Sunday, January 24, 2021

Finding Love in the Opposite



Jonah 3:1-5, 10


The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.


I Corinthians 7:29-31


I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.


Mark 1: 14-20


Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.



There is a part of iRest meditation where we recognize what is present in our bodily sensations, emotions, and beliefs (or thoughts). Next, we bring to mind the opposite of these things. Sometimes this ends in a recognition that things will get better, sometimes in a recognition that things could be worse, but always we are brought to a place of steadiness, even standing (samasthiti), and compassion. We become able to see both sides of a story. They (feelings, emotions, and beliefs) lose their power over us.


The bible stories of today are filled with people challenged by their opposites:

Jonah turned his back on his calling, but eventually did cry out to the people of Nineveh. The people of Nineveh heard and turned their back on their sinful lives. These are opposites in action.  The result is God changing God’s mind to the opposite outcome. In Corinthians we see a list of opposite actions similar in tone to the Beatitudes: marriage, mourning, happiness, wealth, and politics are all addressed. In Mark we see a return to the idea of calling as we heard in Jonah. But even here there are opposites.  Fishing for people instead of fish, giving up marriage, mourning, happiness, wealth, and politics in exchange for following God and unconditional love (agape). In all of these teachings those being called leaned into the opposites.


We all, myself included, need to lean into the opposites right now. Normally for me I imagine opposites as a Venn diagram and no matter how opposite things feel there is always in the center some common ground. However lately I'm finding that to be less and less true. I find two circles without overlap.  But what if I took these two circles with no overlap together and tried to find their opposite? Wouldn't that be complete overlap or one circle containing all? And if it contains all, why do we need a circle? The overlap is everywhere and right here all at the same time. No matter how much I may disagree and go to my own circle at times, I can still unconditionally love in our common circle of mankind.


This time just like every election prior, is a difficult time of transition. Some of us are happy, some are sad, or whatever two opposite emotions - feelings - beliefs fit for you. Our challenge right now is not to agree, but to respectfully disagree. To lead with compassion for our fellow man. I like to remind myself that four years ago we all were wearing the other "circle of citizen’s" current emotions, that these opposites are fluid in our lives, that unconditional love always wins, and that takes away the power feelings – emotions - beliefs have over us.


So be in the circle of unconditional love no matter how much you disagree with others, lead with that love that overpowers any other feeling – emotion - belief thus extending out to a limitless circle of love drawing the circle wider.



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