This parable has moved around in different forms and attributed to Native Americans...difficult to confirm or deny...their legends and stories were passed spoken out loud more often than documented. Wisdom and stories that are wrapped in human flesh and voice and propelled by love for ourselves and others resonate for generations and find their way into our souls this day:
An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life...
"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.
"One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.
"The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
"This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
"Which wolf will win?"
The old chief simply replied,
"The one you feed."
I sat in a synagogue last night among people of a variety of different faiths who had come to hear The Rev. William Barber speak. The rabbi of the synagogue greeted us. Thanked us for coming. He stood between two walls with the huge words of two Old Testament passages. The ones that say...live justly, do mercy, walk humbly with thy God and be a light to all nations." Both the rabbi and The Rev. Barber spoke of a need for our sense of individual relationship with what is true and our responsibility to be a light. He spoke of a need for new language or, at least, a way that we frame the language of our toxic discourse. He challenged us to move away from speaking of left vs. right, white vs color, women vs men, straight vs gay, Christian vs Jew vs Muslim. He challenged us all to move closer to what informs our moral core, to ask ourselves and then one another, "Does this action honor the love of God?" Arguing left vs. right will only increase our divide. He challenged us to return to the language of right vs. wrong. We will still argue, especially in this climate, of the interpretation of right and wrong. But it was a clarion call for people of all faiths to reclaim the public arena. To stop being silent. To speak what we believe is right and wrong. I have been a member of the clergy for over 37 years and I confess I have lacked the courage in the public arena and even in private conversations to speak the truth. I have leaned on walking humbly and interpreted that as silence. I have not spoken out with courage in order to keep the peace. There is time for weeping in silence over the injustice we experience and witness. There is a time for shouting out loud for justice. We called to cry like Rachel over her children who are no more and we are called not to betray one another and our God with silence. We are risking the integrity of our souls by keeping silent.
If our earth were a car, we would never put our children in it no matter how safely we strapped them in. It is a fragile chunk of molten matter and primordial ooze and mysterious creation hurtling through space, whatever space is, at a trajectory that is blistering. At any moment a sun flare could fart lethal clouds in our direction blowing up our power grid for decades and leaving us dying in the dark. And how we are using this vehicle is hastening its demise. I am weary of those people who claim to care about a child's right to be born only later to watch those fragile ones become victims of our thoughtlessness, this planet's dangers and the cruelty of its inhabitants. Was it all so that they could smugly say, "Hey, Kid, don't blame me for your suffering. You should thank me for strapping you into this vehicle that is 'unsafe at any speed.' Your suffering is not my problem." When did we become each other's problems and not fellow planet occupants? Was it the moment we declared what is good and not good? A creation story tells us that the creator gave us the privilege of giving everything a name. But each creation already had a name. It is good. We are killing butterflies because we declare mosquitos "Not good." A fly got trapped inside my house yesterday and died later, I imagine exhausted, at the bottom of a window. It is good. My dog ate the carcass. It is good. My dog will likely puke it up later this afternoon. It is good. I will clean up the puke. It is good. I believe in a being that listens and loves. There is a being who does not say to me or the butterflies or the dog or the fly, "Hey, Kid, don't blame me." There is one who cleans up after my puke and keeps creating, strapping us in for the bumpy right, hoping for the best. It is good. And so am I. And so are you.
ELOGOS is written by Deb Grant, Houston, Texas. Replies to ELOGOS are read only by Deb. ELOGOS can be read on TWITTER(@ELOGOSbyPDeb), FACEBOOK(Deb Grant), WEBSITE BLOG(elogosdailydevotions.com).Grant's websites: www.jazzwater.com and www.elogosdailydevotions.com and her Etsy shop: Jazzwater
I did not intend to be absent from ELOGOS for these last days. It was a hickup in technology. My attempt to de-clutter and re-order and tidy apparently disturbed the techie gods from high atop the thingy. It all comes down to money though. One company wanted to keep their revenue flow from my little pockets and did their level best to make me give up my quest of cleaning up my internet house and having the audacity to shop for the same service at a better price. This was probably more information than you wanted or were interested in hearing. You should have seen the details I threw into whatever landfill in the internet universe collects my trash box when I click it politely. I should be grateful for having trash I can empty without thinking about whether or not my scruffy morning appearance hauling my trash can outside will scare the neighbors. The different species of birds are fighting at my feeder now. Life goes on. We deal with our hickups. Take out the trash. We fight over what we declare as ours alone including the truth. We reach, when we are wise, for something greater than ourselves to hold on to, especially when everything is so uncertain. In the words of the great "theologian" Tennessee Williams, "Sometimes there is God, so quickly." May it be so with you today.
I opened an Etsy shop to sell my woodcrafts and art to raise some funds for the ongoing rebuilding effort from Hurricane Harvey, yes we are still rebuilding and your help is appreciated. The Etsy shop is named Jazzwater. Thank you for checking it out and sharing it with those you know.
Peace & Joy,
Today is the Spring Equinox. You don't have to know exactly what that means to know that it is hopeful. It speaks of some blessed consistency - the earth spinning, seasons changing, a hint of renewal, a candle in the darkness.
Recently when I have been nosing around in the manure of the details of this present time, I was reminded to "Google Earth" - to draw the lens of my spirit out from my debilitating focus to a more sweeping view.
I drew this card yesterday. It will be a part of a series of cards I am designing one by one, line by line, view by view preparing to offer soon in an Etsy shop for the greater good.
We can get lost in the details. We can think the candle we light does not matter. We can "Google Earth" and remember we all live here right now. Together. Brought together by divine spark and gravity. Things we can't mess up even if we tried. That thought alone is pretty terrific.
I would like to make a radical proposal.
Close your Bible.
Just for a day.
Do not open it to a random page hoping the God of Random Pages will direct you to your secret message for the day.
Do not parse the verb tense or guess at the proper translation of the language of the ancient ones.
Do not play Bible verse ping-pong with people with differing opinions about "What the Bible Says"
Let the Bible be.
Just for a day.
Let it be words from ancient ones who cared enough about us to write something for us to read.
Then close the Bible.
Just for a day.
Be the Word of God pulled through the synapses,
the divine spark,
and the holy mystery of who you are today.
Today if you are
Weary or bullied
Confronted with injustice or victimized
Standing in front of a bigot
Or a broken one...
Be the Word of God.
Do what the ancient ones did.
Use your own grace-flavored words.
Pull love through your gut for
the sake of the one
in your presence today.
re·sil·ience | \ ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s \
Definition of resilience
1 : the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
2 : an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change
I take exception to this definition of RESILENCE. It is not a noun and recovery does not come easily. It is a person with a name and a face and a life. I met resilence a few days ago. Her name is Anna. She lives in the tiny portion of her house that was not destroyed after the hurricane hit 18 months ago. She is finally rebuilding little by little. After the storm, she took care of family down the road and then many other neighbors before turning to her own needs. She said that serving others was her way of coping with stress and despair. She showed me her living room that had two by four wood wall studs showing and the center was stacked with sheets of new drywall waiting for installation when they had time. She showed me her living room like some people would show their newly remodeled home. What looked like unlivable conditions months away from being completed looked to her like hope and renewal. RESILENCE is not a noun. It is a person named Anna. There are thousands like her. Hurricanes turn nouns into flesh and heartbeats.
John Donne wrote: "Never send for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee." He wrote about how every person is a part of the continent, the mainland, the planet that we share. Towns would toll bells when there was a death. Whether or not we know the person or how esteemed(or not) the person may be, the person has value. A jet crashed in Ethiopia. There were no survivors. An article I read this morning asked the question: What will it take for us to be affected by this crash? That we knew someone on board? That they were a celebrity? That we read a book they wrote? That one person out of many were citizens of our country? Our race? Our gender? Our age? Those who walked this tender place with us a few days ago, are gone. Are they worth the time for taking a breath? A moment of feeling their emptiness or their family's grief. What will it take for us to breathe outside ourselves and perhaps, become more gently human by their absence?
Today, I offer a poem. I wrote poetry a lot when I was a child until the adults told me to consider a more appropriate profession for a woman. They suggested a nurse or a secretary. I thought about being a secretary. For about an hour. Maybe less.
Choose a subject.
Write a biography.
He died in prison.
His lungs filled with infection.
He drowned in bed.
A public servant.
A thief in plain sight
Overcharging for plumbing.
Silencing the outraged
with food and books.
Millions stolen from public pockets
Millions spent for structures
No money for bail,
But he kept escaping.
He was brilliant.
A parable of power and greed
That no one cares to read
So I chose Boss Tweed.
Perhaps to learn
How corruptible we are.
-Deb Grant, 3/8/19
There are seasons when being reminded of one's mortality is a good thing. Humanity does get rather full of itself. Some humans more than others. Dust you are and to dust you shall return. It is the great equalizer in an unequal world. We become carbon residue no matter who we are, how we have lived, what we own or who we love. Those words over the years have given me pause and then....I wash the dust off and I am unchanged. As I watched the smoke of my morning candle rise, I heard myself say, "Remember you are light and to light you shall return." I am light. I didn't make it. But I am quite capable of contributing to the dust which is always ready to gobble us up and being light for the sake of others sitting in the dust. We are dust and light. This isn't a competition. This is who we are. It is who we are becoming.
Peace and Joy,
Thank you for your patience. Since retiring from parish ministry, I have been intentional about what I embrace and what I let go for this present season of my life. Writing ELOGOS is one of those things I want to continue. But I will be changing it. It will evolve much like I am evolving into this new personal time and the present age for all of us. ELOGOS started about 25 years ago as a quick, short, pithy devotion based on 1-2 Bible verses for college students who had no patience with hitting a down key to scroll on their first generation cell phones or pagers. The phones have dramatically changed and so have I. There is much more fluidity to life than stability.
So for this season, I will continue writing ELOGOS. It will happen as frequently as I can make it happen. I can't promise every day. I may surprise myself. It will not be based on the Biblical lectionary texts for the upcoming Sunday. That is a part of the fabric of parish ministry that I have stepped away from. I will use different mediums for my place to swim a bit in the present waters of light, mystery, and wisdom. I have no idea what that will look like, but that is the fun of it.
If I have disappointed you and lost you already, I wish you well on your journey of faith and thank you for letting me walk with you for however long you have been reading ELOGOS. Do feel free to unsubscribe or send a message to that effect and I will do it for you. Three volumes of past ELOGOS devotions are still available in print or Kindle from Amazon. The ELOGOS website: elogosdailydevotions.com has about 5 years worth in the archives if you wish.
For the rest of you, Thank you. Let me know what you think, feel, ponder. I will do the same.