There is a light, a light no darkness can take away from us. It is as much outside as it is inside. A light that can power the whole universe. Some of us have forgotten it, and yet some of us still remember…
“Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking.” – Khalil Gibran
I want to share something with you… something important and very close to me I need to express.
I’ve been meaning to write something on this for a while –
I’m fed-up of the Way, the Peace, the Light, being misinterpreted and used as a means of patriotism, condescending, self-righteousness and judgmentalism. I am fed-up with hypocrites who judge others for sexual sin, vanity or some other ‘immorality’, when they are happy to plaster their own egos with excessive pride, self-worth, stubbornness or fill their bellies full of indulgent food, material wealth or other earthly pleasures and criticise others for their actions, wagging the finger and telling people what to do. I am embarrassed by some of these people, for giving the simple and beautiful teachings of Jesus Christ such a bad name, making matters of church and Christ mostly shunned by society… (cue rolling of eyes).
“Be on your guard against false religious teachers, who come to you dressed up as sheep but are really greedy wolves… It is not everyone who keeps saying to me ‘Lord, Lord’ who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the man who actually does my Heavenly Father’s will.” – The Gospel of Matthew. 7. 15.
So, is it practicing or preaching that is important here?
Quoted above are direct words of Jesus Christ.
Oh, and the Heavenly Father’s will??
“This I command you, love one another!” – The Gospel of John. 15. 17.
Words of Saint Paul on love – “Let us have no imitation Christian love. Let us have a genuine break with evil and a real devotion to good. Let us have real warm affection for one another, as between brothers, and a willingness to let the other man have the credit… Share the happiness of those who are happy, and the sadness of those who are sad. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t become snobbish but take a real interest in ordinary people. Don’t become set in your own opinions… As far as your responsibility goes, live at peace with everyone…” – Letter to Young Churches. 12. 9.
“Don’t become snobbish but take real interest in ordinary people”..?
So should we associate ourselves only with the righteous, the clean, the pure?
Or is it humanity, our humanity as a whole, that we should be connecting with?
Did Jesus come down, share his love and knowledge with only the righteous, law-abiding people of the time?
No. Quite the opposite. Prostitutes and thieves more like.
You see, people of real faith, who are firm in their beliefs, are not threatened by people who have other ideas or opinions. I know what I believe for example, but love to explore and share in the ideas and findings of others. I have no fear of being ‘tainted’. I have hope. A vision. A firm feeling inside that is incorruptible.
Love… felt it since as long as I can remember. It’s undeniable.
And I have so much to be thankful for.
For this Love has brought me so very much.
These are all words of Jesus – quoted directly from the bible, words that have always resonated with me.
Of the Pharisees – “Jesus replied, ‘you hypocrites, Isaiah described you beautifully when he wrote – This people honoureth me with their lips, though their hearts are far from me. But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. You are so busy holding on to the traditions of men that you let go the commandment of God!'” – the Gospel of Mark. 7. 1.
“Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you utter frauds! For you pay your tithe on mint and aniseed and cumin, and neglect the things which carry far more weight in the Law – justice, mercy and good faith. These are the things you should have observed – without neglecting others. You call yourselves leaders, and yet you can’t see an inch before your noses, for you filter out the mosquito and swallow the camel.” – The Gospel of Matthew. 23.
“What miserable frauds you are, you scribes and Pharisees! You built tombs for the prophets, and decorate monuments for good men of the past, and then say ‘If we had lived in the times of our ancestors we should never have joined in the killing of the prophets… You serpents, you viper’s brood, how do you think you are going to avoid being condemned to the rubbish-heap? Listen to this: I am sending you prophets and wise and learned men; and some of these you will kill and crucify, others you will flog in your synagogues and hunt from town to town.” – The Gospel of Matthew. 23.
and my personal favourite…
“The kingdom of God never comes by watching for it. Men cannot say, ‘Look, here it is’, or ‘there it is’, for the kingdom of God is inside you.” – The Gospel of Luke. 17. 20.
24th March, 2016. Westminster, London.
I was tired.
There’s always so much I want to see or do when I’m back in the capital that I often forget to just relax and enjoy myself. I’ve found a lot of joy in the past from ‘doing’, progress, achievement… but today I was tired, another sinus headache, a lot swirling around my head, not much sleep. So I pushed all the to-dos to the back of my mind, and decided instead to wander, let life, God, be in control again, take me on a little journey…
Still learning how to let go.
I left Victoria Station, walked a bit in the light rain, seemingly-directionless, admiring the clean, glass-fronted shops that rose up all around – all the fashion, glamour and chic of the city – my round sunglasses on, less for fashion more for relief from bright light. It was nice to be back – I have so many memories here, mostly good ones, and there’s something about light Spring rain in the grey city that makes me feel very connected to my being English… naturally.
Next I found myself standing outside something I didn’t expect to see – a Byzantine-style cathedral, huge, rising up among all the modern buildings like a glitch; throw-back from a far more ancient time.
As I walked closer I read the sign ‘Westminster Cathedral’, and then the Latin beneath hailing Jesus, son of God, who died in blood for our salvation… or at least that’s what my limited Latin translation came to.
Funny, I didn’t really know Westminster had a cathedral, an Abbey yes. But especially didn’t expect to see this beautiful brick building in the middle of London, as if it had been lifted-up whole and sent over from Rome.
Of course, I went inside.
I felt an instant cooling, not in temperature, but somewhere in my mind. Something switched on, or perhaps something switched off. It was dark, low-light. I walked in, ignoring the guidebooks, and sat down in the middle of this huge hushed place.
The ceiling and walls were all painted black, or at least appeared to be, making me think it had perhaps been in a fire at some point. I wondered if it had maybe been sacked by Protestants during the reformation some years ago. The place was like a mystery to me…
I felt still inside, and connected, and so took a moment of prayer like I often do when I feel the connection – whenever ever I get the call – wherever it is – in church, field, bus, on a train – wherever. The details are insignificant. The Church is wherever the People are.
I reached into my bag and grabbed a couple of painkillers, asked God to heal me too, keep me strong, guided, connected, take away my pain and let me get back to full-strength. Prayed for my family and friends, people dear to me. I prayed for that child in Africa that broke my heart, prayed that he knew I loved him, and would return soon, that I didn’t abandon him like everyone else in his life…
After some time I got up, walked down the central isle back towards the guidebooks. I was in a Catholic church I discovered. The church had been built a couple hundred years before for the Catholic community in a traditional Byzantine style, but remained unfinished, hence the black walls and ceiling. It certainly didn’t strike me as a Catholic church at first. Where were all the glittery shining details and grand statues, those great things built to make you feel small, which I was so used to seeing back in Italy?
It didn’t bother me of course. Yes, so I was christened Protestant all those years ago, and yet I go to an Orthodox church often with my mother. Used to always go and pray in Catholic churches and monasteries when I lived in Italy, sung in a Gospel choir for a time, which I suppose is Evangelical. All of that is just ticking boxes to me though. I went to Stonehenge to celebrate Spring Equinox last week with my father and brothers – the end of Winter, new dawn of Spring, fresh start, connecting to nature, my earth and my family.
What does all of this make me? A person. Still. A follower of the beauty and love of Christ, someone who tries to do their best, love thy neighbour, forgive and live a life of understanding and compassion. Someone on their own journey, whose felt this connection to something far greater than the world through human eyes ever since he was a child.
A person who carries a love for Goodness, God and the Heavenly Realm, and yet a great sadness and compassion for the earth and its people; my people, our people. Someone who feels a need to save, help, spread the Light and the Word, the true meaning of God, oneness, compassion, and yet keep his own flame alight through a collective healing and expression.
So I looked around this great church, built for the adoration of God, a place created for people to come and connect, to their God, to the higher energy, God consciousness, divine, to their place of inner peace, to reflect, repent and exhale… a place of healing really… and yet I felt sad.
“Mumma would love it here,” I thought with regret. But of course mumma couldn’t come here, pray, confess, or even chat to a priest here, because mumma is orthodox and that’s not allowed. She belongs to a different category. We shouldn’t mix – they don’t worship in the correct way, do the correct hand signals, use the right language, whatever. Therefore everything about the catholic church is doomed, false, a great big lie? All the billion followers of that faith aren’t really Christians, followers of Christ…
Well of course I don’t think so. Yeah I’m not gonna put my faith in the Pope any day soon, or the Vatican, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna have to turn my nose up to the entire catholic body does it? Surely, really, by now we have learnt to look at people as individuals? Surely, by now, we have understood what Christ really meant when he criticised the Pharisees for being hypocrites? Surely, by now, we have developed an understanding of the true meaning of forgiveness? You can’t tell me that if a Catholic or an Orthodox or Protestant or any other, who lives a good life, follows the Way and spreads goodness throughout his or her life, but doesn’t do the right rituals in the correct order from the correct translation from the correct century or denomination is going straight down to hell, to burn for eternity, for being in the wrong ‘group’?
Oh wouldn’t it be easier if we could all just get along and stop getting caught up in the details – remember to focus on the point of Christianity – the entire point – TO FOLLOW CHRIST, His teachings, His words and Way.
Jesus didn’t call his followers Christians – the name came up well after his death.
Jesus didn’t create the rules and divides in the church, they were created by the men in seats of power at the time, and, yes, there was divide among the church founders even in the very beginning of the church, people squabbling over who had been baptised correctly, by which disciple, and so on and so forth – St. Paul writes about it in the bible.
So, yes, I felt sad, contrite even, that this beautiful place I’d discovered wasn’t a place I could share with my mother, because of ‘the rules’ laid down by men, not Christ. This would not be a place for us to sit in silence together, pray together, share something and understand.
But you mean pray without all the correct prayers in the correct order? Ludicrous, no?! Jesus would surely condemn it…
“And then, when you pray, don’t be like the play-actors. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at street-corners so that people may see them at it. Believe me, they have had all the reward they are going to get. But when you pray, go into your own room, shut the door and pray to your Father privately. Your Father who sees all private things will reward you. And when you pray don’t rattle off long prayers like the pagans who think they will be heard because they use so many words. Don’t be like them. After all, God, who is your Father, knows your needs before you ask him…” – The Gospel of Matthew. 6. 1.
Yes, direct words of Jesus again. Surprised? A lot of what Christianity ‘is’ comes not of the Lord, or the Bible, but of man, so-called ‘teachers’ and learned people. Ego, pride and twisted truth. Control and fear.
Life is so short. Sometimes I feel like the only person I know who understands the fullness of what’s going on in the universe around me. Everyone seems to be so caught up in detail, tradition.
You know, then I have the other side of my family who, rather than getting caught up in the rights and wrongs of which church to follow, won’t even let me mention church, God, Jesus, as that somehow offends their beliefs.
I hope we all learn to love and accept each other eventually. I love and accept each and every one of my true friends, my family. They are all so different, so are their beliefs, actions, ideals – I don’t try to repress that, or affect them forcefully with some kind of preaching. I chose to live by example, do as I feel, and the right people connect with me somehow along the way, at the right time, and we inspire each other.
“As the human body, which has many parts, is a unity, and those parts, despite their multiplicity, constitute one single body, so it is with Christ. For we were Jews, Greeks, slaves or free men, and we have all experience of the same Spirit. Now the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand I don’t belong to the body,’ does that alter the fact that the foot is part of the body? Or if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye I don’t belong to the body,’ does that mean that the ear really is no part of the body? After all, if the body were all one eye, for example, where would be the sense of hearing? Or if it were all one ear, where would be the sense of smell? But God has arranged all the parts in the one body according to his design. For if everything was concentrated in one part, how could there be a body at all? The fact is there are many parts, but only one body…” – Letters to Young Churches. 12. 12.
Perhaps, maybe, we really are all one body, fighting against each other part and denying what we are, denying our intrinsic connection to each other, our collective flow of blood and spirit, our one humanity, one earth, one spirit, one love.
I must briefly say that I thought about writing a post of this nature for quite some time, but whenever I came close I decided not to – I don’t really like to force my opinions on other people, ultimately my beliefs are just that – mine. Something for me. And whilst I like to share and express myself, artistically and emotionally, I would never want to make anybody feel unwelcome, somehow unwanted or judged. That’s simply not my game.
However, this comment, posted on my Collaborators page (which in itself reflects a sort of irony) prompted me to speak up.
It’s not the most abrasive comment, and I’ve certainly had worse on this site, but rather than block this one I thought I’d use it as an example, of exactly the kind of Christian I will never be…
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matthew. 7. 3.
7:1-6 “We must judge ourselves, and judge of our own acts, but not make our word a law to everybody. We must not judge rashly, nor pass judgment upon our brother without any ground. We must not make the worst of people. Here is a just reproof to those who quarrel with their brethren for small faults, while they allow themselves in greater ones.”
This is a message to you, the reader – Do not let the Great Pretenders and Liars bring you down. You are a beautiful soul, created in God’s own image. You are bold, you are brilliant. You are just the way He intended you to be. We all have our own journey to focus on, our own lessons and our own teachings to give. It is time to turn the mirror of judgment inwards to our own troubles and puzzles, our immaculate expression outwards toward the people, Our Humanity, and our hearts upwards toward God, for He is the One Love, and there is no heart at all without Love.
If you ever have any doubt as to how much you are loved, go out at night, look up to the sky, and really see what you are seeing
– a heavenly display, arranged across the entire sky for you and only you…
for in that moment, you are the only person in the world…
They can try, but they can’t take that away from us…