we can do, even if we wanted to? Sometimes life is like that. We get stuck. We become trapped. Like the web of addiction and denial, are our myriad failed ways to cope, to be free of pain. We need help from the outside – an intervention, of sorts – actually on a cosmic scale. Also like the person addicted to drugs, alcohol, sugar, porn or unhealthy relationships, we must say: “I need help.” and, “I need an interventionist.”

Through the love of society, community, family, we enter detox and treatment, then recovery of a life of freedom from addiction is possible. Through the sacrificial love of God sending his Son Jesus, we can be delivered from sin. We cannot do it ourselves but we can choose help. We look up and heaven sends deliverance.

The Spirit cleans, fills us and teaches us the things of Jesus. It is instant detox. Yet we must enter treatment – a public declaration that we need help and are surrendering to it. Some treatment facilities provide 30 days, some 90 days; some are entered for a year or more. Yet the wise person knows he/she must be in active recovery for a lifetime.

So it is with entering the Kingdom of God. This is the true Easter story. In baptism we symbolize dying with Christ and rising with him to become a new creature. Discipleship, mentorship, the contemplative life, the spiritual journey, the Way, are each labels for this lifetime process of learning to live a new life.

In a community of like people, the church, as members of AA do, support one another, socialize together and pass on the message to those still living in bondage to addiction or sin. We can live clean, free lives, trusting in the power of God. God’s love sustains us. What is it the AA big book says – We admitted we were powerless and became willing for a power greater than ourselves to restore us?

They say that addiction is a disease marked with relapse. As we learn to walk the new road we find ‘good Samaritans’ along the way to companion us. No one chooses to walk the Camino de Santiago alone. A life of pilgrimage is always walked in community even if there are periods of being hermits together like some of the Desert Mothers and Fathers of the 4th century. Even they would leave their cells and meet several times a year.

Sin; missing the mark – what is the mark we are missing anyway? The mark, I proffer, is the sign of the cross and a person living in peace with one’s Maker. This true peace is it the de facto opposite of sin? Life in the Beloved may be a life of continuing freedom to forgive, to love – even the seemingly unforgivable and unlovable. We are not puppets, we choose. We are persons made in the image of God.

Yet, as the newcomer to AA discovers, I relapse. I regress at times. I fail to pray, to forgive, to love, to be humble, to be a maker. Also true is that I now know how to be high on life – to sing and to dance, to have fun meaningful conversations, to smell flowers, to see a newborn child or view my completed painting. I find myself pondering the greatest high of all – Is it not to taste the very sinless, perfect, presence of God and to be the very person we are made to be, to love as we are loved? Once experienced can we be happy with lesser freedoms?

 

That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. 

Book of Luke