In Light of Pentecost

Today is Pentacost Sunday. I celebrated twice, first with the Earth Holder Sangha, online, from home. The topic was "Being a Lotus in Today's Sea of Fire." Our facilitator, George, referenced an early book by Thich Nhat Hanh called _Lotus in a Sea of Fire_, and asked, "Can we be that lotus - one that is fresh, beautiful and strong, amidst today's raging seas of hatred, tribalism, greed and indifference?"

The lotus flower referred to is from the Lotus Sutra, referring to a flower rising up from the fire, much as it rises from the mud. The mud and the muck is just as much a part of the lotus as is the bloom itself. It's beauty and strength comes from the muck. One of the Plum Village nuns shortened the saying to No Mud, No Lotus, for Thich Nhat Hanh's, calligraphy. The metaphorical flower that stays fresh, cool and beautiful in the fire, does so by zen practice, compassion, mindfulness, meditation, and keeping centered. He brought up a quote by Justice Ginsburg arguing with Justice Thomas, that his argument had more heat than light. Essentially, by modeling these practices, being the light, much compassion can be generated to alleviate day to day pain, suffering, and indignities, and inspire others to learn to alleviate the suffering of our broken world. Our earth is literally and figuratively on fire. George envisioned us as lotus flowers with little solar panels in the center, offering light, and I imagine, cooling relief.

Next, Kimberly and I attended the Pentacost service at Holy Faith Episcopal Church, a truly multicultural church with a bilingual service that we drive thirty minutes, or more, to attend. Father Francisco's sermon reminded us that the church was born in the fire. Much like today, the church was born during a declining empire, with pain and suffering for most. If we do the actual work of the church, that is feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, visiting the incarcerated, welcoming the stranger, caring for the sick, and clothing the poor, we too, can walk through the fire. Inspire rather than preach. Be the light and ANSWER the call. "The fire next time," kept going through my head, reminding me that we are most likely in the proverbial "fire next time." I am reminded time and again that my liberation is bound with the other oppressed, and that I must continue be anti-racist and work against white ideology, that sin with particular meaning and unhealed history, in this country.

The service did end with a hymn that I loathe. "They will know us by our love." I think that's the title. I have had it as an ear worm throughout the day. I do not like to consider myself Christian, because of how much petty meanness, pain, and suffering have been caused by those in the church today, all the way back to the crusades, and further, I am sure. When I see lights, like my seminary professors, and Francisco, Gene Robinson, and the womxn of Black Lives Matter, Aisha Mason, and Anthony Manousos, my Unitarian Universalist activist brethren and my wife, whose lights have been lit by those who have gone before, I can step back, and place them in the continuum of those who have thirsted for justice.

How does one shine a light on for others in the midst of a world of Racism, Nationalism, Homophobia, Transphobia, Ableism, phobias of the poor and the different, and finally, a Climate Emergency. Answer the call, and care for your spirit first. It's both/and, not either/or. In order not to not burn out, the Zen practices will help allay the inevitable suffering that goes along with my passion for making a small difference. How do you take care of your spirit, and are you?

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