My husband, William, and I were at a benefit, talking about spiritual things with a woman I know. William, whose top score on the Beliefnet Belief-o-Matic quiz was secular humanist, volunteered that he views the Bible as “no more true than a comic book.” The woman said, “Well, I see the Bible as metaphor.” And William said, “So is the comic book.”
I do love my honey, and I respect his thoughtfulness and his values, but I don’t agree with him about everything and I don’t agree on this. In my view, all the scriptures of the world are vast, important collections of words that can be taken on a variety of levels for the edification of humankind. I studied most of them, at least in a cursory way, in college when I was getting a degree in comparative religions. Given my geographic and cultural background, though, I am most familiar with the Bible, two testaments’ worth. I’m no Bible scholar by any stretch, but when I ask for guidance, it often comes to me straight from this book, sometimes in phrases I didn’t know I knew.
Here are what came up today as my top ten. Help yourself. I don’t know about you, but I find it quite a Marvel.
• I will give you the years that the locust has eaten. – Joel 2:25. When I was first aware that I was indeed in recovery from the compulsive overeating that had held me in bondage for most of my life up till then, this passage flooded my consciousness. I felt that I’d been given the years the locust had eaten, all that youth I’d used up. And it was true.
• The kingdom of God is within you. – Luke 17:21. Clear, concise, MapQuest for the soul. It reminds me of the Hindu story that the gods didn’t know where to hide the Truth from the upstart they’d created, Homo Sapiens. They thought about the bottom of the sea and distant planets, but lamented that we’d eventually look in those places. The wisest god is said to have come up with the final answer: “Hide it inside him. That’s one place he’ll never look.”
• He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. - Micah 6-8. I like instructions, recipes, “Insert flap A into tab B.” I want to know what the Lord requires of me, even when doing it is quite a challenge.
• And God said, Behold! I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. – Genesis 1:29. I’ve heard this called “man’s original diet.” I’m very fond of the idea that we were meant to be vegetarians, to live without violence or killing. And I’m grateful to live in a time and place where this is again possible. It may not be Eden, but I have access to produce all year ’round.
• Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse…and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. – Malachi 3:10. I love tithing. I figure, we all make sure we have health insurance: tithing is wealth insurance. I’ve learned from experience that that first 10 percent that comes to me in earnings or gifts or profit of any kind is not mine. When I give it back to God in whatever way seems appropriate at the time, it comes back in multiples and the fear about having enough goes away.
• Give, and it shall be given unto you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over shall men give unto your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. – Luke 6:38. Another giving quotation. When I want to be stingy (about money or time or anything else), I think of this one and loosen up.
• Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. Luke 10:27. Jesus’ two commandments seem to put it all in shorthand. As simple as they sound, they lay out a life’s work, a soul’s imperative.
• And I, if I be lifted up…shall draw all men unto me. – John 12:32. I love this concept. Jesus spoke it in his time for his purposes, but we can use it now, remembering to keep ourselves lifted up and drawing others up along with us.
• They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. – Isaiah 11:9. The hairs on my arms stood up just typing Isaiah’s prophecy for a peaceful time. All I can do with this today is live it imperfectly in my own little life. If enough of us do this, it can’t help but come to pass.
• Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out. – Rev. 3:12. From the poetic, metaphoric final book of the New Testament, this lovely promise of the goal of life makes me happy. I see it as the end of the journey—merging again with the Light in a Kabalistic sense or, with Buddhist sensibilities, awaiting that time when “the dewdrop slips into the shining sea.”