John Michael

Life Is a Sweet, Tender Bruise XI

(Garden of Eden, Charles Dufranc, 1985)

John Michael continues his series, reflecting on life and people encountered, with two new stories inspired by Bible verses and the insights gained from them.

 

The Earth Will Be Left to Those Who Care for Her

This is a story about unbidden thoughts and dreams, what we allow within ourselves, our families and cultures. Cain killing Abel was the death of the feminine. That was an unbidden thought I had while I was listening to music.

I am not much of a research guy, but I did reread the beginning of Genesis and googled the origins of the names Cain and Abel. One 1910 occult paper from Germany said that Cain did mean “masculine” and Abel “feminine” or “spirit.”

“So, the Lord banished them [Adam and Eve] from the Garden of Eden and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made.” Genesis 3:23. I found it interesting that Adam’s punishment was to cultivate the land, the exact phrase used to describe Cain’s livelihood. “When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground.”

I also find it interesting that the Nez Perce Indians, the Wallowa band at least that include Chief Joseph, refused to take up farming, as they considered it a sin so to speak, to take a plow to the Mother.

Nature always works for its own highest good and the good of all its species, and possibly each individual within that species. Wolves cull the weak, sick, and elderly animals from the herd, keeping both the herd and the wolves healthy.

Cain (masculine) kills Abel (feminine), thus separating man from nature. Allowing him to take action (masculine) without consideration of the feminine or spirit. So, man working for only his personal benefit without considering how it affects the whole.

 

“So, the Lord banished them from the Garden of Eden and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made.” Genesis 3:23.

 

A similar unbidden thought I had was, Firearms are dangerous without the Mother. You see what I am getting at here? You come across your enemy, be it a Native American village or My Lai in Vietnam, and everybody gets wiped out including women, children, and the elderly. From what I see of military training, soldiers are taught to suppress any natural emotion that might inhibit their ability to kill and to take orders without any personal reflection—masculine in overdrive.

The masculine without the feminine comes upon an old growth forest and takes everything to the ground without blinking an eye, every river and stream on the continent becomes undrinkable without treatment. To kill buffalo solely for the hide, to take an elephant for the tusk. To cage animals in a way that allows for no movement.

So, if we, once again, honor the male and female as equals in us all, we return to the garden is the appeal I’m trying to make here.

Another thought I had was, Our flattop is harming the ozone layers. In other words, plowing under the prairie year after year is affecting the moisture levels and possibly the temperature of the topsoil. I am not saying this is true, but if it is the interconnectedness of the galaxy is astounding.

I have many contradictory dreams about the future. Some are just kinder, more beautiful than the way we are now. But in one I saw many tribal people in very brightly-colored costumes drumming, dancing, and singing. The thought that came with that dream was, The earth will be left to those who care for her.

Blessed are the meek, those who embrace the feminine as well as the masculine, for they shall inherit the earth.

 

Upward Spiral

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:4.

That is from Isaiah and was part of a Good Friday reading at mass tonight and it stirred me a little.

I am never sure what to make of churches, doctrine, and ritual. But I took my mom to Catholic healing mass a while back and I was raised in the Catholic tradition and do enjoy the ritual and ceremony of mass. So, I find myself there on occasion as I did tonight.

I may be wrong but based on personal experience I think any sincere seeker of God must go through a downward spiral or a dark night of the soul that may last for years. In our families and in general, many fears and emotions are simply not understood and processed at the time they happen and get buried in the mind and body.

Just before I ended up on the streets, I heard the phrase “downward spiral” several times, which gave me an odd comfort as it suggested it was something I needed to go through. I don’t say this often, but there were several years out there when everyone I looked at appeared as a walking corpse, zombie-like with no light in their eyes. It may have been a reflection of what they were seeing in me as I was traveling through my many inner hells. If you would have seen me at that time, you would have probably walked away muttering to yourself, “That guy is not going to make it.” That is what I was thinking myself.

 

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:4.

 

My upward spiral started in the spring of my seventh street year when I saw a silent, blue light apparition of Christ sitting on a bench across from me in front of a Chili’s at about three in the morning.

Every winter, I go through another downward spiral and I am happy to report they are less traumatic each year. For several years after coming off the streets, I practiced Tibetan Buddhism with consistency. One technique is called “tonglen.” It involves praying in a way so as to take on the pain of those you are praying for and sending them your joy.

After a while, I had some dreams that said I was to stay spiritually independent, and I quit doing the tonglen practice. I thought that, with my self-hating ways, taking on the pain of others may have been just another way of punishing myself. I also wondered if it was also just a mind game and if that transfer of pain actually happens. I will admit it did seem to soften and tenderize my heart some when I was doing it. Tibetans use it as a practice to increase compassion.

During that time, I also added drumming and didgeridoo playing to my spiritual practices. I have always used Christian prayers, by the way. The verse from Isaiah struck me as it was a prophecy of Christ. Christ “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” moved me to tears; what a loving thing to do.

I had a dream the other night that I should pick up Buddhism again. But many of my dreams have been contradicting as of late, as I sift through the desires and troubles in my heart.

My peace has deepened quite a bit this spring. Of this, I know for sure, no matter what you make of Christianity, Christ loves us so.

 

John Michael

Hello, good people. I am rarely sure how to describe myself. If I say I am a Christian, many things may arise in your mind that ain't necessarily so. I was homeless for seven years and learned more about myself in that stretch of time than in any other segment of my life. I read the Bible a lot out there and came across a passage in Proverbs that has shaped my approach to life: "A man's pursuit is his kindness." I am well educated with a Master of Social Work degree and have worked a wide variety of jobs in my 52 years. None have lasted too long however. When I was homeless, the beauty of Texas wildflowers made me decide to want to live again. Along with kindness, beauty, play, and self-expression are life-guiding ideas. My shadow contains things like feeling sorry for myself, a truckload of defiance, a desperate need to please women, and no small amount of cruelty. A quote from Luke also has had a lasting effect on me: "For God is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." When I read that I thought, "Hell, I have got a fighting chance." I am here to tell you, you have a fighting chance as well. Besides Christianity, practicing Buddhist and Shamanic techniques inform my relationship to God and the world.

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