In Whose Name

By Glenda | May 20, 2013

We in the Fellowship often come together around the deepest and most important subjects of all, the big questions, the ultimate meanings.

If, however, anyone comes hoping to find from me the answer to life’s biggest questions, or a formula, or a definition, or some absolute certainty about this or that, you will no doubt be disappointed.

For, you see, it seems to me that to put any definition on the Ultimate, any name or any title on the Infinite, is to talk nonsense, for the Ultimate and the Infinite cannot be bound by any such limitations as name or definitions.

Those of you who know me well have heard me many times address myself to the “Great Mystery.” I seek to be careful so to admit the mysteriousness, the paradoxical, the transcendent, the mystical, that which by its nature is beyond my ordinary consciousness or my ability to define.

A Buddhist teacher I have known calls himself merely a finger pointing beyond himself.

So I do not have an answer to the great questions, and I know that you do not have them either.

But our meetings, our conversations, our explorations, and even our analyses, are useful, especially when we come in a spirit of humility and openness to the influx of new meaning from within and beyond ourselves. For we know that that can happen. Amazing things can happen. I do know this, that when we come together, we share wisdom, empowering wisdom, that can benefit each of us and the world.

It is as Jesus said, in words that he hoped would be meaningful to the people of his own time, “When two or three come together in my name, I will be there…”

Ever since then, of course, people have been trying to decode the mystery of what “in his name” means.

Many horrific things have been done, it was said, in his name—religious wars, for example. But that surely is not what he meant. Surely his meaning had to do with an expansion of something else—love, power, spirit, understanding.

But something does happen, he says, when two or three or more people come together in a certain way, in a certain spirit, that is akin to his spirit, in his “name.”

Do we know what that is? Some people pray in his name, quite literally, “In the name of Jesus, I pray.” (And often those people say that if you are not saved “in Jesus’ name,” you are doomed.)

But is that what Jesus meant, merely to literally state his given name, rather than to call upon the content of his spirit? Jesus always pointed beyond himself also, to his “father,” to the Infinite, to the Great Mystery of “God.”

Somehow I think he meant something more than merely mouthing a formula or a creed.

Christians speak about the “ultimate sin,” taking the name of the Lord in vain. What does that mean?

Again, is it what is often taught, a “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost?” Then what, others ask, is the Holy Ghost? Is it not Mystery, mysterious? Is it something that can be narrowly defined by any one of us, even the Pope or the priest or some other individual?

For me, to try to answer literally and simplistically any of those questions is, in fact, the blasphemy.

To think that any of us have the ultimate handle on truth, that we can define the Mystery, that we can name the infinite by calling it simply a singular name, however venerated—God, or Jesus, or Buddha, or Allah, or any other name—that is to sin against the Ultimate Great Vastness, the Great Totality, the All That Is that is beyond any limitation or definition or name.

The ancient Hebrews understood this, refusing to refer to their divinity by a “given name.” They would have no images of their divinity nor were they permitted to write any sort of name for it.

The ancient Greeks and others, too, understood; to look upon the face of a “god or goddess,” they said, might incinerate you on the spot. Best not go trying to declare that you knew all about them.

Even the storytellers, the wisdom keepers of the olden days, understood that to know the name, say, of Rumplestilskin was to have power over him. And who, pray tell, has power over the Ultimate?

Sometimes, in addition to speaking of the Great Mystery, I have simply used the word Wholeness or Holiness. It is as close as I can get to that which is boundless, taking everything in, leaving nothing out.

Fairy tales have it right. The thirteenth godmother, left out of the invitation to the party, rises up in indignation and curses the whole thing.

Leave nothing out. Neither Palestinian nor Jew, neither Muslim nor Christian, neither Catholic nor Protestant, neither Korean nor African or Brazilian, neither Liberal nor Conservative, neither Educated nor Ignorant, neither Young nor Old or Anything Else.

Leave nothing out. As a precious four year old said recently, in summation (when his sister had prayed on and on for some long time for this one and for that one she loved), “God, just bless everybody, even the ones you don’t like.”

This child had it right. Whatever totality we mean by Great Spirit or Great Mystery or God, it has to include, by its very nature, even the ones we don’t like.

When will we ever learn that basic simple essential truth?

One of my daughters once said of me, “For Mom, life is but a metaphor.” Right. A metaphor shows connection between things, the ways things are alike, resonant. And it is the connection, the never-ending connectivity, the coming together of “two or three” or any or all, that allows the power of whatever we hope for when we reach out beyond ourselves to be “in the midst of us.” (And it does come, in the midst of us; I personally, though I cannot name or define or even describe it, know it exists, and I know the “feeling” of it when it comes, for me, and surely it is a boundless, all-inclusive love.)

My prayer today is that more and more people find ways to realize their eternal, inescapable connection, in a loving way, to everything and everyone else, within the sacred Wholeness that simply Is, regardless of what words we use for naming it, regardless of whatever rules and regulations and definitions our cultures have tacked on or assimilated or clung to, regardless of our religious or political or national affiliation.

May we find, in the name of all that is good, an ability to rest in Mystery. May we cease in any attempt to make “God” in the image and definition of our own constructs or those of any of our churches or societies.

May we be humble enough to recognize the infinite variety, for example, of nature—every grass blade, every wild flower, every separate raindrop and rainbow and treetop and mountaintop and all of it, infinitely varied, but also, all of it, part of the wholeness of creation, joined together by a life force that is all-encompassing.

In that perspective, in awareness of the eternal, blissful connectivity within the Wholeness of nature, of our own natures, and of the nature of the world—in that awareness inevitably we move beyond divisive politics and polemics, move beyond loneliness and alienation, move beyond judgments and punishments and provocations.

We instead find simply peacefulness and centeredness and creative power to be all of the best that we are meant to be, even as we find the ability to forgive others for what we see as their differences from us. We feel instead the infinite love that many people through the ages have known and shared and praised as Holy.

May we in the Fellowship continue to come together in that Spirit.

This is my prayer for us today.

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