September Blog 2022-
Reflections

By Jill Lawrence

Reflections Egret

In this Stained-Glass Mosaic an Egret is reflected in the water while hunting for food. I love the way glass art changes depending on the light available for reflection. The light available for reflection, this is what I am pondering.

Reflection- noun -1. the throwing back by a body or surface of light, heat, or sound without absorbing it. 2. serious thought or consideration given to something.

The Lakota- have wonderful names for creation. For example – Birds are The Winged Ones, Animals- The Four Legged, and People- The Two Legged. The Winged Ones, always catch my eye, cause me to reflect, and remind me to respect and love all creation. Winged-Ones in many diverse cultures over millennia have represented communication between earth and heaven. Between Two-Leggeds and the Creator.

An Ojibwa elder married Rick and me. Our wedding meditation included the story I am condensing here, to talk about what I am reflecting on these days-

The Creator grew worried about Creation and considered destroying it. Creator called for the master hunter of land, sky, and sea- Eagle. I will send Eagle out in the wide world to observe The Two-Legged Ones. Bring me a report of how they are faring. Are the Two-Leggeds caring for the creation, honoring the earth, respecting all that live, and not living in ways that only value domination and gain? See if you can find Two Leggeds honoring these old ways. Eagle flew everywhere and hunted long and hard. Finally, after long days of searching, Eagle found one humble poor family who honored the old ways. Eagle reported it to the Creator and because one poor humble family was honoring the old ways, Creator relented destruction.

One of my reflections is thinking about creating a new liturgical art series on The Beatitudes. I am fascinated by the deep understanding Aramaic translations give to our English translations of ancient texts. Consider the first beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  “Poor in spirit” is a traditional Aramaic idiom meaning humble. The word humble is defined as action or thought offered with a modest estimate of one’s own importance. An Aramaic translation of this beatitude might be “Humble are those who hold fast to the spirit of life: for theirs is the vital force that produces and sustains all.”

Instead of humble Two-Leggeds, I see us as haughty. We are not honoring “the old ways.” Instead of compassion and caring for creation, our emphasis is on power and control over creation. For example – power and authority over systems of politics, science, government, laws, and each other is valued and used transactionally. It is the “I’ll see how I can benefit before I care and have compassion,” the… “What’s in it for me” syndrome.

The Creator must be very worried about how we are faring.

Could it be that we have perverted our understanding of humble? Could it be that we think of humble as weakness? Could it be that we have a low estimate of those who hold this quality? Could it be we see “poor in spirit” as anything but a blessing? Could it be we instead value power over all creation as great gain? Could it be that instead of holding a modest estimate of our own importance, we hold ourselves in the highest regard…above all creation…even above the One who created it all?

What is wrong with this picture? It is certainly not the kingdom of heaven. This perverted understanding of poor in spirit -humble – throws back light, heat, and sound into a broken world. We are breaking creation with our haughty ways of being.

As I continue to see these reflections, I think we had better beware: Eagle, the great hunter, the Winged-One, is sure to report.

The light available for reflection, this is what I am pondering –

May we all be one humble poor family who honor the old ways.