Via Negativa: Dark Matter — Facing the Matter

By: JUBILEE! Minister Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge

In our Jesus story (Matthew 18:15-20), we find our guy seeming to give some fairly practical advice on how to live in community. If there is someone making waves, antagonizing the community, Jesus says go talk to them alone at first. If the person rebukes you or refuses to hear, go get a few more people and try to talk it out with them.
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Via Positiva: Room at the Table for the Past, Present and Future

By: JUBILEE! Minister Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge

In our Jesus story (Matthew 20:1-16), we find our guy telling stories, just like he always did, and people missing the point, just as they always did then and do now.

In this parable, he talks about a landowner who needs some workers so he goes into the marketplace and hires a few day-laborers. Some he hires early in the morning, and they work all day. Others he hires throughout the course of the day,  hiring the last bunch pretty close to quitting time.

When the evening comes and they all line up to get paid, the landowner pays them all the same wage, which starts a revolt from those who started working earlier the day. “Why,” they ask him, “have you paid us the same as these latecomers? We’ve been out in the heat all day, worked twice as long and twice as hard, and these lollygaggers who worked a couple of hours get the same wages?”

Now, of course this story is one of fairness, and in our capitalistic society, many of us would side with the workers who did more than the others, arguing that since they worked longer and harder they should receive more than those Johnny-come-lately types who didn’t work as hard.

But, this story can also teach us how to make room at the table for the past, present and future. You see, those who grumbled against the landowner are those who are hating the past, because they regret not making a better deal with landowner before they started work. In addition, they’re none too happy with their present situation, and the future is looking pretty bleak, too, since they believe they’ve been cheated out of some wages that would have come in handy down the road.

Those who came in later in the day are not looking back at the past in anger, but thinking that they made a pretty good deal with the landowner and the present and future are looking pretty sweet with that extra money in their pocket.

Which means those who are grumbling against the landowner have a choice: They can continue to tell the story about how this sorry cheapskate of a businessman stiffed them on their day’s work, or they can change their mind, and perhaps view their past dealings with the man as a lesson learned. Make a better deal next time, they could tell themselves, and turn this experience into something more pleasant in the future.

This is what the research tells us is possible. We don’t have to be stuck thinking the past has cheated us, the present is miserable and the future will bring more of the same. Instead, we can change our minds, embrace the good from the past, learn from the mistakes, find the joy in the present and project that into the future.

The truth is, we don’t know what’s ahead for any of us. We are all just moments, present now and perhaps gone in the next moment. The landowner is trying to teach these workers one of the secrets of life — make room for it all — for the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the questions and the answers. Don’t waste your life hating the past, enduring the present or dreading the future. Instead, change your mind, and enjoy the generosity of life that happens in, through and around every moment.

Breathe deeply.

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Via Positiva: Room at the Table: Celebrating Mabon

By: Jubilant Kody Ward

Pronounced “MAY-bon,” the origin of the name for this celebration comes from many different people that no one can really decide who! In Druidic traditions, the autumn equinox was referred to as Alban Elfed, meaning “the light of the water.” This name refers to a time of year in which the balance of light and dark shifts, so that the darkness begins to take over.

It is the time of the autumn equinox, and the harvest is winding down. The fields are nearly empty, because the crops have been plucked and stored for the coming winter. Mabon is the mid-harvest festival, and it is when we take a few moments to honor the changing seasons, and celebrate the second harvest. On or around September 21, for many Pagan and Wiccan traditions it is a time of giving thanks for the things we have, whether it is abundant crops or other blessings. So, in other words, it is the pagan thanksgiving! Yay, another reason to eat!

Depending on your individual spiritual path, there are many different ways you can celebrate Mabon, but typically the focus is on either the second harvest aspect, or the balance between light and dark. This, after all, is the time when there is an equal amount of day and night. While we celebrate the gifts of the earth, we also accept that the soil is dying. We have food to eat, but the crops are brown and going dormant. Warmth is behind us (unless you live in South Carolina), cold lies ahead (unless you live in South Carolina).

So we know what the name is and what it’s about so how do we celebrate said holiday if we are not pagan?

Find balance. Mabon is a time of balance, when there are equal hours of darkness and light, and that can affect people in different ways. For some, it’s a season to honor the darker aspects of the goddess, calling upon that which is devoid of light. For others, it’s a time of thankfulness, of gratitude for the abundance we have at the season of harvest. Because this is, for many people, a time of high energy, there is sometimes a feeling of restlessness in the air, a sense that something is just a bit “off.” If you’re feeling a bit spiritually lopsided then it is a great time to meditate!

Hold a food drive. Many Pagans and Wiccans count Mabon as a time of thanks and blessings — and because of that, it seems like a good time to give to those less fortunate than ourselves. If you find yourself blessed with abundance at Mabon, why not give to those who aren’t? Invite friends over for a feast, but ask each of them to bring a canned food, dry goods, or other non-perishable items? Donate the collected bounty to a local food bank or homeless shelter.

Pick apples. Apples are the perfect symbol of the Mabon season. Long connected to wisdom and magic, there are so many wonderful things you can do with an apple. Find an orchard near you, and spend a day with your family. As you pick the apples, give thanks for the fruit. Be sure to only pick what you’re going to use –

Count your blessings. Mabon is a time of giving thanks, but sometimes we take our fortune for granted. Sit down and make a gratitude list. Write down things that you are thankful for. An attitude of gratefulness helps bring more abundance our way — what are things you’re glad you have in your life? Maybe it’s the small things, like “I’m glad I have my cat Peaches” or “I’m glad my car is running.” Maybe it’s something bigger, like “I’m thankful I have a warm home and food to eat,” or “I’m thankful people love me even when I’m cranky.” Keep your list some place you can see it, and add to it when the mood strikes you.

Honor the darkness. Without darkness, there is no light. Without night, there can be no day. Despite a basic human need to overlook the dark, there are many positive aspects to embracing the dark side.

Get back to nature. Fall is here, and that means the weather is bearable once more. The nights are becoming crisp and cool, and there’s a chill in the air. Take your family on a nature walk, and enjoy the changing sights and sounds of the outdoors. Listen for geese honking in the sky above you, check the trees for changing in the colors of the leaves, and watch the ground for dropped items like acorns, nuts, and seed pods.

Raise some energy. A great way to do this is with a drum or music circle.

Celebrate your home. As autumn rolls in, we know we’ll be spending more time indoors in just a few months. Take some time to do a fall version of spring cleaning. Physically clean your home from top to bottom  If you have any repairs that need to be done, do them now so you don’t have to worry about them over the winter. Throw out or give away anything that’s no longer of use.

Sources cited: 

http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/mabontraditions/qt/Origins-Of-The-Word-Mabon.htm

http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/mabontheautumnequinox/a/AllAboutMabon.htm

http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/mabontheautumnequinox/tp/TenMabonIdeas.htm

The prayer used is by Ravenna Angelline.

http://www.angelfire.com/wa3/angelline/mabon_morning.htm

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Via Positiva: Room at the Table – Room for Being Alone and Together

By: JUBILEE! Minister Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge

In our Jesus story (Luke 5:15-25), we find our guy 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.

This is the calling of community, Jubilants, to seek out the paralyzed and get them what they need to be healed, even if we have to tear off the roof to accomplish that.  As a community we’re called to provide for each other, whether that means giving love, friendship or just holding a space where those around us can be who they really are without fear or judgment. We are called to carry each other, to recognize our solidarity with one another and call each other into the wholeness of community life.

Breathe deeply.

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