Posts Tagged ‘Labyrinth’


For those unfamiliar with the term, you are either not a Trekkie (which can I show you some stuff?) or you are not a fan of the fifth movie adventure of the original series crew, The Final Frontier. It is essentially the journey for the Source, God if you will. Some balk because of the idea, humanity advanced beyond the concepts of religion (or is simply we had advanced beyond the bigotry and divisions that religion used as an opiate for the masses, as a mean of power and control?). For those who do not think spirituality (those intrinsic pieces of us that get renewed through certain practices that speaks to the beginning of the answer to the why question of life), look no further, than the show enjoying a renaissance thank to streaming, Star Trek Deep Space Nine, which interweaves rebirth, renewal, de-colonization, reconciliation, science and religion together. Illustrating the types of questions each is designed for. 

Why does this matter? What percolated these thoughts once more, about how stories, like Star Trek, and science, and faith can co-exist together? It began two-fold, one part with the side quest to Vul-Con, but more importantly with my family connecting with Marda Loop Church here in the city as the restrictions of covid lifted. Many churches threw masks away right away, but MLC kept the safety valve as they followed the science. As a family with medical complexities, it mattered for safety. Then the mission resonated, the reading of the two scriptures- the written and creation, the various ways to experience God. 

Re-connects with how I have entered my own eclectic faith journey of life, but as I journey through dark nights of the soul, that has been shared in collects and poetry recently, it has renewed this liturgical entering story once more. 

So, what is the journey to Shaka Re? 

To the center of the galaxy, think of that imagery, a labyrinth like journey where the path is known, but it gives you space not to worry about the steps, but what is happening along the way. 

Before the use of the Enterprise, and the next step, in between the question of pain? What role does pain play in our lives? Our formation? What does heal or avoidance look like? What does reconciliation to self? 

Within the story of McCoy and his medical assistance in dying with his Dad, what role does self-forgiveness play in our own healing? Are we able to give that forgiveness or will it always be something that evades so the pain remains consistent? As McCoy speaks to how soon a cure was found, yet why do we withhold our own forgiveness? Why do we continue to berate or punish ourselves for decisions made in the past based on information we have today?  

We made the best decision possible in the moment, given the events of life and what was known. Do not forget that. 

Towards the galactic barrier, can it be breached? A leap of faith to even attempt? What leap of faith has your journey taken you into, what was the outcome? What was discovered on the other side? 

On the other side, was it God? Or was it a shadow reflection of ego? The voice that challenges, that shifts, do we want to demonize? More importantly though, showing what happens when the journey accepts the ends justifying the means. What was held beyond the barrier was not the loving Creator, but what the creation created, a godling driven by power, anger and vengeance that would not broker any dissent. As was seen by the reaction to Kirk, then Spock’s question of “What does God need with a starship? 

This was shaped around the backdrop bigger questions of connection and belonging. What is family? Who are actual members of the family? As the camping trip that the trio (Kirk, Spock, McCoy) were on at the beginning, and at the end, the statement was made, that people like them did not have families. Yet the journey answered, it may not be what was defined as “family” yet, there is family through love, connection and belonging.  

Who is your family? 

The other question touched upon mortality; how do we know when our time has come? 

And I am not forgetting Sybok, for Sybok was complicated, looking to alleviate pain, to avoid, but also seeking the Source, the meaning of life. How would you explain God? And the confrontation of the darkness, and in the moment, what light do you shine into the darkness? 

These are questions along the journey, take the 1 hour and forty minutes to watch the film, explore the questions, what other things do you notice? What other stories resonate with you from the settlers of Nimbus III (the Planet of Galactic Peace)? The journey to the Source? 

Has there been a moment in your life, when you are consumed with the outcome of the journey that you miss the journey itself? When you saw into the darkness and thought it was the light? Did you have a Sybok moment of transfiguration? 

Take time with the stories you engage with, to notice, what other things come through, for the artists, the dreamers, the musicians, the writers, craft into the book of creation the same as creation and science, each exploring a piece of the meaning of life, and understanding. Each a piece of figuring out the who, what, where, when why and how questions on this pilgrimage into, within and alongside the Holy Mystery. 

Advertisement

-Centennial Men’s Prayer Breakfast March 30, 2019

Introduction

I Learned Spiritual Direction through College of Emmanuel & St. Chad, The streams of Nouwen & Vanier; through Franciscan and Jesuit formation. This morning I have adapted some techniques from my third book, Pilgrimage to the Heart of the Sacred, that I have led retreats with, taught from at U of C, and Spiritual Directions. As well as hosted many contemplative and meditative services. This is not exhaustive, but rather a snap shot to move beyond rational to interior.

Body Scan Mindfulness

-Physical

-Emotional

-Thoughts

Coming out, look at the paper and colours in front of you, for the next three minutes let out whatever came through creatively through scribbling, doodling or drawing, do not stop moving the colours until asked to.

-2 minute discussion with table mates.

Lectio Divina, is the practice of hearing scripture 3 times, I mix it with visualizing prayer and narrative contemplation:

Close your eyes feel your breath slow, feel this room melt away, the chair disappear. The air shift and change as you travel  2000 years into the past, and across oceans, to an arid landscape, feel dust over your sandaled feet, as you watch a student and teach discourse, hear these words.

With this first reading what words or phrases resonate within you? Sit with those for a time and see what shifts within your soul:

Matthew 16:13-19 (ESV):

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[c] in heaven.”

-Give 1 to 2 minutes for quiet reflection-

With this second reading, what images or memories surface of keys you have been given to realize your true calling?

Matthew 16:13-19

-Give 1 to 2 minutes for quiet reflection-

With this third, and final reading, enter into Peter, can you feel his emotions? What resonates within you as these words are spoken in your search for path?

(read from Peter’s perspective) Matthew 16:13-19

Deepen your breaths once more, feel the chair come back around you the room become tangible. Rest in the peace of knowing the blessing you are in this world, life and adventure yet to come.

Now that you have the Keys to the Kingdom it is time to walk the Labyrinth to the Centre.

The Labyrinth-

Ancient story of the Minotaur

The point of a maze it to find its centre.

The Point of a Labyrinth is to find your centre

Winding through breathing slowly, on intake “Your will be done.” On Exhale “Your Kingdom come” as you slowly moves towards the centre. Sit in the centre with those thoughts, what rises to the surface. Take time to share at your table.

Before we close with a simple prayer of contemplation, one thing that is good to do while using prayer to reflect on scripture, is to rewrite the story from different perspectives to delve into what it is like in the midst of the story. A good story to start with, that is always challenging is the story of David’s murder of Uriah, and seizing/raping his wife Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11. Over the next week re-write the story from David’s perspective, from Bathsheba’s so like a first person account, and see what is discovered on the journey.

Now we will close with a Franciscan prayer, let us pray:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is discord, union;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is error, truth;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

 

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console:

To be understood, as to understand;

To be loved, as to love:

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

And it is in dying that we are born to

eternal life.

Amen


Much of the conversion drive is using points of Romans to prove that it is necessary to convert as noted previously. What is missed though is Paul’s beautiful discourse that echoes in many ways the wisdom teacher of Ecclesiastes. He is writing to the gathering of Rome, a diverse community struggling to understand a way forward in unity. Each has their own understanding of culture, norms, law, prophets and yet here they all are together. What is one to do?

Paul moves into the second chapter (Romans 2) presenting a very young type of God with creation. That is one that is wrathful, but proxies the wrath though and the mercy dependent on how the individual carries their whole being. Do they carry these judgments, hatreds and doubts? If so what is being done to help them move forward healthily, and be complete. Paul points out that it is how we live our life is what we will reap, will we need to be purged completely to enter the afterlife, or sail seamlessly from this to the next?

Works grow out of faith. Many try to create the false dichotomy between Paul and James, but as Paul had pointed out in Corinth he was involved in Jerusalem. He was aware of the teachings and the living of the life. It is the life lived that had transformed Paul that allowed Paul into the leadership circle of the Way. It was not position, but character transfigured that shone through. This is a very Franciscan principle. Many view the Franciscans as anti-learning as it is not the major pursuit as say with the Jesuits. But what Francis of Assisi had stated was simple, once you are living the first lesson then move to the next.

It is as Paul was laying out, faith becomes second nature, there is times when we are first entering and growing into our new life where we may need to pause and practice but eventually it becomes second nature. Like remembering to take your medications or practicing mindfulness (or DBT/CBT) or other forms of Soul Work. It takes practice, but eventually they become a part of who you are (Romans 3). That is that you have awoke the holy love that created you, you are becoming and have become whole, this is where you are living out of now. Not out of fear, or out of desire to be acknowledged, but simply because it is the right heart to be in (Romans 4). Like Abraham and Sarah learned, the means justify the ends, and the ends need to be achieved through a moral way, not through things that tear down, but that build up.

In the darkness we knew hope. Think about that. Anyone that has ever stepped out of themselves and sought aid, whether a spiritual director, a mentor, a life coach, a therapist, a doctor, a friend…in that moment we acknowledge we cannot do it alone (Romans 5). In that moment a courageous safe space is created. We know the cycle we are on is destroying us. It can be literal or we just know we are in the wrong groove and need to shift paths. We may need to stop a destructive behaviour, or end a toxic relationship or employment. Perhaps it is something good dangling before us but our inner quiet voice is a saboteur, or as the ancients would say a demon? That voice that keeps us frozen to keep us in what we believe is safe. But safety also has a price to pay for we are truly not who we are meant to be.

This is the step of faith. The step of opening ourselves up in hope to connect with another’s love to carry us through into our own soul-self actualized. That is right, a true whole person. It is what Jesus spoke of in the Great Commandments, the Love Commandment, connecting self-neighbour-Holy Mystery.

The bedrock of true community.

Living out of faith,

In love.

 

 


In his third missionary journey, while chilling in Corinth (ah Leather & Letters anyone?) Paul takes up the quill once more (circa 56 CE) and writes to the gathering in Petrine Christianity, in Rome. It is believed this gathering grew from Roman present at Pentecost (both Romans and Jewish, or as the Christian Testament and Hebrew Bible would phrase non-Jewish, Gentiles). As Paul awaits heading on to aid in Jerusalem, he does not write to Rome to deal with any such issues, but rather to lay out his style of Christianity to them, a mix of the mystic and traditional. The Epistle of Romans has been one of those go to books in the Christian Testament for weaponized texts of hate, but also of “conversion driven” Christendom.

Is conversion driven a harsh stance? It is, but only because I have seen it be more about numbers and quick altar calls and not authentic life lived together. Having taken evangelism courses in Bible College, I still cringe at the concept of our final assignment was to have a project person to lead to salvation—seriously? Even the tried and true “Romans Road” was taught and that we should memorize it (well y’all know how well memorization works with my ol’ noggin).

romans roads

What happens in these instances sadly is that the longer game is ignored. The longer game is holistic growth of self. For Paul does not write from a place of completion, but from a place of pilgrimage in understanding who he is each day in the new journey laid out. Not resting, but moving forward (okay there is times of rest he lays out), but this letter to the unknown was one to encourage growth and pilgrimage to continue:

Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who [a]was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;

To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

-Romans 1:1-7 (New King James Version)

The Romans Road is an excellent allegory for the journey of Pauline and  Petrine Christianities into wholeness, but also the winding journey of connecting paths of one’s own life. What brought you to the heart self you are today? Have you allowed the Cosmic Christ to emerge? Connect into the Holy Mystery that is already within? Or are you still hiding in the comfort of the gremlins, those that have protected you this long from the unknown?

For what is a saint?

A pilgrim on the journey of discovery of the Holy!

 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve [b]with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, 10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. 14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. 15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.

-Romans 1:8-15 (New King James Version)

There is much as Paul has done with his writing you can learn from books. But Paul also points to the need of presence in community. That is having a plan of discipleship/mentorship, succession planning, strengthening of members in their wholeness, and growing healthy community where planted. Paul is pointing out that he is not just a Jewish theologian, or a Greek Philosopher, but a tradesperson, a traveller, one who has connected with all types of the world. A person who has been involved in the mosaic of the Empire, experiencing it and seeing it as such in crafting this goal to come and live life with the gathering for a time.

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel [c]of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

-Romans 1:16-17 (New King James Version)

The term gospel coming through here in a communication heading into Rome is a major act of sedition. Showing his bravery, but also pointing out the strength of conviction Paul carried in how he was aiding communities into coming into their wholeness. The living by faith is knowing that there was risk in changing direction, that there would be loss of social connections, possibly status politically, religiously or socio-economically if it had not already happened. We were still 8 years out from the purge of Nero, but I am sure there was unease within the gatherings. Especially since Paul still had to stroke the traditionalist ego and point out the hierarchy of wholeness. Some may state well it is historical, but is it historical, or simply the way it was understood?

 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who [d]suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is [e]manifest [f]in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and [g]Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like [h]corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their [i]women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the [j]men, leaving the natural use of the [k]woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, [l]sexual immorality, wickedness, [m]covetousness, [n]maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 [o]undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, [p]unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

-Romans 1: 18-32 (New King James Version)

What is ungodly? What is unrighteous? How has this text been used for hate? We drill down into verse 26-27 and many have used this against LGBTTQ2+ community members to make them less than. But back up the boat, what is being talked about leading up to those two verses? What is being talked about is oppressive religiousity that builds power and wealth for a few on earth and supplants the Holy. It talks about practices that degrade who they are created to be. It is not about “homosexuality” (a term that did not exist in this time), but about sexual violence, sexual degradation, assaults, harassment, coercion, rape, paedophilia, all under the auspices of being “the worship of God”.

Perhaps a new heart needs to take these verses to the religious leaders of today who are hiding abuse behind false flags?

And then one will say but verses 28-32 says the practitioners should die so is Paul not using God to victim blame? Like a paedophile priest saying they were seduced by the child? Or a fundamentalist pointing to the victim saying he/she asked for it?

NO!

Paul is pointing to the perpetrators. The predators. The monsters. He is pointing out that they need to be removed until they are willing to heal and reconcile. If it is not possible to heal and reconcile then they need to be gone for good. Roman jail systems allowed a time for term served, then they were given a white stone upon release to show the clean new life that laid before them. Wisdom of restorative justice, but Paul knows for some monsters the heart beats in darkness and unwillingness to change and for those, the communities must protect themselves. In a Canadian Context this would be a Dangerous Offender designation ala Paul Bernardo and Clifford Olsen. It is a hard driven point into the heart of the Empire. Paul takes the risk.

He understands the challenge of life change of emerging from the pain of violence and trauma for a person, for generations, for a community. The ancient world may not have had the terminology, but they knew what was happening and the damage being done.

The road is a winding path. Healing is a peeling of the onion. Understanding the layers that have created our current situation, but that is not the core of our being. It is about becoming who we truly are, whole, as Paul points out, it is when we act contrary to who we are meant to be. Contrary to how we were created due to outside forces that we are truly outside of ourselves.

As 2019 begins, will we go down a different winding road?

That of a labyrinth to our core self?


iGod (2014) (trailer) is a documentary that explores the spiritual journey of humanity. Like a labyrinth, there is a core it takes you to. To resonate at in understanding. It has speakers from across the religious spiritualities that touch upon understandings of the manifestations of the Holy Mystery. From new age to Roman Catholicism to Protestantism to Universalism to Paganism to Metaphysics to Buddhism to Zen to Islam to Judaism and points in between. In 80 minutes the sound snippets touch upon ethics, morals, heaven/hell, knowing the Holy, experiencing the Holy…and the atrocities that can happen.

Now the divergent is the smugness some on the journey can take only old line religion causes atrocity. I would point to the story of Osho, Jim Jones, David Koresh, Raeliens, Hale Bop…atrocities come in many forms, and one has to be discerning on what the journey can look like.

That is the ancient story of the labyrinth that there is monsters that lurk (think of the myth from ancient Greece of the Minotaur), and it is our golden string that guides us into resonance with the Holy and how we express it. Also, that resonance is not just being in the presence of, but in the Divinity that exists within from the Holy breath at our creation, and the resurgence of the Holy Spirit within at time of enlightenment.

This is a complimentary movie Netflix’s 2018 movie Come Sunday on Bishop Pearson’s awakening (trailer). I would suggest both as good viewing in a conversational group, perhaps a potluck during/before. One movie an evening, either can come first but upon my own reflection iGod lays the ground work that then can see the guideposts in Come Sunday.

The question for us as we journey is can we survive the Minotaur and reach the heart of the Labyrinth? That is complete connection with the Holy Mystery that exists within everything, and everything exists within.

Are you ready for the walk?


The discourse continues as Brother Jesus attacks the holy acts for the show of importance, not for where they are to come from. True concern/care for neighbour. Matthew 6 (full text at end) explores the idea of showy spirituality. The kind that is out to inflate the ego of the individual, that creates power base and authority. This is done through excluding people.

Think about in. The idea of fasting? Challenging for some due to health conditions, or socio-economics. Yet it was a “height of holiness”, but for this to be the case, you were looking to the already wealthy to show how “blessed” they were because of the power they had stolen by creating outcasts and others (hmm… televangelists, social conservatives, eco-extremists, any fundamentalist/extremist that creates a false us/them dichotomy). Jesus was using the practices that people pointed to show worth, and pointing out the hypocrisy.

Giving alms. How is it from a base of wealth giving to the poor, worthier, than the family subsisting that never turns away someone joining them for dinner?

Fancy words are not what prayers are made of for show? It is the affirmation of your own worth and love, and sharing from the core. Centering first, then living that matters. Not the show, and then raking in the coin. To moving into the place of treasure, some have always said it is in what one can amass money or possession wise, but truly if you have all the toys but no real relationships with another, have you any treasure? If the accumulation has filled you with such fear that you are wiring up bright lights and video cameras to “protect” and place your life on lock down out of fear, is it worth it?

If you have all this wealth, but have never seen another person as worthy of dignity, aid, health care, social assistance, pharmacare, education (the list can go) because they “are not worthy” and need to “earn” it…then are you truly resonating in humanity?

Image result for finger labyrinthThis portion is to take you deeper into your internal self to truly understand that contentment comes from residing fully with the cosmic spark within. It is the journey of the labyrinth to our core.

And being in the core…allows for us to reflect upon our lives, our core values, our own health. Much like a coaching wheel of self-care:

 Click on the image to view. 

The centre is 0 the outer rim is 10, authentically mark out the areas from 0 to 10. How balanced is your life? What does your wheel look like? What is one area you want to focus on, one simple step to moving your number up one space?

I encourage, much like the discourse on the mount, this activity to be done in groups, so you can hold one another accountable, follow up in a week, two weeks on how the challenge is going to keep the momentum up.

As you grow, and transfigure. Know contentment will wane and come. The challenge is…

 

 

Will you risk being content?

 

End Note Matthew 6 (English Standard Version):

6 “Beware of rpracticing your righteousness before other people in order sto be seenby them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

t“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocritesdo in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may ube praised by others. Truly, I say toyou, they have vreceived their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let yourleft hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. wAndyour Father who sees in secret will reward you.

The Lord’s Prayer

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love xto stand andpray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. yTruly, Isay to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, zgo into your room andshut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. aAnd your Father who sees insecret will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as bthe Gentiles do, for ctheythink that they will be heard dfor their many words. Do not be like them, efor yourFather knows what you need before you ask him. fPray then like this:

g“Our Father in heaven,

hhallowed be iyour name.1

10  jYour kingdom come,

kyour will be done,2

lon earth as it is in heaven.

11  mGive us nthis day our daily bread,3

12  and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13  And olead us not into temptation,

but pdeliver us from qevil.4

14 rFor if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,15 sbut if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive yourtrespasses.

Fasting

16 “And twhen you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure theirfaces that their fasting may be seen by others. uTruly, I say to you, they have receivedtheir reward. 17 But when you fast, vanoint your head and wash your face, 18 that yourfasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. wAnd your Fatherwho sees in secret will reward you.

Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

19 x“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where ymoth and rust5 destroyand where thieves zbreak in and steal, 20 xbut lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Forwhere your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 a“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will befull of light, 23 abut if byour eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then thelight in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24 c“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, orhe will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and dmoney.6

Do Not Be Anxious

25 e“Therefore I tell you, fdo not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or whatyou will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, andthe body more than clothing? 26 gLook at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reapnor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. hAre you not of morevalue than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his ispan oflife?7 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how theygrow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, jeven Solomon in all his glory was notarrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is aliveand tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, kO you of littlefaith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For lthe Gentiles seek after all these things, and myourheavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But nseek first othe kingdom of God andhis righteousness, pand all these things will be added to you.

34 q“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious foritself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

 


We began questing, and have set up a regular rhythm. So expect a few reflective posts to come out of thoughts around and out of the Qur’an. Just like when the Rainbow Chapel was meeting, I continue to encourage folks to read spiritual works in groups together aloud. It is not only because most were crafted for this, but also allows for different life journeys to be brought to the text, and wisdom bases. Also, to have the generations involved is a whole other blessing, for how can the young learn to discuss what they believe if it is not modeled by their elders, and community happens when play happens and food is shared. As well, I encourage exploring other spiritual texts than those you are familiar with or from your tradition for it opens a new world of insight. As always I encourage use of the spiritual discovery tools discussed in other writings of mine to dive deeper into what the Holy Mystery is speaking to your soul.

Sura 1: The Opening:

  1. In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful.

  2. Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds.

  3. The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

  4. Master of the Day of Judgment.

  5. It is You we worship, and upon You we call for help.

  6. Guide us to the straight path.

  7. The path of those You have blessed, not of those against whom there is anger, nor of those who are misguided.

Remember as you journey through the words, it is not a literal understanding (as with Conservative Christian scholarship of the last 120ish years or allegory but rather the rhythm of contrast) it is the rhythm of contrast that reveals the unity that binds all through, with and within the Holy Mystery that is love.

The journey after opening brought us to the longest Sura 2, The Cow. It is actually quite a recitation that a student of the Hebrew Bible would recognize. Each time the Nation of Israel got a mulligan, they spent time—whether it was a leader, prophet, judge or king, reciting the story of the people and the law up to that moment in time. A device to remind the people of what the Holy had brought them through, and who they were as a tribe. As we began to explore the second Sura, this familiar journey was reminded. In the historic moment, Islam being officially the third religious sect sprung from the Abrahamic and Sarai Covenant with the Holy (first two: Judaism and Christianity, anthropologically this can be broken down to multitude more, but I will not digress). Reaching half-way through it showed a great discussion around monotheists, and polytheists as the contrast presented for those who have found the path and those that haven’t. Yet within the contrast what can be seen is not the challenge of how many spiritual beings exist, for all are within the one. What is seen to be judged is found in 2:14:

  1. And when they come across those who believe, they say, “We believe”; but when they are alone with their devils, they say, “We are with you; we were only ridiculing.”

That is, is what we say what we do…or do we only profess kindness while plotting only for our own glory?

How many recognize this challenge from other wells that they use to drink from the Holy River?

  1. Their likeness is that of a person who kindled a fire; when it illuminated all around him, God took away their light, and left them in darkness, unable to see.

-Sura 2:17

A reminder as the teaching the Holy light would shine into the darkness and confuse it had been around since the ancient myths of Prometheus stealing fire from the gods for humanity. What this verse does, is starkly remind us when we choose to live only for ourselves, to forget love of neighbour and self that flows out of the Holy River, the light never existed and all that is left is darkness.

Are you living the light or lying in the darkness?

 


Unconsciously I must have known this allegory of me as Bionic Knight (read B.K. pulps here) was needed as 18 months of unknown physiological and neurological symptoms that two previous visits to ER saw everything come back as normal. Mysteries persisted and sick time evaporated, culminated in the ER cluster storm of my 39th b-day forward. A new reality that has seen symptoms evaporate due to attrition of time, not medical intervention while others persist. Yet it is in the writings of the story of a middle-aged hero that was my first super hero creation that I could begin to unpack what was going on within my own mind, heart and soul.

labyrinth

I love writing, as many who know me know… Whether it is fiction, non-fiction, poetry or plays I just love to share worldviews and percolate thoughts…I dislike recently after a good run the beating my own brain gives me as tonight I feel like I was on the losing end of a boxing match. And left outside in a winter storm. #neurolife (Facebook post from December 4, 2017)

brain-labyrinth

“4 months since 39. 9 weeks since “I can’t”.

and my faith broke.

For it is within the allegory of Super-hero we can honestly look at those that serve those in most need go through, without having to just yet look at our society in a mirror and go: we collectively decided that it was okay for this level of poverty to exist within our society, for our children, youth, young adults, elders, seniors and neighbours to live like this as we worshiped the zero-based budget.

Yet that choice, as with every choice, is like a pebble in a pond or a butterfly flapping their wings. No one can know what those ripples or wings will cause down the line, but know it is a question each of us most be prepared to ask.

It was easily summed up with these for words and punctuation many a time over:

Who is my neighbour?

stepping stones

And today we MUST continue to ask:

And how shall we live justly, safely and healthily together in community?

Where is hope found in my life?

How does my faith heal?

Advent of something new?

heart


Some who see him from afar would say he looks like an old ranch hand. I know better than that as the old hic walks up the stairs to the entrance of City Hall. William “Shotgun” McKay (MacKay) was the best assassin of his time when I was earning my stripes as a hero.

After years of Darcey Kobwash and others employing him in their nefarious schemes to eliminate me (or rather my heroic alter ego) he switched to the side of angels. Tired of taking orders, or always living life on the run. Took a very Suicide Squad style deal with The Agency that he would work of his criminal time, in a karmic debt of heroics. He has paid that debt several times with how many times he has stood with us to save the world.

Today he is attempting the type of team up I fear. He is going to speak with my other, my soul, my lightning rod, the mayor, Susan Kobwash-Saturn- my wife. Why you ask?

I refuse to answer his calls, texts, e-mails, voicemails or other forms of social media reach out (subtle he is not). Figured he would eventually make his way here to her office, and I will see what unfolds.

                “Where’s the kit?!” Johnny Power yelled. The bust had left many of the gangsters’ unconscious, but some of the buyers of Fentanyl were overdosing. Never use alone is the government tag line. Some want you to believe it is because of wholesalers and big pharma this had made it to the streets. Others because of pill presses. Truth was probably a mixture of both.

                But what had happened was another round up bust of the Cult of the Killer Face since the siege. Johnny Power, and the New Bionic Knight, Speedster was in their ear pieces.

                But now during the clean up, B.K. had frozen.

The boy fading.

                Signs of an opioid overdose.

The same boy that had brought her to the Church of the Killer Face at the siege. Her brother.

                Johnny barked into his commlink. “Speedster we got seven overdosing, rook is frozen, need that Naloxone.”

                Kyla Storm is a second-generation Speedster. Her father Kyler Storm stood with the Agency, and ultra-secret service super hero task force of the government, and lost his life fighting the good fight. She took up the garb and was part of what the media had dubbed Shotgun’s Turbulent Trio. As the three young heroes worked to find their way as the new Great Crime Fighters.

                She grabbed the Naloxone kits and hit the lightning, 20 blocks would be a heart beat away, 911 was already dialed but she would beat the actual operator picking up.

                Though being the one to save the brother.

Would create one more self-confidence shaking moment for the new PenDragon during the team debrief. That was a conversation McKay needed to have with the kid, or better yet, the real Bionic Knight. But he was missing in action.

“Your worship.” It came out with what almost sounded like a Southern drawl, but was more of rural Alberta.

Susan stopped looking outside of her mayoral office window and turned to the voice, smiling. “Really Will, after all these years and attempts on my life?”

“Just wanted to see what it was like to actually like a Mayor.” William “Shotgun” McKay said. Susan chuckled, even though he had been friends with John MacCurtis, much like his friendship with her husband Rick, he would never publicly acknowledge liking the heroes he was formerly a villain of.  “And I bring my condolences.”

Susan simply shrugged. “She died, cholesterol and cigarettes official story, unofficially the fall of the Church of Killer Face she was collateral, can’t say as I will miss her much, more the loss of the habit of her being around poisoning my and my family’s mental and emotional health continually.”  Hela Kobwash was the perfect partnering foil for her father, Darcey. They never got her and Rick’s connection. Tried bribery, threats to break them apart.

Even took the stance once Darcey was out of the picture of choosing between her and Rick, when she stated bluntly that it would not be a hard choice to cut her out, her Borderline Personality Disorder took over and she started playing more games. Even cost Rick an unpaid leave from one job due to allegations of abuse Hela had alleged Rick had done to the children.  It was Rick that had ensured the type of gutter trash her mother and father hung out with stayed away from the family and the children, whether that was druggies, abusers, paedophiles.

Each time they moved ahead in the right side of the law away form the shadiness of her family her mother tried to find some way to sabotage it, usually playing a “trauma” card by super imposing something of her own life over top of the existing relationship because in her mind there was no way an abject failure like Susan could find happiness and goodness for a lifetime like she had.

It was bitter sweet, but it was now left with Mayor Susan Kobwash whether she would claim her mother’s body from the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee or not, because there was no will, there was no shadow that there was a tie that she needed to claim. Unfortunately, the story had broken in the media, and she had asked for privacy.

Will knew, well, because no matter what side of the fight he has been on since Rick and she were 16 years old, he was part of what Rick has dubbed, the family.

“Going to claim the body?”

“Yes.” Susan answered. Rather matter of fact. “Not because it is the right thing to do, just want to make sure…”

“After all the bull shit, she actually is dead and buried?” McKay finishes the sentence.  Susan just nods. “Have you seen your husband?”

“Every day. He lives in a world of frustration because he is not who he used to be. Things he used to be able to do mentally, physically, response times aren’t there anymore.” Susan stated trying not to crumble.

Shotgun nodded. It was not where one wanted to see a hero. They had great fights against one another, but even better when they chose to battle back the darkness together. McKay just wanted to have coffee with his old friend, and be present in the now, unfortunately that presence was being blocked and he was just an old man who did not get the emotional crap of the 21st century.

“Susan, god help me, when Rick was pastoring he suggested I watch a movie to understand community.”

Lars and the Real Girl.” Susan smiled. It was the story of an awkward man working through life traumas through purchase of a sex doll, and no not like that. It was about taking the doll in as a person, living a life of companion until healing was complete and where and how the community responded to Lars and his partner through the healing journey. “He always spoke of the Women’s group showing up with knitting and casseroles.”

“to sit, and be. Just want coffee with my mate like I used to.”

“But he’s…”

“In the doorway. What the hell are your brats doing Shotgun?” Rick asked.

McKay smiled. “Glad you asked, we have a wee confidence issue that they need to hear from the old man about.”

“Then go.” Rick said.

“I’m not the oldster they need.” McKay said.

Six overdoses. 15 arrests. Police and EMS everywhere. The park used to be a gathering place for families. Johnny stood next to the Speedster. Thunder and Lightning is what the media has called them. The Bionic Knight looked at them. True heroes in her heart.

                Johnny remembers Shotgun waxing poetic about the old days of the drug trade, when the dealers gave a damn about repeat business. Now with the new breed, it was highly predatory, Naloxone was designed to save lives, but secondarily to also save the mental wellness of first responders from bagging too many bodies. Shogun would joke that the new breed of dealers learned the predatory don’t give a damn nature from governments that shifted to funding models based on gambling/casinos as it was one of the most nefarious of addictions. No real signs until there was nothing left for the person but destitution or sadly in most instances, taking of their own lives. Kyla’s dad had shared in his work in social work some of the only real ways to aid a gambling addict out of the cycle was to set them up with a financial administrator or trustee to ensure all the necessities of life were taken care of before the remnant of monies given over to be used as the person saw fit.

Both wondered if the world of a mere 5 years ago may have been an easier world to be a hero in, than the crazy that existed today. Where politicians and groups were too entrenched in ideological camps to be pragmatic and place the person and the community ahead of the needs of the ideological base. Where the 99%’s voice actually shaped policy because they used their voices in the polls as a mediating and mitigating factor to the extremes that existed within.

                They saved her brother. Something even she was unable to do as the addiction seized him deeper and deeper. Hoping each day and each time she did what was necessary to save him it would mean he would take rehab and detox seriously. More and more each time realizing she was being played.

                Kyla’s hand touches her shoulder, she startles back to reality as the gurney with her brother leaves for hospital. “You okay B.K.?”

                “No…I “  

She flies faster than even Johnny can catch her in the air. The PenDragon screaming in her mind. If you cannot save your family how will you ever be worthy?

                If you cannot save him?

How are you any good to save anyone?

Susan watched the two’s banter, and softly chuckled, 23 years ago the same banter would happen while trading blows of sword and shotgun shells. Now they were navigating a conversation of who is the best mentor for the next generation.

“But you are the one they have, Will.”

I said as I left the mayor’s office.

 


It is a question that is 30 years in the making. Okay not really, but that was a great intro line not to have used it.

But it is 30 years since a type writer first typed out the words “The Adventures of Rick Saturn: The Bionic Knight.” and history was made in my fiction writing as a whole super hero universe was birthed that in junior high became known as the Tyverse (Raganverse following the Reagan era of politics just seemed to pretentious). It saw a plethora of heroes and villains created with literally tens of thousands of pages written over the past 30 years on pulp adventure yarns. Some greats like the Agency, Street Avenger, Johnny Power, Speedster and the Great Crime Fighters and some not so great like Rock Dude, Tigorr, and the Rubber Guy (hey not all can be winners).

Yet the first was a hodge podge origin creation, the story of a teenage orphan being raised by an elderly foster parent couple, the Harumphs. A blonde girlfriend, Susan Kobwash, with a nerdy best friend from a wealthy family, John MacCurtis. Yes, this was Rick Saturn, the dweeb, the bullied who one night while escaping tormentors would stumble into a dump, and have Gerklyn the wise (Merlin’s crazy cousin) bestow upon him a ring of power.

What can I say, it was the late 1980’s. I was a child of the 6 Million Dollar man made for t.v. movies; a passion for knights in shining armour and the Arthur/Robin Hood legends; loved Spider-Man (n0te the story of the group); and a time of cartoons of the Bionic Six and Visionaries. It all became boiler plate for a teenage hero who with the “magic mantra” of “Bionics On!” was replaced with the golden armoured knight hero of Calgary…the Bionic Knight. Added a few years later to some angst of his back story was that his family was actually organized crime, killed in a rival shoot out.

But I digress. This character’s sidekick was John MacCurtis, who too would get a magic gift and become PinBall, and eventually Bionic Archer. As well as other identities…but Rick Saturn would centre on the B.K. identity throughout his career. At times a teenager, who aged, in other moments the elder statesman role of the superhero set like one would read in the Justice Society comics. But always holding to a code of a simpler time. Do right, no killing, good always wins.

A light in the dark. As bionics lost favour, I would drop it, and Knight would become his code name, later it would evolve into PenDragon, and the idea of Gerklyn would recede, to Merlin being his patron as the lineage tying directly back more to the mystical side of Arthurian legend reincarnated would become stronger.Perhaps it was due to tracing matrilineal lines back to Uther that led to this clarity. Each year, regardless of other writing there would be a Saturn story produced.

Which is unique, because in the creative process it was MacCurtis I tended to resonate with more. The sidekick, probably as a younger brother. Even to a time when MacCurtis on the page would act as a Tulpa to journey through a spiritual labyrinth.

Yet here I am re-introducing the Bionic Knight to the reader. For you see, part of the journey as well, is to realize that even though the sidekick may assume the helm (think Wally West as the Flash, even Dick Grayson becoming Batman for a time). There is a point in our own journeys, when it is no longer the younger or the sidekick that our life role identifies with.

There comes a time, when where we are in playing mentor to others we realize, we are not Wally (West, Kid Flash, Flash III) or even Barry (Allan, Flash II) but have become in our own journey Jay (Garrick, Flash I) and perhaps are a sidestep away from being Max Mercury (a sage not affiliated with role).

So this year, 30 years on, I begin to plot a new adventure of an old friend. The hair a little thinner and grayer, with a wife not a girlfriend, a family, mourning the loss of a close friend as seen in the last Speare adventure…

So it is time not for a rebirth or reborn moment for a hero. But a grail quest moment.

Watch closely over the next little bit, for it may not be an old manual type writer pecking away at keys, it may be a netbook onto a blog.

But soon…

the question of Who is the Bionic Knight? will be answered, here…when…

The Quest of Rick Saturn: The Bionic Knight debuts.