“What are you seeking?”

Genesis 37:15 He [Joseph] came to Shechem, and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, “What are you seeking?”

The Search

I searched along a dusty road
Not knowing what I’d find.
I met a farmer, old and gray
And asked him if he knew.
He raised his head and spoke through age,
“Look to your heart and you will find what it is you’re seeking.”

I searched along a highway.
Tall buildings hiding what I looked for.
I saw a man who taught in schools of ivy
And asked him if he knew.
He turned and looked through eyes dark and deep,
“Look to your mind and you will find what it is you’re seeking.”

I wandered on, puzzled as to meaning.
Heart or mind?  Just what was I seeking!

I searched along a gentle stream
In the middle of a meadow
“Both heart and mind”, a voice called out,
A voice both young and old
I turned to see a man of years
Yet one that was not worn.
“Give from your heart love and hope,
With knowledge and understanding.
For in giving to others you will find
That which you are seeking.”

Ruth Thompson-Jewell, Written about 1980, ©August 15, 2011

I wrote this at time when I was doing a lot soul searching and not quite sure what I’d find.  I never once thought my journey would last quite so long or take me to places I couldn’t have imagined.  Since this poem was written I’ve passed through some dark tunnels only to come out into the sunlight. 

At the time I thought I would never survive and that my journey was taking an awfully long time to complete, so long that I even considered shortening it.  But now as I look back my time in the dark was really quite brief, and while the challenges seemed overwhelming at the moment, the perspective of time and space has given me a new place from which to view my past.  I remembered this poem as I listened to the sermon last Sunday (August 14, 2011) given by Pastor Laurie.  She highlighted this verse from Genesis where an old man asks Joseph what he was seeking and then Laurie asks us what we were seeking. 

In fact we all are seeking for something and each of us believe our journeys are so unique that no one will ever understand them.  I think in reality all our journeys have many similarities and if we were to share them we just might find what we are searching for in the first place, and a whole lot quicker. My journey continues and it is unique for who I am, but as I listen to others who are willing to share their journeys similarities that lead me to answers to questions I’ve asked and new questions that open new doors.  Doors that are leading into rooms and onto paths I never would have foreseen in a million years in 1980!  I have also discovered my journey is not as unique as I thought which is really quite comforting.

It is the last two lines of the poem that I now find the most interesting, isn’t that what Jesus taught?  Giving from the heart, loving and caring for my neighbor, isn’t that the Gospel message Jesus worked so hard and died for.  Over the last couple of years I’ve begun to question just how much I give from my heart, how much more can I give and how do invite others to do the same. These are questions I can’t answer and maybe never will.  There are so many questions, so many doors to open within my heart and in the hearts of others.  Will I, will we, ever be able to open them all?

Ruth Jewell, ©August 15, 2011


You held me in your arms
You whispered in my ear
“Be not afraid”

You sent me on a journey
my path laid out stone by stone
by You

I walk the path
darkness on one side
light on the other

One path-one journey
many stones-light, dark
moving forward into the unknown

Ruth Jewell, ©August 11, 2011
Submitted to the Abby of the Arts Poetry Party

Deceptive Scriptures

for July 24, 2011: 
Genesis 29:15-28

Jacob Marries Laban’s Daughters

15 Then Laban said to Jacob, ‘Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?’16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.17 Leah’s eyes were lovely,* and Rachel was graceful and beautiful.18 Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, ‘I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.’19 Laban said, ‘It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.’20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, ‘Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.’22 So Laban gathered together all the people of the place, and made a feast.23 But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her.24 (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.)25 When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, ‘What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?’26 Laban said, ‘This is not done in
our country—giving the younger before the firstborn.27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me for another seven years.’28 Jacob did so, and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife.

When our pastor on July 24 read this scripture I was struck by the deception that Laban plays on Jacob and it started me thinking about all of the deception found in scripture.  There is Abraham’s pretending that Sarah is his sister instead of his wife and get’s the host kings in trouble with God (Sarah must have been one hot 100 year old woman for this to happen, but, that’s another issue altogether).  And of course son Isaac has to imitate good old dad with his wife.  Then of course there’s God who deceives Abraham into taking his son up to the mountain to be the blood sacrifice then just blows it off saying, just joking, didn’t think you take me up on it.  And, don’t forget Jacob deceiving his father into giving him the birth right and all of this is only in Genesis.  I’m not going to catalog all of the deceptions our religious fathers and mothers used.

As I have pondered this revelation that my faith is founded on deception I have to also accept that the Jewish and Islamic traditions are also based on deception andAs I look at other world religions deception is common to all of them. Over the past couple of weeks I have been struggling with what that means for my own faith.   When I did a Google search on Deception in Scriptures I find lots of stuff; about half of it is from conservatives who seem to find the deceptions somehow honorable, one fourth is from those who say the recording of the deceptions are the reasons God doesn’t really exist and the remaining fourth use the deceptions to defend their claims that their sister religions are false.

However, I keep thinking I am missing something here and I’m supposed to learn some kind of lesson from all of all this deception.  If I look at the first story of the Creation in Genesis we see no deception what so ever and everyone seems to ignore that.  God creates the universe and everything in it, and then creates man and woman. God tells the two of them everything was created for them so go for it, just take care of this world and we’re good. No trees you aren’t supposed to touch, no snakes in the grass, no original sin, nothing deceptive, just pretty much straight forward and simple. This is a believable story and I like it! God finds her creation good, including man and woman and trusts them to take care of things.  God was only asking that we be responsible
partners with him.  So what happened in chapter 2 were Adam and Eve switched at birth? Somehow we lost our ability to find the good in each other, and, for several thousand years our lives were lived by finding only the bad in each other.

What strikes me is the 4 Gospels of the New Testament seem to reflect the first chapter of Genesis in that Jesus teaches the message that God finds his creation good and all that is necessary for us to see it is do what the first Adam and Eve were supposed to do and that is take care of each other and the planet and we’re good with God.  But, yet again this message gets set aside and we end up finding only the bad side of each other and everything quickly goes downhill.  Why is it that we can’t accept the message God gives when she say’s that creation Is good?  Whenever someone points this out and calls us to return to the message of Genesis 1 we as a people manage to wipe them out, I just don’t understand.

I am wondering does anyone else find this odd about us humans, are we so simple minded that we can’t seem to learn what God has been trying to teach us all these years.  Have the gods of greed and ego so taken us by the throat that we can’t recognize the teachings of God, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha or any of the other innumerable messengers sent to us.  Are we really that stupid?

I’d like to think that in the second creation story when Eve went and ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Bad that she was trying to become what God wanted of her and Adam.  But, after eating it she and Adam blow it by not taking responsibility for what they did.  Are we now trying to learn to be responsible partners with God because if we so we aren’t doing a good job of it?  We have the tools to repair this relationship, given to us over and over again by so many messengers all we have to do is learn, so why is it so hard?  I have no answers to these questions and I really don’t know if I have it right or not and I don’t expect anyone else to have the answers either.   I put this out here for conversation only, surely we can come up with better questions than those who only condemn other traditions and those who make the statement “that my faith is the right one and everyone else is wrong.”

As you can see I have been wrestling with this issue for a couple of weeks before I put this out there.  So if anyone else has something to say I have an open mind.  However, please be respectful of others opinions because I’m not sure any of us has the “right” answer.

Ruth Jewell, ©August 8, 2011

A Cell Phone Conversation

“Hello God”, “this is Ruth, I have a few things to talk to you about, do you have the time to chat right now.”  …

“Oh wonderful” …

I’m not really complaining mind you because it is so hot elsewhere in the country right now, but, common on God, while Western Washington is supposed to be cool and cloudy, we’ve only had a few days worth of summer.  If this keeps up, we, the residents of said Western Washington, are going to have moss growing in our hair!”  …

“What was that God; you wanted some place in the North American Continent to be cool.” …

“Well I’m honored you chose us and like I said I’m not complaining, too much, but we are becoming very depressed and our bones are become a bit brittle from the lack of vitamin D so we need some sun.   Wouldn’t a balance be a better choice than our little corner being in the 60’s and gray while everyone else is in the 90’s or 100’s with only blue skies?” …

“I know you control things … what you don’t, not really.”  …

“God how can that be?” …

“OOOOHH, it’s partly our fault, we’re supposed to be partners.” …

“Yeah, I know, some of us haven’t been very good at taking care of this ol’ planet earth.” …

“OK, OK, none of us have been very good at taking care of the earth.”  …

“ aaaannnnddd, I admit I fall into that group as well, we all could do better.  But, the powers that be on this planet seem to be a bit preoccupied at the moment with matters they think are important so what’s a poor person like me supposed to do.” …

“Quit complaining and start working and helping out? Well I guess that would be a start.”  …

“And, start looking after each other instead of beating each other up with whatever is handy.  Now that might be a bit harder to do!  God, it’s just that when you gave us free will some of us choose to use it to gather power into themselves and turn everyone else out into the cold.  The ones who choose to use your free will for the betterment of those around them seem to be getting the short end of the stick and some people don’t seem to be able to use their free will at all.  They seem unable to make choices for themselves. How do we help them?  How do we help ourselves? All I’m asking here is for courage, and enough knowledge to stand up and say and do what is right for those who are unable to fight for themselves.”  …

“Yes, I know you gave us instructions” …

“I admit we’ve never followed them”  …

“But God they seem so hard to do” …

“Wellllll, I suppose we could give it another try”

“But, God, there is one other problem, some of those who are unable to fight for themselves don’t want any help unless they get what the power hungry ones have.  So the problem is how do we get those who have so much they can’t possibly use all of it to share with those who have little and how do we get those who have little to not want all of what those who have too much? The way I see it is that greed on all sides is the real issue and I am not exempt.  Jealousy and envy are powerful emotions that drive all of us humans and I’m not sure how to prevent or at least mediate those feelings.  Where do I find the answers to these questions.” …

“Yes, I know I’m in school to find the answers but all I keep finding are questions and I want some answers. mmmm I wonder if I am getting them but don’t recognize them?  Hmmm, well maybe, but, I could use a little more guidance, just a little,    ahhhhhh …..”

“Hello? … God, … God, are you still there, are you listening to me” …

“Rats, must’ve been cut off.”

Ruth Jewell, ©August 1, 2011