Meditation of the Heart (Yaconelli) Day 5

Today’s contemplation is on suffering.  Mark Yaconelli, in his book Wonder, Fear, and Longing, brings forth the parable of healing a guy who gets carried around on his mat by friends who are determined to get him to Jesus for healing. This Mark 2 pericope focuses on a guy I call Matt.  I envy Matt.  He’s got (at least) four friends who stop at nothing, not even crowded doorways, to see that Matt goes before a man whom they know has been healing folks all day long in this one house.

The narrative doesn’t tell us what happened to Matt, but he is paralyzed. We don’t get any insight to his friends’ knowledge of what happened to Matt to make him paralyzed.  Maybe he was injured; or maybe he’s been paralytic since birth.  We are not given any of Matt’s back story to know his hurts, frustrations, issues, or challenges beyond being paralyzed. But, if we were to put ourselves in Matt’s place, we would know our own hurts, frustrations, issues and challenges.

When Jesus sees Matt being lowered down from the roof inside the house, he addresses the paralytic and his friends. Mark tells us, when Jesus saw their faith (meaning Matt’s friends too), he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  Whhuttt??!!  He doesn’t say ‘be healed’; he says, the things that have deterred you from a relationship with God have been cancelled and forgiven.  I guess Jesus was saying, yeah you’re physically struck but what’s more important is how you relate to your Creator.

The Pharisees asked about this too because they didn’t think anyone but God was able and allowed to forgive sins. Jesus asked them “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’?”  In other words, Is it easier for us to be confident is God’s willingness to forgive us when we do things that jeopardize our relationship with God, than it is to restore movement to a paralytic?

Yaconelli asks us to spend some time thinking about our own suffering which we usually keep hidden – shame, fear, frustration… and, he asks this, which I found insightful: How does this hurt live inside your body?

Six years ago I had breast cancer and I spent time in my cancer-fighting days reviewing my life events considering what I might have done to enable cancer to present itself in my body. I thought about how stress impacts your well being – heart disease, neck and back pain, etc. and how not living according to your heart’s dream compromises your integrity, These questions still come up when I’m on my yoga mat. So, this Marcan story and Yaconelli, in this contemplation, has me connecting the way I take care of my body (or don’t) with my relationship with God.

Meditations of the Heart (Thurman) Section 3 Day 10

Today’s entry in Rev. Thurman’s meditation journal says that we have two areas of need: 1) for something to worship and 2) for family.

I thought these were odd choices. The need for family I could see as valid.  We need, Thurman says, to be part of the human race (a family of people), part of a collective and not a separate unit. “I am aware,” he says, “that all the race, in some very meaningful sense, breathes through me – that I am a part of the very pulsating rhythm of existence.”

He furthers the idea of our connected explaining that we are not separate units, rather, we are deeply involved in the collective experience of human aliveness (115).  Thurman was a 20th century theologian writing in 195 saying we need to communicate openly with the human family.  I am a 21st century seminarian envisioning the millions of people that walk around with their cell phones, able to call, text, go on facebook, instant message and tweet. But, are these communications deep and meaningful as I believe Thurman was indicating, or are they media noise?

Thurman’s opinion that we need something to worship was interesting as I consider the things we do worship. I think he had a different concept of worship than I do. He says there is something “native to the human spirit that insists upon the offering of one’s precious gifts, one’s precious possessions.  Who is the recipient of your piece of good news? To what do you bring the most precious increments of your spirit, your mind, your possessions?” He says, “you want to tell somebody who will accept your tidings as a symbol of nearness and devotion.”

Maybe I’m skeptical but I’m not so sure we each want or trust that. Who is that recipient of your good news?

I was thinking of worship as the act of prizing a thing, returning to it with your full attention, your focus, your energy. Some people prize their work, others a sport or an artistic outlet, or shopping, or maybe give full attention to a newborn child.   But, I think Thurman means to worship something/someone is to share with it what’s up with you; to tell them your daily news, to offer your personal gifts and your possessions.

Some people talk to their mom or dad, or their spouse or partner, a beloved teacher or respected coach to receive their news. Thurman writes, “whatever it is that holds so central a place in your reaction to living, that is your God.”