In our daily prayers God was every manner of image and metaphor and meaning, and always, "God the Father." We never ever prayed to "God our Mother." What were women in the economy of God? The answer was only too painful: We were invisible. I had given my life to a God who did not see me, did not include me, did not touch my nature with God's own....Joan Chittister, "Called to Question"

Sunday, August 29, 2010

For Proper 17C

This weeks offering comes from The Rev. Karla Jean Miller:

This is not what I am preaching on, but I love this parable by the Sufi poet, Rumi. A colleague, who is going through some really horrible chemotherapy, shared it on her blog. Like a parable of Jesus, every time I read it, there is something different to learn. So, in the spirit of the parable in today’s lectionary, I share this parable.

Jesus on the Lean Donkey by Rumi

Jesus on the lean donkey
This is an emblem of how the rational intellect
Should control the animal-soul.

Let your spirit
Be strong like Jesus.
If that part becomes weak,
Then the worn-out donkey grows to a dragon.

Be grateful when what seems unkind
Comes from a wise person.

Once, a holy man,
Riding his donkey, saw a snake crawling into
A sleeping man’s mouth! He hurried, but he couldn’t
Prevent it. He hit the man several blows with his club.

The man woke terrified and ran beneath and apple tree
With many rotten apples on the ground.
You miserable wretch. Eat.”
“Why are you doing this to me?”
“Eat more, you fool.”
“I’ve never seen you before!
Who are you? Do you have some inner quarrel with my soul?”

The wise man kept forcing him to eat, and then he ran him.
For hours he whipped the poor man and made him run.
Finally, at nightfall, full of rotten apples,
Fatigued, bleeding, he fell
And vomited everything,
The good and the bad, the apples and the snake.

When he saw that ugly snake
Come out of himself, he fell on his knees
Before his assailant.
“Are you Gabriel? Are you God?”
I bless the moment you first noticed me. I was dead
And didn’t know it. You’ve given me a new life.
Everything I’ve said to you was stupid!
I didn’t know.”
“If I had explained what I was doing,
you might have panicked and died of fear.
Muhammed said,
‘If I described the enemy that lives
inside men, even the most courageous would be paralyzed. No one
would go out, or do any work. No one would pray or fast,
and power to change would fade from human beings,’

so I kept quiet
while I was beating you, that like David
I might shape iron, so that, impossibly,
I might put feathers back into a bird’s wing.

God’s silence is necessary, because of humankind’s
Faintheartedness. If I had told you about the snake,
You wouldn’t have been able to eat, and if
You hadn’t eaten, you wouldn’t have vomited.

I saw your condition and drove my donkey hard
Into the middle of it, saying always under my breath,
‘Lord, make it easy on him.’ I wasn’t permitted to
Tell you, and I wasn’t permitted to stop beating you!”

The healed man, still kneeling,
“I have no way to thank you for the quickness
of your wisdom and the strength
of your guidance.”
God will thank you.”

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