Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Day 2 - Born to be Wild

Chapter 2 - Day 2 (Much of what is sighted here is adapted or directly quoted from Philip Newell’s: The Book of Creation..)

SLIDE: Genesis 1: 6-8 -  (as Translated by J. Philip Newell in Celtic Benediction)
"On the second day the storm kept stirring. It was the wind of new beginnings. God was
saying, “let there be a space for creation.” And the wind carved out a hollow in the deep
waters. It was a cradle for life. Above, beneath and on every side of it were the everlasting
waters. God saw that it was good. It was a place for birth and abundance. And there was
evening and morning, creation’s second day.  
Wild. When’s the last time you used the word wild....? In what context?
- to describe someone’s hair?
- a car ride
- a travel adventure
-  a tattoo  
-  the behavior of a three year old?

- maybe you were just singing along to a song on the radio...  

Believe it or not, Steppenwolf‘s not far from the aspect of Celtic spirituality we are going to talk about today...

This is week two of what will be our seven week look at Celtic spirituality, during Eastertide.

I feel qualified to talk about Celtic Spirituality because, I’ve seen Braveheart! And more importantly, fortunately there are many good teachers out there about the Celtic Tradition.
One of whom [SLIDE: J. PHILIP NEWELL And The book of J. Philip Newell entitled: The Book of Creation: An Introduction to Celtic Spirituality.  will be our guide]

I met Philip Newell about 7 years ago, and was immediately impressed by his work...
- an evangelist of Celtic Christianity which has come out of primarily the Islands of Great Britain, he hopes to offer a different perspective of Christianity from the the more influential  theologies of Rome and Western Europe,
- He believes it is necessary and helpful
And in reading, talking with, and hearing Newell, I’ve found that, the Celtic perspective to be a breath of fresh air in my own faith seeking understanding.
You may find the same...

Today’s focus--on Wildness! is just another example as to why.
Last week, day 1, God spoke light into existence, a light within, over, behind, beyond all things. The light that shines from all of creation; and Peggy, you captured this beautifully in your testimony last week as you described discovering the light within.  It’s not that foriegn of a concept, perhaps because we know it to already be true.
This week, Day 2 - Wildness of God.

God said, Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters. Did I miss something? How do the Celts get Wildness out of Day 2?
God said, Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters. WILD!
Let’s imagine what is wild for the celts…According to Genesis, before God’s first act of creation,
The spirit or breath of God -the RUAH in Hebrew hovers over the dark mysterious water like a fantastic wild bird -- A wild wind carrying life of the universe in its wings.

Into the waters that enfold all things a dome of space and time is created also described as a womb. From this womb all that is to be created will come forth. From this dome all life is born.
Creation is planted, it seems, in the waters of God’s life.
Slide - Light
“If the ‘first day’ of creation is compared to the cosmic burst of light at life’s initial moment,
Slide - hubblesite
the ‘second day’ can be viewed as the ongoing explosion of elemental particles hurtling through space.”  Celtic theologians have believed this was not some neat and tidy action, but
a mighty creative energy from which the matter of life comes forth--flung almost discarded across space, with overwhelming power and expansiveness, which seems to fit a well with what we know of space, time, and matter.
 With these images in mind, the Celtic tradition has developed a strong sense of the wildness of God. When’s the last time you described God as wild?   Ever?
Sometimes when we pray we address God with some kind of descriptive title: Dear God, Holy God, Loving God.... try, Wild God.

The Celts say: God’s wildness is unrestrainable...like nature herself.
Think of your most vivid memories of the wildness of nature:
- standing in the strong current of a river
- driving in a hail storm
- getting almost knocked over by the wind
- sitting among the blazing aspen leaves in the fall...

But, we’ve done a good job of shielding ourselves...for the most part, from nature’s wildness, as we continue to protect and shelter ourselves and our children from the elements of nature more and more. Unless one’s work is outdoors, it’s hard to even get exposure to variations in temperatures and the elements anymore as we can control temperatures and humidity in our homes, offices, cars and churches.   Do we even shield ourselves from God’s wildness, as well?

How does our architecture or church operations reflect God’s wildness? Solid walls to shield us.  
  • Straight back pews and an ordered bulletin to keep us in line.
  • A Church constitution (Book of Order) that speaks of things done “decently and in order …” Does the word WILD appear in the book of order?

SLIDE: American author Annie Dillard says:
“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so [casually] invoke?
Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it?  The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense,….or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return. ”


I was told this congregation worshipped last pentecost at the Veggie patch, outdoors I believe.
What was that experience like? How did it capture God’s wildness?

The early people of Israel were discouraged even forbidden from building permanent structures for the worship of God. Instead they erected stones, or in some cases tents or booths.

The early Celtic Church worshipped and prayed under the open skies...with high-standing crosses marking gathering places to serve as focal points of contemplation. Crosses were situated in wild, exposed sites... Earth, sea and sky, rather than enclosed sanctuaries, were the temple of God....

Just as the wildness of the mystery of God is uncontainable, true worship of God cannot be contained within the four walls of any sacred building...
And taking it to another dimension, the Celts believed true worship of God was not restricted to the boundaries of any religious tradition. Pre-Christian traditions acknowledged sacred rivers and woods, many of which the Celtic Church baptized into its mission rather than rejecting. Christ was the fulfilment of all that was true, whether that was of the priestly and prophetic traditions of Judaism or of its own druid past.

Going back to Genesis, the formless void at the beginning of creation was not rejected by God, but rather into this formless void God breathed life, and out of it emerged life.  Perhaps before we try to contain, control, or reject that which we are not sure about, we might seek to discover what truth may be found therein.
Apart from the wildness of God--what about you? Is there something within our very selves that also reveals wildness as part of who we are?
The reading from the book of Job may seem a bit out of place. This closing section comes as a resolve to the torment and suffering of Job, after his attempts to find solace in God and his friends. Finally, God comes in a wild whirlwind, and speaks. His instructions are for Job to look to the wild animals, see their freedom, and claim that wild freedom for himself even in his suffering.  

When we sit to observe and appreciate the wildness of nature does something stir within us?    
What about when we just let loose?
-playing sports or running in the rain (Willy says he loves running in the rain),
-even simply sitting by a stream,
- singing and dancing when we think no one is watching, dancing - - and we’re singing a song about dancing at the conclusion of the service -- did any of you bring your dancing shoes?

Do we experience a certain freedom during those moments…? There is something that feels quite good about it. There is even something creative which emerges...Is this the wildness within?

Is the wildness within something we need to guard against or seek shelter from? Is it something to be feared? Part of what we fear, of course, is the uncontrollables of wildness.

Those “born to be wild” who we can’t control or who don’t act like we think they should are a threat, ultimately harmful, and need to be contained or suppressed--like Max and where the wild ones are...Even the wildness which exists in our own being must be controlled suppressed...right? because there can be times when we, in our own relationships when we’ve been hurt or experienced loss-- experience an eruption --like we’re outside of ourselves--and this can or has led us down a destructive path...

Yes, we know the strength from a passion or emotion like anger, like the strength of a storm, can be destructive. With anger there is power for evil, but there is also power for good. What the Celtic tradition want lift up is the wildness, if channeled creatively, gives rise to:
- artistic expression,
- action for justice,
- it makes us feel alive in new ways,
- and open to new relationships and ideas.

From a spiritual perspective, the Newell worries that denial of the wildness within...can lead to a further sense of unsettling, which will turn to destructive or apathetic energy  rather than creative energy. Whether emotionally or sexually or artistically, when fear of wildness suppresses the energies in us that have their origin in the wildness of God, they will be turned into forces of death rather than vitality. Death as in apathy, meaning I no longer am willing to put energy into bringing about good...Or even at another level, death as in violence... seeking to harm.

Newell suggests this wildness within is where we can most be in touch with our own creativity
and when merged with what can be wild aspects of life. The often unpredictable turbulence life throws us, through loss and grief, pain and difficulty, It is so often in times of flowing tears
when creativity we didn’t even know we possessed--art, songs, poems, woodwork--
springs forth like gushing water within us…a surging of wild swirling of energies.
Creativity seems to surge out of unordered energy rising from the unknown depths within.

Newell says, “To be aware of creation’s power and natural wildness is a grace that can help us recover the depths of wild creative energies that are within us as well.” (repeat)

And this is true of any deep emotion or passion. Newell wants to be clear: giving place to a wild energy from within ourselves is not about lawless self-will. It is not about doing whatever we please. Doesn’t that make you feel a little better about this wild concept?  Wild energy is about obeying a law planted deep in our nature, made as we are in the image of the wild One.
The story of Jesus portrays him as wild:
- as he was angry at injustice in the temple,
- aggressively condemning hypocrites,
- woefully weeping at the death of his friend Lazarus,
- in his body and blood is the wildness of God.

The Celts encourage us to search deep within for the Mystery that is deep within creation, to allow ourselves to be led into wild and untamed places within ourselves as well as within nature.  Wild energies within us can lead us to something radical: loving service in the world.   What are some of the wild ways God may be calling us to live and to love wildly as individuals and as a church community?
Like a true nature child
Never gonna die!

Meditation suggestion:
Meditation is a way of being reconnected to the creativity that is deep within us. Find a quiet place to sit comfortably. Repeat silently the words from Psalm 104: “You ride on the wings of the wind.” Consider breathing out as you say the words, addressing God who dwells at the heart of your life and all of life. As you breathe in and feel your body expanding, be aware of creative energies opening up. Allow images of wind and wildness to be recalled. After 15 minutes, consider 5 minutes of prayer concluding with the Lord’s prayer.  

THINE BE the might of the river,
Thine be the might of ocean,
The might of victory on the field.
Thine be the might of fire,
Thine be the might of element
The might of the love on high.

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