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The Wrong Questions

The Wrong Questions

Sometimes we ask the wrong questions.  


The man asked Jesus, What must I do to inherit eternal life?  


Unfortunately, Jesus answered the question the man asked, not the one he should have asked.


I was sitting on my screened porch early before sunrise. Late summer in the South can be July-hot, with early mornings both humid and warm. Cicadas sing their throaty songs. The 5am train whistles in the distance. The train tracks rock. Wisps of light dawn. The mockingbirds mock. I close my eyes as if to pray by centering, only not quite. Meditation, only not quite. A stillness, an absorption of the world around me, inviting Spirit to sit with me. I am not alone, am never alone, but I feel terribly lonely today, in the sense of feeling lonely while at home. Lonely in a beautiful, or perhaps Advent longing-manner, that way in which I feel God most deeply with me. I feel like living itself is to exist with and in God. Here, right here, right now, with each beat of my soul’s heart … is it that I am revealed, or is God revealed? I am not sure, but one or both follow in merger and acquisition.


Jesus answered the question the man asked. It was a bad question from the beginning.


What must I do?


Jesus told the man what he needed to do. Keep the commandments, which the man had done his whole life. Sell, then, all you have and give the money to the poor, but this thing to do, this doing, was impossible for the man. He was terribly rich and it is terribly hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom. Especially by doing. When a person can imagine life only in terms of doing. The wrong question. What must I do?


The man should have asked, What must I be … come?


The zen buddhist walked up to the hot dog vendor and ordered, Make me One with Everything. One with everything, One with God. To be or not to be. That is the question. What (or who) must I be … come? Not, What must I do?


To Inherit.


One cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The action, inherit, is preceded by death; any consideration of death presupposes something happening in the future – that death. The kingdom of God is not future, not something you enter after life or following the event of death. The kingdom of God is present. It is right here, right now, in your midst. Among you. Not time-bound. You enter the kingdom today. As in, sitting on the screened porch, listening to cicadas and trains and mockingbirds, eyes closed, with prayer as abacus. With daily living and the people you choose to love as abacus. Portal, you enter the kingdom of God, for it exists right here, right now, not off in the future as emergent from the slog of some grave. Right here, right now. Breathe in, breathe out.


Eternal Life.


Eternity is neither time or space bound and transcends both. When I was a curious boy, and mercury-filled thermometers were still in use, I broke one open to experiment. I wore a simple gold ring in those days. I splayed a few drops of mercury onto the ring, and it permeated the gold. The ring turned silver. The kingdom of God permeates earthly elements of time and space and soul. Existing with God, and in God and through God. And God with and in and through me. Right here, right now, with each beat of my soul’s heart ….


I was sitting on the screened porch because my mother had died that week. She was a saint who lived long decades in eternity. During her life, she did much to inherit eternal life. Only, she inherited nothing. She loved God, or as she would have said, she loved Jesus, and the Jesus she loved permeated her soul like mercury on gold. With all her heart and soul and mind and strength, she loved. What did she do to receive this faith? Nothing. She did absolutely nothing. Except be.


What must I do?


Sometimes we ask the wrong questions.


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Mom would have loved what you wrote.

(For future comments, last name please. – eds.)

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