Shake the Dust: A Renewed Understanding

This month is the one year anniversary of being released from one organization to find God in another. That isn’t to say God didn’t exist in the former. Many of the parishioners I met, and perhaps even one or two priests, were filled with a Great Spirit – one that enabled them to be happy and free. They, too, have moved on to bigger and brighter tomorrows.

The following is my own writing and does not reflect the views or opinions of any other person, group, or entity. Some was written in 2014 – another time of great change where some individuals left the organization in which I celebrated. I have renewed and refreshed that article for a modern day, and much of the original has passed into its higher good, as I must do. I speak as a servant who is remembering and who is letting go of the past. I write the following as a closing of one chapter, and the beginning of another.

Our faith and example of how we are to live our lives must reside in the Creator, and in the Christ, Jesus, who died so that we might at last know the true path for a good life. In the parable of the wedding banquette (Mt. 22:1-14), our Christ uttered this final sentence, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” The classical observations are usually that there were people unworthy to participate in religious life, most especially the Gentiles, or the case of the early church, the Jews because they were blamed for the death of the Lord. But there is a deeper meaning connected with the mission of the Apostles (Mt. 10:5-15). I don’t usually engage in contextomy, but these two passages, these lessons are particularly salient to what is happening in the independent sacramental/catholic movement today. Many in the independent movement “feel” called for whatever reason, and many are chosen to carry on the mission and example of the Christ, but relatively few understand the deep mystical relationship to which they are binding themselves and so throw away rather than shaking the dust from their own.

Some have entered service to find God, whereas others to find themselves. There are those, too, who enter because of things that are so far removed from the true purpose of serving – to fulfill the Christ’s teachings of espousing true love, engaging in authentic compassion, participating in the co-creation of our evolution through the true forgiveness of sin, and being agents of change and healing. Instead, they have chosen the path because of the pretty colors and fancy circumstances. There might even be a few who have chosen the path because of the obvious power they are lacking in their own lives and the realization that they will forever hold power over the lives of those who are entrusted to their care.

From time to time, much like the King at the wedding feast, a cleaning must occur so that life may continue to bloom and flourish, and much like in the sending of the Apostles the dust must be shaken from our feet. In such cleanings, things that serve no purpose are removed; the collected mounds of dust and debris are purged, and the lice infested rodents are extricated from the dark corners into which they have made their nests by whatever means so that health may once again flourish in the light. Worn and broken furniture pieces and clothing are repaired or repurposed, and those things that serve no greater purpose or cause harm to others, like nails sicking up out of the floorboards, are either put back in place or removed completely.

There are other times when we must make the decision to better ourselves and leave bad or unhealthy environments. I should have done the latter ages ago, but I remained – I have no one to blame and must myself take responsibility for not accepting the signs to move to a better place.

Such was the case with a church family I dearly loved and will continue to protect – to a point. When a truth was exposed and spoken, hatred spewed forth and masks were revealed; what was beneath sickened me no end and I became violently ill wishing that my +Beloved, who I believed for so long was in hiding (John, . C., & Kavanaugh, K. (1973). Collected works of St. John of the Cross. Washington, D.C: Institute of Carmelite Studies.), would take me away.

Even upon my departure, more lies and hatred spewed – all the while they professed to be a leaders and examples of the love that our Christ, Jesus taught. I, instead, kept my mouth shut, protecting them till my last breath – fool that I was. After much processing I discovered what truly made me ill wasn’t the actions of what lay under the mask, but that the People of God were being led down very dark and singularly focused paths – ones of complete and utter dependence on something other than our Lord.

As I said in the beginning, a year has passed since finding myself out to pasture. So why the renewed interest in something so far removed from my life? Trust me, it wasn’t by my own choice. It was because the ugliness continues to spew from several people within their ranks – from within the inner cancer of isolated individuals who blame external sources for their internal problems. It saddens and disturbs me to know the truths of those individuals – truths that have come to light after having been so far removed from their dark corners. While I admit I am stung from their written and spoken words, I am more amazed I am not more affected by their continued vomitous vitriol. Instead, I pity them their continued tirades after having their own injustices and lack of priestly behaviors exposed. It’s been a year and they still find need to refresh old wounds instead of healing and becoming true examples. How utterly sad – and disappointing – and un-Christ-like. It is that last word, un-Christ-like, on which I wish to focus and remains the sole focus of my own mission and ministry – BEcoming a living example of the Christ.

So again, why this monologue? I guess because I am tired of holding back the truth and being bombarded with lies that serve no other good than to bolster the ego of those who are spewing. I am tired of hiding behind politics. I have chosen to sit on my haunches and write in the vanishing sand those things I know of others who have nothing better to do with their lives than point fingers, create lies and malfeasance, and lead people down destructive paths – the antithesis of what our Christ taught – the antithesis of what we are to exemplify as those “called to serve”.

I have no doubt that I will be accused of being compassionless and un-Christ-like because I am saying what needs to be said, and yet I have shared only a fragment of what I now know. I have not shared the truths I learned since my departure. I have not published the documents left behind that prove a sewn path of deceit and and conceit. I have not “yet” published the truths about embezzlement and other dealings; the theft of my own belongings, nor of the swindle of property away from a church into another’s pocket. There is much that has been revealed I have not shared – and will not. I hold in my heart nothing but love and forgiveness for those individuals who monger their hatred and vile speech, and I will continue to write in the vanishing sand all that I now know in the hopes that those who continue throwing stones, remember what our Christ teaches – if they truly believe and follow the teachings. If not, well, we’ll know them by what they are doing, but I must return to me – I am not responsible for their un-Christ-like examples.

Something that has become evident to me is that within the Independent Sacramental Movement, there is too much backstabbing and infighting; there is so much illness and sickness that it would be better to complete disassociate from those groups and forge a new – emergent – path. People vie and jockey for political positions within an institution that is supposed to bring about a new spiritual awakening. We, as priest and a people, claim to follow the teachings, but I know that I, for one, fall far short. Yet, I do not blame any other for my problems – I alone am to blame. But I pick back up and truly try to follow the path.

So – it is time to shake the dust from my sandals. It is time for me to return to the Christ path. I simply do not have time, energy, or willingness to focus on those who are filled with deceit and hatred. I can no longer allow myself to be taken in by those who seek to bolster themselves over the Gospels. If that means turning my back on those who prefer gossip and backstabbing as a way of life, then so be it, Amen+. But I will not do as they have done – I will never throw people away because they think differently than I. Instead, I will shake the dust from my own sandals and move into a greater way of BEing.

We, those of us who have chosen a servant’s path, and as the Body Faithful of the Christ, must again take onto our core of the pastoral call – to restore Christ’s Community to a renewed process of evolution and discovery of the Love given freely to us by the Creator God and as shared with us through the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of the Christ Jesus. As canonically independent and emergent entities we must again engage the teachings the Christ gave us and incorporate within ourselves those concepts which bring us closer in spirit to the Creator God. Acting upon the call, we must become loving examples – we must become the very core of His teachings of Peace, Love, Compassion, and Joy; and we must do so without prejudice or agenda, and without limitations or artificial barriers.

One of our greatest responsibilities is to receive all people who want to know our Christ – to help them find peace in their lives and heal from their afflictions. Jesus never turned away the tax collector, the centurion, the murderer, or anyone who thought differently than we do. He never said heal only those who are convenient and who are, themselves, already saved. He sent us into the fields to become authentic agents of change – to help those who demean and diminish to find a new path of health and wellness – to find conversion away from their stumbling to a path well worn – our Christ-path.

It is time, once again, to step into our future as a Postmodern and Emergent Church to renew the call for Universality and become a truly catholic (universal) model of service. Together, and through the Christ Jesus, we may begin to heal the wounds of those disenfranchised, push out, and cast aside while honoring all God’s people as the Christ did during His ministry on Earth. It is time to again practice what was and is still preached while letting go of those who have chosen a different path. I can not choose for them. I can only be responsible for my own actions.

Shaking the dust is not so much a throwing away of people who are in deep need of healing and conversion – it is a removing of ourselves from a presence that believes itself to be better than the message being received. It is a removing of ego and of a return to faith in our Christ, Jesus. It wasn’t supposed to be a means to throw away the rubbish, it was meant to separate ourselves from an unhealthy fellowship. It must also allow for the path to continue – there must be an allowance for more dust to accumulate and there must be an opportunity for true healing. Shaking the dust must NEVER be permanent.

If we hold only to the anger and pain, we will never become agents of the Love our Creator gives FREELY to all. So, when I shake the dust from my own sandals, I move myself into a healthier expression of BEcoming what I profess – that I will love all unconditionally – even those who do not think as I do.

I therefore renew my promise to my vows of service to the People of God through my community. I continue my promise of fidelity to those I serve and to the hierarchy of my faith community. And it is there, that as a Christ-People, we need to begin to let go of our pettiness and infighting so that we may be a fulfillment of the salvific vision and grace freely given by the Creator.

I restore to my soul the Greatness of our Lord and Christ, Jesus, who continues to heal even they who have chosen other paths.
My faith resides in God alone.