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From my reflection upon the evil splicing the Brett Kavanagh confirmation hearings, together with the media flimflam in its wake, have emerged an ancient liturgical ritual and a story, both from the Bible.

In Leviticus 16: 7–10, we learn of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the most holy day of worship in the Jewish calendar; its intent was to purify the Israelites’ sinfulness that impeded their covenantal relationship with Yahweh. The High Priest cast their guilt and shame upon the head of a goat and then beat it into the desert, never to be seen again. The Israelites felt better, but remained ignorant of the flawed depths within their unconscious, still unknown to them.

Unfortunately, this practice of scapegoating continues, despite the ongoing explorations around the globe in the depth psychology of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.

And in the gospel of John 8: 1-11, we watch how Jesus dealt with the scribes and Pharisees, bent upon stoning the adulterous woman in their keep. He looks at them, says nothing, then leans over and begins writing in the sand. Infuriated by his silence, they badger him further and remind him of the penalty in the Mosaic Law for such crimes. Then comes his measured response: “Let him without sin cast the first stone.” Then he resumes writing. And we remember what followed.

Both passages speak to the human condition with its minefields littering our inner landscapes. Shrouded in impenetrable darkness lay deadly energies that kill or maim: anger, greed, lust, sloth, pride, gluttony, and envy. I know. I have all of them. Only when trip-wired do we experience them, either in others or ourselves.

That happened during the media bedlam of last Thursday in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and its aftermath: frenzy inflated egos, unleashed inhibitions, and wounded spirits, perhaps irreparably.

Evil flaunted its poison. The challenge is to be wary of our own and drop the rock.

 

 

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In silence, shrouded in shadows, we crouch, elbow to elbow, waiting. At the end of our resources, we long for someone to trim our wicks and refire our lanterns. A people without vision—we have lost our way.

Such, too, was the longing of the anawim (the Hebrew word for those who are bowed down), the lowly ones in first-century-Palestine, oppressed by monstrous Roman greed. They longed for deliverance, a deliverance that resonates throughout the Psalms, fruitful prayers to sustain our angst, even today.

A messenger arrives, panting and begrimed from the arduous journey across the mountainous desert. “The word’s out! He’s finally coming! Do hold on!”

Our spirits quicken like ravens frolicking across the sky suffused with dawn-light.

“Little time left! Hurry!”

How to prepare our manger-hearts to receive Him?

 

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When hurt, frustrated, or sad, it’s easy to resort to spider stratagems, spinning webs of fantasy to make things right, to settle the score.

With the spider’s roving eyes, we discern shades of darkness and feel our way around our victims. Our pincher-fangs stun and immobilize them deeper within sticky webs fastened to our sense of truth. And like the spider’s quick retreat on a silky thread, we can deny our involvement in a nanosecond, unaware of its drain upon our energies. It’s easy to stay stuck in this bondage.

Yet willing to dialog with our inner spider, as old as humankind, affords a way out of this impasse. Its dark energy loses its grip on our psyches. It becomes stale, useless, absurd.

Just as spiders are known for eating nuisance fleas and insects, we can engage their skills to expunge our dark stuff and restore us into the sunshine world.

Indeed, other cultures, wiser than ours, have honored these eight-legged trapeze artists, etched in stone, embossed upon coins and seals, woven into blankets, and designed on pottery.

We, too, do well to honor them.

 

 

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