I went to hear The Messiah on Wednesday evening and wrote about the first half of it the next day. Now it’s Saturday [and now it’s Sunday] and I wonder if it’s “old news” and maybe I should write about something else. The answer is no. First of all, I said to myself and to you that I would comment about the rest of the words sung. As well, I can bring freshness to it three days later. So here we go:
He was despised and rejected, rejected of men
A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief
Who amongst us hasn’t been rejected, tossed aside, treated like a thing? We all hurt. I remember being fired from a management job. I knew I had done the best job that I could muster. My self-esteem as I cleared out my desk was teetering on an edge. “Bad person, good person, bad …” And then there was losing my dear wife Jody to lung cancer. How the grief came in waves, subsided, and then rolled again. And it still comes. Blame and loss … let them just be there, Bruce, when they appear.
Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows
Something holds me in a tender embrace, especially when the world seems black. There is an inner knowing beyond reason. “All is well.” Even amidst the storms. Maybe my job is to just sit quietly and let the essence reveal itself … in its own time.
And with his stripes we are healed
The First Noble Truth of the Buddha: there is suffering. Unlike angels and other heavenly folk, our lives are a mixture of pleasant and unpleasant. The Buddha talked about our “precious human birth”. We get to experience it all. The pain teaches compassion, because we all have that pain. We become more fully human.
All we like sheep have gone astray
I hurt a few people on the meditation retreat. I tried to make them laugh, which is what I usually do in life. But in the silence of a retreat, emotions are heightened. Life issues appear right in front of the eyes, in surround sound. And some guy playfully hiding your water glass at the dining room table may be an assault of great magnitude. (Sigh) So imperfect am I. Don’t smash yourself in the head about this, Bruce. Just notice and look for a better way.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates
And be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors
And the King of glory shall come in
To what shall we lift our heads, so that the sun meets our eyes? Whatever it is, it’s inside us already. No need to go out and find the King of glory. It’s found us. No need to trek in the Himalayas or go on long meditation retreats in Massachusetts. It all resides at our home address.
How beautiful are the feet
Of them that preach the gospel of peace
No preaching needed. Just be peace. Get out of the way. Peace will emerge. People will know.
Their sound is gone out into all lands
And their words unto the ends of the world
Peace radiates beyond the assumed boundaries of time and space. That oil worker in Kuwait. That business leader in New York’s One World Trade Center. That astronaut circling Earth in a space station. They feel your peace.
Let us break their bonds asunder
And cast away their yokes from us
How do we help people free themselves from greed, hatred and delusion? Not by lecturing, cajoling and in general giving the message that I’m right and you’re wrong. Instead I gradually purify myself. I stand and speak and act as one who is following the path to freedom. Either others will see something curious and valuable in me or they won’t. And I won’t drown myself in their suffering. I will be with it, let it wash over me and then fall away. “I care about your suffering. Your happiness depends on the decisions you make. I will stay with you on that journey.”
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth
Happiness is when the love flows. When compassion and equanimity follow me throughout the day. Love wins.
And though worms destroy this body
Yet in my flesh shall I see God
Bruce doesn’t last forever. Nothing does. Impermanence. While I live, every moment beckons me to contact the inner glow. It’s not going anywhere. I often don’t see it. May I uncover, again and again.
The trumpet shall sound
And the dead shall be raised incorruptible
And we shall be changed
Do I have the ears to hear? Will I allow the flatness to fall away and animate the moments left to me until I die?
Forever and ever
Now, now and now
May all men and all women be happy