A Walk with the Green Rabbi   2 comments

This is another Druidry-and-Christianity post, so those of you who can feel your blood pressure rising already might want to keep on moving. Please respect your own spiritual digestion! Come back next post. Care for yourself and others in this time, as you uniquely know and are learning how to do.

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We have a human need to name causes. We want to know the formative energies behind things. We learn from experience that such knowledge often eases our hearts, even a little, if we can just spot a pattern, detect a design, rustle up a reason.

Often enough, too, knowing a cause helps in shaping a result we desire. With a sense of trajectory, maybe we can define points along the way, formulate strategies, work on means and ends. How to get there from here.

I run into Josh* again, the Green Rabbi. Many have heard of him. His stories are full of birds and beasts, flowers and fields, and often he just gets things, things I know I need to hear. He comes to all kinds of circles and protests, gatherings and prayer sessions, where he doesn’t always immediately stand out in a crowd. Parties, too. Maybe you saw him a few weeks ago, talking with that old guy at the end of the bar. Or sitting with refugees huddled in their tents, listening. Once in a while, you might catch a glimpse of him in the mirror. He doesn’t shy away from the tough questions, or doing what’s needed himself, rather than waiting on somebody else.

One day as Josh passed by, he saw a man he knew, blind from birth. And his students asked him, “Rabbi, who messed up, this man or his parents, so that he was born blind?” 

It’s a great question, one you may find yourself asking along with me and many others right about now. Why are things like this?

Twenty centuries ago, the Green Rabbi faces that question-impulse in his students, and fields one of the Big Questions: cause and effect.

This time his students present him with what looks like yet another obvious karmic either-or. It’s gotta be A or B. One or the other. Cut and dried. My bad skin (or my amoral heart) is either my own doing, or it’s the result of bad upbringing. Choose. Nature or nurture, person or person’s parents.

Then, QED. Tell me who’s at fault so I can assign blame, and if it’s not my fault, I can wrap it up neatly in a crimson bow. Put it on a shelf. And all too conveniently forget about it. Not my monkey, not my circus.

Wait, says my life. Not so fast.

Josh answered, “This man hasn’t messed up, and neither have his parents: it’s so Spirit could manifest in him.

The cause doesn’t always matter as much as we might think. More than we imagine, it’s the seed of possibility in the moment that counts. A potential. The chance for something that wasn’t there before. What chance, and whose? Well, anybody’s — anybody who can help Spirit appear more vividly and effectually right now. And that’s all of us. It is, if we accept it, a spiritual opportunity. Whatever the cause, what can I manifest in the space it has shaped?

More surprise. Josh doesn’t push the responsibility of making the most of such an opportunity onto anybody else. Instead, he applies it to himself, rolls up his sleeves, and starts yet again walking his talk. I know I learn from that kind of model. It’s an ongoing struggle for me, against my tendency to say “other people’s problems” and turn back to my own stuff.

Josh tries to explain:

I work with what spirit sends me, while it’s still day: the night comes, when nobody can work. As long as I’m in the world, I’m the light of the worldAfter he said that, he spat on the ground, and made clay, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said to him, Go wash in the pool. The blind man went, and washed, and came back able to see.

Light and earth, water and Spirit. Elemental powers we all hold in our hands.

When I “come back”, I’m not always able to see all that clearly. But Josh nods. That, I can see. OK, among everything else these things can mean, for me they signal I’ve got work to do. And — blessed chance! — there’s still light to do it by.

A meditation for the day:

Light: what is spirit showing me right now? What can I do with that insight or perception?

Earth: how can I manifest it in concrete ways? What’s the earth of it?

Water: what is fluid and supple in my life, what is flowing that I can participate in and help to shape for the good of all? Where can I flow for others, helping to unstick the stuckness we all labor with?

Spirit: what humble forms does life use to reach and teach me? How does spirit animate and enliven my life today? How can I open to more opportunities for that to happen? As a Wise One said, When we tune in, our talents and skills are used in ways we enjoy. Let my prayer be full of life, let my life make use of me for my good, yes, mixed with the good of those around me.

And my prayer for you is the same. May you delight in the uses spirit makes of your life. May you name and explore and celebrate some of those uses today.

/|\ /|\ /|\

*Josh, popular short form of Joshua, from Hebrew Yehoshua; related name Yeshua, Greek Jesus. How many of us react automatically to names that have emotional loading for us, as the name Jesus does for people traumatized by bad religion and its practitioners. This is one of my transparent and unoriginal attempts to unload a name, to shift perception, even if only a little. I know I need that. Your mileage may vary.

2 responses to “A Walk with the Green Rabbi

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  1. The Green Rabbi? Josh? Surprised, amused and then moved – I’ll need to ponder the possibilities.

    Denise LeGendre
  2. Thanks, Denise. Surprise, amusement and being moved are important flags for me to pay attention, as they apparently are for you, too!

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