Skip to main content



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. 


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.   " 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

Refusal to Return

The last cycle of The Hero's Journey begins with what Campbell calls "The Refusal of the Return".  In this stage the hero has finished their quest and won their award, but now they are faced with the idea of returning to their place of origin.  They struggle with the idea of leaving paradise, or sharing their wisdom with their old community.  After being changed so much, do they even still belong in the place they came from? In The Lord of the Rings, after Frodo has tossed the ring into the fire and the battle is won, he is so tired he wants to give up, there is nothing left driving him to return home, so he lays down and prepares to die.  Then, when the party regroups in Gondor, they linger there for a long time before each returns to their homeland.  Finally, when Frodo does return home, he is uncomfortable, he feels out of place, and wants to leave.  He has changed and realizes that he no longer belongs in the Shire.  After Christ's resurrection he met with Mary fi

Rescue from Without

  Today we will look at the stage of the Return called "Rescue from Without" in the Hero's Journey.  In this stage, the hero is making their escape from the world of their adventure, but they have found themselves in a bind and they need help from outside of themselves.  They lack what is needed, even with all of the powers and skills gained throughout their adventure.   In the original Star Wars trilogy, Luke is unable to defeat the Emporer until his Father, Darth Vader, changes sides and throws the Emporer to his death.  Since he had been fighting Vader moments before, this was an unexpected turn of events, it was "rescue from without".   In the Lord of the Rings, Frodo reached Mount Doom but he found he was unable to free himself of the control of the ring.  When he held the ring out to throw it into the lava he zoned out and started to put the ring on instead.  It was at this point that Gollum attacked, bit off Frodo's finger, and fell into the lava with