From a Sermon given Winter Solstice Worship Service 2016
Winter Solstice is the time we traditionally get together to celebrate the transition that begins at the end of the year and moves us into the beginning of the new year. Winter is such an underappreciated season, maybe because it forces us to slow down, nudges us into reflection, sets us on the path of integration and changes to come. It’s like Nature’s growth period, not in the biological sense of things growing, but in the spiritual sense of destroying old cycles with which we have been living; making room for new cycles that are not yet apparent. It is a time of bareness, of winnowing the exterior world down to basic necessities, so we can look around at a blank canvas and dream about what we want to create.
This year we have the opportunity to do this reinvention not only in our individual lives, but in our collective lives. I know of many people in America and around the world who are reeling from the shock of the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States. They say that even most of Trump’s followers were in shock that he actually got elected. To all who are confused, in anger or fear, or otherwise distressed, I dedicate these words. This sermon is not about politics. It is about life on Planet Earth and moving forward when we find ourselves in deep and unfamiliar winter territory.
When I woke up the day after the Election to find we now had a President-Elect Trump, I had many thoughts and feelings, many of which were unpleasant to experience to say the least. But in the deepest part of me I found a small but very bright and very profound ribbon of gratitude. I knew exactly what it was about. I knew in my heart that Donald Trump was not “destined” to be President as of the day before the election. There are very few times that I know something beyond a “shadow of a doubt.” But I believe without a shadow of a doubt that the mockup a scant day before the election was that Clinton be elected. We can blame the media and the pollsters all we want for not preparing us better. There is certainly no end to the “soul-searching” that the media needs to do about their choices during the election, but they are not to blame for projecting defeat of Trump. On a spiritual level we had decided that Clinton was going to be the “winner” of the election.
And then we changed our collective mind.
The day before, no less.
I mention this almost in passing because perhaps it will bring some solace to individuals who are still lost in the maze of the election energy. But mainly I mention this because miracles need to be acknowledged, especially ones that are invisible to most people.
It is nothing less than a miracle that an entire nation changed its mind within 24 hours about who to let become President. The ramifications of this energetic shift are enormous.
What it said to me is that there is hope.You all know that my primary focus and concern these days is on the very real possibility that human beings will not survive on Planet Earth. In order to “weather” (pun intended) the changes we are bringing to Mother Earth in our arrogance we must make some rapid behavioral shifts in our thinking and behaving. Further, these changes require a change in human awareness that in my darkest hours has seemed light years away.
If you have any idea of how the consensus reality works, you will recognize that apparently, enough of us have made and/or are making those changes in awareness that a massive shift in the time-space continuum is now possible. Nothing else explains the fact that one day Trump was not slated to be President and the next day he was. The fact that collectively so many of us can manifest an energetic shift of that magnitude in that short of a time frame means that we stand a fighting chance of surviving climate change. And for that, my heart sings with deep gratitude to God and to all of us who are trying to learn to genuinely live consistent with its will. This was so much bigger and more important than who occupies the Oval Office (or the Trump Tower as it may be).
Here at the Church of the Harvest we have been talking for several years about the fact that humans have constructed a world on the basis of scarcity and conditional love; and in order to move to a world based on God’s endless bounty of unconditional love many of our social, economic, religious, political, and other institutions will need to be destroyed with some being rebuilt in a far different form. What we just did in our electoral process is greatly accelerate the timeline in terms of destruction. I was hoping we would not have to do the destruction phase overnight because I know all too well what a hard time people have with change. The American people decided otherwise.
Is it a good thing or a bad thing that all that we upped the stakes in terms of destruction of our world? It remains to be seen. We know that from a spiritual perspective there is no good or bad, just experience.
We also know that our human brains cannot comprehend the master patterning of our Creator. History has repeatedly revealed points in which horrible things have happened to individuals and to the world within which they live, in order that even more horrible trends are stopped in their tracks. Think Pearl Harbor for example, where over 2,400 individual souls made the decision on a spiritual level to sacrifice their life, and another 1,000+ were injured so that the U.S. could wake up to what was happening in Nazi Germany and make a decision to enter the World War 2.
If Pearl Harbor had not happened, it is very likely that not only all of Europe and Asia but probably our continent as well would be under occupation by National Socialism. The destruction acceleration we just made possible in the United States can bring those who withstand it closer to each other and to Nature and therefore, to the ultimate preservation of human life.
I have been tracking the destructive trends for many years now, but the aspect of those trends that I feel drawn to discussing this morning is the perfect pictures we all have about the United States. Most of you have heard me say that the road to Hell is paved with perfect pictures. Perfect pictures are those insidious little bits of programming on an energy level with which all old spirits struggle, that tell us that things are supposed to be or go a certain way.
They create a great deal of grief in part because the world doesn’t oblige us by conforming to our pictures so we lose our way more readily. Additionally, they generate a ton of blame, hostility, and intense fear when the world doesn’t live up to said pictures, which actively interferes with the learning that needs to happen to get closer to the ideal. Blame and hostility: Thinking about this election, does this sound familiar?
The United States is a place rife with perfect pictures, almost like an orchard of overripe fruit that falls from the tree and makes such a big mess that it’s hard to even walk around without falling. The idea that this country is a new and better version of any other country on the Planet has been part of our national credo for over two centuries. “We the People,” our “creation myth” to use a label from anthropology, did indeed reflect a giant step forward in the evolution of humanity. Our fledgling democracy was a great achievement but contrary to the popular belief it was never a perfect one. The “New World” as we called it, afforded some of us a chance to move beyond our history, but not all of us.
Initially the constitution of the newly formed United States primarily protected the rights of wealthy white men. Right off the top, over half of the population could not actively participate by virtue of their sex–women. And then there were the Africans who were not yet called “African Americans” and who were not even acknowledged as human but rather, were each designated as 3/5s of a person for the purpose of property taxes. The over 12 million Africans who were forced into slavery by the 1900s primarily for the economic benefit of white people were missing from our national narrative of greatness. Also by the 1900s immigrants primarily of European ancestry had destroyed 80-98% of the indigenous Native American population through displacement, war, other forms of violence, a fact that we happily justified by the 19th century doctrine of Manifest Destiny. In the United States, we have tried very hard to not notice that American dream was very hard on many; and that everybody in our country did not exactly have the same degree of a chance at reaping it’s rewards.
Nonetheless, the idea of America as the land of opportunity for all has been important to the entire world, not just those in the United States. For both spirit and body, dreaming is VITAL and America has provided a life-affirming destination for everyone. With our shiny idea of a place for all, the U.S. has provided hope for hundreds of years to people all over the Planet, allowing thousands with torturous lives to believe in something outside the drudgery of their existence. As a political institution, the U.S. may not have always lived up for our ideals, but that does not make our support of them any less important. Perfect pictures are often created for noble reasons. Eventually they always crash under their own weight unless one actually walks the walk, as well as talks the talk.
Lest you think that we worked out all our earlier quirks with constitutional amendments and changes to the law, no. Yes, women got the vote, almost 150 years late but we did get to participate. Indentured servants and slaves were eventually set free. But as to the national culture, we never really worked through our perfect pictures, our ego-based sense of importance. Even the fact that we made some laws more just for segments of our population became just more evidence in our collective mind of our moral superiority. We just kept adding to the narrative, calling ourselves the most powerful, richest, smartest and therefore, by implication the most deserving country on Earth.
We began to believe that the United States was uniquely qualified to lead the world in every respect, not just some areas. We carefully tried not to notice that the ways in which we were exercising our leadership was typically disrespectful of other cultures, sometimes aggressive and/or exploitative, and frequently self-serving. In the United States the lifestyle of not only the rich-and-famous but even the working-class-families-who-routinely-shop-at-Wal-Mart, has greatly benefited from our commitment to American superiority. In the lifetime of those in this room, United States citizens who are 20% of the world’s population at best have been owning, controlling, and in most cases using 80% of the world’s resources. We made it to the top of the heap. But at a price to our soul.
What has this got to do with the elections? The recent U.S. presidential election was essentially a cultural war between perfect pictures. That’s a war nobody can win.
Obviously, we all have a sense that change is needed. We just don’t agree on what the problem is or how to go about fixing it.
Trump got a lot of voter support because of his carefully chosen motto: “Make America Great Again.” Some folks recognized the cultural arrogance of such a motto; and proposed their own slogans. I enjoyed the various wordplay in such mottos as “Make America Smart Again,” “Make America Mexico Again,”and my favorite “Make America Kind Again.” But the reality is that as a whole, America has never been smart, kind, or great. Not consistently; and not as a whole. Individuals and small groups of Americans have at times done truly great things, chosen innovative, courageous and selfless words and deeds.
As a nation we have often been generous and insightful, but intermittently.
Clinton’s “Stronger Together” motto was much less embraced, not only because of people’s reactions to Clinton but because it is a weaker archetype that did not spark the nation’s imagination. We don’t need to be stronger, exactly. We need to be strong in a different way. We also don’t need a false sense of togetherness. We need the real thing.
The social fabric that is the United States of America is vast, multilayered, contradictory and imperfect. We need to acknowledge that, stop trying to insist we have already got it right, and realize how much we have to learn. We need to atone for our sins/trespasses to date, move with more honesty and whole lot more humility towards the ideals to which we aspire.
The universe just gave us a hand. It just knocked us flat on our collective ass so that we could go back to the drawing board. No more building houses on foundations of sand. We have to change the way we think. As a society, we have to create a new narrative based on Truth. In this story line I imagine us still pledging ourselves to the justice of democracy for all, while acknowledging that we don’t always achieve our goals. We have to grow beyond our tribal thinking. We have to learn to think from a spiritual perspective, one that respects the basic unity of all life and the moral superiority of no one.
That said, the landscape before us at this point is looking pretty dark. At this point when we are all swimming in the ocean of confusion, getting back to the basics may be warranted. So I have three things to say today about negotiating the Wintering of America.
First and foremost: Do what you came here to do. You choose this time. On a spiritual level you made the decision to bring yourself back to Planet Earth during this time period which may be the most fascinating and crucial years in human civilization, apart perhaps from those brief 30+ years that Jesus of Nazareth walked on Earth. You are here now for a reason. Find your path. Let your light shine brightly in these dark days. The rest of us need that; and you need that. Don’t let the chaos, anxiety and confusion of the world stop you from finding yourself. It’s more important now than ever. Your interests are of paramount importance to us all. It’s still all about individual responsibility in a time when thousands of people are wanting to dictate what direction you should take. Find your own Truth. The God of your heart will tell you where to go, what to do, and what to be, if you just take the time to listen.
Second and also very important. Do what you can with other people. If you are a part of the Church of the Harvest, you are a big giver. Most of you work with the public through your jobs in social agencies, government, private industry and the like. You are all highly social people, committed to family and country, generous to a fault. You already know what you can do FOR other people. All of you are skilled at that. Now figure out what you can do WITH other people.
Little known fact is that from a spiritual perspective, human beings are really at the very beginning stages of learning to work collectively in a genuine fashion. We have not gotten much beyond survival mode. We have learned to hunt together, necessary to bring down large mammals. We know how to band together to fight wars against other humans not a part of our immediate community whether it’s “playing politics” at a local level or waging conflicts and wars on a massive scale. Humans have been very good at uniting AGAINST things. As a species, we are still in elementary school when it comes to genuinely uniting FOR things.
This is the time where the world must learn what it really means to be united in spirit while at the same time allowing for, even honoring and celebrating individual differences. It’s about transcending the dichotomy, living the Truth, understanding that on a soul level you ARE the other; and they ARE you; and we ALL ARE aspects of the same God. . .at the same time that each of us is an individual soul with an individual mandate to follow the dictates of the indwelling God of our individual hearts.
You have a head start with this vital learning; and you can model for others. If you are part of the Church of the Harvest, through your meditations you are committed to a process of manifesting the unity of spirit within a unique body. Figure out where you want to be giving and helping others and go for it, while never losing sight of your own path. Work together with others whenever you can do so without undermining your own integrity. Do what you can think to do but know that you can’t do it all because not everything will be on your path. Support people who have found a different vantage point for their gifts, as best you can. Speak up and lead righteously in the areas which have been given to you; and be a great witness, listener and supporter in the areas where others are on the forefront.
The model we all have for transcending the dichotomy of the individual soul living within the unity of all was given to us 2000 years ago by the Master.
Listen to the words of the Christ as he discusses the idea of the individual soul living as a part of all-that-is. This is from Matthew, Chapter 23, and Verses 36-39. Remember that when he talks about God he is talking about the Kingdom of God within each of us–not some old white dude in the sky.
Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?
Jesus said to him: Love the Lord your God with all your heart
And all your soul, and with all your might and with all of your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
And the second is like to it,
Love your neighbor as yourself.
My third piece of advice is this: Don’t be afraid of the wintertime. We know that from a spiritual perspective there is no bad and good. But we all have a tendency to fall prey to the perspective that winter is the not-so-good or even bad season. Nature knows better. All plant and animal life needs an extended period of rest. In the Pacific Northwest we know that the very waters that sustain our life come predominantly from the snow that falls in the winter to recharge the aquifers. Recognize the richness of the wintertime of dreaming up new futures, reflection and prayer.
Yes, some of Nature always dies in the winter, adding its carbon and other minerals back to the Earth so that other species will have room. And with great regret I will confirm what you all know, a greater amount of life on Earth will be dying during this Winter than ever before, both human animals and nonhuman animals so that we all have a greater chance to find eternal life. But from the big picture, from the mind of our Creator, it’s all good. We need to hold that Truth in mind.
Again, words of the Master, from Matthew Chapter 24, Verses 10-13, in which he speaks about the “end times” that we are now experiencing:
Then many will stumble, and they will hate one another and betray
And many false prophets will rise and will mislead a great many.
And because of the growth of iniquity the love of many will become cold.
But he who has patience to the end will be saved.
Hunker on down. It’s going to be a long winter. Let’s keep each other warm.
Copyright 2016 by the Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven