Monday, May 10, 2010

Forgive Us For We Know Not What We Do

Over the past few months, a particular Bible verse has crossed my mind. Long before Easter, Jesus’ words as he died, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" have periodically crossed my mind.

To be honest, I’ve heard something kin to his words: "Mother, forgive us for we know not what we do."

I would think this odd except the words or prayer have come to mind as I've thought of the string of recent environmental crises the first of which was the earthquake in Haiti followed by those in Chile, Turkey, China, Mexico and recently in Chile again. During this time there was a deadly coal mine explosion in West Virginia, the volc
ano eruption in Iceland then the oil rig explosion and resulting ongoing oil leak in the Gulf. This was topped off most recently by the Middle Tennessee floods.

Yes, I have thought, "Mother, forgive us for we know not what we do."

I have ignored the words of my inner voice until last week.
Within days of the deluge in Middle Tennessee, a friend sent me an article regarding deep oil drilling. I had naively assumed off shore drilling meant going however many feet to the ocean's floor and 'pop' there one found oil just beneath the earth's crust. Instead I learn that once we get to the ocean floor, we have the capacity to drill into the earth 18,000 to 30,000 feet or the equivalent of three to six miles give or take a few feet. I have often used the phrase "raping the Earth" but the image of drilling into Earth’s skin 3-5 miles is staggering. We truly are penetrating Mother Earth, raping her to sustain our way of life.

"Mother, please forgive us for we know not what we do."


evening I went to the public square to hear the symphony in a free concert graciously gifted to Nashville as the symphony hall had flooding problems. It was a gift for me in a way I never expected. As we spiraled down into the parking garage, I noticed a drawing of a bull’s head for the level in which we parked. I walked up the stairs and emerged onto the square to look down and see etched in the granite the figure of yes, a bull's head. Around it the word "Strength" was etched once on each side forming a box around the figure.

I remembered noticing the only other time I had been at the square a lion's head at the opposite end with the word "Protection" etched around it. I had been called to jury duty that day and took a photo of the lion as well as of the snake and lion figures around the top of the courthouse. Symbolically the snake has many meanings. I choose those related to wisdom, healing and transformation. The music played and I wondered how many noticed our companions the bull, the lion and snake offering strength and protection, wisdom, healing and transformation, traits carrying vital energies needed in any time but especially for Nashville and the world in these times!

The day after I stood in my kitchen making hamburgers and remembered the bull. I thought of all the cattle that give their lives for us. I thought of the mega-corporations making their billions while raising cattle so inhumanely, cattle that become our fast food burgers and 16 ounce steaks.
(Watch the movie, Food Inc. if you haven’t!) It occurred to me as never before that cattle come here in love and give themselves to us so we might have their 'strength.' We are given the gift of choice as to how we will use that strength.

Contrary to what many people think of cats, they have long represented the rising of the feminine offering protection. They have for centuries been considered guardians and represent deep understanding in the natural world. Yet they were killed thousands upon thousands in the coliseums of Rome and burned and drowned with their (usually) female owners accused of being witches in Europe and New England. Today they are still neglected, abused, tortured and hunted as trophies with their heads hung on walls.

How is it collective humankind so neglects the love the animals come here with ?
How is it we don't protect them as they protect, care for and nourish us?

"Mother, Father, Creator, we do not realize the gifts of your children the Animals. Forgive us for we know not what we do. May we shed our ignorant, arrogant ways like the snake sheds its skin. May we wisely use our strength and capacity to protect all your creeping, crawling, flying, swimming, walking, four-legged, feathered, furry, slimy, scaly, and yes two-legged kin.

About our two legged kin.....Week upon week the church doors are flung open and filled are the pews. We say we love God. We sing we love God, while millions of children in lands far away and right here at home are God. They are God sleeping in the streets, looking for bread. They are God trying to wake us up to our interconnectedness. So many are hungry, homeless and orphaned due to war, illness and poverty leaving them vulnerable. And yes, they are God trying to find a way in, into our hearts to see if we can be broken open, be made vulnerable to the situations of others.

On Sundays, we say we love God, we sing we love God. Yet the rest of the week God's name is used politically and in the courts to draw lines, deem what is right or wrong and further create separation, fear and hierarchy.

"Father, forgive us for we know not what we do."

Here we are continuing to live what is often called the greatest story ever told and the story is far from over for the story was and is ultimately about love. Our hearts, minds and hands are the vehicles of that love.

Long after church doors are closed, help us keep the doors of our heart, the real church, open. Keep us open to the many opportunities for healing and for love in these times in this present crisis here at home so we in turn feel and show compassion for those in places far away.

Our hearts have been broken open and made vulnerable by the washing away of what so many called home, by the washing away of what we've called security, by the washing away of loved ones. In our vulnerability we are now part of the family of man, kin with those who live vulnerably day to day.

May our hearts not close once this crisis has passed. And when they do begin to close in judgment and fear give us wisdom to know and grace to call one another out, to call out our open hearts even when they're tired, hurting and afraid so we may be full participants in this new yet old story being told, a story of love, of loving one another and of loving Mother Earth, Nature and all her kin.

Father, Mother, Creator, forgive us.
It is quiet and I hear:
I do.
I do forgive you for I am Love.
You are each love too.

-Dawn! The Good News Muse, 5/11/10

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