Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter weekend meditation / Something of a Zen koan / Long before the sky would open

... And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said, "All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them"
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with his mind ...
(Leonard Cohen, lyrics from "Suzanne")  

Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary.  It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.
(John Lennon)

... You don't need no passport
You don't need no visa
And you don't need to designate or emigrate
Before you can see Jesus ...

... You don't need no church house
And you don't need no temple
You don't need no rosary beads or them books to read
To see that you have fallen
If you open up your heart
You'll see he's right there
Always was and will be
He'll relieve you of your cares ...
(George Harrison, lyrics from "Awaiting On You All"-- 1970)

We don't ask for more cathedrals.  We don't ask for bigger churches or fine gifts.  ... We ask the Church to sacrifice with the people for social change, for justice, and for love of brother.  We don't ask for words. We ask for deeds.  We don't ask for paternalism. We ask for servanthood.
(Cesar Chavez -- Christian, farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist -- speaking in 1968)

If we are wrong, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a utopian dreamer that never came down to Earth.  If we are wrong, justice is a lie, love has no meaning.  And we are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
(Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking in 1955)

Sweet silver angels over the sea
Please come down flying low for me

One time I trusted a stranger
'Cause I heard His sweet song
It was gently enticing me, there was something wrong
When I turned, He was gone
Blinding me, His song remains reminding me
He's a bandit and a heart breaker
My Jesus was a cross maker.

Sweet silver angels over the sea
Please come down flying low for me

He wages war with the devil with a pistol by His side
He's always chasing him out of windows
And He won't give him a place to hide
But he keeps His door open wide
Fighting him, He lights a lamp inviting him
He's a bandit and a heart breaker
My Jesus was a cross maker.
Yeah, Jesus was a cross maker.
(Warren Zevon sang "Jesus Was A Cross Maker," written by Judee Sill)

Martin Scorsese's Jesus in "The Last Temptation of Christ" was a cross maker:

Judas:  If you were me, could you betray your master?
Jesus:  No.  That's why God gave me the easier job -- to be crucified.

Vietnamese Zen Buddhist, Thich Nhat Hanh wrote a book called Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers.  

Although I was raised as a Christian (first in the Lutheran Church and then in the Episcopal Church), I stopped going to church when I was 18 years old.  From that time on, I have explored many religions and spiritual traditions and am grateful for their teachings, but I have not chosen to affiliate myself with any of them.  

I do find the story of Jesus to be a mysterious and compelling one -- something of a Zen koan -- and I continue to listen with all my heart when certain people talk about their understanding of and trust in Jesus.


The Solitary Walker said...

This is so rich, and I will come back to your post and absorb more.

The very first thing which struck me was the relation between Jesus and fishermen and sailors and the sea (recalling too the Christian fish symbol). And I thought next of the Camino, and St James, and how he arrived in Santiago according to legend:

'Two versions of the most common myth about the origin of the (scallop shell) symbol concern the death of Saint James, who was martyred by beheading in Jerusalem in 44 CE. According to Spanish legends, he had spent time preaching the gospel in Spain, but returned to Judaea upon seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary on the bank of the Ebro River.

Version 1: After James's death, his disciples shipped his body to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. Off the coast of Spain, a heavy storm hit the ship, and the body was lost to the ocean. After some time, however, it washed ashore undamaged, covered in scallops.

Version 2: After James's death his body was mysteriously transported by a crewless ship back to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. As the ship approached land, a wedding was taking place on shore. The young groom was on horseback, and on seeing the ship approaching, his horse got spooked, and horse and rider plunged into the sea. Through miraculous intervention, the horse and rider emerged from the water alive, covered in seashells.

The scallop shell also acts as a metaphor. The grooves in the shell, which meet at a single point, represent the various routes pilgrims traveled, eventually arriving at a single destination: the tomb of James in Santiago de Compostela. The shell is also a metaphor for the pilgrim: As the waves of the ocean wash scallop shells up onto the shores of Galicia, God's hand also guides the pilgrims to Santiago.' WIKIPEDIA

There's a symbolic truth here about life, death and rebirth — in the story of Jesus, of St James and of the Camino pilgrims, who (metaphorically but sometimes literally) abandon their former lives, endure the punishingly hot plateau of the 'meseta', and are born to a new way of seeing in Santiago: the Way of Reflection, the Way of Penitence and the Way of Glory, as they call it. Truly the message of Easter.

And the last leg of the journey — for those dedicated enough — is the final push from Santiago to the ocean at Finisterra, 'the edge of the world'.

Nick said...

Mysterious and compelling indeed. The words you put on your page here brought me briefly to tears

Anonymous said...

Thank you for finding all these words and putting them here. The other day I heard some music that I found very haunting. It took me a little while to find it on youtube. It's a song from Godspell called "By My Side." Here it is:

Wikipedia says about this song: One woman is cast out as an adulteress. Jesus says: "Let the one of you who is faultless cast the first stone." Her accusers then bow their heads and walk away. Jesus walks over to her and asks: "Woman...where are they now? Has no one condemned you?" The woman answers: "No one, sir." He tells her: "Then nor shall I. You may go, but do not sin again." As she watches Jesus walk from her, she entreats him to remain "By My Side".

am said...

Solitary Walker --Thank you so much for making these connections and sharing them here.

Nick -- I am moved by your comment. Thank you for continuing to visit here.

robin andrea -- Interesting that you happened to hear that music from Godspell. Thank you for the link. I've heard of Godspell but that's all. I'd like to see it.