Via Negativa: Pacing the Cage — The Cage of Isolation

By: JUBILEE! Minister Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge

In preparing for today’s meditation, I sat down a wrote out a list of things that make me feel either connected or disconnected from creation, myself and others.

Some of the things that made me feel disconnected were: fear, anger, frustration, anxiety, yearning, worry, hatred, judgment, envy, loneliness and defensiveness.

Some of the things that made me feel connected included: holding hands with my wife, walking my dogs, watching the wind dance through the trees, hugs, smiles, acts of kindness done to me or by me, music, laughter and the company of good friends.

What I realized is this: everything that makes me feel small and insecure disconnects me from myself, God and others. Conversely, everything that makes me feel expansive and open connects me to myself, God and others. In short, when I live out of that restrictive ego, I feel like I’m pacing the cage of isolation.

But, when I live in that higher, Christ consciousness, I am free and I recognize my place within that larger Holy consciousness where we all exist, whether we’re aware of it or not.

That’s the key, as we learn in our Jesus story (Matthew 6:24-29, 33) this morning: awareness. We have to stop trying to serve two masters — our ego and our higher consciousness. The ego wants to always be the master of our lives and drive us from one isolating relationship to another in this world. The ego lies to us and tells us that things outside of ourselves — money, power, relationships and possessions — are what will make us feel connected.

Soon, however, we find that we’re feeling more and more isolated by our wealth, power and fame. Instead of connecting us, all those outside trappings of life just drive more and more wedges between ourselves, God and others.

The cure, Jesus says, is to serve the only master that matters — our higher consciousness. We can get there, he says, by taking a break from all our egoic striving by stopping and simply noticing all the beauty that surrounds us.

Consider the birds, he says. They fly around doing bird things — eating, flying, pooping, having and nurturing babies. They do what God has designed them to do, without ego, without striving without trying to be the top bird.

Consider the lilies, he says. They don’t try to preen or be the prettiest lily in the field. They simply become what they are and they do it where they are. They are connected to the earth and each other by roots running under ground. They know they rely on one another and on the earth to nurture them. Nobody competes for the water, they all simply enjoy the abundance together.

What Jesus is inviting us to do in this passage is to see the world, both inside and outside of us, in new ways. If you contemplate a bird or a lily long enough, you’ll lose yourself — you’ll lose that little dictator ego who wants to categorize and divide things up into this or that, good or bad, sinner or saint.

Long periods of contemplation will do that for you, Jesus says. When you can consider deeply everything that is around you, you’ll finally understand that all you need to strive for is “God’s righteousness.”

That phrase does not mean what the religious moralists think it means. It doesn’t mean you have to become some outwardly moral prig who lectures everyone on how they’re getting it wrong or why they’re doing something to offend God.

No, what “God’s righteousness” means is simply this — in every moment we seek one thing and that is the “purity of life” — which means we are always seeking for the beauty and the chance for real connection in every single moment of our lives.

When we can walk the way of connection to our higher self, God and others in every present moment, Jubilants, we will arrive in that promised land of abundance where everything we need will be given to us.

Breathe deeply.

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