Morning’s Lectio Divina

 

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Fire in Yosemite National Park, October 2017

It has been some time since I’ve posted something on my blog and the time away has been interesting, restful, and thoughtful. Over the last several months I have practiced three spiritual practices, Meditation, walking prayer, and Lectio Divina that have fed my soul and reawakened my imagination and inspiration, and yes, a little rebellion. Lectio Divina has been most important in raising my awareness of myself and the world around me and I have had a growing desire to share what I hear, feel, and see in scripture meditation. I claim no special expertise or knowledge only heartfelt understanding from my perspective a pericope. I pray that if you meditate on the same scriptures you will find your own insights and open doors.

Isaiah 5:1-7 (NRSV)

1 Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill.
2 He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it;
he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.
3 And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
4 What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it?
When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?
5 And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard.
I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured;
I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.
6 I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed,
and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns;
I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting;
he expected justice, but saw bloodshed;
righteousness, but heard a cry!

Meditation:

Reading 1: beloved; judge; righteousness;
Reading 2: break down; devoured; justice; bloodshed; righteousness, but heard a cry;

This pericope is about God’s justice for Judah for failing to be a people who embrace mercy, justice, peace, and compassion. I sit here and somehow feel we are in the same place now as the people of Judah in 800 BCE. I wouldn’t be surprised if God does something to today’s vineyard, actually I would find God’s action a relief from the horrendous tension.

There are many levels of interpretation to this scripture but on one level we can see how God’s plea to Judah as a plea to us today. After all this country is slipping into a pattern not that different from Judah, or Israel. We have political leaders claiming a faith in God and Christ yet fail to do justice, protect the innocent, or welcome the stranger. These men, and they are mostly men but also women, claim the Bible sanctions their actions of separating children from their parents, cutting health care to the young and the elderly, making health care to expensive for even the average citizen to have, and raising taxes to a level that will keep the poor poorer, and the wealthy wealthier. None of that is sanctioned by God or Christ.

In this passage Isaiah tells the people of Judah God’s justice will result in their destruction. I know God will eventually offer forgiveness (I’ve read ahead) but here Judah doesn’t know that. All they hear, if they are listening, is their little kingdom is going to be destroyed and God tells them why. God expected justice but saw only bloodshed, righteousness but heard only cries of despair and pain and for failing to be the fruit of God’s vineyard they will face destruction and despair.

The parallel between Judah and the United States is too close. There is little justice coming out of Washington D.C., but there is a great deal of turning away from doing good and right. There is no justifiable actions coming from the White House or Congress, only unethical, and morally bankrupt rhetoric from people who enjoy causing pain and suffering on others.

This government likes to call on the scripture to justify their actions. They take a short phrase out of context and wave it around like a sword. The truth is that scripture condemns them as apostates. They embrace the exact opposite of the teachings of God and Jesus. By their own words they have renounced a faith in God in favor of a faith in only themselves. They are their own god!

I cannot call them Christian, or a follower of The God of Abraham, no, they have no faith recognized by those who believe God’s mandate of Justice, Mercy, Compassion and Peace. Isaiah warned Judah what would happen, they didn’t listen and I doubt todays version of Judah will listen either.

Ruth Jewell, ©July 21, 2018

Guns, Fear, and Paranoia

For the last several weeks I have been trying to make sense of the tragedy of Newtown Connecticut and all the rest of the massacres before and since Newtown. I am especially confused by America’s fascination with guns and I must admit I don’t understand.  Why do we need to have everyone armed?  I keep thinking people who carry handguns, or own automatic or semi-automatic weapons are feeding a deep seated inadequacy and guns allow them to feel powerful.  I wouldn’t call such people cowards but they obviously have fear issues that they blow way out of proportion to what the real world offers. And, if someone thinks 6 and 7 year olds are a threat to your life then you really need to see a professional and get counseling. 

The NRA tells us that more guns are the solution to our problem of gun violence, and I respectfully question their thinking and sanity.  How can more guns on the street prevent gun violence?  It didn’t in 1800’s and it won’t now.  Wasn’t it Wyatt Earp in Dodge City who banned guns in town and reduced the level of violence that the town was famous for?  How does the NRA support such a ridiculous statement? 

While I am primarily a vegetarian I accept the fact that some people still hunt for food, especially in Alaska.   But, I just don’t see the sport in killing a living animal. In the lower 48 is it really necessary to go out and kill an animal for food these days?  Can’t people get the same thrill of “hunting” using a camera to “bring home your trophies?  After all you’re in the same outdoor environment and it takes as much, or more, skill to get a good picture than it does to kill an animal.  

I am at a loss as to why anyone would own any weapon other than a single shot rifle.  Everything else is only good for killing another human being.  Unless, of course, you want shredded deer meat you aren’t going to use an automatic rifle to go deer hunting and I can’t imagine what such a weapon would do to bird. 

Unless you have to hunt to put food on your table then there is no excuse or reason to own a gun.  If you are a collector then all your specimens should be permanently disabled and securely locked up to prevent them from being used at any time. 

I am afraid that just like everyone else I don’t have answers other than to say this country needs massive group counseling for paranoia.  The world can be a scary place when you don’t know what tomorrow brings.   But in my experience tomorrow is never as bad as the “so called experts” say it will be and contrary to all rumors the world will not end if individuals do not own weapons used only for killing people. 

Gun violence isn’t about guns, it’s about people, individuals and groups, who see the worst in the future and can’t imagine a world that embraces life rather than death. I have great pity for such people for they live in a world I am totally unfamiliar with.  Such people are sick and should be treated as such, with compassion and sympathy and help for their fears that feed their paranoia.  So maybe that is my solution – group therapy for people who own guns.  I don’t think it would hurt and maybe it would help those who feel a false sense of fear feeding their personal inadequacy, which leads to paranoia, which leads to violence.  Maybe, just maybe, there would be fewer massacres such as Newtown, Portland, Colorado, Seattle, Tacoma, there are too many to name.  Sick people use guns to kill other people, I get that, but what I don’t get is why we don’t address the root cause and that is, unreasoning fear and paranoia in large numbers of people in this country.  We need to address that issue, and then guns won’t matter.

Ruth Jewell, ©January 14, 2013