Last Sunday, during worship, I explored the question "What is Love". It was also the subject of my last blogspot. During the address I talked about the butterfly and how in order to truly understand its beauty you have to watch it fly through the gardens of life, that you can’t really understand a butterfly by pinning it down and pulling it apart. Yes you can understand what it is made of, but you can’t appreciate what it is. I used this analogy for love, explaining that you can’t understand love by pulling it apart; you can only understand it by watching it fly through the gardens of life.
Now I shared this service with three congregations, ending in the evening at Dukinfield Old Chapel. Just as worship was ending and I was offering the blessing a remarkable thing happened. A butterfly appeared in front of me and began fluttering all around my head. I stopped, half way through the benediction, and just watched it fly around the chapel, open mouthed. As I stood there in silence some of the congregations began to notice it too. After a few moments, which seemed like an eternity, I returned to my blessing and left with a broad grin on my face.
Now the first thing I need to admit, before I continue with this conversation, is that it was not infact a butterfly that I saw it was obviously a moth; a very large and colourful moth, granted, but a moth all the same. Not that this really matters for they are related; they are both from the lepitoptera order. I will not get bogged down in the minutiae of detail. (I have since been informed by people in the know that it was very likely it was a butterfly)
I wonder if this is what is happening to me at the moment. I do feel like I am going through a process of change I have certainly been opened up in so many ways these last few weeks and months as I and those I hold most dear have lost two of our loved ones. I have spent a lot of time listening to my nearest and dearest as we have held one another in our loss. “The ears of my ears” have most certainly been reawakened in recent weeks.
“The word Ephphatha means ‘Open up!’ What Jesus is saying to this deaf man is the Gospel’s message to you and me. This man was suffering from a physical deafness; we are suffering from spiritual deafness. Our ears are closed to the entreaties of those who live in foreign countries, whose skin colour is different from our own, whose way of life does not correspond with ours. We are deaf to the words even of those who live in close proximity to us, but whose traditions are different from ours. We don’t hear what they are saying, and so our opinions about them and their customs are garbled and worthless...It’s a shocking reminder of our own refusal to listen attentively to the unfamiliar voices. It is only when we are prepared to open up that our prejudices can be eroded; and only then that the impediment in our speech will be removed and our opinions will be worth listening to. We have to break the shell of our own tribalism and exclusiveness.”
Earlier in the address he also states that:
“...one objective of the spiritual life is to identify and then try to eliminate those instinctive factors which work to give us short term survival advantages, but which have now outlived their usefulness and which actually impede our development as a species.”
This brought that butterfly image powerfully to my mind and the thought of being reborn to new ideas. Remember that after the butterfly opens up it is then able to fly around in the gardens of life, the gardens of delight.
Please click here to read Bill's thoughts in full
I remember the first time I heard Forrest Church’s assertion that humility and openness are the two keys to religious living, how much this struck me deep inside. I saw the truth in it. There is limitlessness in openness. Who knows how much we can truly change and learn to love if we just stay open, in our hearts and minds and senses.
So let’s begin again; lets open ourselves up to the altar of the ears.
Let’s improve our “Listency”