"...I am fully alive and flying with faith soaring above the clouds creating what will be from what is not yet and meeting God in me and all around me. I dance with the doubt so I can fly with the faith."
From "Dancing Into Doubt, Flying Into Faith" Diana Wilcox ⓒ 2010

Monday, March 26, 2012

We Must Die

I once was blessed with a visit from a monarch butterfly.  One of its wings was tattered, and as I stood there in a crowd at a summer festival, it took a moment to rest on my chest.  It stayed there for quite awhile, and then it continued on its journey.  I know that this was a message of transformation in my life, and I am often brought back to this memory at this time of year.  Next Sunday, Western Christianity will begin Holy Week, when we experience the death and resurrection of Christ in a most profound and deeply moving way.  But if we were to view death as being something solely related to the body, than we would be missing the point.

In this past Sunday's gospel reading, Jesus says to his disciples, "Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12:24, NRSV).  As he often does, he is speaking on two levels.  Yes, he is going to be put to death, and in his death, new life will grow.  But there is another death, one that all of us must undergo if we are to truly live our lives as people of God.  We must die to our fear.

Fear is what holds us back from welcoming the stranger.  Fear is what strangles us from speaking out against injustice.  Fear is what binds us in a poverty of spirit that darkens our very soul.  And it is that darkened soul that spews forth acts of violence, both verbal and physical, against others.  It is the breeding ground of ignorance and hate.

Earlier this month, a teenager, Trayvon Martin, was killed.  In the 911 calls, the man who killed him seemed consumed with fear, and even though he was told not to follow Trayvon, he did...and he shot him. 

There is a play touring now called "8" that depicts the courtroom testimony in the account of the Federal District Court trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the case filed to overturn Prop. 8, which eliminated marriage equality in California.  The television cameras were blocked from the original trial after the defendants (those opposing marriage equality) fought to keep them out.  Why?  Because, as is clear when one hears the testimony, what was being put on trial there was fear and hate.

Like the butterfly, who must die to its former life as a caterpillar in order to be born anew with the ability to fly, we must also die.

We must die to our fears in order to live fully into who we are as children of God.  Just as in baptism we die into Christ's death and are re-born into Christ's life, we must die to all that binds us, all that traps us in a life of hate, violence, and anger toward our brothers and sisters on this earth - and for that matter, for all of creation.  We must die to our ignorance, our willingness to look away from the horrors of our actions in the world against other human beings, helpless creatures, the land, the sea, and the air.  

And when we die to the fear, we will be reborn to a life of light and love.  We will see the stranger as our brother or sister, the animals in the world as part of a flock over which we watch, and the earth as a precious gift.  Imagine a world such as that! 

Wishing you all the blessings of a Holy Week that brings you into the fullness of death and the resurrection to come.  May the transformation bring new life to you, that you may fly with the wind!

Chaplain Diana

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Conversations With God

The following is from a Lenten Meditation that I wrote for the Episcopal Diocese of Newark - Christian Formation Commission, and I thought I'd share it with all of you.  For more of their work, go to this website:  http://www.dioceseofnewark.org/cfc

I cry aloud to God, I cry aloud to the One who will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I sought after God;  

my hands were stretched out by night and did not tire; 
I refused to be comforted.
I think of God, I am restless; 

I ponder, and my spirit faints.
Psalm 77:1-3 (The St. Helena Psalter)


In this Lenten time it is hoped that we pray and reflect on the cross that is to come and on our lives as Christians.  It is likely that many of us experience what the Psalmist here is describing, a restlessness in prayer - a sense of the conversation being one sided.  Perhaps this stems from our looking at prayer as having a purpose, meaning that it must involve asking or thanking God for something.  Do we always have a purpose when we get together with a friend?  What if we were to look at prayer as a conversation with a friend - the greatest friend of all - our God?  How would that change us?  How would that change our relationship with prayer? 

Today, take a moment to enter into a conversation with God, to spend a moment in stillness, remembering that God is always present, and that we just need to pause for a moment to embrace the divinity that is within and all around us.  And, if you struggle to find a way to center the mind in this way, try repeating a simple prayer like the one below, allowing the rhythm of your breathing and the tempo of your heart to open your soul to God, who is longing to spend quality time with you.


My God, my friend, I am here, be with me.

Wishing you all the blessings of a Holy Lent.

Chaplain Diana