Resurrecting Dad and Making Right With Mom, Theologically Speaking
Why it feels good to be a little closer to nature
Every time I jog or stroll around my mother’s provincial hometown of Jasaan, Philippines, I slow down or pause to admire these beautiful sculptures in front of an artist’s home:
I’m drawn to them because to me, they bespeak a time when there existed a sacred communion between humankind and nature, one whereby humans held reverence for animals and our shared environment. (Think “Colors of the Wind” in Disney’s Pocahontas.) This was a time before a pernicious ideology infiltrated and infected most of “civilized” society — the idea that man had dominion over the earth and its non-human inhabitants, and so could do anything they wanted to them.
Well, the belief in that dominion, first annunciated and recorded a couple of thousands of years ago, catalyzed doomsday. And we’re still experiencing its effects to this day.
In the Ancient Greek tragedy of Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, Oedipus kills his father and sleeps with his mother.
The mystical meaning of the story is that all of us have done the same. That is, we’ve killed off Father God and have had inappropriate relations with Mother Earth. Failing to cultivate a genuine relationship with the divine, we’ve become lost in material exploits that might feel good for a while, but that will ultimately prove to be our undoing.
Because Mom won’t keep taking our crap for long. Neither will Dad. Keep stuffing the air with carbon dioxide, keep stuffing wild animals into tight cages, and everything from global warming to global pandemics become our modern-day Biblical plagues-of-Egypt. And yet life will go on, regardless of whether we’re still standing on the desecrated earth or lying six feet beneath it.
And so it is with our individual lives. We don’t need anyone to tell us about the dire consequences of chronic physical and psychological stress. The kind that happens when we keep stuffing our bellies and minds with junk. The traditional Christian concept of Armageddon is that one day there will be a cataclysmic reckoning. The gnostic interpretation is that such a reckoning is something many of us, in our personal lives, have already experienced or are on the brink of experiencing. Life-altering things like heart attacks, terminal cancer, financial bankruptcy, gut-wrenching fractures in our closest relationships, divorce, suicide, to name a few.
But the New Heaven and Earth follows Armageddon. The Resurrection follows the Crucifixion. Enlightenment follows the Wheel of Suffering. The rainbow follows the storm. And the addict — whether of junk food, or illicit drugs, or casual sex, or serious gambling, or petty dramas — will bottom out one day, face their own “dark night of the soul,” and be forced to look for another way. The object of addiction is a false god, and all idols eventually fall. And amidst the rubble will remain an ancient Truth that we’ve always known and that’s awaited our glad return. A Truth articulated in so many ways by the deepest wisdom of all the world’s greatest religious, spiritual, and secular psychotherapeutic teachings: that Love is the answer.
That’s the lesson we’re all bound to learn. In A Course in Miracles, it’s said that it’s not up to us what we learn, but only whether we learn it through joy or through pain. No matter how much suffering we decide to put ourselves through first, eventually we’ll get there. Because nobody likes to suffer all the time, nobody likes to be at war all the time, nobody likes to be anxious and/or depressed all the time. Eventually, in our individual lives, hopefully much before we’re on our deathbeds, we’ll transcend the drama and learn the lesson. And eventually, in our collective lives as a species, we’ll finally burn our collective karma and learn the lesson. Albert Einstein once said, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Hopefully, the generation after that will finally have had enough drama that they decide to put those weapons down, realizing that Love is the answer. But dear God, may we not have to wait that long.
Again, that lesson is spoken in many different ways. “Love one another,” the Golden Rule, the Tao and more. I don’t believe any one language can claim a monopoly on that Truth. As a Christian, the language I use and am most familiar with is that God is Love, and that Love surely is the answer. In spiritual terms, Love will always have the final say. In religious terms, God’s Will will always be done. And in secular terms, as eloquently spoken by MLK, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
God needs us to be the benders.
And so I find myself more and more appreciative of provincial spaces, places like Jasaan, where life feels a little slower, a little more contemplative, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. To the extent that God, or Love, is spirit, and to the extent that my mind is matter, it’s a little easier here to declutter that mind and allow it to be infused by that spirit. Easier to be “in-spirited” or inspired to share that Love. Easier to remember that this is truly where home is, where my soul can find rest. Not in Jasaan per se, but in Love.
For when things slow down and get quiet awhile on the outside, it’s easier to listen for that “small, still voice for God.” And when things slow down and get quiet awhile on the inside, whether through consistent meditation or prayer or whatever practice we use to relax into ourselves, it’s easier to hear It — that voice for God, that conscience, that deepest intuition, by whatever name we use. And more and more does it become easier to embody that Love no matter where we are.
And only then can we re-establish our right relationships with Father God and Mother Earth and all that she represents — our material relationships not only with nature but also with our own bodies, with each other, and with our everyday lives. Because in our right-mindedness, in our sanity, having aligned ourselves with the highest Truth of our souls on the spiritual plane, we become more effective at navigating the material one.