I was recently in Atlanta where I had the privilege of presenting a couple of workshops and seeing some private clients here at a popular new age bookstore called Phoenix and Dragon. My wife Jesseca was with me as well as she was taking an Enneagram Training Intensive. We’ve both been quite busy, and one of my intentions is to get some writing down in between the private sessions and the workshops. Got some homework to do!
We had one car so I would take Jess to her class in the morning and pick her up in the evening. Here it is Sunday and after driving to and from the class where I’d dropped her off, I tuned into a radio station where a very enthusiastic preacher was giving his sermon. As I noted in my book Sacred Ceremony, I’d learned to appreciate all the different ways we humans try to reach God, no matter the face and clothing of any particular religion or spiritual practice. It all comes down to different ways we try to get or remain in touch with Great Spirit, Source, Creator, All-That-Is, or whatever term you want to apply here. It’s still God. Maybe not in the sense of a really big guy with a long white beard watching for you to make the wrong moves, but a more universal power that animates everything in the heavens and on Earth.
So this preacher was talking about Jesus as God, or the Son of God. He had one of those singsong kinds of rhythms, similar to what you would imagine a radio preacher would sound like, in that lilting southern dialect that makes its own special kind of music. Reminded me of the hypnotic cadence of Jesse Jackson. He was emphasizing that God wasn’t the vengeful Great Being that we typically think of, watching for us to commit sins and then parceling out punishment. Instead he wove his talk around the first two commandments, ones that Jesus had stressed.
And those are first, love God, and second, love your neighbor. So simple. Easier to remember than ten commandments! It’s a great moral code, but one that can be challenging to follow. Especially if that neighbor is someone who violates your personal sense of what’s right or wrong, whether they’re a stranger or someone close to you. Then judgments follow. There’s the real work—to be aware of and clear those judgments so that love can come through.
I sure liked what that southern preacher had to say.