VIA TRANSFORMATIVA: YOU CRACK ME UP – Solitude & Community

By: Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge

We continue our Via Transformativa theme of “You Crack Me Up!” During this quarter, we’ll be exploring how the Holy “cracks” us open to reveal the true divine, spirit that dwells within each of us.

This week, we explored how finding a balance of solitude and community can crack open that egoic shell and help us emerge into our true, divine self.

Readings: 
From the Hebrew Scriptures:  Exodus 33:7-16: Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp
From the Jesus Story: Luke 5:15-25:
he would withdraw to deserted places
From A Course in Miracles, Chapter 8: “Know thyself”

Sermon Excerpt: 

In our Jesus story, we find our guy, like Moses, trying to get away from it all and commune with God for a few minutes. But, by now, Jesus’ popularity has grown around the area and whenever he shows up, a crowd seems to gather, so he finds he must balance his solitude with his ministry.

Today’s reading gives us a clue on how to do that. As Jesus was preaching and healing inside of a home, the crowds were so large that some men who were carrying a paralyzed man on a bed could not get him in to see Jesus. So, ingenious fellows that they were, they climbed up to the roof and ripped a hole in it so they could lower the man down to Jesus.

What does this teach us about making room for being alone and together? First, it teaches us the danger of spending too much time alone.  I understand this danger, because I tend to be a bit of a hermit. Given the choice of staying home or going out, I’m more apt to stoke the home fires than light up the night on the town.

Those of us who tend to hibernate are like this paralyzed man — we can no longer get out and function in the world. We’re so stuck in our caves that going out into the light of day can be painful, so we stay where we are, paralyzed with fear, or loneliness, or both.

This is where the community becomes important for hermits like me. It took a community to bring this paralytic man outside and get him the healing he desperately needed. This, Jubilants, is the role of community — to heal us, to help us become whole, functioning human and divine beings, to hold us accountable and give us a sense of belonging.

Spend too much time alone and you become certain that you don’t belong anywhere. This is one of the major causes of depression in our society. People believe they don’t belong, that no one cares and no one would miss them if they were gone for good.

But, there’s a flip side to too much alone time – you can come to believe that you have all the answers and you alone can guide yourself to God’s realm. This is why we must balance solitude with time in community. A Course in Miracles reminds us our goal her is to “know thyself.” The ego believes we can only do that alone by contemplating all of these different identities it gives us – man, woman, Democrat, Republican, gay, straight, transgender, gender fluid, rich, poor, middle class, black, white, yellow, green, whatever label we cling to as an identity.

But, the Course reminds us, we can only know ourselves – that divine, true self – through others, because, in reality with a capital R, there is only one of us here, because we are all one being within this universal consciousness some of us call God.

“The Holy Spirit teaches you that if you look only at yourself you cannot find yourself,” the Course tells us, “because that is not what you are. Whenever you are with a brother, you are learning what you are because you are teaching what you are. He will respond either with pain or with joy, depending on which teacher you are following.  He will be imprisoned or released according to your decision, and so will you.”

This means, Jubilants, that the only way we realize who we are – an embodiment of God’s love and peace in the world – is to teach that to others around us. We reveal our true nature by first learning in solitude that we are divine beings in suits of flesh and then we go out into the world and teach that by our actions, by how we live and move and have our being in this world.

We either paralyze others with our fear and hatred, or we heal them by lifting them up in love, even if we have to tear off the roof to accomplish that. What are you teaching the world about yourself, Jubilants? Are you teaching love or fear? 

Breathe deeply.

Listen to the full sermon.

Listen to the full celebration.

Here’s your assignment this week: Stand up and walk, this week, Jubilants. Don’t lie around on your cots of loneliness. We are forgiven and originally blessed human and divine beings and we were made to spend time alone and together. Make room for both this week, and you’ll find that paralysis of fear or loneliness or even that paralysis of constantly needing to be around people and avoid being alone will melt away. That’s when you’ll be able to stand up and say:  “Oh, Yeah!”

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