Hagar

Day 21

Last night after I finished my writing, my partner read it and told me that she thought I was a good writer. It might not seem like much on the outside but after a long, tense, stressful week, this is how it felt:

I never noticed how husky her voice sounds; not how I’d imagine some young fawn, but whatever. That’s beside the point! I’m tired and distracted and still trying to recover from my sunburnt and exhausting day yesterday, so let’s get down to business.


Genesis 21

Psalm, Chronicles, Kings, Judges, Deuteronomy, Leviticus… here we are! Genesis.

I’m going to give the short short version today. (inhale)

So God visits Sarah and Sarah births a son to Abraham just as God said and Abraham names his son Issac and Isaac gets circumcised when he’s eight days old and Sarah thinks it’s still super weird and funny that she birthed a child but Sarah is all catty and jealous or something and so she tells Abraham that Hagar needs to get out and take her kid with her and Abraham doesn’t seem so thrilled with the idea but God tells him that it’s going to be okay so trust me on this one and so Hagar leaves with not a whole lot of water or food and she gets away and worries that her son is going to die and they talk about the kid like he’s a baby but in Genesis 17, Ishmael was already like thirteen years old but anyway God comes to her or sends an angel or something and tells her not to worry about it and showed her a well and the kid grows up and becomes an archer I guess. (gasp) So anyway then apparently he grows up and gets married and then “at that time” Abraham is talking to Abimelech and his general Phichol and they swear stuff to each other and are all well and good but then Abraham gets upset and rebukes Abimelech because of some well somewhere and I’m not sure what the heck is going on because Abraham acts like he dug this well apparently but Abimelech’s men seized it and I guess this is a big deal so then they made up and called the well Beersheba which was totally the same name as the place where Hagar went back in Genesis 20:14 so I’m really confused and anyway Abraham plants a tree there and it grows and he calls on God and prays or something and then he lives there in the land of the Philistines for many days. The end.

Oh, Matthew Hennnnnry…

So first of all I misread 21:9 and it turns out that the point is that Ishmael scoffed at Isaac. He was being disrespectful of someone who is really his half-sibling, and thus being disrespectful of his own father. Having no respect for the house, he is cast out. Matthew Henry says this:

“By abusing privileges, we forfeit them. Those who know not when they are well off, will be made to know the worth of mercies by the want of them.”¹

Regarding the whole thing with the well, I forgot how important a well of water is in a time before indoor plumbing and pumping stations. So it seems as though Abraham wanted his rights to the well back. I suppose when the Bible mentions the Wilderness of Beersheba in 21:14, perhaps that was a known area back then, but perhaps it got its name after Abraham and Abimelech made their oath. In this sense, it would be like saying “what is now California,” or some such thing.

While living in this land, Abraham plants a tree and prays. Henry has this to say:

“Abraham kept up public worship, in which his neighbours might join. Good men should do all they can to make others so.”¹

It’s poignant to me, and I think many Christians would agree with this statement. However, I think many people seek to accomplish this goal by pushing their beliefs and, intentionally or not, putting themselves on a pedestal. When someone acts like they’re better than everybody because of their faith, others are more likely to try and find fault. The truth is we all sin, in one way or another, or at least we have in the past. Nobody is “perfect,” but I feel like I must append this statement. We are who we are, and it cannot be expected that we should be different. All the inputs and experiences and things learned from life have put is here, now, in this place, wherever that may be. Where else could we be? Who else could we be?

But the power is within us to change our environment, to have new experiences, to take time to observe our own thoughts and thought patterns and to interrupt dysfunctional ones and promote or reinforce healthy ones. I can’t think of how to phrase all the things I want to say right now, but in a sense you must be the guardian of your soul, keeping watch for the anger and fear that seeps in from outside sources as well as that which bubbles up from within. I was going to use walls and barriers as a metaphor, but you’re not protecting a fragile heart or defending a delicate soul; you are strengthening the very thing you protect.

2012-11-27-twowolvesnewBy giving back, by being kind, by spreading love, your heart grows and your soul strengthens. Your love will run deeper and deeper until there is no place for anger or fear or hatred. Love, which implies God, will suffuse your entire being and you will realize the beauty of life. You will discover what I mean when I say that nobody’s perfect, but everybody is.

Have a blesséd day. Peace be upon you.


¹ http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?b=1&c=21&com=mhc

P.S.: Oh my God I’ve been dying to include some Zen Pencils comics in my work but haven’t found an appropriate point until now. Gavin Aung Than, the artist, is one of my idols and heroes. I can draw a little bit, but not like him. I haven’t practiced and haven’t worked at it. Maybe someday, but for now I will spread my messages through my writing. Regardless, his work always seems to be in the back of my mind. The comic posted above can be found here.

 

Day 16

I’m sure by now most of you have heard this song, and some of you are probably sick of it. I used to not listen to the radio much, and I still listen to it minimally, so I have the benefit of not getting tired of songs that are overplayed… mostly.

I had an amazing revelation yesterday. I was listening to this song on the radio, and thinking about it as it relates to the historical city of Pompeii; the song obviously relates to death and dying, the total destruction of the city. And it is romantic. It is so hauntingly beautiful, and it is not the only work of its kind. We often romanticize death, we romanticize people leaving or committing suicide, and dying. I realized yesterday that it is not so much a longing for death that afflicts us but a longing for rebirth. We romanticize death because it is a doorway, it is the next step toward something better. We want to die, and like Don Miguel Ruiz said, we are not afraid of death but we are scared of living.

On some level, I think we know that death is the next step, that part of us has to die. This human life, the world to which we are all so accustomed, the things that we’re all so convinced of… we consider this world, this life of sin and suffering to be inevitable. We believe that the way we live now, the way we exist is inevitable, and in a way we want to die. We want to die, so that we can go on to something else. We know that part of us has to die, that something has to go away.

And the part that is left will be beautiful. That something will survive after death, that some part of us will be reborn into a much better, happier, life… that’s dying and going to Heaven, that’s why we have that dream. We want to die and find peace, to find Heaven, to achieve Nirvana. We want to stop the cycle of death, of living “as if we are dead,” to quote Ruiz. We want it to end.

Regardless of whether Heaven is a literal physical place where the soul goes after the body dies or not, regardless of whether the soul literally transcends suffering and attains Nirvana, these stories, these ideas are present the world over because they represent the innate human desire to get away from all of this. Regardless of the truth, these stories are also potent metaphors.

If you’ve spoken to someone who engages in transcendental meditation or someone who’s taken psychedelic drugs, you may have heard of a feeling of “oneness.” Perhaps for one reason or another you have experienced this for yourself. There is a related but deeper phenomenon known as “ego death” that can be experienced in a variety of ways. “According to Stanislav Grof, ‘Ego death means an irreversible end to one’s philosophical identification with what Alan Watts called skin-encapsulated ego.'”¹

In The Four Agreements, Ruiz talks a great deal about a process that will lead to joy and freedom that he calls the “initiation of the dead.” This, he says, is a spiritual, symbolic death that destroys the wounded mind, destroys the inner judge and victim, destroys what Eckhart Tolle calls the “pain-body.” In this way, we cease associating with the body and the mind’s conception of the “self” and instead begin to see the bigger picture, so to speak. We begin to become aware of the Unity that is.

When we realize our oneness, our connection with all things, with things beyond ourselves, we find that we can love everything and everyone. It is not easy to do, and it takes practice and awareness. But according to Ruiz, this is the state of mind that has been called “Heaven.” This is the kingdom of Heaven that is within man; this is the Heaven that is in our midst (Luke 17:21). This is truly living, being fully alive.

Part of us has to die to get there, but fear not. Once you break through, you will realize that there is no “you,” and that instead, We have been here all along. That is the best way I can put it at this time. I’ll just leave this here:

“Jesus Christ knew he was God. So wake up and find out eventually who you really are. In our culture, of course, they’ll say you’re crazy and you’re blasphemous, and they’ll either put you in jail or in a nut house (which is pretty much the same thing). However if you wake up in India and tell your friends and relations, ‘My goodness, I’ve just discovered that I’m God,’ they’ll laugh and say, ‘Oh, congratulations, at last you found out.'”

— Alan Watts²

Genesis 16

Gen 16 describes Abram seeking a child. Sarai, his wife, tells Abram that he must have a child, and she tells him to marry her maid and father a child that way. Abram heeds her words instead of seeking a solution or a sign from God, and lo and behold, the trouble begins. Hagar, the maid, begins to despise Sarai, and the two women just about get into a fight.

Hagar runs off, and “an Angel of the Lord” finds her by a spring (Genesis 16:7). Matthew Henry states that this Angel is “the eternal Word and Son of God,”³ and considering that everything about the Angel is capitalized, that makes as much sense as anything else. Especially when one considers that the Angel blesses her and tells her the things which He will accomplish. I figured just by reading it that the Angel was in some way an extension of God.

Hagar says as much, when she asks, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” (Genesis 16:13) This reminds me of a fun limerick:

“There was a young man who said ‘though

It seems that I know that I know,

What I would like to see

Is the I that sees me

When I know that I know that I know.'”

— Alan Wattsª

A name of the Lord given in Genesis 16:13 is “You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees.” That limerick is lifted from “The Nature of Consciousness,”ª and I highly recommend it. Just from reading a few paragraphs I know I’m going to revisit it soon.

After speaking to the Angel, Hagar returns to the house of Abram, returns to that holy family and the righteous life, after having wandered off. I don’t think I need to explain this one; Matthew Henry does a fine job of that already.

Hagar bears Ishmael, and so ends Genesis 16.


That great illusion and tormentor, time, is pressing on me. My heart and mind are distracted by impending work. I feel as though I have said what I needed to say today, and I shall see you all tomorrow.

God bless, and peace be upon you.


¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ego_death

² http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Alan_Watts

³ http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=1&c=16

ª http://deoxy.org/w_nature.htm