Gradually, yet consistently and persistently, I have come to experience that the world we, humans, have been trying to build, or re-capture, or co-create; the Eden we have felt cast out of, exists now, has existed from the beginning and will continue to exist. We cannot build it, we cannot actually destroy it either. It is the only real realm that exists. The realms/societies/empires that we have created are illusory, though real in their capacity to cause unnecessary pain and suffering* and the destruction of the physical matrix of life as we know it, here on Earth.
What we can and have done is conceal or reveal this Kin-dom, by the actions we take and even the thoughts we have. Day by day, minute by minute, we do things that either reveal this reality or conceal it. I suppose there is a third thing, or way of describing what we do or can do and that is that we can witness the concealment or the revelation. (Currently the BLACK LIVES MATTER and the Movement for Black Lives are witnessing, strongly, to what is concealing the Kin-dom**, e.g. police brutality, mass incarceration and persistent white supremacy in all its hidden and blatant forms.) Perhaps it is important to say that this can also be described as: we can notice, discover, uncover, elicit, recognize, acknowledge, or invite the Kin-dom. Can we evoke it? or even provoke it? We can cover it over, bury, hide, and deny it. We can witness to its being covered over, hidden and denied. But it is here, now, and can be neither created nor destroyed.
But what then of human creativity? Are we not, as some have proclaimed, co-creators, with the Divine, of this new Eden? Are we not called, as many Quakers say, to build the Kingdom of Heaven on earth? Are we not longing to build the Beloved Community?*** Humans are, by our nature, creative. In fact, I would say that even more than language, it is our creativity, that defines us as human. In the Old Testament, God says, “Let us make man[sic] in our image”; it is our creativity that is most god-like. Often the very best artists, and even scientists when asked to describe their creativity, or the creative process, say something like, “I get out of the way and allow it to come through me.” Or as sculptors have been known to say, “I am taking away the wood or stone, and revealing what is already there, or what wants to be known…” Perhaps, then, our most true creativity comes through us, more than from us. Though, to be sure , it would not happen at all were we not present.
Yes, that may just be it! Our presence is necessary for the creativity of the Divine to manifest in the particular human aspect of Life. Are we present? Are we present to the Kin-dom in us and among us? Are we present to G!d?
We are fond of the concept of cause and effect, as a species. This causes that. It is especially gratifying when we seem to notice that what we are doing causes an effect that we desire. There is, I have come to believe, something much more subtle happening most of the time; co-arising is likely happening much more than we are aware of or maybe even are capable of being aware of. Co-arising is when two things are some how connected so that they both happen, neither actually causes the other, but there is a relationship. This could be described as the two things evoking each other, or each eliciting the coming forth of the other. Mysterious, but probably more accurate than the cause and effect we are so fond of.
This is very exciting to me because I am such a fixer and because I feel so responsible for everything. (Grandiosity, c0-denpence?) I mostly forget to let G!d do what G?d does, and then just do my part. It is freeing to recognize that the “heaven on earth” that I thought I was supposed to be creating doesn’t need to be created! Because it already exists. This doesn’t mean there is nothing for me to do, or nothing for anyone else to do, though.
Not long ago, in morning meditation/prayer a powerful image came to me. The realm of G!d can be described as an Ocean of Light. It is what we live and breath and have our life in, though most of the time we are unaware of it, not present to it. Human culture, what is often referred to as ‘world’ or ‘flesh’ in the Bible is like a gi-normous oil spill spread out over parts of this Ocean of Light. So, although the Ocean of Light is the only true reality, and the cultures/societies/civilizations we have created are merely the thinnest veneer on top of it, this “oil spill” does have some substance. Our job is to clean up the oil spill so the ocean of light can be seen and known. It is, of course, never one person’s job to clean up the whole schlemiel (mess). If we listen and pay attention we will hear/notice what part of it is ours to clean up, get rid of or transform.
The vision had another aspect: The oil slick has the capacity to make whirlpools, from small ones to large ones to devastating ones such as war, causing much pain, suffering, death and destruction.* These whirlpools are the ultimate concealers of the Kin-dom! But when someone gets sucked into a whirlpool, dragged down and under, especially to the point of death, or wishing for death, the whirlpool can actually be a way into the Ocean of Light. One can be sucked down so deep, so forcefully, as to be free and clear of the oil slick altogether and resurface, as if reborn! Those who have experienced a whirlpool and survived being sucked down, those who get clear of the oil slick and are bathed in the Ocean of Light have important stories to share, stories that may help us understand our own experiences from a new perspective, and that can contribute to the transformation of our lives to be in harmony with the Kin-dom. [Two such are Malala and Elizabeth Smart- both young women who have written books of their experiences. I also find people’s recounting of their near-death, or returned from death experiences to be enormously encouraging and helpful.]
That the Kin-dom is here, now, is deeply challenging to how I have lived my life and to how I have understood who I am and what I am to do. When I first received this message, it was so startling, that I could tell it was not something I had thought up, but is actually a message coming through me. Being aware that no one person has the Truth, with a capital T, I ,nonetheless, have felt compelled to share this piece of the Truth. I have spent time looking at all the references to Jesus’ proclamations in the New Testament regarding the Kingdom. He says several times that the Kingdom of God/Heaven is near, or at hand. How this can be interpreted is interesting, and, I suspect, unduly influenced by incomprehension, as well as disbelief. Of course, Jesus also said the Kingdom of God is within you. My impression is that the fact that the Greek word used for within also has the connotation of among, is no mistake. And last but not least, Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God.”
Therefore, seek, first, the Kin-dom! How might this change how you see yourself? What you do in the world? Where do you see the Kin-dom operating as you go about your daily life? How can you be more consistently uncovering it, revealing it, pointing it out? How can you join in the witnessing of its concealment, covering over and denial?
* By using the phrase, or phrases above that contain “unnecessary pain, suffering and destruction”, I am referencing the perspective that there is necessary pain, suffering and destruction. I would put the fact that everything we call life, including trees and other pants takes other things and beings and transforms them into more of itself. This does cause the destruction of those other things/beings, and often causes pain and suffering as well. As far as I can know, this is unalterable and therefore necessary. Human-made systems, societies, economies, on up to empires cause more, or less destruction, pain and suffering, which can be altered, so is technically not necessary.
** I prefer Kin-dom to Kingdom because G!d as a ruler over us is less true of my experience, which is of G!d at the center, more like a parent that a monarch. It is very similar to the word Kingdom, but implies that we are all related, we are all kin.
*** Beloved Community can be interchanged with the word Kin-dom, but for me implies the human community, whereas Kin-dom is, for me, all of creation; two-leggeds, four-leggeds, wingeds, tree and plants beings and the innumerable other life forms we live in relation to and with.