Face Everything And Rise Rev Dr Durrell Watkins The question to Elijah is, “What are you doing?” But Elijah isn’t really doing anything. He’s in a cave/closet, hiding. He’s afraid that mean-spirited people are out to get him. They have hurt others and may wish to hurt him. And just because he’s feeling a little […]
Face Everything And Rise
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
The question to Elijah is, “What are you doing?”
But Elijah isn’t really doing anything. He’s in a cave/closet, hiding. He’s afraid that mean-spirited people
are out to get him. They have hurt others and may wish to hurt him.
And just because he’s feeling a little paranoid doesn’t mean that he’s wrong. There are some scary folks out there. We have a job to do anyway..
But, he’s so afraid that his life will be threatened by his enemies that he’s not really living as it is. He’s hiding, stuck, frozen with fear. What are you doing?
Nothing productive. Nothing empowering. Nothing healing.
Elijah’s imprisoned by his own fear, and added to the fear is the shame of letting the fear have complete power over him.
What are you doing? Not enough. Not what I am capable of doing; not what I’m called to be and do.
After the question “What are you doing?” and the answer, “hiding in this closeted, fear based experience,” Elijah is then challenged to “go out and stand on the mountain!” Step out of the inaction. Feel the fear but take action anyway.
F.E.A.R. can mean forget everything and run or face everything and rise…Elijah started with the former, but his sense of purpose is calling him now to choose the latter…to summon the wherewithal to face everything and rise.
And how can he face his fears and take positive action? Stand on the mountain. In ancient literature, a mountain is the home of the gods, it represents the divine presence. When we remember that we are part of, within, and made from an omnipresent Reality, we find hope and courage and can do what we previously thought we could not do. Go out and stand on the mountain!
Now remember, he is on the mountain. Even the cave is in the mountain. He looks for the divine presence, but he is in the midst of that presence, he is part of it, he is in and of and like and part of God. He is an incarnation of God (as we all are).
And when he looks beyond his own location, beyond his own heart, he doesn’t find God.
He looks for God in an earthquake, in fire, and in a storm-wind, but he doesn’t find God beyond himself. He’s confusing the symbols for what they symbolize. He’s on the mountain. He’s in God’s presence. Why look beyond wherever he is.
“There’s not a spot where God is not.”
The only way to not find God is to overlook God’s immanence, God’s omnipresence. As James Dillet Freeman wrote in his poem (which is on the moon as well as being part of the Sunshine Cathedral liturgy), “Wherever I am, God is!”
When he stops looking “up” there or “out” there, in texts and sacraments and rituals, in gurus and golden calves, when he becomes still he hears the sound of Silence, and THAT is the divine Voice.
Rather than looking beyond right where he is (as the person he is), he simply needs to become quiet and recognize the divine presence and listen to its divine directive in the sacred silence.
Divine Immanence/Omnipresence is spoken of throughout the ages in the various religious and philosophical systems of the world.
“Ever is God present with you…recognize God within yourself.”
“It is in God that we live and move and have our being.” (Epimenides)
“Is Goodness so far away? If we really wanted Goodness, we should find that it was at our very side.” (Confucius)
And as if being offered as a commentary on today’s text…“Brahman is seen here, dwelling in the CAVE of the heart of conscious beings.” (Upanishads)
After communion with the divine Presence, Union With the Presence and becoming aware of its message to his heart, Elijah feels called and empowered to move out further into life. He is to return to Damascus and get to work. And he might not see the seeds he plants bearing fruit in the near future. He is to anoint two kings and a prophet and they may all wind up killing each other, but as a result of Elijah being faithful to his noble cause, listening to his intuition and finding hope and courage to do his prophetic work, there will be 7000 people who are not enamored of Baal who will thrive.
Baal is a false image of the divine (which, according to the Decalogue, is ANY image of the divine…the presence that enfolds us, fills us, flows through us, expresses as us, is in all life, is the ground of all being cannot be adequately represented by any one teacher, prophet, scroll, ritual, or icon). Those who are able to move beyond traditions and dogma, who can simply commune with the ultimate, omnipresent reality of perfect, all-embracing, divine Love will have a richer, more fulfilling experience of the All-in-all (7 is a number of perfection, and 7000 is perfection multiplied by a thousand…unimaginable peace and joy…the 7000 means the best possible experience).
Now, when we pause to listen to the still, small voice that is the voice of God, what happens? We hear other voices as well, right? How do we discern what is the true Inner Voice of Wisdom and what is just the background of noise of KRAP radio? And how do we silence the destructive voices once we’ve identified them for the mental goblins they are?
That’s when spoken prayer comes into play. We sit in the Silence to communion with the spirit of life, the presence of love, the ground of being. And when nefarious voices of doubt and dread and defeat pop up, we argue with them. That’s what spoken prayer is. We aren’t telling God anything! What is it that you suppose an omnipresent Reality doesn’t know? We don’t need to persuade God or inform God or educate God…we need to remind ourselves that right where we are, God is, and if God is where we are, then all Good is within our reach. We deserve hope and health and love and laughter and peace and plenty and God knows that more than we do!
No, our words of prayer aren’t to move God, they are to move us out of the way so we can experience more of what God is…life, love, liberty, hope, beauty, peace, joy, abundance.
So in the silent times when the diabolical voice of a bruised ego suggests we are worthless or powerless or beyond the reach of divine love we treat those wayward feelings with spoken prayer. I want us to start thinking of prayer as treatments, like a massage or a chiropractic adjustment or a colonic…something real and definite that is meant to restore balance and perfection.
We treat doubt and despair by denying that they have any power over us and then by affirming what is ours by right of consciousness, what is ours simply because we exist, and if exist at all then we exist in and as part of God.
And so we pray:
There is one omnipresent power; it is the power of love.
Wherever I am, it is; and whatever it is, I am.
Therefore there is nothing to prevent me from experiencing more of God and God’s goodness
and so it is in this very moment that I lay claim to all that is mine to have,
and to share.
I choose to be happy,
and I allow myself to know myself as a child of God
continuously blessed by God.
Use prayer to treat those nasty, lying voices that were programmed into you in earlier days. Use prayer to tape over the tapes, so that one day when you enter into the Silence only the good news is what bubbles up in your spirit and then you will hear the voice of divine love saying, “do not be afraid. Rise up. Move forward. Try and try again. Believe in yourself. And know that everything good is possible for you! And PS, you deserve it; you deserve the very best.”
Elijah hid in the cave of his heart, listening to the voice of fear, but moved through that experience, he heard the calm, quiet, gentle voice of spirit telling him to be lifted up and to get back to doing good work in the world, whether he ever saw the results or not. And he was finally healed of his fears, and he was able to live in his sacred power once again.
So, to summarize the story, we can feel overwhelmed, afraid, stuck, uncertain, and we may want to just hide and hope things will fix themselves. But in that time of hiding, resting, healing, we are offered the chance to reconnect to the power within us, the omnipresence that we are part of and one with, just as a wave is completely one with the larger ocean in which it exists.
Once we remember our unity with God, then we can Face Everything And Rise, and we are able to get back to doing our sacred work. We may not see the results of that work right away, but we can trust that we are contributing to something that will make a difference. When we act with courage and integrity, we are contributing to wholeness, to the 7000 that will one day stand strong.
A simpler summary was offered by Dorothy Day, “No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There’s too much work to do.” And thank God, we are the ones to do it. And this is the good news. Amen.
© 2014 Durrell Watkins
There is one Power.
It is my Life and I cannot be separated from It.
When fear approaches I will Face Everything And Rise!
And I will accept the blessings Life has for me.