Super Moons, Illumination, and Stirring up Mud

It would be simple enough, if only simplicity were not the most difficult of all things. – Carl Jung

We are united by the emotions that drive us into the beliefs that divide us. – Sarah Krasnostein

I went to bed last night, around midnight, and happened to look out the window just as the moon, almost full, brilliantly peered down at me through the wild oak tree in our front yard. It took me by surprise and reminded me once again that darkness often provides the most opportune moments for light to be reflected – and reflected upon.

The 13th century Middle Eastern mystic trickster, Nasruddin Hodja, came to mind. He once argued, “The moon is more brilliant, and more important, than the sun!” “How does that make sense?” a friend protested. “Because,” the Hodja smiled, “we need the light more at night when it is dark.”

Tonight, Thursday, the Sturgeon Moon will reflect upon us in all its brilliant fullness. So named by the Algonquin people of Northern Michigan because it’s the best time of year to catch the enormous fish, it will be the last “super moon” of the year. We’ve had three such “moons” this year, but we won’t see another until Aug/2023! So you might want to catch it!

Meanwhile, I learned a little bit about sturgeon this last month while in N Michigan that might actually shed some light on our spiritual journey.

Sometimes growing to 10 – 14 feet in length, sturgeon can live 100 or more years and are so named because they spend most of their time at the bottoms of lakes, stirring up the mud (sturgeon = “to stir up”) in search of food. By summer, the fish surface to migrate to their annual spawning areas, and thus, the darkness gives way to the light, and new life.

Now, as you, dear Reader, know about me by now – I’ve never “met-a-phor I didn’t like” (groan!) And the sturgeon’s life offers us an interesting metaphor to shed some light on Jesus’ life toward the end of his ministry, as Luke tells the story. And it offers a path for the inner journey that can lead to a deeper faith that truly can change the world.

Several years into Jesus’ ministry, the people around him were asking for signs when God’s reign would take place and justice prevail, and why it hadn’t already happened. Of course, Luke is writing his Gospel account 50-60 years after Jesus’ death. So the followers in his account reflect not only the anticipation that was probably present in the actual historical moment of those with Jesus; but it also reflects the anxiety and frustration of late 1st century Jesus followers almost two generations later – where, instead of a new Kingdom of God reigning over all, followers of The Way (Jew and Gentile) are now scattered all over the Middle East and the Mediterranean!

So in chapter 12 Jesus was stirring things up, making trouble, not simply within the Temple institution of Judaism, but within families as well. Jesus tells the crowd (disciples and others) that he came not to comfort people but to “bring fire to the Earth” and to “set family members against one another” in hatred. Then he scolds them for their arrogance claiming to know how to decipher changes in the weather but somehow unable see the more important signs of the times!

It’s a difficult passage to process for a lot of people who often focus on the humility and non-violent teachings of Jesus – his message of loving one another and even our enemies.

Certainly some could argue, “He’s talking here about tearing down systems of injustice and families will inevitably fall out over doing the right thing!” Others, on the other hand, might argue, “No, he’s talking about the corrupt immorality of unbelief and the need to bring fire and brimstone to those who don’t believe the right way!”

I have a bumper sticker on my ukulele case that reads, “Beware the dangers of stupid people in large groups.” We all think it’s talking about those other people, right?

But I think we’re all missing something here: being unself-reflective, missing the inner spiritual journey of the Heroine, makes us all stupid as far as being able to “read the signs of the times.”

What if this text is less about knowing what sign, whose sign, is right or wrong and more about knowing how to pay attention to what’s going on in our own lives in light of the larger story of our time? What if the journey of faith is about reflecting on where the light is seeking to break into our own inner darkness enough to illuminate the outer darkness around us?

In other words, his is the Heroine’s Journey – the call to face the inner transformation of our life in order to guide our outer actions and the obstacles and challenges we might meet in the process.

And it is often hard hear the call of that inner journey in a culture that is seepted in the guiding myth of individualism and outward success (especially when that myth has accommodated Jesus’ life to it, as well).

We can see this in our own lives.

But we can also see that it is at the root of so much of our cultural and national vitriol, fear, and divisiveness. Steeped in the myth of scarcity and the need to succeed materially and outwardly, there is a massive disconnect with the sacred feminine in our country (and world). And when this disconnect isn’t addressed individually/culturally, we see villains and aggression arise everywhere. Because someone has to be blamed for the unaddressed disconnection that lies at the heart of our cultural, national myth.

The outward journey of the hero, if he/she is to truly return to the community with wisdom and empowerment, must be informed by having gone through the inner, spiritual journey of the heroine – the deeper journey of stirring the mud and darkness in order to illuminate the inner gifts of self-compassion, simple delight, and inter-dependence.

Sunday, we continue to look at Luke’s portrayal of Jesus’ life and teachings in light of this inner spiritual journey and how to free/empower the sacred feminine in our lives.

I hope to see you then!

eleven:eleven, downtown
8.14 • 11:11 am • @ the Historic 512
Jesus and the Journey of the Heroine
“stirring up stories in the mud”
rev. tom mcdermott



kagan parker and the rest of the eleven:eleven band
will bring us the music of tracy chapman, wheezer,
bob marley, and the musical “rent”!


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