Saturday, March 03, 2007

Thy kingdom come….

Ever since she dropped out of seminary after discovering that she was not simply an orthodox Lutheran boy but also a Pagan and a Queer, Walhydra has puzzled over how to affirm the grace she knew as a Christian youth—and continues to know now.

One of her puzzlements has been how—if at all—to use any of the prayers, canticles, psalms and hymns she remembers and loves from way back in her...um... days of innocence.

As a natural-born linguist, Walhydra knows where words come from, how they operate and how they tend to be used, as well as how misleading they can be.

Sometimes she manages the mental gymnastics of translating between the old, beloved words and what she now believes. Sometimes, though, that just puts too much of a kink in her neck! She has to put the old words aside and prayer wordlessly.

"That's why I became a Quaker," she grouses. "So I wouldn't have to check my words with anyone to be sure I was saying the right ones in the right way."

Even so, Walhydra longs for both the poetry and the certainty of some of those old words.

Take the Lord's Prayer, for example.

Walhydra has been through the whole textual-critical, dig-up-the-original-Aramaic-of-Jesus exercise and found it quite enlightening…intellectually, at least. She loves the work of people like Sufi scholar Neil Douglas-Klotz and his Prayers of the Cosmos.

However, the child in her—an ancient, ancient child—resonates best to the words it learned in childhood. How to capture that resonance in the present while still being honest to the Truth of the present?

Tracy ChapmanWalhydra thinks she found a clue while traveling last weekend to help her Mom, Senior Witch. On the road she listened again to someone she considers among the most powerful of bards: Tracy Chapman.

Chapman's work always touches something very deep. Whether it is a love song or an anthem, songs Walhydra heard over a decade ago can still conjure tears of joy or grief—or both.

So, as Chapman's rich voice sang "Heaven's Here on Earth" from the 1995 New Beginning album, Walhydra felt sobs of recognition welling in her chest.

You can look to the stars in search of the answers
Look for God and life on distant planets
Have your faith in the ever after
While each of us holds inside the map to the labyrinth
And heaven's here on earth

We are the spirit the collective conscience
We create the pain and the suffering and the beauty in this world

Heaven's here on earth
In our faith in humankind
In our respect for what is earthly
In our unfaltering belief in peace and love and understanding

I've seen and met angels wearing the disguise
Of ordinary people leading ordinary lives
Filled with love, compassion, forgiveness and sacrifice

Heaven's in our hearts
In our faith in humankind
In our respect for what is earthly
In our unfaltering belief in peace and love and understanding

Look around
Believe in what you see
The kingdom is at hand
The promised land is at your feet
We can and will become what we aspire to be

If Heaven's here on earth
If we have faith in humankind
And respect for what is earthly
And an unfaltering belief that truth is divinity
And heaven's here on earth

I've seen spirits
I've met angels
I've touched creations beautiful and wondrous
I've been places where I question all I think I know
But I believe, I believe, I believe this could be heaven
We are born inside the gates with the power to create life
And to take it away
The world is our temple
The world is our church
Heaven's here on earth

If we have faith in human kind
And respect for what is earthly
And an unfaltering belief
In peace and love and understanding
This could be heaven here on earth
Heaven's in our heart
© Tracy Chapman 1994
"That's it! That's it!" Walhydra thought. "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!"

It was so obvious!

Of course, it was also so Pagan. So focused on this world, this life.

But isn't that what "on earth as it is in heaven" means? That Mother-Father God created this world and is incarnate in this world—where She longs for us to live and rejoice and share grace along with Her?

Somehow, years ago, Walhydra realized that all of the so-called petitions in the Lord's Prayer made more sense—resonated with more divine power—if they were spoken as affirmations.

Not "Let thy kingdom come" but "Thy kingdom is here!"

So, Walhydra felt even more than the usual sob-in-the-throat thrill as she sang along:

Each of us holds inside the map to the labyrinth
and heaven's here on earth!
And so it is.

Blessèd Be!

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