This is a continuation of a series titled: Hearing Voices. Preceding chapters are here.
Okay… Let’s get begin to wrap this up. I’ve strung a few diligent readers along for nine weeks. So in a effort to pull this together, no more weird stories… just a scary one! And this – only because it will help bring all that has happened into focus.
It was late evening by the time my flight landed in Spokane. Karen was there with her Range Rover and after tossing my bags in back I got behind the wheel to drive us back to Sandpoint. Just like the opening lines of a bad mystery novel, it was a dark and rainy night. Drops of rain can break as they fall, creating a mist. That night a multitude of miniature rain drops obscured our headlights, scattering the light we needed to see our way forward.
I had just completed an eight day meditation intensive so our conversation was all about the effect and implications that participating with a serious Buddhist group represented to me, still at least nominally Christian. “What’s more important,” Karen had asked, “Enlightenment or Salvation?”
Back and forth we argued, looking for points of commonality but recognizing very different perspectives generally thought to be represented by these two words and their supporting traditions.
In the way of deadly things, it happened in an instant. Driving along, talking as we went, the head of a bull moose appeared over the hood of the Rover. Until that instant, we had not caught even a glimpse of the monster – just that one, Instamatic snap shot of a moose’s long nose and giant, shovel-like antlers. The moose had apparently been standing in the middle of the road as we approached at seventy miles an hour. In response, and at the last possible moment the huge animal lifted it’s head and we sailed under its chin. Had the driver’s side window post hit its jaw those heavy antlers would have spun sideways, crashing through the glass into my neck and head. Karen and I both let out startled shouts. But by the time we responded, the danger was already behind us, leaving us wondering if it had been no more than our imagination. But Karen described exactly what I had seen, her fright no less than my own. Just the briefest of instants – no sooner than we had seen that face and massive horns – and the Moose was behind us. With no room to spare we had escaped a sudden, messy death.
It took another couple of miles to reach the lighted parking lot of a gas station – a “C” store where we stopped to shake off the last of the shock and fright. I got out of the Rover to have a look.
We’d heard no thud or bump, but there on top of the Rover caught in the threads of a bolt that secured the luggage carrier was a clump of hair. The long, course hair that grows from the underside of a moose’s jaw.
Back in the car and driving slower, we exclaimed and marveled at the pure, simplicity of luck. By an inch or some smaller measure we had missed connecting with the jaw of a moose. At the speed we had been traveling, just a touch of steel on the side of the Moose’s jaw bone and everything would have changed.
Driving the last twenty miles to Sandpoint our conversation took on new meaning – relevance beyond conversational banter. When people face death or severe injury, what do they need – What do we really want? Is what we want the same as what we need? When faced with the end of mortal life, what would you rather have … Salvation or Enlightenment? What do these words mean?
As related in Chapter One of this series, In the fall of 2001 – standing at the Wall, in Jerusalem, I was reprimanded by a supernatural instructor. And my unseen instructor doubled down – to make sure I could not wiggle out of the message – by having a flesh and blood person – a Rabbi – somehow making him repeat the message. The rabbi was just as much of a chauvinist as I had been – he was just there to let me know that even though I could not see the person who had yelled at me – I was not imagining anything and I had better take it seriously.
“Stop judging! You do not understand!” was what had been said to me. I had been thinking that Christ died to bring forgiveness of sin to everyone who would accept His sacrifice. This is the central axiom of Christianity. “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved!” And by this act a person was restored, relationally to God – you were back in the family – and that meant more than invitations to dinner on Christmas and Easter.
So lets’ run through it again. I was exercising my thoughts around the idea that Jewish guys needed to accept Jesus’ sacrificial offering. This was my, “Judgment,” Any other Christian would have backed me up. But according to the invisible guy with the big voice – I was wrong! I was told to stop judging – which meant – to stop thinking as I did – because, not only did I not understand what was happening around me, apparently – I didn’t understand anything about… anything! . I was wrong to hold the men I was watching accountable to Christian belief – even this most central one. I just quoted it – but…One more time; Christians consider it a cornerstone, spiritual imperative to: “Believe on the Lord Jesus… so that you will be saved.” Turn it around and you get: “If you do not accept the sacrifice of Jesus as your opportunity to be forgiven – you fall outside of the safety net – you are not a Christian – you are not saved. So, short of making this deal with Christ, you, by your own choice are separated from the life of God. And I had been told that this orienting equation was wrong! Uh oh… hear the rumble of not so distant thunder? This is big. No wonder The Voice employed the rabbi as a supporting actor! I walked away from that night not realizing the implications of the message. But looking at it now – considering it as I have for years now – somehow our doctrine is very mixed up.
And this, I see now was what The Voice had been trying to tell me. This was why “The Voice” didn’t simply say it straight out. I would not have understood. Stop and think – those of you who have done your time in churches and Sunday schools – Jesus was a trouble maker from the start. Before he’s even born, his mothers reputation is trashed. As an infant – he’s got magicians making long trips to see him. And a king – the Herod character wanting the kid dead, even though still little more than a baby. Herod had read the story and the Magi fleshed out the details. Harod knew that Jesus was a threat so great that he didn’t mind ordering the murder of every little boy, two years old or younger in Bethlehem.
So… his parents, Jesus’ parents – having listened to Angelic Voices, had already run off to Egypt to save this kid. Then they take him to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast and what’s Jesus do? Rather than staying with them, when they are leaving he disappears and they have to hunt for his thoughtless self for three days! Then he turns up in the Temple, lecturing the old guys – and how could Joseph whack him when everyone is saying he’s such a whiz kid! Everybody talks about Jesus being perfect, but think about it – running off like that! What’s that little moral quiz game…“What would Jesus do?” You’ve got to know – I’m just pushing the story around a little for the sake of perspective – not necessarily an accurate, “new view.” But Jesus does not need us to always walk on egg shells when His name comes up. That’s how religious story’s lose their believability. Besides, Jesus is as sturdy as they come. He doesn’t need us to defend his reputation.
Jesus would be laughing at my recounting of his boyhood trouble making – all but the murder part – and that was Harods doing. Nothing funny about that.
Now – coming forward a few years – skipping speculation about what he was doing during his teens and twenties. Once Jesus begins his public life he’s right up the nose of the religious leaders. If those Jewish guys were following all the rules and still had it wrong – what was the point? Yes – we’ve heard about the self serving lying cheating and stealing. But think about it – Lying cheating and stealing are our favorite pastimes. The rules – keeping the rules is supposed to be like a vaccination – do enough Hail Mary’s and suddenly you want to be good! But that’s never what happens. And if that’s not what happens – If that’s not how it works then what is anybody supposed to do?
This is my point – here I was a couple thousand years later being “The Good Christian,” And still, the message to me is that I was clueless! And here we are on the tenth installment of this series and I’m supposed to tell readers what all this Hearing Voices stuff is about. I’ve tried all week to figure out how to tell you what I figured out. As dramatic as some of the events had been you would think I had been preparing readers for a profound revelation – information so potent that your thirst for knowledge will be satisfied! And this with detailed instructions designed to deliver diligent practitioners all the way to spiritual perfection, perfect peace and eternal security!
Here’s the deal. I did. I really did find the answer. It’s not all that hard to figure out – it’s actually hidden in plain sight. Anyone who really wants to understand – can figure out whats going on if they are sincerely looking. But finding the answer is not the end of the game – it’s the beginning of a deep dissatisfaction. A necessary step but not a fun place to be. Just when you think you are in line for a big, “Atta Boy!” well… that’s whe the work begins. More on this later.
Now back to you readers. Having found it, I can, (could), tell you just what you think you want to know. But it won’t help very much. I squirmed for a week knowing I was going to have to say this. But it’s true. Think about it for a minute. Don’t you think that The Voice would have liked me and a bunch of others to be Saved – if Saved were the point? To be Enlightened – if Enlightenment were the ultimate objective? So why don’t these angelic messenger people just tell us what we need to know? What we need to do? Why don’t they land on the White house lawn – give a briefing – set us all straight and then get on over to the next screwed up planet?
T reason they don’t is that we don’t want to know the answer! If I told you the answer – you would have to kill me! Ya – a laugh line. But what I’ve just said is true. Jesus said it pretty clearly and they killed him. He also said, “I have many things to tell you but you cannot hear them.” Meaning – we are too invested in our own ideas – the truth really would take away too much of what we think too quickly causing a psychotic break. Our minds require a presumption of order. Meaning – its more important to us to think we know what is true than to actually know the truth. Too much to quick and we shut down – break down. Like the Apostle Paul – you get knocked off, (on), your ass and go blind. That might have worked in the first century but now they lock you up push pills down your throat. What could have been an awakening is seen as a mental break down and treated as an illness.
I’m relating this because it is one more reason why it’s best that I say little about what the past nine weeks of articles was about. But, in broad strokes, it’s all there for anyone ready and willing. There is an interior reality that can be experienced and expressed in our day to day lives. It is worth all. The scriptural picture of a man finding a treasure in a field and then covering the treasure to give himself time to sell all he possessed to then come back and buy the field so as to own the treasure – this is an accurate picture. The treasure is that valuable. The catch is this. What the man sells is his own soul. Not to worry – the highest bidder will always be Love.
The stories I tell here are true. Maybe they will lead you to a deeper understanding and ultimately, to experience, Not my business. I wish you grace and courage and more than a little good humor. I hope you understand – It’s not for me to sum it all up and tell you what to do. Stories are food for the imagination and intuition. Best that I not impose any further.
Remembering the evening where My friend and I encountered four men in Jerusalem – having met them again and again, until an unexplainable bond had been built. We’d been meeting singly, But here they were – together for the first time. Everyone stopped but no one spoke. The air around us was subtly electric. All of us just looking at one another nodding, acknowledging this very portentous moment, none us of knowing what it meant – I didn’t – apparently none of these others did either. Nodding and more smiling for some few seconds – much less than a minute, and then we passed each other, passing through that center of convergence, continuing along our separate ways. This unusual meeting serving to remind us that though we often walk alone, we are partners in a larger enterprise.
We have gathered for a series of stories. I hope we continue to gather – each of us taking away what seems worthwhile. Answers are just answers. They temp us to stop as though something had been accomplished. But good questions and good conversation is priceless. I’ll be back here next week and we’ll see if there is more to talk about.