Happy Passover, Easter, Equinox and all things Vernal!
It's the time of year for celebrating what was once given up for dead, now sprouting with renewed life.
We've been at this little song and dance for thousands of years now, east and west.
But to get to the Roll Back the Stone revival of Easter Sunday, we've gotta deal with the Belly of the Whale, given-up-for-dead bit first.
This is a story that Rick Doblin, the founder of MAPS just dropped in my lap a few months ago when we were recording our HomeGrown Humans podcast.
It's so perfect, I couldn't believe I hadn't heard it before...
First a little context: You may have heard of the term "Soul Force" from the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King wove the notion into his "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington, D.C.
"Again and again," he said, "we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force."
But those weren’t King’s words or ideas. He’d borrowed them twice over. One of his spiritual mentors was Howard Thurman, who in 1935 traveled to India as the first African American interfaith ambassador.
There he met with Mahatma Gandhi and became steeped in the peaceful resistance the Indian lawyer called satyagraha.
On Thurman’s return to the United States, he translated the Sanskrit term into something more accessible— Soul Force—and began sharing its power with Black ministers and activists.
But Thurman was more a mystic than an activist.
In one of those impossible grace notes of history, he also delivered the sermon at the famous 1962 Good Friday experiment at Harvard Divinity School. (this is the story that Doblin hipped me to).
Most accounts of that service focus on the headlines—seminarians were given the psychedelic psilocybin and many of them had profound mystical experiences that day.
But virtually nowhere can you find accounts of what they were thinking about, sitting in Marsh Chapel, watching the sunlight stream through its rose-petaled, stained-glass windows.
Everyone is familiar with the musical cadence of the Baptist preacher
tradition. Martin Luther King epitomized it. Barack Obama rode its rhythms into the White House.Thurman sounded nothing like that. His voice was a rumbling baritone. His cadence was irregular and marked with as much silence as sound.
In the closing minutes of an hour-long Good Friday sermon in a chapel of tripping mystics, he told the story of hearing "an anguished voice crying out, ‘Forgiveness.’
"I went out and searched and found a man in the throes of crucifixion. I said, ‘I will take you down.’ I tried to take the nails out of his feet, but he said, ‘Let them be, for I cannot be taken down until every man and every woman and every child will come together to take me down.’ "I said, ‘But I cannot stand to hear you cry. What can I do?’ He said, ‘Go about the world. Tell everyone you meet that there’s a man on the cross, a man on the cross.’ Tell everybody, everybody that you meet."
That man on the cross is anthropos. That cross lies at the intersection of Kairos and Chronos.
A couple of thousand years ago, his realization was rare and remarkable. Today it’s required of all of us.
It’s this recognition of our divinity and our mortality that delivers us to our full humanity.
Every man, woman, and child. Every HomeGrown Human.
Take out the nails, remove the thorns. Forgive ourselves and each other.
Not to usher in the Second Coming, but to bring about the Umpteenth Coming. It’s time to take him down. It’s time for us to step up. Tell everyone.
Tell everyone you meet.
By practicing resurrection (as this Spring season of festivals and high holy days suggests), we come back, again and again, to that singular point where we have the chance to move beyond a life of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.
Even, and especially, if our life depends on it. In that instant we are presented with the chance to step off the hamster wheel of Chronos and willingly step up to the cross of Kairos. Consequences be damned. Once we’ve died and been born a second time, dying again doesn’t seem so hard.
For anyone who’s grown despondent, overwhelmed by all of the graphs measuring all of the things in an unraveling world—we have to take refuge in this simple fact: We’re wired for courage at the deepest levels of our being.
While it’s easy to fixate on dramatic examples of heroic sacrifice, there’s even more power in the infinitesimal courage of the day-to-day.
A sleep-deprived mother working three jobs to feed her children. A schoolkid protecting the bullied on the playground. A stranger offering the homeless some kindness or comfort. A tired, anonymous man, standing in front of a phalanx of tanks, saying enough is enough.
Our courage is always there, dormant but potent. When we act on it, it sends shock waves through time and space.
That’s the only exponential curve that bends in the right direction these days. It’s our force multiplier. Our ace in a hole of heartache.
So that's the question in front of us this season––how to "practice resurrection"––especially after this year with so much dying.
For me, rebirth came yesterday, climbing a peak here in Crested Butte that gives way to one of the classic Rocky Mountain ski descents. Ass-busting 3000' climb fully in the Pain Cave, capped with 360 views of epic snow capped mountains––the critical decisions of assessing one of the sketchiest snowpacks in decades, and then the Roll Back the Stone joyous bombing descent on perfect spring corn snow.
––> Here's a quick clip from it.
#earnyourturns #surftheearth #sweatyourprayers
Wherever you find yours, go get some––the Chinese call it Chong Xi––Joy Bathing.
We wash out the sorrow at the Church of the Eternal Stoke.
That's all for now, the mountains are calling (again) and I must go...
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