The Worst Thing…

“The worst thing we ever did
was put God in the sky
out of reach
pulling the divinity
from the leaf,
sifting out the holy from our bones,
insisting God isn’t bursting dazzlement
through everything we’ve made
a hard commitment to see as ordinary,
stripping the sacred from everywhere
to put in a cloud man elsewhere,
prying closeness from your heart.
The worst thing we ever did
was take the dance and the song
out of prayer
made it sit up straight
and cross its legs
removed it of rejoicing
wiped clean its hip sway,
its questions,
its ecstatic yowl,
its tears.
The worst thing we ever did is pretend
God isn’t the easiest thing
in this Universe
available to every soul
in every breath”
Chelan Harkin
From her poetry book ‘Susceptible to Light’

photo by S. Isaac Kellogg, 2020, all rights reserved

Blessed are…

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called…” the masculine children of divinity, depending on which version of the Bible you may read. And yet many are those of varying gender identifications who make peace by the way they live their lives. Some stay real with themselves about their growth processes, seeking out accountability and listening to those who can constructively school them on their need for change, their toxic exceptionalism and passive/aggressive denial of systemic oppression. Some simply live it out, opening their hearts and minds to the viewpoints and lives of those who will expand their minds to move beyond the status quo, the status quo that lulls us all to sleep when our wakefulness is most needed. We are a many-varied and colorful tribe of humans hoping towards fulfillment on different levels as we struggle to recover from the oppressive backlash of centuries of authoritarianism and the resulting mindset. Some of us seek our recovery by means conducive to capturing truth, fostering freedom and encouraging growth and prosperity for everyone as we confront our demons, the darkness we all wrestle when egos clash and righteous rage collides with denial and judgement. And we wonder, “is it righteous, really?”. Apparently, according to the wise ones, we are all acting out in the wake of trauma. Some of us embody the traumatizers, and some of us war against them, but we all began in the oppressive authoritarianism that ultimately seeks to destroy soul. No one with even just a modicum of awareness will deny that abusers have been abused and neither will they deny that some who’ve been abused manage to avoid the abuser’s program through hard, painfully aware work.

The problem I have with identifying us all as victims of trauma is that such an identification could be seen as a uniting truth when there are those of the grand us who are not wanting actual unity or truth. (Truth like, love is what we do and not simply what we feel. And truth like, we’re all valuable, precious human beings. Not “truth” like, there is one God and one way and those who don’t believe will burn. Not “truth” like, we say so and so it is so.) So, sure, we’re all victims of trauma, participants in reactions against the power-over model of authority. But we’re not all growing and we’re not all seeking accountability, and on the other side of it all, we’re not all perpetuating violent and destructive acts that divide us. These distinctions deserve regard because they distinguish between those who seek to empower others and those who seek power over others, even if only vicariously.

While it’s likely true that those who are openly seeking dominion over others are victims of trauma, my experience in moving from a place of forgiveness and understanding with this slice of the population has only netted me betrayal, slander, loss, isolation and more trauma. I literally unknowingly signed up, in the name of forgiveness, unity and hope, for another round of soul-bruising loss. I thought my faith in love would prevail. It did not. I’ve learned that you can’t afford to smile and approach abused abusers with the assumption they want to actually be anything other than what they are. You can’t project your own hope for a truly noble, truly valuable, truly life-affirming legacy onto those who are “in the same boat” with you. It’s just not that simple. It’s like inviting Leviathan to tea and hoping the beast won’t be a beast. Sure, we all came from the same sea but some of us are walking on two legs and hoping to not regress to more beastly behavior while others of us are glorifying the beast by way of denial-based, narrative-skewing belief systems. The perversion of truth and rationality is unprecedented. Shift blame, redirect focus and make the victim pay. But hey, we’re all in this together? As much as we may technically be in this together, trauma bonds as they are, we are at least as much not in this together in unity, and we are not going to experience true unity with each other when anyone in the boat is eagerly perpetuating the power-over authoritarian model of “community”. The best we can do is sit on the other side of the boat and pray that our work to end generational carnage actually takes while hoping those on the other side finally wake up and join us in the work for emancipation from oppression.

And writers and historians like Rebecca Solnit help me solidify and give voice to what I see and feel during this epic time of both loss and hopeful growth here in the US. Solnit’s following expression fills up the gaps made real by a confusion of intentions on a boat adrift in the wild sea of meaning.

“The middle ground is not halfway between Nazis and antiracists. The reasonable position is not a compromise between rapists and feminists, slaveowners and abolitionists, Natives and General Crook. The truth is not midway between the liar and the truthteller. That has to be a factor in all those calls for reaching out and unity. The murderer and his intended victim don’t have to agree on what’s right. The people who were harmed don’t have to reach out to those who did the harming. The people who told the truth don’t need to make liars feel better about themselves or what they said. Those who were targeted by this war don’t have to do all the peacemaking. If reaching out and finding unity is good, the haters and liars can go find some olive branches and apologies and do the work to leave their will to destroy the rest of us behind. Then it begins. The party of hate never had a mandate; they lost the popular vote last time and this time; they may think of themselves as the real American and the gatekeepers but we don’t have to, and we don’t have to enter their gates or play by their rules. We don’t have to hate them either, but we don’t have to protect them from the consequences of their choices or sell out our principles for their comfort. When you stand on the ground of truth and justice, let others find their way to you. If you stand firm, many will in the end. Not everyone will; that does not change what truth and justice are.” Rebecca Solnit

When loving…

When loving is denounced as liberal radicalism and the streets are smeared with pepper spray as children and parents retreat to their homes after being assaulted by authorities hellbent on smashing support for long-overdue change, then we’ve arrived at a time of gross darkness. When those who hold their Bibles with fervent reverence sneer at “libtards” who are guilty of wanting to feed the hungry, then we’ve come to that moment of masks falling away and the love of idol and icon embraced in the name of One who would weep at the carnage posing Christlike behavior. So much for the loaves and the fishes, the loving thy neighbor, no. See, that’s too liberal for the Jesus folk. If thy neighbor is not exactly right next door and not the exactly right American gun-toting Christian, then the greatest commandment doesn’t apply and you can vote for the man who mocks the disabled, openly disrespects, disdains and tramples actual value while you tell yourself you’re fightin’ fer the kingdumb. If you can sit with rapists, worship a criminal posing president, but sneer at those who want to protect value, then you are on the top of a dung heap whilst claiming great righteous real estate in the One Way. Oh the fantasies so many abide as they ignore the stench of their foundations, as the whole world watches their dumbing down any notion of faith. So, since all I can do is wonder and weep as the people I used to break bread with claim their false truth, the one exceptionalist “truth” we all must embrace or be stalked by Trump trains and MAGA refrains ’cause well, Jesus, since it’s more than I can face without going mute, I’m going to turn this post over to a quote from a woman who has a more measured command of the state of things than I do in this hour and who states critical aspirations and affirmations essential to furthering the actual works of love without stringing too many words together in one sentence after another long wordy sentence.

“Let us denounce authoritarianism, racism, sexism and disregard for science and our common health and safety. Let us defend this beautiful planet. Let us voice that tearing nursing children from the arms of their mothers at the border is not an American value. Let us affirm that caring for one another, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and elderly is not socialism, it is a deeply honorable community and spiritual practice. Let us speak up and affirm that we would not put up with bullying, name calling and abusive behavior in our work or lives or homes—and so we should not allow it such traits and actions to go unchecked in the highest office in our land. Let us be centered in love, but be firm and clear and brave. This is the most important election of my lifetime. This is one of those moments when silence would equal implied agreement and consent—and I do not consent.” Carrie Newcomer

Salvation

Semi-cultic subcultures wanna love you, baby.
They wanna show you the way and draw you to their great God, Jesus,
showcasing his masterpiece affliction, the covid19 pestilence,
an example of his latest work to call people to him.

Ain’t nuthin’ better than a viral attraction to the best God. Ever.
He must love us, see, ‘cause if we don’t do right,
he gonna kill us all.

See, now you know it’s love, when it’s open wide or die.
Yeah, man, they got the viral meme for sure.

See they hug rapists and invite them to dinner.
Say one thing won’t happen and do it anyway.
Invite you to forgive them for violating you for decades.
And they just don’t understand how they got to where they are today
where you won’t hug them or come out to play.

They don’t know when you push that gas pedal,
and steer in that direction you will most definitely arrive
at that exact location,

‘Cause they got it all upside down and inside out
with shame for the one who made an appearance after being invited by a court to do so
and nothing but cutesy terms of endearment for the man who raped their daughter.
Over and over again.

Wear the badge of honor, Ruth.
Wear it proudly and loudly.
They are ashamed of you.
These who see love thus.
These who can do no wrong.
These who lie, claim Christ falsely and have mutilated their own souls.
They find you an embarrassment.

Glory to Goddess, you are finally saved.

 

Season’s Christalizations

“I love Jesus. I love the Pagan Solstice Christmas pine. I love Mother Earth, I love Goddess Shakti. I love my Buddha-heart. I love freedom from religious authority. I love the perfect consistency of my contradictions. I love luscious berries of fire and mistletoe clustered on the cross of paradox. I love the tree of life, where I am ripening fruit. I love the newborn sun.

And I love what my body says to my soul. ‘Every particle of me is made of Matter, Mater, Mother Dust, each atom a cathedral where pilgrims arrive from the stars to celebrate the miracle of flesh. O my soul, You irradiate the world through me. I am your dance. Let there be no more talk of our difference.’ And so after thousands of years of religious combat, my body and my soul are Christalized in one magnum mysterium.

And where does this mystery occur? In the nameless roadside shrine of my chest, in a flame that never stops burning yet has never been lit until Now. Here I celebrate the birth of God, who is this Breath.” Fred LaMotte

 

photo by j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2019

The Bee Mistress

Found this lovely spin via Stray Letters from the Moon…

I
do not
believe in
God because I’ve
never seen him. If he
wanted me to believe in him,
then surely he would come and speak
with me. He would come in through my door
saying, ‘Here I am!’ But if God is the hive and
the honeybee, and pollen and nectar and sun and moon,
then I believe in her and I believe in her at every moment, and my
life is a prayer and a celebration and a communion with the eyes
and through the ears. I honor her by living spontaneously,
as a woman who opens her eyes and truly sees, and
I call her the hive and the honeybee and pollen
and sun and moon, and I love her
without thinking of her, and
I think of her by seeing
and hearing, and
I am with her,
I.

The Bee Mistress – Simon Buxton’s The Shamanic Way of the Bee

Thanks Pierre…

Not Your Business…

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it.

“It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”

Quote by biographer Agnes de Mille in “Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham”

The world experienced a unique expression of vitality in the active life of someone I loved from a young age. And sometimes I circle ’round and ’round the conundrum in my mind created by the somewhat immature conflict over why it is I can be so very glad he did what he did when I don’t share in the basic premise of his beliefs, that we have all sinned and fallen short. But I land on this quote and find the conundrum is only in my mind.

The soul makes sense no rational thought can fully comprehend.

The one who had such a profound effect on many, and died this past Friday, was very much a “Christ-in-you,” highly religious person but oftentimes with an undercurrent of Zen flow. John was more like a highly believing inspiration. And it was a challenge to fathom that combination of Zen Christ-likeness. And in retrospect, I cannot fathom except through this quote.

“There is a vitality. A life force. A quickening.”

And in this one man, it was contagious. It came through and was received by many as a call to Christ. And when I walked away from what I had embraced of the semi-fundie world I formerly resided, that which came through was not completely lost. Love remained. Acceptance remained. The same soulful transaction took place but my “receptors” had changed. This is not true of everyone I’ve encountered from my past life. Their channels are clogged with judgement and fear. His were not.

We often, if not always, translate who we are by the sometimes ancient, sometimes recent code of dependency, particularly dependency on beliefs or thoughts we are either intentionally or unintentionally embracing. And in that translation, the world either rejects or embraces us. Or is ambivalent. John mostly experienced hearty acceptance and he embodied what is best known of Christ, beyond the ultimate sacrifice. He loved regardless of ________.

I have no stomach for sin-fixation or a basic premise of need for a savior. But in the celebration of John’s life, the undeniable reality shines through all the confusing mental riddles. He translated the life force we all partake of and that translation imparted hope, strength, a desire to live outside of fear and in love. Both in and out of the realms of semi-fundie confusion. He said often “You are the Your Name Here expression of Jesus.” And many were blown away by it. It set aside the “WWJD” fixation and required a personal expression of Christ. In my view, both in and out of that particular flavor of Christianity, it is the purest form of Christian practice, evoking the highest possible walk of integrity within the structure of that religion and it has my high regard.

And so today I came across this quote again from a source supreme. And I found peace in the words not because they solved the riddle as much as because they pointed me to the reality of soul, of life force and of how it is we can receive the best from those we may not totally agree with and we can receive because there is that life force nourishing us within and beyond all belief systems.

“Keep the channel open.” He was able to keep the channel open through his faith in Christ. And not many, in and out of Christianity, have found a way to keep that channel open. His life and passing into the next grand adventure reminds me that we don’t know what we think we know. “Christianity is bad because it…” The truth is, when we are sick within, whatever we embrace will be corrupted by that sickness until we face it, heal it and translate life anew. Whether we’re heavy into our atheism or our religion or…

Keep the channel open…accept who you are without denying how you’ve fallen short (we all do, whether we believe there’s this thing called “sin” or not) and…

stay in love.

Truth Fetish?

‎”Nothing should stand between yourself and God. Not imims, priests, rabbis, or any other custodians of moral or religious leadership. Not spiritual masters, not even your faith. Believe in your values and your rules, but never lord them over others. If you keep breaking other people’s hearts, whatever religious duty you perform is no good. Stay away from all sorts of idolatry, for they will blur your vision. Let God and only God be your guide. Learn the Truth, my friend, but be careful not to make a fetish out of your truths.” Shams Tabrizi

Take Up My Cross

All your light casting, shadows me more fully,
cloaking every edge in protective dark,
these tools for tilling soil now barely discernible under cover cast in glaring goodness burning holes in the earth,
drying up precious liquid love ‘til all the corners beg and weep for mercy,
tears shedding grace where your face makes black all my light, churns the wells dry with your truth cruel,
condemning,
gloating over all my dreams as if,
as if they know no purity ‘neath the paltry structures granted me in my night,
all I had to work with, condemned for using what I had,
detested for making the most of what my eyes could see,
shaking hands now grime-covered in your blaring sun,
hands spent completely in the dirt so true.

Such unrelenting illumination blind and blinding to all that is precious.

Fly me to the moon, away from your ugly righteousness,
away from the crucifixion of divinity inherent,
flayed in the light of the only true way,
mocked in the surety of your refusal to see me,
lost to all the light you had to be,

shining so fully on the “obvious,”
missing the stuff, the substance,
the pulsing bone and home,
the am that I am.

Take up my cross, and set me down in moonlight,
cover me in dew ‘neath trees left to their soil,
arms gracing air, reaching for the night,
strip me of these garments cloaking,
woven in blaring light…

take me to
the love
that loves while seeing,
nurtures while correcting,
adores the inherent goodness beneath the flaws,
take me to the shade cool,

to the place made beautiful in the dance of light and dark, of soul’s sweetest song…