April 26, 2017 – Supremely Blessed


You know I’m an artist; you know that I am a guide to those on their own creative journeys – and if you have been reading these posts for a while, you likely know that I’m also a spiritual seeker.  My seeking began in my 30’s centered in what would be called New Age spirituality, but now my heart finds nourishment and curiosity in the Christian path.  I shiver a bit as I write this.  I wonder what you might be making up about my saying this?  Even to my ears it sounds freaky – Jesus freaky.  Telling you I’m Christian makes me want to clamor to explain – I want for you to know what kind of Christian I am. Because I’m not the kind of Christian that comes to mind for most people in the liberal circles I travel in – or would have come to my own mind thirty years ago.

As were most Americans, I was raised in a family that had its spiritual roots in Christianity, but hardly anyone around me seems to have much connection to that fact.  Even our big Christian holiday celebrations – Christmas and Easter – lack much connection to Jesus’ birth and death and resurrection. I have no idea how or why, but I am heaven bent (because “hell bent” so doesn’t seem to fit!) to discover for myself the pearls of wisdom and useful practice in the tradition that has come out of the remarkable life and death of Jesus of Nazareth.  And some of what I’ve discovered is such a far cry from my knee-jerk understanding of “Christianity” in my earlier life – that it is astonishing!  I know that what I’ve learned is soundly rejected by those who follow more traditional ways of believing.  But what I’ve discovered feels right and true to me.

I also see that I am not “all the way in” as some others are.  I am still holding on to my rational, figure-it-out mind when considering who Jesus was and is.  I don’t consider him my “Lord and Savior,” I don’t even worship him – worship – to me – is for God, the creator of all that is.  I’m not sure how I would describe a relationship I might have with Jesus – if I even have one.  But I deeply, deeply appreciate that in his time on the Earthly plane he was an enlightened wisdom teacher – whose teachings are as relevant and useful today as ever.

Because I wasn’t raised practicing our tradition, I’ve never read the Bible and don’t have much of relationship with it, either.  (Some Christian I am, huh?) Except for one section – the Beatitudes.  I do have a relationship with the Beatitudes.  I was introduced to them on a trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico in 2003.  Led by my then Pastor, Sara Vurek, we spent 10 days staying with the Benedictine Sisters and met and visited with some of the poorest people in the area.  I learned about Liberation Theology and the life and work of the beloved Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated.  We went to a church in Cuernavaca that had the Beatitudes engraved on a large exterior wall on its side – surrounded by a garden.  “Blessed are those with the spirit of the poor” I read.  We were told of how central these words, spoken by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, are and the place they hold for those living in such oppressive poverty in Latin America.

A few years later, Evelyn, my mother-in-law, gave me a book called “Reading Jesus: A writer’s encounters with the Gospels” by Mary Gordon.  I think it was her relationship with the Beatitudes that really helped me form mine.  She writes:

“For many days, I write and rewrite these words by hand and then I am paralyzed.  Struck dumb. Afraid to write.  Silenced by the depth of my attachment to them, silenced at the example of sheer moral greatness and the sense that after these words there is, perhaps should be, nothing to say.

What kind of life, what kind of living is suggested by the Beatitudes?  Perhaps equally important, what virtues are not mentioned… elided, simply left out?

Most striking:  the bourgeous virtues.  There is nothing about honesty, keeping your word, paying your debts, placing yourself in the right place in relation to authority or hierarchy.  Mercy, peacemaking, poverty of spirit, purity of heart (the body is not mentioned here).  The sexually well-behaved are not given a place.”

She later writes movingly about the second one:  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” as a “perpetual mourner” having lost her father when she was a child.  This Beatitude speaks of the dignity, the duty even, to allow our pain as we mourn our losses, knowing that comfort is at hand.

At the end of January I finished the painting above, and gave it the name “Beatitude.”  The Beatitudes are each a paradox:  amidst what we’d think of as lesser is really something far greater.  On the same plant – at the end of the season – are both the dying leaves and the still-radiant flowers.  The name came to me before I started painting it – before even drawing it.  It also occurred to me that these teachings from this man who lived two millennia ago could use a higher profile right now – to be more top of mind than ever before in my life.

During my vacation over the following two weeks, I took on the audacious task of interpreting them for myself – from my point of view as one who creates and supports others in creating too.  I’m certainly not the first to do this, but every other interpretation that I found online was done by a pro – those who make their lives in this tradition – including Pope Francis.

In the next two weeks I’ll share with you what I’ve come up with – the first four next week and the remainder the week after.  I’d so love to hear from you – (even more than usual!).  I’d love to know if reading how I see these ancient teachings, looking through the experience of bringing forth creative expression, might meet you.

It’s scary to do this, to reveal this part of me to the world so publicly.  But doing scary stuff is where life is really lived.  And it’s what Jesus did.

Offering you blessings – and my appreciation for who you are to me,


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