Whether we read or studied it or not, most of us grew up with a pretty clear picture of what was and what was not scripture. For the majority of boomers in America, scripture was the Holy Bible, next question please. And no matter what it said, in grand story or minute instruction, it was God’s Word, cut and dried, start to finish, take it or leave it. If you worked hard enough, or trusted completely enough, you could wring some meaning out of every jot and tittle.
That works pretty well in a very small world, until you realize that for a Muslim, scripture is the Quran, for Latter Day Saints it includes the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price, and, of course, the list goes on. It’s easy to see where this leads. Holy books, chock full of nuggets of truth and wisdom, are melted down and turned into bombs and swords, objects of division, judgment and violence rather than invitation, healing and peace. Canon to cannon. It’s a small sleight of hand.
Another key problem with this traditional understanding of scripture is precisely the canonical aspect. We are never part of it. It’s written and decided upon by holier people in holier times. Somehow we judge ourselves less connected to God/Spirit/Mind/Source than those people in those times and places. And we cede and seal that authority by Closing The Canon. (Jesus died. Jesus rose. Constantine reigned. Canon closed. End times are just around the corner. You just repent and wait.)
I don’t buy it. We are children of God, now, created in that image, as have been all people in all time. Scripture is the Voice of God, written, as Jeremiah says, on our hearts (Jer 31: 33-34). It’s not a voice that comes and goes. It’s a voice that speaks and calls and comforts. It’s a voice that warns of danger and the consequences of ego and greed. It is capital T Truth, now and evermore. And it’s here and accessible whenever we choose to tune in.
So I encourage you to do a little creative thinking about what the Word of God is in your life. Here, to stimulate your imagination, is a quick and very incomplete list of things that come to mind today for me.
- The snow on the Colorado Blue Spruce and Ponderosa Pines outside my window this morning
- The voice of Leonor as we talk about our grandchildren
- The wisdom of egoless Self in the verses of the Upanishads, passed down for perhaps 5,000 years with authorship attributed to no one in particular
- The love and comfort of Psalm 23
- The environmental Truth and wakeup call of hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, and the devastation of the High Park fire
- Aleppo, the slums of Mumbai, the sweat shop in China and the Arab Spring
- Jackson Browne singing “Don’t You Want to Be There” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOfOh1AtJo4
- JD Martin’s “One Heart” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9q5ia2jUeqc
- Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching
- Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables
- Our friend Lourdes pulling the perfect shot to make that café cortadito down at The Red Cup
You get the picture. Ease up. God is speaking. Tune in. Listen for the voice of compassion, egoless Self, relationship and healing. Listen for the warnings about the pitfalls of the path of greed and defense. True scripture, the very Voice of God, is all around you, in every moment; a gift to nourish, to comfort, to strengthen and connect you, to connect us.
It is stories about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It invites us, always, to the Tree of Life.
Two Trees in the Garden.