I hear the whisperings of many:
“Terror on every side!
Denounce! let us denounce him!”
All those who were my friends
are on the watch for any misstep of mine.
“Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail,
and take our vengeance on him.”
But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion:
my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.
In their failure they will be put to utter shame,
to lasting, unforgettable confusion.
O LORD of hosts, you who test the just,
who probe mind and heart,
Let me witness the vengeance you take on them,
for to you I have entrusted my cause.
Sing to the LORD,
praise the LORD,
For he has rescued the life of the poor
from the power of the wicked!
Jeremiah 20: 10-13
I must humbly admit I sympathize with Jeremiah in his rant against his enemies and his desire to see vengeance meted upon them. In the many years I have had to deal with those who “hate me” I have gone from praying for their suffering and basking in satisfaction as I watch karma enacting its justice upon them to where I am today – still finding some satisfaction in karma (I’m still human!) but mostly having compassion for the suffering they continue to choose while I (mostly) live in peace. Not a peace born out of satisfaction for karmic retribution, but my own peace in knowing the Love that I am in God and doing my best to live from that Love.
The peace that I now know is the fruit of 25 years of diligent attention to my spiritual practice. This is a practice that goes beyond sitting in silence and includes unwavering accountability to everything within me that might otherwise infringe upon my ability to know Love. This unwavering accountability has nothing to do with freeing myself from “sin” out of a fear of Divine retribution. Instead, it is an acknowledgment that I have wounds from my past, social conditioning and fears that have kept me from knowing God’s love – not because God’s love is being withheld, but because these wounds, etc. prevented me from feeling and knowing the Love that has been here all along.
In knowing this Love, I feel whole and complete within myself. When I waver from this feeling of wholeness, I tend to the wound that is still asking for healing. Now, this is where I’m going to lean a bit in Jeremiah’s direction in describing in contrast the inner life of my “enemies.” For the record, I no longer consider these people my enemies, but I know that to them, I am the enemy. I am the enemy because I dare to question, challenge, and confront the doctrine they cling to – a doctrine they cling to mostly out of fear of God’s punishment.
These are those I have come to refer to as “the self-appointed inquisition” who for years harassed me, tried to sabotage my work, spread rumors against me, called the contemplative practices I teach “the work of the devil,” called my healing work “sorcery and witchcraft” and wrote letters of complaint to the local bishop so much that I understand the file on me is enormous and that I have been officially blackballed in the local diocese. To them, my work is “dangerous.” And, I guess it is. I invite people to use the brain God gave them to reason, discern and exercise their truth and to challenge anything cloaked in fear.
In the past, I was heartbroken by the action of these people – many of whom I thought were my friends. I was traumatized when a group of them came to one of my classes and turned it into an inquisition. I was further traumatized by the local chancellor who harassed me about a class I was teaching on the Aramaic Lord’s prayer. I was profoundly insulted and disappointed when the same chancellor promised to let me speak on behalf of Reiki – arrived 45 minutes late to our meeting and then issued the Reiki prohibition (which he always intended to issue) the very next day. I found myself writhing in anger, hatred and confusion of how these so-called Christians were treating me. I felt like a victim to their constant harassment.
Then the harassment stopped. Not because the self-appointed inquisition ceased their relentless inquiry and reporting on everything Lauri Lumby – but because I no longer care. Not caring is not a defense mechanism born out of fatigue. Instead, “not caring” is the detachment born out of Love. The more I have come to know the Love that I am, the less I am triggered by other people’s fear. The more I know God’s Love, the less I care about what other people think of me or my work. And in this I have peace – a peace my “enemies” will likely never know.
This is where my dreams of vengeance turn to compassion. Today when I see or hear from my “enemies” I no longer see their cruelty, I see their fear. I see a fear born out of shame – shame for who God made them (it’s not ok to be gay in the Catholic Church), shame for past actions for which they have never forgiven themselves, shame out of secrets that might destroy ones place in society, shame out of something so deeply suppressed that the only thing that can come through is prideful self-righteous. As it relates to the officials of the Church who have made me their enemy, I see fear, shame and in some an arrogant quest for power – using fear, deceit and manipulation to acquire that so-called power. For all of these I now bear compassion knowing that they will never know the peace I know in coming to know the Love that I am as God’s beloved daughter – the same love available to all of us if only we have the courage to heal the fears that keep us from knowing this Love.
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