Resurrection, Reconciliation and Revolution by Helen Park

Good morning.  My topic today is Resurrection, Reconciliation and Revolution. WHAT? You may be wondering what those three things have in common. That’s easy, they all start with “re” a Latin word root meaning “again.” Things happen again and again. To my mind, resurrection, reconciliation and revolution are all things that are repeated: we rise again, we forgive again, and we turn in great circles, again and again.  

Resurrection. The word implies death. Christ had to die in order to be resurrected. Death is necessary. We know every physical body dies, but haven’t we all experienced the smaller deaths that leave us shattered and crushed? How do we rise from those?     The meaning of Christ’s Resurrection has been discussed and debated over the centuries, but right now, let’s think about YOUR resurrection, and mine.  It’s the dark night of the soul: cold, desolate, we are lonely, we fear going mad. We throw our prayers out into a silent Universe, hoping Someone will hear them. But we’re not sure there IS anyone who hears these imploring, raging, grieving thoughts that hammer our hearts. The darkness is crushing. We feel so alone. The struggle, the fear, the surrender, and finally the death, those quiet endings that break our hearts again and again in life. We are forced at last to give up whatever it is that we don’t want to let go of: the relationship, the dream of success, the health and abilities of our youth, the treasured beliefs, the addiction, the hopes. We say goodbye to them and they die at last, and we go into that dark night.

What is left when a cherished part of us has died? We realize that we are helpless, and there’s nothing left we can do, what happens then? It is by grace, by the infinite Love of God that sees us when we can see only nothingness, that we finally perceive the Light has been there all along. The gleam of light may be subtle at first. It only happens when we stop fighting the darkness. That Light in the darkness is the Resurrection. It is the Christ re-enacting His most powerful miracle within us. It is God is reborn in our souls. Here is a poem that speaks of this rebirth.

Love Lens

Being born and dying are the same experience

      On either side of a blink.

There are so many births and rebirths

        Like waking up and not knowing where you are

                   Or really, where you have been.

There are so many little dyings

        Like sorrow, sinking into acceptance,

                 A sigh, a nod, and release.

If there is anything, like a magic glass,

               To bring into focus what is happening,

                          It is Love.

Love is Mother at birth.

         It is the Heavenly Father at Death.

Only Love can soften our fears

            Of what we don’t understand.

            Not explaining, only soothing.

It is Love that brings that smile of peace

             Peace, eternal joy, if only for a moment.

Being born, and dying,

             They are the same experience:

             A blink in the vision of Love.

by Helen Park, 1978

This spiritual resurrection may feel different for each person, maybe it’s a wave of comfort, or the words of a song or a prayer that just appear in our minds, or an image, a silent reassurance, or a feeling of relaxing, of being held. Then we know that we are not alone, and there is a Light, there is life. We are reborn, but we are changed.  We don’t fit the old life anymore. We have to face the new reality without that part of the old self that we let go of. And we undoubtedly have work to do.

What does God want us to do? That’s the big question. We read in the 6th chapter of Micah: 6With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God

God does not tell us WHAT to do, God just tells us HOW to do it: with justice, mercy and humility, we act, love and walk with God over the Earth. This is exactly the required skill set for reconciliation! Whatever our work, our identity, our culture or our situation, we are all called to the challenge of Reconciliation. It means forgiving each other and ourselves, making things right between us again, and experiencing the peace that passeth understanding.

In Africa, Latin America and Europe there are wonderful models of society-wide Truth and Reconciliation projects. And how important that first part is: Truth! Just as resurrection requires death, reconciliation requires hearing the truth with new ears. We have to have courage to hear the truth. The truth is, there IS injustice in the world, in our country, in our own lives. We have all acted selfishly, we have all taken more than our share, we have all lied about it and tried to justify it. We all have amends to make. If we won’t face the truth about the injustice around us, we can’t ever reconcile with our neighbors, let alone love them as we love our selves.

In Quaker circles, we will often say, “I’ll hold you in the Light.” It’s our way of saying “I’ll pray for you. I’ll ask God to give you comfort and healing.” But early Friends had a different interpretation. They understood that the Light revealed everything: every weakness, every sin, every fear and every anger. You can’t hide anything in the Light of God. Your soul is bared and you are known intimately. There’s a sign in the parking lot of University Friends Meeting in Seattle that’s reads: “Handicapped Parking Only. Violators will be held in the Light.” How true it is.

And once we have done that excruciating work, we have to forgive ourselves, and we have to forgive everyone else who has been unjust, who has treated us badly, who has mocked, humiliated or despised us in our lifetime. We have to forgive as completely as a loving parent forgives the beloved child, just as God forgives us. Indeed that is how we are forgiven. We pray every day: “Forgive us our trespasses AS WE FORGIVE those who trespass against us.” Forgive us as we forgive, they both have to happen. How can we be forgiven if we are carrying around the hurt and anger and fear of our brothers and sisters? Those unresolved, unacknowledged grievances are exactly the thing that makes us behave badly, and then we are ashamed and want to hide. But forgiveness, a powerful form of unconditional love, releases us. We see each other with new eyes. Now we are really not alone. Just as resurrection reestablishes our relationship to God and the Life of the Spirit, reconciliation reestablishes our relationship to our sisters and brothers, and all hatred and fear dissolve in love and mercy.  And it has to happen again and again. Once is not enough, seven times is not enough, seven times seven times is not enough. God is constantly forgiving us, as we forgive those who trespass against us and all around us.

Now we are ready for Revolution!  Just as we need a new relationship with God, and with our fellow human beings, it is time for a new relationship with the world. Revolution means “Again turning.” The Earth makes a revolution around the Sun in 365 days. Human consciousness makes revolutions more slowly than that, but we come around to it. Things have to change: the Earth is changing, and we are part of that. It is time to wake up! All over the world climate is changing. Land forms are changing. The ocean is changing. The very chemistry of the air is changing. The microbes in our bodies are changing. Suddenly we are recognizing that we are as vulnerable as glaciers and salamanders and honeybees. A revolution is a coming around to way of thinking that may be new to some of us, but that is very old in traditional societies.

Native peoples in cultures all over the Earth have known these truths: We are all connected, the Earth, the plants, forests, the animals, the waters of the rivers, oceans and skies, all of it, connected to us. To our beating hearts. To our vibrating souls. To our very existence. One web of Life.

This is the next revolution of human consciousness: the re-turning to an awareness of that intricate, indissoluble connection.  We cannot drop a piece of plastic on the ground that won’t affect myriad life-forms that reverberate in our own life, in the life of our children, in the precious beautiful world that is our home. We can and do expand our great Love, the Love of God, to ourselves, to our brothers and sisters, and to every part of Creation.

This is the next revolution of human consciousness: the re-turning to an awareness of that intricate, indissoluble connection.  We cannot drop a piece of plastic on the ground that won’t affect myriad life-forms that reverberate in our own life, in the life of our children, in the precious beautiful world that is our home. We can and do expand our great Love, the Love of God, to ourselves, to our brothers and sisters, and to every part of Creation.

And we are not alone. We are all together in this. God is right here with us, in every thought, every breath, every heartbeat, with you right now. With me. I will close with this final poem, then let us settle into silence and listen.

This spiritual resurrection may feel different for each person, maybe it’s a wave of comfort, or the words of a song or a prayer that just appear in our minds, or an image, a silent reassurance, or a feeling of relaxing, of being held. Then we know that we are not alone, and there is a Light, there is life. We are reborn, but we are changed.  We don’t fit the old life anymore. We have to face the new reality without that part of the old self that we let go of. And we undoubtedly have work to do.

What does God want us to do? That’s the big question. We read in the 6th chapter of Micah:

6With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God

God does not tell us WHAT to do, God just tells us HOW to do it: with justice, mercy and humility, we act, love and walk with God over the Earth. This is exactly the required skill set for reconciliation! Whatever our work, our identity, our culture or our situation, we are all called to the challenge of Reconciliation. It means forgiving each other and ourselves, making things right between us again, and experiencing the peace that passeth understanding.

In Africa, Latin America and Europe there are wonderful models of society-wide Truth and Reconciliation projects. And how important that first part is: Truth! Just as resurrection requires death, reconciliation requires hearing the truth with new ears. We have to have courage to hear the truth. The truth is, there IS injustice in the world, in our country, in our own lives. We have all acted selfishly, we have all taken more than our share, we have all lied about it and tried to justify it. We all have amends to make. If we won’t face the truth about the injustice around us, we can’t ever reconcile with our neighbors, let alone love them as we love our selves.

In Quaker circles, we will often say, “I’ll hold you in the Light.” It’s our way of saying “I’ll pray for you. I’ll ask God to give you comfort and healing.” But early Friends had a different interpretation. They understood that the Light revealed everything: every weakness, every sin, every fear and every anger. You can’t hide anything in the Light of God. Your soul is bared and you are known intimately. There’s a sign in the parking lot of University Friends Meeting in Seattle that’s reads: “Handicapped Parking Only. Violators will be held in the Light.” How true it is.

And once we have done that excruciating work, we have to forgive ourselves, and we have to forgive everyone else who has been unjust, who has treated us badly, who has mocked, humiliated or despised us in our lifetime. We have to forgive as completely as a loving parent forgives the beloved child, just as God forgives us. Indeed that is how we are forgiven. We pray every day: “Forgive us our trespasses AS WE FORGIVE those who trespass against us.” Forgive us as we forgive, they both have to happen. How can we be forgiven if we are carrying around the hurt and anger and fear of our brothers and sisters? Those unresolved, unacknowledged grievances are exactly the thing that makes us behave badly, and then we are ashamed and want to hide. But forgiveness, a powerful form of unconditional love, releases us. We see each other with new eyes. Now we are really not alone. Just as resurrection reestablishes our relationship to God and the Life of the Spirit, reconciliation reestablishes our relationship to our sisters and brothers, and all hatred and fear dissolve in love and mercy.  And it has to happen again and again. Once is not enough, seven times is not enough, seven times seven times is not enough. God is constantly forgiving us, as we forgive those who trespass against us and all around us.

Now we are ready for Revolution!  Just as we need a new relationship with God, and with our fellow human beings, it is time for a new relationship with the world. Revolution means “Again turning.” The Earth makes a revolution around the Sun in 365 days. Human consciousness makes revolutions more slowly than that, but we come around to it. Things have to change: the Earth is changing, and we are part of that. It is time to wake up! All over the world climate is changing. Land forms are changing. The ocean is changing. The very chemistry of the air is changing. The microbes in our bodies are changing. Suddenly we are recognizing that we are as vulnerable as glaciers and salamanders and honeybees. A revolution is a coming around to way of thinking that may be new to some of us, but that is very old in traditional societies.

Native peoples in cultures all over the Earth have known these truths: We are all connected, the Earth, the plants, forests, the animals, the waters of the rivers, oceans and skies, all of it, connected to us. To our beating hearts. To our vibrating souls. To our very existence. One web of Life.

This is the next revolution of human consciousness: the re-turning to an awareness of that intricate, indissoluble connection.  We cannot drop a piece of plastic on the ground that won’t affect myriad life-forms that reverberate in our own life, in the life of our children, in the precious beautiful world that is our home. We can and do expand our great Love, the Love of God, to ourselves, to our brothers and sisters, and to every part of Creation.

And we are not alone. We are all together in this. God is right here with us, in every thought, every breath, every heartbeat, with you right now. With me. I will close with this final poem, then let us settle into silence and listen.

There is One

By Helen Park, 1985

There are so many births and rebirthsThere is One

who is speaking to thy condition,

Now. One who is with thee.

If you would move mountains,

be empowered with your rightful power,

There is One who is inspiring you.

However you stand in relation to the world

is irrelevant.

If you would let go of suffering,

and fear,

and all doubt,

There is one who would touch your eyes

that you may see,

Who would unstop your ears

that you may hear.

If you would be an instrument of peace

there is one who would play you like a violin

filling the atmosphere with the music of peace.

If you would find peace,

and live in peace,

There is One

who is speaking to thy condition.

This message was given by Helen Park to Spokane Friends Meeting (via Zoom) during Sunday morning worship service on December 13, 2020.

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