Just yesterday, I was explaining to somebody that I often seek to avoid writing with biblical references because so many people today aren’t particularly well versed in the Bible, and they are turned off by it. They’re turned off because Christianity has frequently interpreted the Bible in ways that distort its original meaning. Nonetheless, the Bible contains teaching stories relevant to us in times like this, as we face challenges of biblical proportions.
I think of the story of Job and all he went through. Here we are, in 2020, with all that is going on for us personally and globally. I think of what my community, Sunrise Ranch, is experiencing as we have evacuated our home due to the Cameron Peak Fire, expecting to return soon after an early snowfall. It does sound a bit like Job, doesn’t it?
What has happened for you this year?
Job stayed centered, no matter what happened. He kept his fidelity with the spiritual reality he knew.
The Book of Job was left to the world by the ancients. They knew that humankind would experience many calamities, so they sought to tell a story of the greatest hope in the face of horrific adversity. They sought to leave us the message that if we keep our spiritual integrity through pandemics and forest fires and people who ridicule us harshly, truth prevails. Life prevails. As the Book of Job says:
So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning.
The story of Joseph is the story of a young dreamer, thrown into a pit by his jealous brothers and taken off into bondage. No matter what happened to him, wherever he found himself, Joseph served the people around him. It’s said that the cream rises to the top. That was Joseph. His vision and his generosity to his world always brought him to a place of leadership and responsibility.
After being forced into servitude, the captain of the Pharaoh’s guard put Joseph in charge of all his affairs. When he found himself in prison because of a false accusation, Joseph offered counsel to the prisoners. And that led to him giving counsel to Pharaoh himself, being freed and leading all of Egypt through seven years of famine.
Facing global issues of biblical proportions, we need answers that are at least as large as the issues we face. Those answers have to do with the most central dimension of our human experience—our own spiritual centering and our passion to be of service to the world in which we live. That world is, first of all, the immediate world of our family, friends and community. And when we are of service there, we send a message and a vibration that influences the world.
Jesus addressed the central passion in our life this way in the Beatitudes in the New Testament:
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6)
The word righteousness has gotten a bad rap. People tend to associate it with self-righteousness. I got hit over the head with some self-righteousness recently. That never feels good. But the righteousness Jesus is speaking to isn’t self-righteousness. And he is not speaking about a puritanical view of righteousness. That came much later in human history. He was talking about the real thing: about simply being right in yourself and in how you relate to others.
There is a hunger and thirst for that in all people. I don’t think there is a human being on the face of the planet who, in their heart of hearts, doesn’t hunger and thirst to feel right in themselves and to feel the rightness of how they are relating to others. That hunger is deep in the human heart. It is the very nature of how we are made as a human being. We want to live; we want to love. We want to see; we want to be seen. The hunger for that is great; the thirst for it is great. We hunger and thirst after the holiness of life itself. We yearn to know it, embrace it, take it in, and let it fill us up. And that is what Jesus taught: For they shall be filled. And he taught the recipe for that fulfillment.
Have you ever had this experience? You walk around for some part of the day and forget to have a glass of water. And then you have the thought, Oh, maybe it’s time to pour myself a cool drink. All of a sudden, you realize how thirsty you have been. You realize you have been walking around dehydrated.
That’s how it is for so many people when it comes to feeling right in themselves. There is a spiritual hunger and thirst, and yet somehow they cover it over and become unconscious of it. So they walk around feeling empty—unfulfilled. Then they unconsciously attempt to fill the emptiness with a substitute for feeling right in themselves. We call that addiction.
What does it take for a human being to become self-aware? To admit I am hungry—I’m famished. I am thirsty—I am really thirsty!
Have you ever tried to feed dinner to a child who isn’t hungry? It’s not easy. You can coax, you can demand, you can bribe with dessert. But if the child is not hungry, it’s hard to force food on them. And who would want to?
To be filled, we have to know we are hungry. And then open ourselves to the only way that hunger is filled.
There is another implication of this teaching. We desire to offer what is ours to offer to the people in our world. I do not believe there is a person on the face of the earth who doesn’t have a hunger to be of service to others. In their heart of hearts, every human being desires that.
Viktor Frankl wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, his seminal book on logotherapy. In it, he declares that the greatest urge that drives human beings is not willpower or the will to pleasure, as had previously been asserted. It is the will to meaning.
And what is that meaning? It’s not a theoretical matter. I understand the meaning of life. We know meaning because we are filled with what has meaning, and we give what has meaning into the world. What has meaning?
We could name it in a word. The word names something undefinable. It can be embodied and expressed but it is an ineffable quality. To be known, it must be tuned in to. And when we as human beings tune in to it, it becomes so real, so substantial. When we know its substantiality, even though it appears to be ineffable, we experience it as a pervasive reality.
The best word I know of for this ineffable quality is Love. Without Love, what has meaning? If we begin to lose track of the fact that we are loved or if we give up on our hunger to know Love, our life feels meaningless. And I would tell anyone, If you’re beginning to feel empty, get back in touch with your hunger to know Love and to know that you are loved. And then embrace your desire to allow that Love to come through you and become relevant and meaningful for the people in your life. That’s meaning. Without that ineffable quality of love, everything else goes pear-shaped.
The hungering and thirsting after righteousness is the desire to be an overflowing vessel of Love that allows Love to retain its quality and character as it is embodied in such a way that it brings life; expressed so that it has meaning and purpose for the world in which we live. This is being of true service to others.
Just as we can become unaware that we are thirsty and hungry, we can become unaware that the people around us are hungry and thirsty and that they need something from us. And while we readily acknowledge that, ultimately every person has to find that from within themselves, we also recognize that we have gifts to give one another. And if you stop believing that, you stop living. If you stop believing that your gifts are important to other people—to the communities and families you’re a part of, and to humankind—something inside dies. You begin to feel unimportant and irrelevant—meaningless.
We have meaning, and we know it when we see the world in which we live for what it is, and we see that our world is thirsty and that we are here to help people fulfill their thirst. We can prime the pump for the people around us and then play our part as a friend who gives the gifts that are ours to offer and that are rightly part of another person’s fulfillment. We can act on our passionate urge to be of service to other people.
We could say that every person’s fulfillment is ultimately on them, and that’s true. But it’s also true that none of us are fulfilled all alone and in some way we fulfill each other, simply because we give the gifts that are ours to share. We are paying attention to the needs of our world.
For us, as Emissaries of Divine Light, this is particularly relevant because if we know the truth of these things, we have the gift of this truth to bring—the gift of lighting up the awareness of the world in which we live so that people can see. If we bring this gift, there is the possibility that people can become vividly aware of what is true for them and their world. They can get back in touch with their hunger and thirst and the meaning of their life because light is present with them.
All this can happen for a person because you shone the light—not in their eyes but on the path ahead; because you cared enough to see what would be relevant for them, not so you could be there out of self-righteousness, showing how great you are, but so they could see.
We have that gift to give if the light is on for us. And shall we give it? A hundred times over, you might have been seen as a self-righteous person, and perhaps any one of us might have lessons to learn about being arrogant and self-righteous. I can’t speak to that for anybody other than myself. Nonetheless, we have a light to shine that is born out of the love pouring through us.
That is what Lloyd Arthur Meeker awoke to many years ago, and that is why he called you and me Emissaries of Divine Light. When you see the gift that the light of truth is to yourself—when you can say I was blind and now I see, I was lost but now I’m found—how could you not give that light to another? How could you not use all the human genius that you have to offer in a way that another person could receive, so that it could enlighten their life, empower them in their life, for their benefit—not yours or mine.
O Source of all Love, Source of Light, great reality of God within me and within the whole cosmos, this human soul hungers and thirsts for what you give so freely; for your love, your Light, your Life. I want to love. I want to know and be known and live in the Light. I want to live.
The power of your spirit is not for me alone. I drink it in and allow it to overflow from my heart, from my chest, from my mind, from my arms and hands. May this world touch your love because I am here. May this world know Light because I am here. May I serve in humility to be of service to my fellow human beings. May I be a true friend to humankind and to all I meet. May all whom I meet have the opportunity to feel and know your presence more vividly, more powerfully, more lovingly, more truthfully, because I am here.
It is my prayer to be a transparent window to you. I hunger and I thirst after you. And my hunger and thirst is filled in living and in service. So may it be, here and now, in this eternal moment. Aum-en.