04 May 2011

Altered Space and Osama bin Laden's Death

I was just completing a unique weekend experience when, at a hotel near Chicago, I learned that Osama bin Laden had been killed. The details were sketchy and I was in what might best be termed an "altered space." It was a very unusual moment.

I had just completed a special conference over the weekend. It brought together women and men from all over the United States. We were Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Jews -- and maybe others. The nearly 230 of us had gathered at invitation to experience a second level of teaching, prayer and meditation using various points of departure into experiencing contemplative states within our own expression of faith. I had done the first of these weekends in late February and found it to be transformational. This particular weekend (29 April - 1 May) found me in a new depth of experiencing God's Presence, the power of Christ's healing and the transformational indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is what we are all about. And it does produce an altered space, when one emerges into the regular human stream of life. It was in this space that I watched and listened and read the emerging news of the raid on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan by two dozen SEAL special operations personnel, and their final confrontation with Osama bin Laden.

It was interesting that the only word that would come forth from me at the moment of this revelation was, "Damn!" This says a lot, probably, about me and where I was in that moment. First, the expletive itself revealed the state I believed bin Laden found himself at the point of his death: damned. The expletive expressed my profound respect for the US Navy SEALS...being a veteran of the Navy and very familiar with special operations during my time in service (1972-75 active on station). The expletive also expressed the delicacy of my moral and ethical concerns for death and the disposition of that which is conceived as evil. This latter is where, perhaps, any number of us might find ourselves.

For me, the response of a Christian Priest and practitioner of contemplative/mystical spirituality is to go deep inside, find that place of true silence and peace and explore what emerges from my external experience. Since I was still very near that altered space after a weekend of right brain, contemplative practice, this was was not a difficult journey inward.

What I heard and learned: Yes, this death needed to happen. The explosion of a person into acts that can only be described as evil in their intent and destructive in their result can often only be healed in the death of that person. When a psyche confuses his/her own twisted and chaotic self with the voice of God, it is the definition of sin -- at the least -- and destructive evil -- at the worst. It is why I have always been very concerned when anyone speaks of "me and my God..."

Yes, God does love Osama bin Laden -- for who he is as one created in the image of God -- NOT for what he had become in the twisted expression of self and the actions that led to thousands of deaths and the creation of an organization that only understands religious practice through the thoughts and feelings of anger, hate and the striving for personal supremacy. I also am very aware that each of us must say, "there, but by the Grace of God, go I..."

Justice has been served in truth. It will give pause to those who follow in this life of terrorizing world societies and otherwise peaceful people. It will not stop them. As scripture reminds us, we must "be sober and vigilant; for our Adversary skulks about seeking those to devour..." I do not spend any time looking over my shoulder or around the corner. I am inwardly resolved to walk placidly amid the noise and haste with my heart in Christ and my mind on what I must do in this moment of a life that is precious...for it is a gift.

We, who are People of the Risen Christ, do pray for the soul of Osama bin Laden....praying that he will, in death, be healed of the severe brokenness that plagued his life. We pray for the thousands of lives lost around the world at the hands and instigation of such a man. We pray for the healing of those left with the loss of dear loved ones and dear friends. We pray for the men and women serving in harm's way and for their families. We pray that those who continue to follow a false god of terror and selfish procurement will have their hearts turned to the God of Grace and Peace, who is our Creator.

Mostly, after my own recent experiences, I pray that we, the global community, can be tolerant of each other's faith journey and its particular expression: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and others. All seek to know the true God and to have hearts that know sincere peace and acceptance. May this moment be a place where Oneness can really begin anew. Let not the death of so many innocents be for naught.

In Christ's Love,

Fr. Fred+

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