Writing

  • Joseph

    The Rev. Joy MacCormick 21 December 2017

    Joseph

    She came as if reluctantly
    a question burning in her eyes,
    and told a tale - such a tale
    as both filled and pierced my heart.

    Could I believe her?
    Could I believe
    that of all women she was chosen
    to bear the Lord’s Messiah?
    Dare I trust her protestation
    that no man had fathered
    the child she carries?

    Darkness, disillusionment, despair,
    vision of our future crumbled into dust!
    I needed time to think, to pray,
    to let the numbness pass;
    process the implications.

    She said she understood;
    would wait for my response –
    however long it took,
    whatever it might be.

    And then that dream!
    So vivid, urgent, powerful,
    there was no room for doubt.
    Like her I heard the voice of God.
    Like her I knew the awesome truth
    that both of us were chosen.

    … Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream … 
    (Matthew 1:19-20 ff)

    How have you recognised God’s guidance in times of turmoil and distress? Do you believe God speaks today through dreams? Why or why not?

    What if Joseph had ignored his dream?

    (c) Joy MacCormick

    Image Dreamcatcher, www.images.unsplash.com

  • Quantum Theology

    The Rev. Joy MacCormick 18 October 2017

    Quantum Theology

    I am no physicist!
    The more I try to understand
    the more confused, bewildered, I become.
    Yet what mind can scarce begin to comprehend
    is recognised as truth
    some part of me has always known.

    Once, science sprouted from theology;
    now physics seeks to dialogue with faith –
    reveals the power of consciousness, of prayer,
    to be the same creative energy
    that drives the cosmos.
    Humans call it “holy”.

    For is not “God” a naming
    of that unbounded power –
    transcendent source of everything that is;
    binding together and sustaining,
    through its energy,
    every subatomic particle?

    How easy to forget
    that words are not, themselves, reality;
    are merely symbols representing thought,
    enabling sharing, and promoting exploration.
    “God” or “Alaha”* “Energy” or “Matrix”
    All point to Unity – for those with eyes to see.

    * “In Aramaic, the name Alaha refers to the Divine.  It means
    variously: Sacred Unity, Oneness, the All, the Ultimate
    Power/Potential, the One with no opposite” (Neil Douglas-Klotz, “The Hidden Gospel”)

    “What is truth?” asked Pilate of Jesus.   (John 18:38)

    It is difficult, and often frightening, to let go of what has been received as truth.  Living at a time when accepted scientific truth is being overturned by the discoveries of quantum physicists means facing the need to do just this - to be open to the possibility that the laws of physics as we have known them are no longer binding; that everything in the world, and indeed the cosmos, is connected to everything else; that there may be many more than four dimensions and even parallel realities; that humans have the power, through conscious awareness, to create all the changes they choose; that this is accomplished through feelings and beliefs rather than thoughts and words.   (Jesus declared “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  Mark 11:24)

    New understandings of how the cosmos operates mean new understandings about God.  It has been said that institutions are guardians of received truth and resistant to new understandings.  (Galileo was persecuted by the Inquisition for declaring that the earth was not the centre of the universe but moved round the sun, and not until 1991 did the Church acknowledge that he was correct!)  To what extent is resistance still a feature of the Church?

    You will know the truth and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32) promised the one who also said “See, I am making all things new.”  (Rev. 21:5)  In Romans 12:2 we read “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds . . . .”

     

    How resistant am I to new understandings – 
                                               particularly those relating to God?
    FROM  what might I need to be made free?
    FOR  what might I need to be made free?
    Do I want/am I willing to be made free?
    Ask God to help you discern the answers to the above questions.

    © Joy MacCormick
    Image Creative Commons                                                          

                                                                             

  • Cain and Abel - Through Another Lens

    Cain and Abel - Through Another Lens

     

    Recent rereading of Riane Eisler’s book The Chalice and the Blade (Harper San Francisco 1987) on the origin and development of early European human culture and society, sparked again memories of my discomfort with the story of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:2-16) - less for the issue of fratricide than for the image of God as apparently capricious and unfair, rejecting the offering of grain in favour of blood sacrifice. In this book I found another way of understanding what might be at the core of this tale.

    In her book Riane comments that in virtually every present-day culture there exists a myth of a golden age in which everyone and everything flourished, art and culture were highly developed and people lived in peace before being destroyed by some cataclysmic disaster. She suggests that this might actually be folk memory of Palaeolithic and Neolithic societies “where the first great breakthroughs in material and social technology were made” and a common feature was the worship of the Goddess - provider of life and all that sustained it.

    Archaeological evidence from many sites suggests that in these early societies social organisation was basically co-operative rather than hierarchical, the fruits of the earth were seen as belonging to all members of the group and there were no ranked distinctions of class or sex. Everybody contributed to the welfare of the group and to the worship of the Goddess in increasingly elaborate rituals including offerings of grain and fruit. Societies were based on equality and partnership.

    A golden age indeed in spite of inevitable tensions and hardships!

    By about 5000 BCE there is evidence of natural catastrophes and ‘a long line of invasions from the Asiatic and European north by nomadic peoples. Ruled by powerful priests and warriors, they brought with them their male gods of war and mountains.’ (p44) This caused large scale disruption and dislocation as strength and hierarchy replaced partnership and equality. Sweeping away the worship of the Goddess with its grain and fruit offerings, they imposed worship of their warrior God to whom only blood sacrifice was acceptable. Among other nomadic invaders were the Hebrews who invaded Canaan and also brought with them a fierce and angry god of war and mountains (Yahweh) and imposed their ways on the peoples of the lands they conquered.

    I now wonder whether the biblical account of Cain and Abel might also be folk memory of a time when the old ways were wiped out by invaders, bringing in and imposing their own culture and religion; when those who clung to the old values and old ways were driven out to become ‘wanderers on the earth’.

    What do you think?

    © Joy MacCormick
    Image Cain and Abel, stained glass window, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (Wikimedia Commons)

  • Moments: Discovering Joy

    The Rev. Joy MacCormick 15 December 2019

    Moments: Discovering Joy

    Joy – according to an old song is ‘Jesus first, Yourself last, and Others in between.’

    How I hated that song!

    My dictionary defines joy as ‘a condition or deep feeling of pleasure or delight; happiness; gladness’.

    Joy – a strange word with which, from time to time, I’ve had a precarious relationship.

    Possibly because it’s my given name. There have been times I knew in my deepest being the name didn’t fit who and what I experienced myself to be.

    As a teenager, I remember asking my mother, ’Why on earth did you ever call me Joy?’

    Her reply, ‘Because you were – once!’ haunted me until my late forties when I was helped to work through the related issues.

    At one stage I even considered changing my name by deed poll. The only problem was – I had no idea what to change it to. Fortunately, over more recent years, I’ve been growing into it.

    Another factor in my discomfort was that – until my mid-thirties – ‘I’d never really accepted my humanity’. These words were revealed to me during a Eucharist where I prayed for healing after cancer. Those words, unspoken yet so clear, reverberated through my being – bearing undeniable truth.

    I always had a strong sense of pre-existence; of having come reluctantly into this life from a place or state of absolute harmony, unity and peace. During that Eucharist, the realization that being human meant not separation from God but sharing in the being of God who also became human – was for me the beginning not only of acceptance but of a sense of joy in the possibility of becoming Joy.

    As I understand it now, joy is more than a transitory experience of ‘pleasure; delight; happiness or gladness’ but rather a deep underlying sense of being blessed – one which pervades all of life regardless of circumstances and which nothing and no-one can take away.

    Blessed in being part of this amazing cosmos of life-giving energy and transformation at a time when we are privileged to be able to explore, see, and understand it in ways we have never been able to before. Blessed in being one with all that is – seen and unseen – for I share the same cosmic energy vibrating in every sub-atomic particle of my being.

    This blessing is heightened in those occasional gifted moments of sheer ecstasy when I experience, once again, the ‘home’ I left behind – that total unity and harmony with everything. One with the birds gliding in the air as well as with the air supporting them; one with the ground or couch beneath me and with the clouds floating above’ one with every colour, every sound (whether melodic or grating) and one with the stillness and the silence beyond them all,

    One with every human being, even those I don’t like.

    Blessed being able to wonder what the energy that’s now me was before it was me – and what it might become by further transformation when I leave this life. Blessed in the understanding that even the worst of the destruction wrought by humankind releases energy for transformation into something potentially life-giving and beyond our imagination.

    My heart, on the surface, may be battered and bruised by the storms of news reports and the events of daily life, but those storms are unable to penetrate to the depths where deep calm prevails and I rejoice to sing and dance with folk like Gerard Manley Hopkins who, in his poem, God’s Grandeur (1877), reflects on the destruction of the environment before declaring:

    ‘And for all of us,
    nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things’
    And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward springs –
    Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.’

    Or with Julian of Norwich (1342 – 1416?) in the certainty that in spite of evidence to the contrary – ultimately:

    ‘All shall be well; and all shall be well;
    and all manner of thing shall be well.’

    Is this what is meant by ‘the joy of salvation’?

     

    ©Joy MacCormick
    Image Joy, Rick Lord

    (This article was first published in Refresh, the Journal of Contemplative Spirituality - Winter 2019)