I’ve been thinking a lot about God and Jesus and other things these days.
Writing about your own theology can do that to you.
A thought came to my mind this Easter morning:
What if we are the second coming?
What I mean is: what if those of us who are showing love, inclusion, compassion, care for our neighbors whoever they might be… What if we are the second coming?
What if we are Jesus made manifest in this world? Millions of Jesus’ all doing God’s work?
I get these thoughts sometimes.
I’m a witch. I see pretty far and big when I think this way.
A blessed Easter to you all.
WordPress tells me that today is my 3rd blog anniversary. I blinked, looked at it again, and thought “Holy cow! Has it really been that long?”
I looked at my stats. It has.
Then I looked at some of my first posts for this blog and realized I started it as I was in the process of writing my application essay for PSR. I was reading some of those posts earlier and realized just how much I’ve changed in the last three years. Not just how much I’ve change, but how my call has changed, and how I view the world, and and and…
Three years is a short time in some ways. A blip on the overall cosmic timetable. But in many other ways it’s quite a long time.
So, here I am. Second year in. Radical shift in my calling. Preaching my first really big sermon this coming Sunday. Making videos and other art. Not too far from doing my Middler.
Pantheacon always has that Summer Camp kind of feeling. It’s awesome while you’re there, and you miss it when you’re gone, but you also know that it wouldn’t be as special if you lived in that space all the time. Today, I miss it, but I’m also glad to be home and resting.
The Circle of Cerridwen had a suite this year, and this made for a very different, and amazing, con experience. We were intentionally a dry suite, as we have members who are in recovery, and while our suite didn’t get to the point where no one could move, it did have many interesting people come in and out. This also made for really interesting conversations. Some I didn’t think I’d have, and some that I really didn’t know the impact of until I came home on Monday.
But I (and the coven) did the work of pastoral care. Caring for people, sometimes, who would get ignored by other attendees for many reasons. Mostly ignored because they were different in some way, which, even at Pantheacon (as pleasant and awesome as this one was), does happen.
I’m still thinking about the work we did. My own personal pastoral work and impact, the impact of our coven, and the impact of the rituals we performed (The Descent and The Sacred Body). I’m really surprised that the Christian elements we brought with us didn’t get any overt push-back, and that we were thanked for talking about Jesus in a ritual. It’s really made me think harder about what my path really is. It always seems when I come up with a plan, it changes again. But the biggest message I got is that what I’m doing and the way I’m doing it is really important. I’ve been helping people, affecting and effecting people, on lots of levels. Some levels where I don’t even know what I’ve done for people.
But I do know I’ve gotten the best compliment a pastor/minister/priest can receive. Where someone takes the time to tell you that what you did, said, or preached has had an effect on them in some special way. That you’ve made an impact on their lives. That you’ve helped them realized something about themselves that they didn’t know before. That you’ve brought Spirit to them in some way that healed them.
It’s easy to say to myself that I didn’t do any of that, it was Spirit moving through me that did it. But really, Spirit can’t do this work without me (and those around me). Spirit can’t plan the ritual, bring the props, make music, make Keynote slides, break bread, make oil, and all the other things that can only can be done by a human being. But I’m really in awe of it. It’s scary sometimes. It’s scary because it just seems so much bigger than me, and because it’s so easy to get a big head about it. I know I have good folks around me to keep me from going there, but it’s hard not to go there.
It brings up the question of what I’m meant to do and where I’m meant to be. It brings up a lot of self-doubt. Do I get ordained in a Christian organization? Do I just hang on and figure that out after graduation? What organization really would want me in it? Do people really want my ritual, my preaching, anything I have to say?
Pastoring in the suite seemed so easy, really. I just did it. I was my priestly self. I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t doubt anything. I just did it. It’s only now when I’m technically “off duty” that my brain starts it’s litany of doubt.
And maybe that’s the answer. I just do God’s work and let (most) of the rest attend to itself. It seems too simple to do that, but….
Mostly, it’s because there’s just so much going on! Pantheacon is a couple of days away, and I’m looking forward to doing the Wiccan Christian ritual I wrote (with some editing) on Monday at 11 am. The Awesome Wife is doing her music ritual “The Descent” on Sunday at 3:30 pm (at Club Maxx). We also have a suite this year, and we have lots of stuff going on there, too.
It’s crazy busy. You can look at the schedule on our wiki. Come check us out if you’re there.
School just started again, and that’s been really busy, too. Lots and lots of reading, of course. Interesting stuff, though.
I’ve also really started working on Dual Citizen Productions, and producing the new show Coffee With God with my friend Lee which is really taking off. Doesn’t hurt that Lee is pretty amazing at what he does! We’re also going to start filming The Greek Geek in March. I know a lot of folks liked his segments, and I hope you’ll watch the new ones when they come out.
I did an interfaith service at City of Refuge on December 30, 2012, and it was amazing. I’m still getting compliments on it, and really, I’m still in awe of the whole experience.
The biggest thing, though, is that I learned a lot about what being a minister/pastor really is about. I was feeling like I was just “one of the interns” until that service, and now I feel like I’ve really done something for the community. I know some people will say that I’ve really been doing it all along, but this was the first time I really felt that I had ministerial authority. We learn about it in classes, but I don’t think you really know until you do it.
What’s interesting, though, is that it’s made me look at what I do in my coven in a new light. I’m not only a priest and friend, I’m also a teacher. Sometimes I’m leading by example, sometimes through practice, and sometimes I have to give the spiritual boots to the head. It’s not always easy, either, because sometimes you have to be hard on someone, or even walk away from people, in order to help them. As the Morrigan pointed out to me in her story, sometimes it’s me that has to give the mercy blow.
To be honest, it sucks. Recently I was able to do it without apologizing for it, or feeling horrible about it for days afterwards. I felt sad that I had to, but I knew it was necessary. And I know I’ll have to do it again and again as I keep moving on this path.
It’s about power, really. It’s about figuring out how to wield your power to greatest effect. It’s also accepting the power you have. I didn’t think I realized just what I had in me. Now I do, and I’m in awe of it.
I also know that I need my friends more than ever now, because I know how power can put you on a pedestal or make you too full of yourself to function well with others. I also need to remember self-care, because being exhausted helps no one.
It’s hard. It’s not easy. But…I don’t think I’d have it any other way.
So, I guess I did figure out what to write…
I brown the beef in the pot with the onions. I add a little flour to make a roux. I add carrots, potatoes, and garlic. Then comes the beef broth. I stir it all up to make sure all the roux is mixed in, and move to put the lid on for it’s long, slow simmer.
He stops my hand and says, “Aren’t you forgetting something?”
I laugh and sigh at the same time. Maybe I roll my eyes a little, but I can’t argue. I pull a can of Guinness out of the fridge, pop it open, take a swig, and pour the rest into the stew. I give it another stir.
“Yeah, that’s more like it!” I pull two more out of the fridge: one for me and one for Him. We go and sit in old creaky lawn chairs in the backyard, just watching the sun move across the afternoon sky. As the sun sets, we get to talking. Occasionally, I go and stir the stew.
He takes a long drink as twilight sets in. “You know why I like it when you cook?”
“Not entirely, no…”
He sits up on the edge of the old chair, His green eyes serious through his bushy red eyebrows. “Heh…you’re a bad liar.” He laughs. “But this time, I’ll humor you, because it’s important. Food does many things. It can heal people. It can comfort people. It can bring joy, and soothe sadness and pain. When you are the one making food for others, you are bringing them closer to you. You are doing a magickal thing. It is satisfying when you’ve fed someone who you know needs what you can give.
But it’s not just about the food. Food is only the vehicle for the human need for connection. Food brings people together. So much can be communicated by and healed through a shared meal. Especially when you cook for someone else.
That’s why I like to help you. A doubly blessed meal is always a good thing.”
He pauses taking another swallow of Guinness, patting His big belly. He pauses for a few minutes, then continues. “It’s the same when you priest, you know. I bet you know why by now.”
I think for a minute. “Well, yeah, when I’m priesting, I’m stirring the spiritual pot and making something beautiful and nourishing for the people I serve. And if I don’t make it good and flavorful, people won’t accept it.”
He smiles. “And don’t forget to have some variety. Remember, a stew isn’t a stew if you don’t have all the ingredients together. And sometimes, a little spice is a good thing!” He winks at me, then lets out a huge roar of laughter that comes from his belly. “Go on, check the stew. It should be almost done now.”
I get up to stir the stew. He picks up His harp and plays a light tune as the stars come out. I hear the lilting song in the kitchen. Over the music he yells back into the house: “Pull out a lot of bowls, love, there’s a lot of folks to feed out there!”
“All right!” I start pulling bowls and utensils out of the cabinets, lining the counters and the table. I begin to hum along to the harp song as I slice bread, put out the salt and pepper shakers, and butter. I feel the anticipation of knowing that a meal I made will feed so many. It is a beautiful thing.
The harp song rises, calling out into the night:
“Come, come, whoever you are,
for the cauldron is full
and you will not be turned away.
Come, come, whoever you are,
we call to you to come and taste
of comfort, of love, of peace
and of justice
Come and taste, come and talk, come and love, come and be
May we be blessed with abundance as the seasons turn!
Come, come, whoever you are
for the cauldron is full to overflowing
Come, come, whoever you are,
you are welcome here
and you will not be turned away
Come, Come, whoever you are
for love is here and plentiful
Come, come, whoever you are
you are welcome here
come and have your fill!
Come and taste, come and talk, come and love, come and be
May we be blessed with abundance as the seasons turn!”
There is a knock at the door.
“Come in!” I shout, as the harp song continues….
We sit on the beach at sunset. We are tending a fire on the beach. The others have gone, leaving us alone.
“You have questions?”
I nod, open my mouth, and shut it again. There are so many questions that I don’t know which one to ask first.
He nods, poking at the fire with a stick. He waits, patiently.
I look out over the dark ocean. The stars and the moon shine on the water. The waves form a steady rhythm behind the pop and crackle of the fire. I fidget, trying to ask the question that I have, but scared to know the answer.
Because, knowing Him, the answer may not be what I really want to hear.
I look over at Him again, and He raises and eyebrow. I fidget a little more, and then finally spit out: “Why me?”
“Ah…why you?” He pokes at the fire with a stick. “Why not you? Why wouldn’t I have someone like you learning from Me and being My Priest?”
“Well…I…I’ve been told by some that I can’t follow you truly…because I don’t see you as they do…”
“Do you believe that?”
“Then let me tell you something: Scripture is just words on a page written by men a long time ago. When I came, I was also told I wasn’t ‘following scripture’…that I couldn’t possibly be following God because I didn’t see God the way the priests did. I knew scripture, but I also knew what was right. I knew that God was in everyone I met. I could see it. I could Heal because I called the spirit inside me that is God and told it to Heal. I caused change in the world. I had hoped it would do more good than harm, but…well, history didn’t come out that way…”
He pauses, stirs the fire again, adding another log. “Let me tell you a story…” I give a little laugh. He rolls his eyes, then continues:
“There were three people who came to me one day to hear what I was teaching. One was a merchant, one was a priest, and one was a peasant. I told one of my parables (I don’t remember which one), and each of them had a different reaction. The merchant told me how inspired he was by the story, and left some gold at my feet in payment. The priest got angry and started yelling at me about scripture and rules. He was even foaming at the mouth! He told me I was going to Hell and then stalked off. The peasant sat, and listened, thought quietly while the other two were doing what they did. He asked me a few questions, left a loaf of bread, and walked away, still thinking about what he had heard. So, here’s the dilemma: which of the three had the greater faith?”
I sat and thought about it for a minute, and answered: “Well, none of them had any greater faith than the other, since they all came to listen to You and Your message in the first place.”
“Yes.” He pauses. “Exactly.”
He gets up from the sand, brushes off his robes, and throws his stick into the fire. “So, to answer your question: Why you? Because you came and listened. Because, more importantly, you understand what you hear. I’m not really that fussy about the details. How you get there isn’t important. Showing Love and Compassion is.” He puts His hand on my head in blessing and starts walking down the beach.
After a few steps, He looks over his shoulder and says:
“Tend the fire, friend. There are those who need it’s warmth.”
(Merry Christmas to you and yours.)
I walk behind Her as we approach the field. A mist rises around us, but the further into the field we go, I can see that there are bodies everywhere. Armor, blood, gore, chainmail, swords, and all the weapons and trappings of war lay scattered. We pick our way through the bodies. There is hardly any noise beyond the moans and groans of wounded and dying soldiers. Even the crows have decided to stay silent as they watch from their perches in the trees.
My stomach wants to rebel, but I swallow hard, and continue to follow Her through the field.
Her Sword gleams as She searches the field. She stops next to the body of a young soldier. He looks at Her. There’s brief flash of fear before She gives him the Mercy blow, but after his face is peaceful. She lifts his spirit up from his body, kisses him, and he fades to the place beyond the veil.
I stare as we both watch him leave.
I am not sure, exactly, what I feel, but I know that what She did was right. I look at the field stretched out in all directions.
Then I look at Her.
She turns to me. Her face is a mask, but there are tears in Her Eyes. “Did you think that Mercy and Compassion came without cost?”
I bowed my head. “No. But there are so many!”
“There are always too many.” She says with sorrow.
We continue to walk the field.
“You are afraid of Me.”
It was’t a question. Although, I was compelled to answer, weakly, “Yes.”
She returned to Her Cauldron, stirred it three times, and then sat. She offered me a stool opposite the Cauldron, and said “Sit.”
I began to stir the Cauldron. The smell was enticing and repulsive all at once, and I couldn’t describe it as anything remotely of our world. It glowed, but was deep and dark, like a starry night in a field far from city lights. She smiled at me, and I felt warm.
“I will tell you a Truth.”
She paused. I stirred.
“There are many stories about Me and Gwion Bach. Who he was, what he became, and My role in it. You are familiar, yes?”
I nodded. I stirred.
“Good. Now, I told him to stir the Cauldron, just like you are now. He was a frightened little boy. He was so worried about disappointing Me, and stirred so carefully, that little things made him jump. I tried to tell him to relax, but he didn’t. He couldn’t let go. It got to be so that even the littlest things frightened him. One day I dropped My shoe, and he jumped so hard that he got three drops of the potion on him, gaining the knowledge and wisdom that was far beyond his years. With his eyes now opened, he tried to hide from it. So he ran.”
She paused. I stirred.
“Of course, I chased him. I wanted to help him, to teach him what he need to know to control the knowledge and emotions that plagued him. I was angry, too, because I was so busy with my own duties not to see how far My hireling had regressed. So I chased him, and you know how that turned out.”
I nodded. I stirred.
“So, in My Womb, he learned what I couldn’t teach him as Gwion. He became Taliesin and was great in knowledge, wisdom, and love. But, do you know, which lesson he really learned?”
I looked up and into Her eyes. It was as if She was staring straight into my soul. I looked away, and in doing that, I fumbled with the great spoon used to stir the Cauldron.
I felt fear, anger at my clumsiness, humiliation in my failure, embarrassment. I was so caught up in my emotions, I hadn’t noticed the single drop of hot potion landing on my hand until it started to burn.
I began to panic. I could feel what Gwion had felt, and I understood why he had run. I could feel the clarity. I could see all of myself. All of the emotions that were open, and all that were buried. I started to take a step backwards, away from the Cauldron.
I looked up at Her, eyes wide, and She grinned. I took another step. And another. Before I knew it, I had turned and was running hard.
“Go ahead. Run! You can’t hide from Me!”
The fire surrounds me. I am raging. Raging at unfairness, at discrimination, at life, at things I really can’t control.
But I am angry.
Through the fire She comes and stares at me. She gives me that half smile that tells me She knows very well what’s going on. She laughs. The Snakes are looking at me, too, which only pisses me off more.
“What?!” I snarl.
“Well,” she says, “you can do something about that righteous rage you’ve got going there, or,” She pauses, “I could help you out.” She smiles again.
That stops me in my tracks.
I have been so angry, I haven’t stopped to think, really think, about what my anger is about. Is it a genuine anger that should be dealt with, or is it something that I should just let go of? Is it something that I can do something about on my own, or do I really need Her help?
I take a deep breath. And another. And another. And another.
I’m still angry.
I’m still frustrated.
She gives me a look and a sigh of impatience.
“Um…no…I think I can deal with it. Thank you for the offer, though.” (It always pays to be polite with Her.)
She laughs at me again. “All right. You know where to find Me if you change your mind.” A pillar of fire erupts and She has disappeared. The fire around me diminishes and grows cold.
Her laughter rings in my head as I seek a more mundane solution…
“What are you afraid of?” She asks.
I look at her sitting on the root of the Great Tree next to me. I don’t say anything, because, in my mind, I’m blocking what I already know. I stare down the roads to the South and East. The desert and the city.
She crosses Her arms. “I’m not going to tell you what you already know, but I am going to make you admit it.”
“I…I’m afraid…I’m afraid I won’t be good enough. I’m afraid I won’t get all this work done. I feel like there is not enough time for everything…”
“You’re afraid you’re going to fail.” She stares hard at me with Her young face. I nod.
“Do you think I would test you in this way if I thought you would fail? Do you really think We would bring you here only to have it all be for nothing?”
I shake my head.
She continues, “Just because you have some pretty cords doesn’t mean you are done being initiated. This time, it’s not for Me, but don’t think for one minute that We all don’t have a stake in what you do.”
I nod again and stare at my hands. The idea that I am not alone in this journey bubbles up and sticks in my head. I am not alone, on Earth, or in the Spirit realm. My fears ease slightly.
“Besides, Little Crow, when you finally come to Me, I want you to tell me you did your best.”
I look up again, and She is smiling at me in her Crone aspect. Her eyes hold laughter, and She winks.
I stick my tongue out at Her and smile. “You…sometimes I hate You, You Old Bitch, but you’re right. You know, I hate it when You’re right!”
She smiles and laughs, turning into an Owl. I watch as She flies away to the North. When She is out of sight, I start walking.