'A Stream Being A Stream'
river de chute... easton, maine
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Anna finally spoke. "It is all of you who are making a big deal out of it, not me. I simply don't think it's important."
*Susan Trott. The Holy Man's Journey.
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Anna is the new disciple of the Holy Man, Joe. She is to succeed him as the monk on the mountain. Upon the return of other of Joe's devotees in Spring - for they would leave during Winter - a conflict ensues over the custom of shaving the head. It was the tradition to shave the head bald.
Finally, the lawyer, Henri, speaks his mind. He states the obvious - hair grows back. The others join in, "You see, Anna. ... It grows back. You are making too much of a big deal out of it."
Anna responds matter-of-factly. She says, "It is all of you who are making a big deal out of it, not me. I simply don't think it's important."
Anna cannot think shaving her hair is important. Why? For her, it cannot be important. She does not need to decide. She knows. She is the only one seeing from the heart.
Joe, having witnessed the devotees debate, agrees with Anna. He says, "I agree. Shaving heads is not important. And not shaving heads is not important."
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A sign of spiritual maturation is coming to value things differently than prior. What was important is not anymore. What was non-important is now. You discern the can-does from the am-to-does.
Included in this discernment is the recognition that nothing is essential but what is essential. Popular opinion and revered traditions are seen for what they are - often a distraction from what matters most. And some things may not be a distraction to some but are for others. You feel how your shoes fit on your feet, not someone else's feet. One has moved from unquestioned loyalty to custom, group, and ideology.
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Gospel of Matthew 23.23-24 (NLT) - Jesus speaking -
What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees (a conservative religious sect; lit., pious ones). Hypocrites (lit., mask wearers)! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law (or, teaching) - justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Blind guides! You strain your [drinking] water so you won't accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!
Jesus says they are to tithe, for it was integral to their religious system. Nowhere in Jesus' teachings or the rest of the Christian Scriptures is tithing a requirement for the Jesus Way.
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In the religious tradition of my upbringing, which was very strict, fishing on Sundays was taught to be a sin. Persons could play ball, watch sports, cook meals, feed swine, and jog - pretty much whatever they wanted or needed to do - on Sundays, but not fish. I never found that in the Christian Scriptures. Still, it was a religious law for us, as was for some: no girls and boys swimming together, women not shaving body hair, no dancing, no rock-n-roll, no long hair for men - but that was never clarified for me as to how long my hair could be before it was long - no masturbation for girls or boys, no sex before marriage - but no one clarified if necking and anything else before copulation was okay - like just how far could I go with a girl? - confusing - ... a lot of stuff never found in Christian Scriptures, and most of the morality seemed about no no no rather than yes yes yes.
I visited my aunt's family in Lousiana. They were Catholic. On a Sunday, we loaded up to go fishing. We arrived at a lovely place to fish. The scene amazing, the water clear and placid. A sunny day. They prepared their gear. I refused kindly. They tried to reason with me. I declined, telling them what I had been taught. They kindly accepted my decision and proceeded to enjoy the fishing.
This example may seem an extreme view to some - fishing on a Sunday is a sin - but it was important in my childhood religion. I do not regret not fishing that Sunday; I acted faithfully to what was true for me then. I am glad many nonessentials from my upbringing have fallen away in the past decades. Nonessentials became apparent to me as nonessentials. It was not mainly a reasoning about them but a coming to know from the heart.
By living from the heart, we come to see from the heart. When you see from the heart, you can choose from the heart.
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*©Brian K. Wilcox, 2023
*Brian K. Wilcox, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse.