January 11, 2014

Well, since today’s place on the Episcopal calendar does not have a commemoration, we’ll borrow tomorrow’s since tomorrow will have two sermons to think/talk about.  Aelred of Rievaulx was one fo the Cistercian Fathers, and wrote his first book, “The Mirror of Charity” at a fairly young age.  The concept of the book is seeking to follow the example of Christ in all things.

Like so many statements made by Christ in the Bible, apparently the concept of love in the sense of universal brotherhood was considered by some to be the only acceptable type of love for Christians, but most particularly those who were in monastic orders.

When Jesus was told that his family was waiting to see him, he replied, “All who do the will of my Father are my family.”

Interestingly, Baha’is have a rather similar belief referred to as “detachment”.

“Thou hast inquired about detachment. It is well-known to thee that by detachment is intended the detachment of the soul from all else but God. That is, it consisteth in soaring up to an eternal station, wherein nothing that can be seen between heaven and earth deterreth the seeker from the Absolute Truth. In other words, he is not veiled from divine love or from busying himself with the mention of God by the love of any other thing or by his immersion therein.”

The second definition is in the Words of Wisdom: “The essence of detachment is for man to turn his face towards the courts of the Lord, to enter His Presence, behold His Countenance, and stand as witness before Him.” (Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p155)

Against this view, Aelred wrote that it is compatible with the highest degree of
Christian perfection to take special pleasure in the company of particular
friends. He point out that we are told that Jesus loved John, and Mary, and
Martha, and Lazarus, and that this probably means that he found their company
congenial.

So this gets me to the age-old question:  why are we here?  Yes, we are a soul, but we also have a body.  If we are not to experience the pleasures and pains of the body, then why are we here?  There are so many – myself included, obviously – who want to become closer to God, to be more aware of God in every action – but if we are not to become attached in any way, shape or form to other humans on this planet, and are only to focus our actions and attentions on God, then why are we here?  Is it a test of some sort – to see if we can completely ignore the physical experience and remain only in the spiritual realm?  And if we can’t, did we fail the test?  What would the purpose of such a test be?

I can go on asking questions on logic from now until doomsday, but I am aware that we don’t have the answers as yet.  I am hopeful that the next plane of existence will be more forthcoming with the purpose for our existence, and in the meantime, I still attempt to juggle or balance the physical and the spiritual.  I can appreciate the symbolism of the water in a shower washing away the cares of the day, getting rid of any negativity that clings to me – and at the same time, I just enjoy the feel of hot water, particularly on cold days. 🙂

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