Sunday, February 26, 2017

What if I told you that we live in paradise?

In some ways I am more pessimistic and frightened about the state of the world than ever before. And yet I feel more than ever rooted in a clearer vision of my self and my ministry. And that vision fills me with joy. It is expressed most beautifully by the great Unitarian poet e.e. cummings:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

I have been on three protests already this year, and I see the need for resistance more than ever. But that resistance must be rooted, I think, not just in protest, but in an alternative vision of the way the world could be.

But not just the way the world could be, but in fact the way the world is. I'm hearing a lot from my American co-religionists about resistance and protest, and that's all good. I support them and hope they are effective. But the message (in sermons and articles) doesn't go any further than "this is wrong." Which is fine as far as it goes, but it is just ethics.

I'm not convinced ethics alone provides enough energy to power resistance. I think it burns out. I think it fails to give hope.

What is needed, and what (in some form at least) I think we have, is faith in a real saving reality. What is needed is the faith that the world is in fact ontologically rooted in beauty, truth and goodness. It's not just that the powers of oppression and division in the world are wrong. It's that they are a lie. The truth is beauty and love are the foundational realities of this universe. I don't think we can fight the good fight unless we believe in that.

What if I told you that we live in paradise? Such a statement seems almost like a sick joke. The world seems to refute it at every turn. And yet poets and mystics declare it again and again. And I believe it. It is what is at the heart of my Unitarian faith.

It's not just that we have to create paradise on earth by our actions. Though that is a good description of our mission. But it's more than that. It's that we have to create paradise on earth by realising the truth that we already live in paradise. That a reality of exquisite beauty and overwhelming love surround us at every turn, shouting and waving at us and begging to be noticed.

Buried deep in reality, sometimes invisible but always there, are the seeds of paradise. We only have to notice them and they begin to sprout.

You live in paradise. When you begin to pay attention to it you begin to notice it more and more. You become more aware. Your ears awake and your eyes are opened. You begin to see beauty. You begin to feel a universal love that surrounds you and all things. You become more joyful.

Resistance is needed right now. But we must become not merely activists, but mystical activists. That is our good news and our calling.


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