Looking for the Living

From Luke 23:54 - 24:12

I can’t think about Easter without thinking about daffodils.  My Grandmother had hundreds and hundreds of daffodils in her yard that would come up every spring just in time to hide brightly colored eggs in their leaves.  Daffodils also grew up along the country roads we took to get to my Grandmother’s house, and sometimes, my mom would stop along the road and let us pick fistfuls — armfuls of daffodils on the way to or from her house.  And their soft scent would fill the car.  I loved those daffodils.  And I guess my brother Stan did too, because he’s now taken to planting hundreds, even thousands, of daffodil bulbs all around his farm. 
I loved those daffodils so much that, as a child, I got worried when I didn’t see them for a while. . . .  In the summertime, I was usually too distracted to think about the daffodils that had come and gone, but in the fall and certainly in the winter, I missed them.  I wondered about them, and urgently wanted them to come back.  One winter day I remember—I was 5 or 6—I even took some gloves and a shovel and set out to look for them.  I started digging in the frozen ground in the places I knew they should be.  But before I could even unearth one bulb, my Grandmother stopped me. . . .

“What in the tarnation are you doing?!” she wanted to know.  Didn’t I know that I had no business digging up her flowers.  They were right where they were meant to be, and they would come out just as soon as they were ready. . . .
And deep down, I was also hoping that the daffodils were right where they were meant to be.  Even in my uncertainty, I was motivated by the hope that they were there.  But I wanted to make sure they were alright.  I wanted to make sure they were still alive—even though I couldn’t see them.  I was desperately looking for the living. . . .
And that’s how many of us arrive at this day.  It’s been a long journey to get to this point—however we’ve gotten here today, by whatever spiritual road we’ve taken to get here.  On this Easter morning and every Easter morning, we are accustomed to glorious alleluias ringing out.  We are used to the color and the beauty and the baskets and unshackled pageantry of Easter . . .
Even after an entire season of bleakness, wilderness, and denial . . . even after a long Saturday in the tomb of uncertainty—not sure what to expect.  And if you’re like me, it’s sometimes hard to shift gears so quickly in order to join the Halleluiah Chorus.  Many of us arrive at this day hopeful but unsure.  At the very least, we want to go out with our gloves and shovel and look for some kind of certainty.  Our hearts are desperately looking for the living, even if our minds are still skeptical.
So when the men in dazzling clothes meet the women at the tomb and say, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen.”  What is it that fills your mind?  What do you bring with you into this Easter morning?  Whatever it is—whatever you bring—it is met by those holy messengers—those holy messengers who tell us that in spite of our moments of uncertainty—that, of course, there is something more.  Of course, the graciousness of life transcends our momentary experiences of pain and anxiety and uncertainty and grief.  They tell us that our spices and ointments to anoint the dead have no place here. 
Leave this tomb and go and look for the living. . . .
The Greek word translated here as “tomb” is mnemeion.  And it shares the same root as the word “remember.”  So we see that in Luke’s telling of this story, there is a direct connection between the tomb and the act of remembering.  Here the tomb—as a place of remembering the dead—serves as the women’s path back to life as they remember the living—as they remember the words Jesus spoke, the deeds he performed, the life he led, the hope he gave.  The call for the women to remember replaces “do not be afraid” or” do not be alarmed” in the other gospel accounts.  And when the women do remember—Jesus’ words/actions/life/hope—they leave the tomb empowered and emboldened to share this hope with others. . . .  They go, looking for the living.
But sometimes, the living is hard to find.  Too much of the time, too many of us walk around half conscious, concerned about petty things, engrossed in trivia, while our world spins out of control. . . .  Political posturing, terrorism, ISIS, poisoned water supplies, violence, drugs, racism, sexism, homophobia, consumerism. . . .   I sip my $4 latte while more old growth trees are clear cut in the Third World to make room for more coffee plants.  I read about who wore what at the Awards shows while children somewhere slave away in sweat shops to produce ever more expensive designer clothes.  I distractedly and doubtfully sign one more email petition to increase gun control while more and more weapons flood the streets and find their ways into the hands of more and more people with ill intent throughout the world. 
In the midst of these kinds of complicated situations—in which I am complicit—and in which it is just easier to look away—what does it mean to look for the living?  In these situations, what does it mean to look for the hope of the resurrected Christ?  And what would it take for each of us to break out of the lifeless places we often inhabit—to resurrect our own lives so that we do not merely slide through the motions of life—emotionless, joyless, hopeless, passionless? . . .  What would it take for us to truly bear witness to the depth of life, to acclaim it, to share responsibility for it, and to become ultimately accountable for the hope it brings—rather than just getting by with half living?
The acclaimed Buddhist scholar Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that “if you live without awareness, it is the same as being dead.”  By asking the women at the tomb why they are looking for the living among the dead, the holy messengers are urging the women toward greater awareness and greater life.  You see, the practice of resurrection is possible for all of us.  On the third day, the life of Jesus was resurrected.  But in that moment at the tomb when the women remembered and committed themselves to look for the living, the lives of those women were resurrected, too.
We all experience loss—some is deeply painful, extremely personal, life-changing loss.  Many of us have lost loved ones.  Some of us watch loved ones struggle with cancer, chronic illness, or other painful health conditions.  Some of us face financial struggles, relationship difficulties, uncertain situations with children or parents or others we care about.  Some of us suffer with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.  It is hard to look for the living—it’s hard to manifest hope—it is hard to believe in resurrection—when we are surrounded and overwhelmed by death, dying, fear, loss, and grief. . . .  But that’s the beauty of resurrection—life emerges and continues even where death seems certain!  That’s where the alleluias come from!  That is what the celebration is about.  Life comes when we look for it, when we commit ourselves to it. . . .  It just may not come in the forms we expect.

I recently heard a touching story about a young father who had just buried his little son.  His son had spent some time in a school at a monastery, and while he was there, he had given all his extra pocket money to buy a fruit tree.  He knew that the money from selling the fruit from the tree would be used to feed hungry children.  And he had demonstrated again and again that he was truly a generous and giving soul.  It was only shortly after the boy left the school that he died.  And his father struggled mightily to understand why the boy was taken from him at such a young age. 
When the father visited the school where his son had studied, one of the monks took him by the hand and showed him all the many ways that his son was not gone but was still manifest in the world. . . .

Together, they visited the fruit tree that his son had purchased to help others.  And in the afternoon light, they watched the little boy waving from every bud and branch. 
By looking for the living, the resurrection becomes real. . . .
Don’t look for him in a tomb.  He is not there.  He’s right here.  He’s still loose in the world, absolutely present, and continuing to recruit for the kingdom of God.
And this is what we are called to do this day—on this Easter Sunday—and on every day:  we are called to remember and put our faith in the living.  We will not escape the pain of loss.  But the pain of loss never has the final word.  As we commit ourselves to looking for the living, we will discover that the goodness and graciousness of life is right where it needs to be—waving at us and trying to get our attention from every bud and branch. . . .


Everything is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama
 as if you were alone. As if life

were a progressive and cunning crime 
with no witness to the tiny hidden

transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny 
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,

even you, at times, have felt the grand array; 
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding 
out your solo voice. You must note 
the way the soap dish enables you,

or the window latch grants you freedom. 
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.

The stairs are your mentor of things 
to come, the doors have always been there

to frighten you and invite you, 
and the tiny speaker in the phone

is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing 
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots

have left their arrogant aloofness and 
seen the good in you at last. 
All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably  
themselves.  Everything is waiting for you.

I heard David Whyte talking about this poem earlier this week.  He said it’s amazing and wonderful, isn’t it?!  Everything, everything, everything is waiting for you. . . .      

It’s amazing and wonderful until we realize that it’s absolutely true: 
everything is waiting for us.  Everything.
And I started thinking about how I wait until Clivie goes to bed to do the dishes and the laundry and the bills.  They’re not going anywhere.  They are waiting for me.
And reading our scripture for this morning, I started thinking about Jesus at this time of his life—here, at the beginning of his ministry.  So full of life and possibility.  Everything ready.  Everything waiting. . . .  Even his abandonment and demise. . . .  Even our demise and death. 

Everything is waiting for you.
But in the meantime—right now, in this moment—the good news we must remember is that we are not alone.  Many of us have the tendency, don’t we, to isolate ourselves when problems arise and things get difficult—when we take a foray into the uncertain wilderness areas of our lives.  We don’t want to seem needy or vulnerable or incompetent or weak or wrong.  We don’t want others to see us at our worst.  Am I right?  We save that—for better or worse—for the people we’re closest to.  We save our nastiness for them. . . . Or we turn it in on ourselves.  And we act the drama is if we were alone.
To a large degree, our culture and the Western worldview we’ve grown up with has trained us—and continually tempts us—to do this.  But it’s really not compatible with the Christian faith we profess.  Our faith is not all about us as individuals; it is about us as an ever-widening, welcoming, loving community.  When we get afraid, we may be tempted to clamp down into survival mode, shut everyone else out, and look out solely for our own narrow self-interest, but as Jesus clearly demonstrates during his own season of temptation in the wilderness, this is not what we are called to do and be about.
We may also have access to tremendous power and privilege that enables us essentially to turn our stones into bread, to overcome hardship without a lot of difficulty, to avoid certain heartaches and pain, to accumulate accolades and authority.  But our faith calls us look beyond just what’s in it for me and toward the well-being and common good of our entire community and the entire world.  It’s not just about me.  Jesus doesn’t just love ME.  Jesus is not only MY personal savior.  Our faith calls us into something much more expansive than that.  Jesus comes to us to awaken us to the possibilities of the common good—not to serve his own personal desires.  Everything is waiting for us.
Even—especially—our neighbors.  If we are only focused on ourselves—and our level of power and amount of privilege—we’re going to miss that.  We’re going to continue to consume at wildly irresponsible rates, waste resources, demand cheap labor—which translates into cheap and disposable people. We’re going to miss meaningful opportunities to share our bread with someone who desperately needs it—to figure out ways to build life-giving, sustainable relationships across racial, economic, social, political, sexual orientation, educational, national, and ethnic divides. 
We might be tempted—like Jesus was—to turn a blind eye.  To allow the already privileged and powerful to accumulate more and more.  But at what point do we draw the line?  At what point are we willing to pay attention to the profound needs and well-being of God’s beloved children all around us?  At what point do we allow God’s abundance and generosity to work on our hearts?  At what point are we willing to share the blessings we have received?
Do you remember the Israelites who escaped from slavery in Egypt and wondered in the wilderness?  When they complained that they had no food, God sent them manna from heaven.  Their only instruction was to take only what they needed each day.  They were not to store it up, stockpile it, and accumulate it.  Do you remember what happened if the Israelites did take more than they needed and tried to accumulate it?  Rot and fester.
We are called to live with open hands.  To challenge temptations that demean certain people for the benefit of others.  To embody abundance and grace.  To problematize our relationship with greed, and to work aggressively to make sure everyone has enough.  Everything is waiting.  The fabulous preacher Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “Earth is so thick with divine possibility that it is a wonder we can walk anywhere without cracking our shins on altars.”  Everything is waiting.  Every day we have opportunities to come face to face with the Divine.  Every day we have experiences that call to us and remind us that we are not alone. We are all part of the same body—the one body of Christ.  Hasn’t Paul been telling us that?!  So, the temptation is to think otherwise.  The temptation is to think this journey of life is all about us as individuals—to act as if we are alone.
During this journey into Lent, we are called to empty ourselves of all those thoughts and actions that remove us from our identity as God’s beloved child.  And to fill ourselves up with the wonderful live-giving possibilities of our ever-widening, welcoming, loving community of faith.

Nobody, but nobody, can make it out here alone. . .

From Ruth 1:6-18

At this very moment, the global refugee crisis is calling upon all people of faith to respond.  Since war broke out in Syria five years ago, the severity of the global crisis has increased dramatically, and there are now more people displaced than at any time since World War II.  This moment is frequently referred to as one of the greatest humanitarian crises in memory.  Our displaced sisters and brothers are running from wars, famine, floods, droughts, earthquakes, political unrest and persecution, and many other causes that make it impossible for them to return home. The situation is too dire and too immediate to ignore. . . .  Because nobody, but nobody, can make it out here alone. . . .
Currently, Week of Compassion—the humanitarian outreach branch of our church—is working with our partners—including the Greek Orthodox Church and the Middle East Council of Churches—to respond to the humanitarian needs of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Jordan.  Due to the Syrian war and the increased instability in northern Iraq—with no end in sight—Syrians and Iraqis have fled to Jordan and elsewhere to find some semblance of peace.  More than 12 million Syrians—more than half of the country's population—have been displaced.  The needs for food, medicine, clothing, heating, and shelter are urgent.  The hope for some semblance of stability is equally great.  Nobody, but nobody, can make it out here alone. . . .
Over the course of 2015, nearly 240,000 Burundian men, women and children have been forced to flee their homes because of political conflict and election-related violence.   The situation inside Burundi continues to deteriorate, marked by targeted killings of opposition leaders.   In addition to persecution because of political and social group affiliation, Burundians increasingly face food insecurity and environmental degradation as a consequence of civil unrest.

Every day more than 200 new Burundian refugees arrive by bus to the Nyarugusu Camp in Tanzania, home to more than 85,000 Burundian refugees.  Some of the refugees describe fleeing forced conscription into youth militias. Others explain how they were targeted, specifically because of their affiliation with a political party.

Through our partners, Week of Compassion has helped build the camp from the ground up and has worked to expand and improve infrastructure by building new latrines and shelters, providing water and sanitation facilities, and ensuring that the dignity of the refugees is restored and respected.  Week of Compassion also supports psycho-social response activities, including community dialogues aimed at peaceful coexistence among newly arriving Burundians, longer-staying Congolese refugees, and the Tanzanian host communities.  Because, you know, nobody, but nobody, can make it out here alone. . . .

Similarly, in the book of Ruth, we hear the story of resilient refugees—facing the harsh natural disaster of famine and the brutal human-made disaster of patriarchy that rendered single women completely vulnerable.  Like refugees today, Ruth and Naomi did not have the privilege of choosing to stay in their homes.  Forces beyond their control dictated their involuntary relocation. Yet, they were able to survive such tumultuous transitions because they were each willing to give their greatest gift to the other:  their very selves.  You see, nobody, but nobody, can make it out here alone. . . .

José Morales Torres argues that the book of Ruth can be read as a human story incarnating a God story.  As a human story, we witness an incredible act of solidarity, richly expressed in Ruth’s commitment:  “Where you go, I will go. . . .”  As a God story, it is about redemption—which is expressed in that human act of solidarity.  This story expresses the message that redemption actually means that God stands in solidarity with us. Remember, nobody, but nobody, can make it out here alone. . . .

Traditionally, many argue that Boaz, the “kinsman redeemer,” is the hero of Ruth’s story; he “redeems” Ruth and secures a life for her.  However, the divine act of redemption is most strongly embodied in the commitment Ruth and Naomi make to each other to stay together and to help one another.  In other words, salvation is an ongoing process that happens in community—in loving and helping one another—not in a single, solitary event.  We need one another.  And we need one another for the long-term.  God is made known to us as we accompany and help the most vulnerable members in our society.  God is revealed to us in our accompanying the refugee, our advocating for the homeless, our insisting that Black Lives Matter, our translating for the immigrant, our listening to the pain of the heartbroken.  I think we need to say it again:  Nobody, but nobody, can make it out here alone. . . .

And as a result, we need the refugee as much (or more) as the refugee needs us.  It is through our relationship that God is made known.  It is through our solidarity with others in need that we encounter God.  In our story from Ruth, the portrait of God is painted by two women who choose solidarity. 

And this is very much still the case for us today.  God chooses solidarity.  And in a world that sinfully seeks to divide people into “them” and “us,” this means that there is no one but us!  There is only us.  “Your people shall be my people.”
Currently, there are 60 million individuals living as refugees or displaced persons throughout the world. And these numbers will only rise as violence and persecution continue to surge in areas of the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Latin America. 
As people of faith, we are called into the spiritual practice of solidarity.  To see the needs of others.  And to respond.  In whatever ways we can.  Because there is no “them.”  There is no one outside the realm of God’s love and care.  There is no dispensable human being.  And the best—and the least—we can do is to say to our brother and our sister, who is hurting, displaced, seeking asylum, exhausted, fearful, wounded, hopeless . . . that where they go, we will go—that we will be there and walk in solidarity beside them throughout their journey.  Because, you see, nobody, but nobody, can make it out here alone. . . . 
In our class, “First Light:  Jesus and the Kingdom of God,” we’ve been talking about Jesus’ promotion of a “collaborative eschaton.”  Now, don’t let that alarm you.  Eschaton just means how someone understands the end times—what the ultimate, divine vision for God’s realm is like.  And you know what it means to collaborate with someone—to put your heads together—to share the work.  So when Jesus talks about a collaborative eschaton, he’s expressing his vision of God’s ideal world—that he says is at hand now.  Right now.  Not later.  And it has to do with sharing, healing, eating together, building one another up, solidarity.  But to see it and live into it, we need one another.  And we need God.  Alone—by ourselves—insulated and isolated—we can’t see it.  We can’t claim it.  It has to be collaborative.  We have to do it together.  We need, must have, one another.  That was the message of Jesus.  That was also the message of Ruth.  And that is the message of Week of Compassion.  Nobody, but nobody, can make it out here alone. . . .


From Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

If you have a brother or a sister . . . if you have a child . . . or a parent . . .  or any kind of ongoing relationship with anyone . . . more than likely, you can identify in some way—somewhere—with someone—in this parable. . . .
Are you the thrill-seeking, risk-taking, impulsive and sometimes irresponsible rebellious child?   Are the duty-bound, always dependable, hard-working and conscientious, predictable child?  Or are you somewhere in between? 

Are you an anxious and watchful parent—I think they’re called helicopter parents these days?  Are you eager to forgive?  Do you keep score in your relationships? 
Do you harbor resentments?  Do you lavish love liberally?  Or do you dole it out carefully based on merit?  Just where do you fit into this story?

Wherever it is, it is easy to get stuck in the roles we play and the behaviors that have worn ruts in our lives.  After much time and investment, it is often hard for us to switch gears and to find grace and goodness in different possibilities for ourselves or in the actions of others who have chosen a different path.  And it may be hard to believe that we—or anyone else—can, in any substantive way, actually do things differently.  It’s easy to get stuck.
In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son—contrary to the way you may have learned it—there is no “good” guy and “bad” guy—no “right” way and “wrong” way.  There is no “sinner” and no “saint.”  There are simply two brothers who have chosen different paths.  And both desperately need compassion—they need compassion for themselves and compassion for each other.  But they are stuck.  They are stuck in the decisive roles they have taken on—in their family systems—in the ways the world desperately seeks to pigeonhole us.  They are stuck in the behaviors that place them at odds with one another.  They are stuck in doing things in the same ways over and over.  They are stuck in their pain and grief and anger.  They are stuck with dried up and stale notions in their heads about what constitutes actual worth and ultimate value in the eyes of their family and in the eyes of their God. 

They are just plain stuck.
And yet, stuck is what they know; it’s become comfortable and familiar.  And they are afraid to change—even if they thought it was possible.  Perhaps like some of us, they are not only afraid of change for the challenges it brings. . . . They are also afraid that change means acknowledging the faults and flaws that they don’t want others to see or know about, acknowledging that they aren’t perfect, that they need help, that they need others. 

Perhaps they are afraid that they’re simply not enough—that they’re just not loveable, not worthy of that compassion and forgiveness that they so desperately need, that they’re not capable of receiving grace.  And this fear colors every move they make. . . .  But they just aren’t willing or able to risk enough to challenge the fear.  And so, stuck they stay.
If you don’t think you are enough, or have enough, or do enough, it is easy to remain stuck or to fall into old and destructive behaviors.  It is easy to assume the worst. 
So, we see, it is easy for the younger brother to ask for all he can now and to spend it all at once to live the high life, for even for a short time, because he is uncertain and fearful about his future—sure it won’t last and not believing he deserves it to last. 
And it is easy for the older brother to cast a harsh judgment because he has always acted in responsible ways—even if his motives were always to please others—and always fearful that he won’t measure up in some way to some unattainable goal.

In this place in their lives, they stand at a crossroads with well-worn ruts at their feet.  And they feel immobilized—operating by rote—going through the motions of their lives instead of living—perhaps even unconsciously doing only what others expect them to do—not what they want to do, not what they need, not what is life-giving, hopeful, and compassionate.  And many of us know that those kinds of expectations can beat us up and tear us down.  Those expectations can wage war on the tender parts of us that cry out for forgiveness, transformation, compassion, and love. 
But the courage they need to do something different seems out of their grasp. . . . 

Are we stuck doing things in the same way in the same places for the same people? 

Are we stuck making decisions that confine us into narrow boxes and identify us in constricted categories? 
Breaking out of the immobilization that often claims us can feel like moving against solid rock.  It might even feel like it is pushing back against us. . . .  To get out of the stuck places and stuck behaviors takes tremendous courage and incredible compassion.  It requires opening ourselves up to the possibilities of transformation that can come from some truly unexpected places.  Jesus’ parable reminds us of that. 

For the younger brother in the parable, it came while he (a Jew) was literally stuck in the muck feeding pigs!  And the parable further reminds us that no matter who we are, we are worthy of compassion; that no matter where we are on life’s journey, we warrant tremendous grace; that no matter what we do or what we’ve done in our lives, we carry God’s divine spark within us.
Recently, I heard the poet-philosopher David Whyte tell a powerful story about being stuck. . . .  He was at a bridge in the Himalayas. . . .  He was planning to meet up with some friends, and he had taken an alternate route to get to the town where they were to meet.  In order to get there, he had to cross this bridge.  But one of the bridge’s cables had collapsed.  And this was a bridge over a 400 foot chasm.  The way he described it, I was picturing the setting of an Indiana Jones movie.  Some of the wooden planks of the bridge were missing, and others had slid together making huge gaps in places.  And there was this one cable going across—one at the top and one on the bottom.  To get across you would have to swing across on the one intact cable leaping from one plank to the next. . . . 
At least, that’s what David Whyte assumed you’d have to do because he said there was no way he was going across that bridge.  There he was, alone, high in the Himalayas, at one side of a collapsed bridge.  And he just stood there.
He describes this moment as unusual for him because ordinarily he would try anything.  He was very adventurous and welcomed physical challenges.  But in that place, he felt intense fear.  And he refused to go across.  He sat there for 15 minutes, ½ hour, 45 minutes.  In the Himalayas, I imagine, time loses its meaning.  There’s not a lot to do.  No phone calls to make, no emails to answer. . . .  an hour passed, an hour and ½ . . . .  And he did what we all might do when the bridge we face is down: he just stared at it—intensely—hoping, that just by staring at it, it would spontaneously repair itself.  And he would be able to walk across easily and in full glory.  But the bridge refuses to repair itself.  And we stay stuck.
And he says he was just about to pick up his bag and go back down the way he came when along the path came an old Tibetan lady with a big, wide-mouth dung basket, which was used to collect dried yak dung for fuel. 

There is very little fuel at 10 or 11,000 feet, and so the older people and young kids go around with these wide-mouth dung baskets, collecting yak dung which is precious for cooking. Well, this old Tibetan lady with her wise, kind face and broad smile came up the path throwing dung over her shoulder into the basket.  And as she came, David was preparing to go back down the trail and preparing to take an extra couple of days to go around and meet his friends somewhere else.
And in the Himalayas, everyone greets one another on the trail with “Namaste”—“I greet the God in you.”  “I greet what is divine in you.”  This old woman came up, quite intent in her dung gathering, and when she caught of him, she looked up with a big smile.  Then she bowed—like this—“Namaste.”  And so, he bowed back, “Namaste.”  And before he could lift his head up again, she just went right past him across the bridge. . . .
And then, without thinking, he picked up his bag and went right after her. . . .
There are times in our lives when the part of us that always does it right—always gets it right—the respectable and honorable, responsible and dependable parts of us have to sit down.  There are some bridges in our lives where the broken parts of us—the parts that make mistakes and act irresponsibly—the parts that need healing and compassion, forgiveness and grace have to lead the way and take us across.  The parts of us we thought weren’t any good—the parts that are flawed, imperfect—the parts we would never post on Facebook—the parts we didn’t believe could serve any purpose . . . they are sometimes the parts that open us up, help us get unstuck, see us through, and show us the way. 
And this transformation can come from some truly unexpected places if we are open to it.  If we truly believe in the message of Namaste—in seeing the divine spark in one another—in seeing the divine spark in ourselves.  If, in spite of our faults and flaws, we allow compassion to lead us. . . . and if we are not afraid to follow.
It is easy to get stuck in the roles we are used to.  It is easy to forget or to lose the ability to recognize the holy all around us and in one another.  So, may we remember to extend greater compassion to ourselves and one another—in spite of—even because of—our faults and flaws.  God’s love wants to surround and fill each one of us. Let it be so. Amen. Namaste.