Skip to main content

Reaching


 

This week the Narrative Lectionary leads us through the story of creation and the fall of humanity as found in Genesis 2-3.  This is a story we are each supposed to find ourselves in.  It describes the problem found at the root of humanity's woes.  Buddhism calls it "dukkha", roughly translated as "reaching".   

God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the garden to care for it.  They were told they could eat any plant or fruit, except for the fruit from one tree.  One day Adam and Eve walked by the forbidden tree and a serpent struck up a conversation with Eve.  She was fooled by the serpent's wordplay, and Adam stood there passively as she caved to the temptation of the forbidden.  Adam joined in the feast, and when they realized what they had done they hid in shame.  

Adam and Eve had everything with only one restriction, and yet that is the very thing they found themselves drawn to.  Is this not the human condition?  If you have curly hair you want straight hair.  If you have wealth you want power.  If you have power you want friends.  If you have love you want money.  If you have food you want drink.  If you have leisure you want purpose.  If you have any of these things you want just a little more of them.  We are always reaching.  Always striving. Always pushing for something more.  Humanity has maintained the posture of reaching into that tree ever since.  It is the root of our suffering, and the Buddha recognized it and called it "dukkha".  

Once you realize that this "reaching", this ancient posture of plucking a fruit from a tree, is at the root of your pain, what do you do with it?  Some of us simply live with it, accept it as a part of our humanity and wait for our new heavenly bodies to be free of it.  Some, try to cast out all desire, living a life of asceticism.  As a member of a monastic community, I admit that this is often our default, though I have been blessed by receiving a monastic tradition that embraces the good in this world more than most.  I propose that if it was a posture of reaching into that tree that got us here, it may well be a posture that will get us out.

Studies have found that it is not always our posture that reflects our mental state, but sometimes, our posture will dictate our mental state.  This is why some self help gurus encourage you to stand in "power positions" to change your state of mind.  The scriptures teach us many postures of praise, thanksgiving, and submission, but we often write them off as old outdated formalities of our faith.  When was the last time you prayed on your knees?  Praised with your arms raised up? Laid prone, face down on the floor in submission?  Bowed before approaching the communion table?  Maybe it's worth giving these postures a try.  One time can't make up for a lifetime of the reaching posture, but maybe, over time, God can use these postures to change us.  

Lord, help us to stop reaching.  Help us to find satisfaction in you instead of all the things and people we try to fill our God shaped emptiness with.  Amen. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Death Will Lose it's Sting

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. In these verses, Paul reveals a mystery, that in the end some will be transformed, given a new body, instead of facing death.  In other words death is not one of life's two certain terms.  It seems taxes may be the only guarantee.   "...in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except  death and taxes ." - Benjamin Franklin. Ok, all jokes aside, these verses are difficult to read.  Paul looks forward to a time when death will have no victory, it will have lost its sting.  But today, we are in the middle of a pandemic, surrounded by death.  Many are scared for their lives, or their loved ones, and too many have already been lost.  Death does not seem to have lost its sting at all, it feels as if it is closing in. When I worked in wilderness therapy I remember holding a child who was desperately trying to kill himself.  We cried together as he struggled to end it, and I struggled

Fool for Christ

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 2 Corinthians 5.  Verse 13 stood out to me. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. - 2 Corinthians 5:13a (NLT) John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard churches did a famous sermon called "I am a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?".  Reading this week's text reminded me of this wonderful sermon.  Wimber's sermon reminds us that, as christians, we are called to something truly radical.  The christian walk is strange and counter cultural.  Jesus once explained this to his disciples in John 15 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. You don't belong to this world, I have chosen you out of it.  That is why the world hates you."   Peter, in a letter to the church, later referred to all of us as strangers just passing through this world.   Do you feel like a stranger?  Do you feel like the world hates you?  Are you a fool for Christ? Here is the thing, you are going t

Prayer Part 2 of 4

  This is the second of four weeks the narrative lectionary is focusing on the Lord's Prayer as found in Luke 11:2-4.  This week we are focusing on the second section: "Give us this day our daily bread." At the time and place that Jesus said this, bread was the center of every meal.  To his people, it had a long history of being a symbol for God's provision.  It was often used to refer to any meal or food, and in this case Jesus expands it to represent all of our needs.   A long time ago, in a place that had been ravaged with war, orphanages were overwhelmed with children.  In one of the facilities, the relief workers noted that the children had trouble falling asleep each night.  They struggled with anxiety, wondering if they would have food for the next day.  Their lack of sleep led to more anxiety and a troubling downward spiral of their mental and physical health.  In an effort to meet their needs the workers tried something new one night.  As they tucked each chi