I feel very secure in my 'Christian' perspective, which is pretty dangerous. The thing that always strikes me as bizarre is how far Christian exegesis has divorced itself from the Torah, and the Jewish exegesis, which frankly is far more interesting. It resonates with me anyway.
I have only started skimming the surface, I think I feel a bit like that Fish Eagle in the last post. To get the Fish Eagles to come, you throw bait out from the boat that attracts the Seagulls. When the Fish Eagles spot the Seagulls in a feeding frenzy, they come and see what the fuss is. Then the big fish are thrown out for the Eagles. They are a bit too big for the Seagulls, so the Fish Eagles swoop for them. Clever for the tourist's enjoyment! So I guess to follow that allegory through I am being a tourist!
Anyway I am savouring my 'Reflections on Exodus'. I was in pages 454 to 456 last night. So much going on... I am writing in the margins which is most unlike me! It is in pencil though.
I got myself involved in Reb Jeff's; 'Red Cow' post. It has been syphoning it's way through my mind for a few days now. It struck me this morning that many of the things that seem to make a Jewish person ritually unclean are 'services' performed for others. Like laying out dead bodies.
It's just I did something bizarre over the last week. I attacked this very neglected border in the garden. The wierd thing was that during this week of digging, sifting earth and re-planting, I only took one shower. Well, I wash and iron the sheets, and I took the shower because I was going out!
The interesting thing was, i got used to being filthy. It didn't kill me! The bath I took when the job was done was a joy. Full scrub down with Dead Sea Salt and Greek refined Olive Oil first, washed that off with some home made soap that gets all the dirt out of fingers and toes, and emulsifies the oils in the bath. Showered that off and cleaned the Bath, then had a second bath with the Rose and Geranium, and a final scrub with the Dead Sea Mud exfoliator and a shower down after. Watered the plants with the water.
Put the sheets in to wash first, got them on the washing line between first and second bath, then ironed them and made the beds again when I was clean. So this was a getting filthy, and getting clean ritual over about five days! Phew!
I also got rather foul mouthed as I was exhausted, frustrated, felt filthy, and couldn't believe how much I hated doing this job. Still it's done. Thankfully I have a Husband who allows me to have tirades and tantrums. I got very 'blameful' that there wasn't anyone who could help me. My Husband is a Saint. Just kept me fed, and generally stayed away as much as possible. He was incredibly helpfull when press-ganged into assistance as well.
What's the point? not sure really! Somehow sifting the ground I was meditating and mediating on all these differences of perspective. Something is making me like this. It's as though something has been dug up that reminds me of a trauma. Something that I feel very connected to but can't name. Something that involves a huge obligation, yet the extant of which is buried in some kind of subconcious subterrainian oblivian. I also feel that this is a physical artefact.
My Husband is a Blue Badge Guide, and does a lecture on the German Occupation in Jersey.
A guest collector that has many artefacts belonging to Hitler, Eva Braun, and the Generals, passes these artefacts to the tourists on this lecture tour to handle. The thought of this makes me feel sick.
It's as though this feeling of sickness is amplified. It feels like something obscenely relevent to me has been 'dug up'. Like a memory of something has been disturbed, and someone has handled an artefact that has triggered a response. Yet it's something I need to 'digest'. Like eating the dust from my border, having it in my head, nails, feet, and festering in all the little scratches from the roses.
This morning it occured to me that The Red Cow, that Reb Jeff describes is a very interesting allegory when placed in the context of The Ressurection of Jesu.
When The Red Cow ritual was done, it was the person who swept the ashes up very carefully who was made ritually unclean. This is the 'service for others' aspect of the process. It wasn't the Red Cow Ashes themselves which had some kind of 'magic making clean' properties, it was the sacrifice of the person who was prepared to touch the 'Ashes of Sorrow' for others, when in a state of God Given Grace.
The 'Ashes of Sorrow' mediated their 'Cleansing' by one person's Grace who was prepared to 'Touch' and visit death for others. Even if it was done by casting lots for the Red Cow ashes, it was done by choice and an acceptance of this bitter cup by Jesus.
To the many who would not 'touch' the object of abject abhorrance, preferring to delegate and thereby remaining 'untouched' and 'ritually clean' perhaps the paradox is that they remain fixated in a systematic cycle of repetitive avoidance of a truth, that is only truly accessed by assimilation.
Perhaps when we view artefacts, we must remember that Moses made the Israelites drink the burned and ground down golden calf. 'The Bitter Cup'. No artefact can be divorced from our desire for 'proof'. Yet what 'proof' are we attaching to the artifact? What significance? Would most artefacts then simply be a voyeristic curiosity?
In a similar vein to the Golden Calf we collect artefacts, or make them and attach significance to them. Having done some Orthodox Iconography is good for my understanding. This ensures that an object as viewed in it's mediation capacity, not as an object of 'Worship' in itself. Reverence for something 'Holy', is about the understanding the object evokes.
When I think of something like the Turin Shroud, and the headcloth, which i am satisfied are both authentic, I see them as the last and First remaining artefacts to be in contact with the 'Body of The Risen Christ'. All other artefacts such as the mythic 'Holy Grail', bits of wooden cross or nails that may or may not be 'real', are all a bit spurious. I get the feeling there are too many of them floating about, and I also don't like the fact that they were used for commercial purposes throughout Christian history. (Get a good relic to draw the pilgrims!).
So where do the Red Cow and Jesus come together? For me, Jesus was crucified so that i can enter into this crucifiction with Him. To be cruicified to my own passions and desires. This is an ongoing process for me. Each time I am visiting His crucifiction, I am redeemed in new Ressurection with Christ.
In Christianity, we partake of the Bread, which symbolises the crucifiction of self - to become selfless, as Christ became self-sacrificed and selfless on the crossed purposes of others misunderstanding.
I suppose in Greek thought, that's the passions and desires of the flesh. Even this is not right, because we are not 'flesh' and 'spirit'. I prefer to think of myself as 'Spirit Fleshed Out'. How can one drink a cup of wine, without the cup? Even straight from the bottle with a clever spout, it still needs to be fermented and contained! Perhaps a reference to Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine, is that the water did not undergo the process of fermentation. It was instantly wine. It did not become wine until it was drawn from the containers to be served.
The Wine of Christian sacrement, symbolises the new life that flows into our lives through God giving His Spirit, into the cavities of 'death to self'. The renewal of our bodies and minds, the indwelling of God's Spirit in our lives. The symbolic 'Blood of Christ' that courses in the veins of every Saint. (By the way, the definition of a Saint is; a very good Sinner).
Well, very high minded but unless this is a living reality within a person, which is a painful traumatic process of letting go, and discovering anew, scoffing some bread and a sip of wine is a bit of lip service!
However, when something touches our lips, and we digest it there is also an elemental faith that this, even if not ever fully comprehended has fed and nourished that which we do comprehend.
I found two old Horse shoes in my border, and broke the toepiece of my Sketchers sandles. I spent £55 quid to buy a new pair of Fit Flops. Then I rescued the old Sketchers from the dustbin and decided to have a go at sticking them together with No More Nails! I could do with a scruffy pair for the garden, and keep the new sparkly ones for going out... sometime.
Nope, the Horse shoes are a reminder that life was very different when a man ploughed an acre a day with a Shire horse. Although these are not Shire shoes because they aren't big enough. The broken sandle? A reminder that my Dad stuck new soles on our shoes. They were good leather our shoes, and worth TLC and new soles. I just got brought up like that.
What is wonderful, is that right at this moment of finishing here... My Husband tells me it has started to rain!
Thank God, we haven't had rain for weeks, and I used up half the water in my underground cystern to get to this point! Another thought is that I had to use the water in the cystern, before it could be replenished. A full cystern will not contain more water. So the pouring out of oneself is the very process by which God can move in a person or a situation in a new way.
I did just check up on Red Cows. Apparantly there was a 'nearly red cow' a few years back in Israel. It seems very sad that in order to build a new Temple, that will undoubtedly cause terrible repercussions a little red cow is needed for slaughter. I kind of think this misses the point of the Golden Calf episode.
Surely with the history of exiles, learning that God doesn't need a Temple to be worshipped in heart and mind, and that one's home and family is where God's Temple resides are the lessons to learn from the history and exegesis of Old and New Testaments. I kind of think that if all that Red Cow stuff has to be done in order to build a Temple fitting for God's return the concept is a bit back to front.
I think getting a Temple built in trust that God will provide the sacrifice, is probably the more sensible way of doing things. Perhaps the Temple itself has become the 'Golden Calf', the desire to return to old ways and former 'glory'.
If I am picking all this up from the internet, am able to follow Reb Jeff's weekly posts and dwell on them, and post my own comments in 'my own bit of back yard', perhaps the real Temple is the worldwide thought sharing machine we are accessing right now. A virtual Temple.
I almost feel if a new Temple was built in Jerusalem it would be a Circus. Trying to emulate and recreate the whole antiquarian worship structure, with all it's power struggles, Fancy clothes and ritualistic worship, burning of animals, re-instating what exactly? There are enough people mourning over the loss of the last Temple, you don't think someone would have a go at blowing up the new one if it got built? What then... Global Neuclear War no doubt!
Why not just build the tent version and send it round the world to everybody in the Diaspora? The great idea would be to teach about it, re-enact the whole Moses story, get the kids involved and generally have a good time with everyone else. I would want a ticket!
My Husband and I went to Oberammegau last August, it was sensational. The standard of production, the dedication, the commitment, and such a great atmosphere was an unforgettable experience.
Jesus was, and is Jewish through and through. He is the Red Heifer. The one who touched and tasted death, to redeem those who were and are 'unclean'. No matter how hard I scrub to get the dirt off the outside, only God knows my heart and mind. I let Him decide if I am fit for His purpose. He will either use me or lay me aside, raise me up or cast me into the depths. It's all the same when nothing can separate me from the love of God, or more importantly, God's love for me.
Just so everyone knows where I stand on this at this moment in time, Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary, (regardless of immaculate conception as I think this is a red herring and smacks of getting mixed up with other forms of deistic thinking), walked among us as the Spirit of God incarnate. Took a lot of slapping about on our behalf, got the fullest endorsement from God at the Transfiguration to go get himself sacrificed so that the whole world (The Created Order) could be redeemed.
Pinned to the Cross, Jesus of Nazareth became the Messiah of Judaism. In the same way that Moses was placed in a cleft in a rock in a cave so that there was nothing left but 'go through with it'.
In Ressurection Jesus of Nazareth became The Christ of Christianity.
The wonderful thing about The Ressurection is that it completely blows away the whole idea of needing 'relics' and 'ashes'. There just aren't any!
I feel better now I got this off my chest!