Psalm 137, 2 Timothy 1:1-7 and Often I Imagine the Earth by Dan Gerber
October 2nd, 2022 10:30 a.m.
SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
By Rev. Nicole M. Lamarche
Happy Sunday! I so love this time of year, especially here in Colorado with the nights turning crisp and the leaves starting to change. Thank you for being here.
And as you know, I get very nervous each time I preach and so I hope you will join me in prayer.
Gracious God, let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen
“Have you ever killed anything?” he asked. A bit stunned, I took a deep breath and thought for a moment. “I have gutted many fish,” I said. “And I think I did one deer hunt with my dad when I was young…” “I have made hundreds and hundreds of kills,” he said “and I do it, we do it in a certain way, we are connected to it.”
Jeremiah, known as (Jay) Julius, is a chair of the Lummi Nation in the Pacific Northwest and I had the privilege of meeting him and his kids and a few others in that community this summer. In addition to having had the chance to eat salmon he caught and barbequed, Jay and I talked at length about how most of us are disconnected from what happens to the animals that end up on our plates. As a regular meat eater, I took it in. It wasn’t exactly new to hear what he was saying, but the point was that as much as I love my steak, especially the one at Under the Sun that comes with fries and chimichurri sauce, his point was, if I had to regularly watch a cow being stunned and then hoisted in mid-air, suspended, upside down by their legs, with their major arteries and veins severed, would it be as delicious? Would it feel different? Would I account for it differently in some way? I am quite sure that at the very least, I would be more inclined to find a way to love more varieties of bean salad if I had to be a part of regularly ending the life of the animal that ends up on my plate. And I am guessing I wouldn’t be the only one. This same principle is true for things like the clothes we wear and the way we get around. Would I feel differently about my cheap t-shirt if I was connected to the young girl in Bangladesh who made it? Are you with me?
There seems to be something within each of us, something maybe we’re born with, that we come here with, the way we feel connected to all creation, , a place within us that from our inception that knows our connection to others, to other people, and to all of creation. So It seems that in life and on our spiritual journeys, more disharmony is caused, when there is too much space between the parts, things get out of balance, spiritually and materially, more anxiety, more exploitation, more harm… When there is a wide gap between a process, an experience, when there is a long distance by design or by default, it allows us to not know the full story in a way, to not feel the impact, and maybe to not be invested in the balance of the whole thing.
I think this is why things get out of hand on social media. People are way more likely to behave badly if they don’t feel the impact of their words. The damage done by words in the way one would experience a harsh interaction in person. We aren’t able to feel our connectedness in the same way.
Whatever name we have for it, what if it’s a gift given to us from the start, a presence within us and between us, the little us and the big us? And what if it must be unwrapped in a way this gift, or rekindled on occasion, with each new season and each new cycle and each new generation?
What if this connection must be uncovered and tended to in part because modern life as we have designed it here, allows so much disconnection not just from the processes that feed and clothes us, but disconnection from the creatures who live with our decisions and disconnection from our inner voices and disconnection with one another.
So what if this is a time where we might reclaim the importance and power of proximity? Of being close enough to one another and to Spirit and close to the choices we make, of being more tuned in to the gift, so that our inherent connection with one another cannot be ignored.
I have long stopped worrying about who is right or whether that matters or how to quantitatively verify where I have theologically, but for whatever it’s worth, I really do believe there is something that connects all of us. I believe with my whole being, that there is a thread somehow, an energy that binds us, in ways we don’t fully, truly, understand… Maybe that is what the early Christian writers meant when Paul wrote to Timothy saying that “The Gift of God that is Within you.” Paul says that it is a gift to be able to worship with a clear conscience and that we need to be able to rekindle the gift of God within each of us…
We can choose to sort of turn down the volume on this gift, or cover it up, or to become numb to it so we don’t feel it, that’s easier, not allowing ourselves to feel the connection, the impact.
We can choose to not listen, to not rekindle the light that is within when it dims, and yet it will still be there, when we are ready.
There is a gift of God that is Within you…” And it is between us and among us and binding all creation together.
Perhaps the Divine gives us the gift of connection, in part because we are more likely to act in ways that support the whole thing, the whole group, the whole community, the whole human project, the whole ecosystem, when we are close enough to experience the impact of how we show up in the world, the other end of our thoughts, words and actions. It’s hard and holy when we are willing to accept and integrate this Gift of God, this Connection That is Within each of us, when we dare to hear, to know, to feel what is real, our internal connections and an invisible ongoing thing that binds us all together. Atoms everywhere. No me. No You.
Keep listening, Beloved of God, keep tending to your inner light, to the gift of God that is already within you. May it be so. Amen.