You’re Forgiven, You’re Free –
Woke up with a bad headache this morning. After finishing some work I laid down on the couch and closed my eyes. As I rested I thought about the Kavanagh/Ford dueling testimonies yesterday. An image based on the Gospel, According to Saint John, Chapter 8:4-11 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+8%3A4-11&version=NRSV) came to mind.
In the story overzealous, law-abiding, religious leaders bring a woman caught in adultery. They want to know what Jesus thinks should be done. Instead of quoting statutes, arrogant platitudes and taking sides, he instead bends down and begins writing in the sand. (Legend states he was writing down the sins of those who stood around demanding justice be done.) Jesus, never looking up says; “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” He hears nothing but the thud of stones as the accusers leave. He then stands asks the woman where her accusers had gone, she didn’t know, and he told her to; “Go and sin no more.” (You’re free.)
Between dreaming and thinking I saw in my mind Jesus going in to the Senate Confirmation Hearing yesterday. There’s no sand so he brings a White Board. Everyone’s bewildered and irritated at this man causing a scene and taking up their precious time and those watching. This is important! Cameras are flashing, capturing it all for the world to see. The protest gets louder and then Jesus begins writing. First the White Board is facing the politicians, then the reporters, finally the seated crowd behind the two victims and accusers. He finally looks away from the board to the crowd and says: “Let she or he who is without sin be the first to judge.” He turns to the Judicial Nominating Committee and adds; “Or cast a “yes”, “no” vote.” One by one the politicians, reporters, onlookers, and anyone else in the room leave. Now Jesus stares at the two people, human beings, who are both being used one way or another. He speaks in a calm, loving, voice; “You are free. You are forgiven. Both of you go and sin no more.”
In my dream, I can’t see which one he says what to but I’m sure he’s speaking to us all!
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This morning, following the children’s time in the church service, the pastor gave out Tootsie Roll Pops to all the kids. While he was passing them out he said; “The only rule about these is you cannot run while they are in your mouth!” Made sense. Anyone with a chunk of candy attached to a paper stick could choke themselves if they tripped and fell lodging the sucker in their throat. The kids did what I would have done; pulled off the wrapping and put the candy in their mouths. They walked back to their seats careful to heed the pastor’s words of warning.
I reflected on the warning of the pastor, running with a tasty treat but also a choking hazard. There are times when we have a good word or tasty gossip on the tip of our tongue. We want to run and tell someone the good news or the tantalizing tidbit. Instead of first being mindful and still, being thoughtful and thankful for the blessing, or hearing a salacious piece of fact or fiction from someone we rush to the next waiting ear to spill all the details. We forget or don’t care that careless words hurt people.
Words are life-giving and soul-crushing. We must be careful how we use them.
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Hearing is Believing –
A driver slid off the road during a snowstorm. His cellphone was useless and so he walked until he found a house with an old mule munching on some hay near a barn in the backyard. He knocked on the door of the house and a farmer answered. The man explained his predicament and the farmer said he’d help. The farmer put on a coat, exited the house and walked over to the old mule, put a bridle on it and the three walked back to the car. As they were traveling the driver of the car wondered if the old mule could be of much help. They arrived back at the car and the farmer turned the mule around, attached the rope it carried to the car and to the mule and began yelling; “Go, Joe, go, Fred, go, Jim, go Barney!” The old mule pulled as hard as it could and the car slowly came out of the ditch and back on the road. The driver was amazed and thanked the farmer profusely! Before he drove off he had one question he had to ask the farmer. “Why,’ he inquired, ‘when the mule was pulling the car, did you yell; Go, Joe, go, Fred, go, Jim, go Barney?” “Well,’ replied the old farmer scratching his chin and then petting the mule. ‘Ol’ Barney here doesn’t see too good and I knew if he thought he was pulling by himself he’d never believe he could do it. So, I made him think he was on a team so he’d have the confidence he needed to get the job done.”
Wisdom teaches us that we are never alone. Whatever the situation, it is never so dire that whether we can see it or not, the help we need is there to do what needs to be done.
What Did You Hear?
Listening is an art form. It has to do with more than hearing words. It also hears silences, tones and the organizations of words into sentences and questions. Listening is wanting to hear what the other is saying and being willing for those words to impact, challenge, and change the listener. Listening is not, however, always agreeing with the other. You can listen and believe differently than what the other is saying but you listen out of respect.
A friend of mine a few weeks ago was telling me about a conversation he had with a dear friend and said; “It didn’t go the way I planned!” His friend became upset with the conversation. I asked my friend; “Did you ask your friend what she had heard you say?” “No,’ he replied, ‘Why?” “Because,’ I said, “She might have heard something completely different from what you were saying.”
It’s amazing but communicating with others is a combination of listening, speaking, processing, projecting, interpreting and understanding. When one of these is missing the connection with the other can be lost, disrupted and the moment can never be repeated.
Listening is a sacred act, do it well.
Genuine Voice –
This morning I walked outside and across the road, in a large field, was a herd of cattle. Straggling behind was a small calf seemingly looking for its mother. I cupped my hands around my mouth and gave my best and loudest; “Mooooooo!” The calf stopped and looked over in my direction and; “Moooed!” back. Before I could return the moo, another adult cow, possibly mom, mooed and grabbed the calf’s attention. I took a deep breath and; “Moooed” one more time but the calf was no longer paying attention to me. It had heard the genuine call, its mother’s voice, and I was a poor substitute not worth the time or effort.
Wisdom teaches us that there are many voices calling out to us, pulling us in several directions, seeking to confuse us, lead us away from peace and guidance. To know the genuine voice, the one which will lead us in love toward our purpose is vital if we are to follow the good path, the way we should go. This comes from a relationship with the One to whom the voice belongs. The voice of truth wants to lead us but hearing it, knowing it, recognizing it, only comes through our connection with the divine.