by Gregory Hermann
“God’s kingdom turns all of those associations upside down.
Order becomes opportunity,
Stability melts into movement and change,
Status-quo government gives way to a revolution of community and neighborliness,
Policy bows to love,
Domination descends to service and sacrifice,
Control morphs into influence and inspiration,
And vengeance and threats are transformed into forgiveness and blessing.”
Brian McLaren as quoted by Fr. Richard Rohr
In more than one place in the Christian scriptures we hear that the Kingdom of God is at hand. I hear my Native teachings about mino bimaadiziwin, the good life, is where I act on Mother Earth. All spiritual expressions seem to point to life in the present moment rather than a goal to be obtained.
Over the past few reflections, we have pondered “Love is a verb, not a noun”; “prayer should be as simple as breathing”; and "taming demons so we can recognize angels."
I reflect on the current state of our democracy. Anger is present. Division is palpable. Responsibilities are deflected. Truth is denied. Demons are present and within. How do I turn these into acts of love?
I am grateful for one of the fruits of my yoga practice – postures, meditation/contemplation. I know these are different, but each is a practice of presence. Practice a specific posture holds me in the present. Certain breath practices hold me in the present.
In moments of courage, I hold my demons, my need for domination (being right), control, and vengeance. Like a posture or a meditation, I hold these and begin to learn from them, makes friends with them – allow them to direct my energy.
When I hold a yoga posture, I become mindful of certain parts of my body that are strained, or relaxed, or are in pain. As I do this, I can make adjustments: I can change a body placement; I can change my breath; I can exit the posture.
When I rest my mind, I am directed to healthier, safer options. This is true with my demons - desires to be right or in control or win or dominate……. Holding these desires/demons – resting with these desires – I am present to the strains, pains, and health risks and benefits. The stillness of my mind makes space for refinements – relationships with/friendliness with the demons.
The most powerful refinement of thought is the awareness of connection, the reality of relationship, the fact of the impact of the demon self – isolation.
Control, vengeance, status quo, order, policy, etc.--these are about me. These are my attempts to dominate an outcome by imposing on you.
Stillness allows me to relate to you.
Stillness directs me to forgiveness.
Stillness makes space for the actions born of love and expressed as love.
Stillness makes space for the mystery of transformation to move.
Stillness allows demons to transform.
With a holiday of gratitude upon us, I invite you to a moment of stillness:
Is there a space within filled with a selfish intent?