For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
This verse from the Book of James is probably one of my favorite verses of the Bible. It reminds me that it is not sufficient to merely believe in God or a higher power, but that I must always strive to serve others. I believe that God is not otherworldly, but that God lives through us, through our actions, though our thoughts. St. Teresa said, “Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours.” (Click here to read the rest of the poem.) The Living Christ is among us and we are His instruments by which He does good. This is my understanding of James 2:26. I would love to know what this means to you. — Jahnabi
(Day 98 | Progress: 98% read, on track)
Our religious traditions are filled with tales of extraordinary mothers. These mothers were prophetesses and goddesses; and gave birth to gods, prophets and religious leaders.
The mothers from our religious traditions were theologians, artists, warriors and business leaders. Many of them were revolutionaries and feminists in their own time. They were models of compassion, love, grace, self-sacrifice, purity, protectiveness and ferocity.
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After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.
Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble — Parce Mihi Domine
The Princeton University Chapel resounded with the plaintive cry of Job from millennia ago as two ballet dancers spinned and twirled during Performing the Sacred to the Parce Mihi Domine recording by Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble. I was mesmerized by the sweet melodies of the record, the superior choreography, and especially struck by the dancers’ blindfolded, groping movements in the dark. For a long time I wondered why it was important for the dancers to be blindfolded. What does it mean for us to humans to wear a blindfold? And more importantly, as human beings do we recognize that we are blindfolded?
The lyrics of Parce Mihi Domine come from Job 7:14-21. The translation below is provided courtesy of free-lyrics:
What is a man that thou shouldst magnify him?
Or why dost thou set thy heart upon him? Thou visitest him early in the morning, and thou provest him suddenly.
How long wilt thou not spare me, nor suffer me to swallow down my spittle? I have sinned.
What shall I do to thee, O keeper of men? Why hast thou set me opposite to thee, and I am become burdensome to myself.
Why dost thou not remove my sin, and why dost thou not take away mine iniquity?
Behold now, I shall sleep in the dust; and if thou seek me in the morning, I shall not be.
The Book of Job is one of my favorite books in the Bible. It reminds me that suffering and pain are real. It makes me aware of my own vulnerability. But it also reminds when I am wallowing in self-pity that there is one infinitely more loving and merciful who would watch over me even in my own insignificance.