The Lion and the Lamb

Welcome into My Garden

On a branch hanging low
A weathered sign swaying gently in the wind
Says simply:
“Welcome into my Garden.”

Planted eons ago it seems, this garden lay in deep abandon,
Or so it may appear
With fallen trees resting in ripe decay
And unshorn foliage shadowing forgotten flowers
Once bright in bloom.
Fresh dew-kiss each early morn
Springs forth new life deep within this body of earthen ground.
Lifting, nourishing this field of famined soil.
Clearing a way.

Come walk with me this garden path on stone and moss and hardened clay.
Set free your feet, and come
Walk with me beneath the untamed foliage shading us in heated day.
Come walk with me…deeper still
And you will step in perfumed air, in lavish bloom and vibrant Life.
Come closer, dear,
Step softly…
And I will show you thorns and briar and barren branches,
Broken in haste where once I ran to hide.

Standing now, I hide no more
Naked before God’s gaze deep into my white-hot garden heart.
And here before your witness we hear the voice of God:
“To magnify your heart, my darling, enter within all its doorways—walk each chamber to pass into eternity within the
soul of your Radiant Being.”
I take your hand, and stand trembling, knowing what we see.
God’s eyes may reveal me tattered, but never…never torn from Spirit’s grasp.
Eyes lifted, hand on my heart
Feeling the caress of Spirit’s gentle kiss
Ahhh….in the delicate innermost of Being.

I still tremble, looking to you,
Knowing that as you enter my garden
And walk with me
Nothing will escape the eyes of our hearts.

—Paulette Lieska

David Karchere: I’d like to read some words from the prophet Malachi:

But unto you that [revere] my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings. (Malachi 4:2)

What a beautiful image! Here is a depiction of the wise presence of spirit, the Sun of righteousness arising with healing in his wings—something hovering in the heaven of consciousness. The wisdom of that presence is not just an intellectual thing. Intellectual understanding has its place, but true wisdom certainly goes beyond intellectual understanding. It is acceptance of the true pattern of things. That is what brings healing. That acceptance brings wholeness to the body and to the experience with other people, and wholeness in our relationship with this earth.

So here is this beautiful image of the Sun of righteousness appearing with healing in his wings. It’s an interesting image. Where the opportunity to participate in the true pattern of things shows up, it’s not always welcomed; it’s not always seen for what it is. And it occurred to me, as I meditated upon this image, that it could be seen as the image of an eagle soaring in the heavens. We often see them here in this beautiful valley. For the eagle’s prey, that looming presence could be intimidating. For a mouse, they could begin to feel like lunch with the eagle looming overhead. They might feel they are about to be consumed.

And it seems to me that is how it is for human beings. With the Sun of righteousness in the heaven ever more fully, with the opportunity for healing and wholeness and the revelation of that in human experience, what tends to emphasize itself is fear: fear that human life as it’s been shall be no more. The world has gotten a good dose of fear through this recent economic crisis. There are some signs that the worst of those fears will not come true, at least not right now. There’s a sense of relief, and perhaps a hope that we can go back to living as we were.

There is something true about the fear. For that mouse, there is the very real risk that it will be lunch for the eagle. Our lives, as they have been, must be consumed by that larger understanding, taken up into it. All our beliefs; all our desires for human fulfillment; all our self-satisfaction; all our arrogance; all the ways in which we try to find fulfillment outside of that larger understanding of the true pattern of things that is brought by the Sun of righteousness, which is the emerging consciousness in humanity of the truth.

We are to be that Sun of righteousness. We are to be harbingers of that truth, bringing healing in our wings. But we can’t do that from the perspective of the human state as it is, which is fearful of being taken up into the universal pattern of truth as it unfolds here. We have to let go of our lives as they have been and let them be consumed, taken up in the universal pattern, if we are to participate in being the Sun of righteousness for our world.

The Christian story of Jesus contains a belief in his death, and that Christian story harks back to many other superstitious stories of the necessity of death to appease an angry god. It short, it is a belief in the necessity of human sacrifice. I don’t believe our human death makes any real god happy. And yet there’s something true in the story. There is something that has to pass away for any person, and for the body of humanity as a whole, if we are to know the Sun of righteousness and in fact be the Sun of righteousness who brings healing in his wings.

We have to be willing to put our lives on the altar. That includes our open hearts. It also includes our work. The strength of our labors, at all levels of our function, must be put on the altar. That is one of the privileges we have here at Sunrise Ranch. It is the opportunity to labor, to work together to build something beautiful, to commit our heart and nerve and sinew to a great purpose. For some, they may have the imagination that in doing so we will build some castle to the sky, which is actually not at all the point. What is the point is that we have the opportunity to put our labors on the altar. And, in fact, that opportunity is present for anybody anywhere.

Those human labors, of themselves, amount to nothing. And that is the putting-it-on-the-altar part. It is labor for the virtue of labor itself that is the act of putting it on the altar, giving our highest and our finest in our service—not because our service of itself will save the world, but because in the act of opening ourselves to the One we serve, to the Sun of righteousness, that reality that we serve may not so much save the world but re-create it.

Paulette’s poem speaks to me of openness and vulnerability. Here is something else to be put on the altar. There can be, obviously, fear in living one’s life with an open heart—the fear of being hurt. Something happens for a person when they decide that whatever the risks are, they will live their life putting their heart on the altar, giving their heart to what they love, and finding ways in their life to make that real. Giving our heart to another person is an opportunity to be vulnerable. If it’s all about simply giving our heart to another person, the risks are very high. But I think it changes when we see that in order to give our heart to the most High, we have to make it real in our life. I cannot imagine walking through life, opening my heart to the One I love above all, and being closed-hearted to the people around me. I have to make my promise real to the One I serve. And if I am to give my heart to that One, I must give my heart and my life to other people and, in that way, put my heart on the altar.

I’d like to read another verse from the Bible that talks about these two aspects of human experience: our strength and our openness. And it depicts these two aspects living side-by-side in harmony, lying down together, as it’s put. This is from Isaiah:

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together…. (Isaiah 11:6)

Sometimes this is thought of as the lion and the lamb lying down together. What is it that holds seemingly such diverse and antithetical parts of our experience?

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

Seemingly, that last portion has nothing to do with what’s been said before. Where did the child come from? I believe it’s a depiction of innocence. When we learn to let our openness—our softness and vulnerability—be present with our strength, and we learn how those two aspects of our experience can live together and serve together and be put on the altar together, what emerges through the midst of that is the innocence that is our birthright, the truth of who we are, coming forth and leading our experience.

That experience happens for one who serves, who brings the entirety of their strength to their service and does so with an open and yielded heart, knowing that one’s strength alone and one’s yieldedness alone will not fulfill one’s destiny. But they open the door for the Sun of righteousness to come, not only through us but as us, with healing in our wings.

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