Some of the best-looking gifts have been very ordinary on the inside. That probably sounds ungrateful. Maybe it is. But all that wrapping is forgotten within seconds and what is left is … the inside.
Whereas some of the most fantastic surprises have been unremarkable on the outside – but amazing on the inside.
Mrs Paul is one such example. A decade birthday for me. A family celebration. And this odd gift of a writing pad – an ordinary A4-sized writing-refill pad. With just one word on the first page: “Paper-point”. As I asked why with confusion – as I was told to turn the pages – as I flicked a page and another unknowing and unconvinced – as I slowly understood that this was a high-tech me kind of “Powerpoint Presentation” – just in an ordinary paper-refill pad without the high-tech – one that described a Cruise Down the Nile – all booked and paid-for. Just for me and Mrs Paul – a Nile Temple Tour cruise. – on ordinary pages which were handwritten and drawn in unremarkable biro. A present made extraordinary at every level. The ordinary made extraordinary!
Good Friday came and went yesterday. An extraordinarily packaged religious event with an extraordinary inside I was taught. God made man nailed to a cross for me. God made man who died for me and will rise tomorrow. My sins washed away forever. My sins. The ones from The Garden. The ones I can never escape because sin is who I am.
Over the years I have found the biblical packaging to be extraordinary, yet the inside is a chewed-over bone still packaged and insulated in “religious tech”. Even the inside won’t let God out of our box. Hidden with religious science proving beyond doubt whatever anyone wants to prove is correct.
The inside “prize” is becoming “biblically correct” in every verse and chapter.
The extraordinary made ordinary.
My walk with GSHJ brought me to stare this “biblically correct” in the face.
He asked me look with him. See with him. Live in him. It’s a place where being biblically correct doesn’t exist. Where “facts” are never argued. It is a place of looking out. I have stared at so much I was asked to believe was real and found that I didn’t care because GSHJ doesn’t care. Found that “the fact of the matter” for me was the inside.
Love. Unconditional. Immediate. Within me. If I allow.
Changing me from something I was taught I should be to something I was taught I couldn’t be. Love I can’t switch-off or on. Love I can’t pick and choose. Love I can’t give or withhold. Love is not a choice. Love is not something I earn by following the approved and correct biblical rules of religion.
You have seen it written but I say.
And all I hear is his unremarkable “paper-point” whose inside is extraordinary.
Yet we are taught and caught in the “correctness” of the packaging. All those ologies and isms. The factions and fighting. The division and rituals protected.
God Soft Hands Jesus has shown me that “that stuff” doesn’t matter. Has shown me that “that stuff” is just the outer packaging. Has flicked me through so many bible pages before I got it: Love you, Love me, Love something that binds us all is not about the future but about right now right here in every second.
That Love is I Am and I Am is Love. That Love is eternity and eternity is Love. That Love is forgiveness and forgiveness is Love. That Love is freedom and freedom is Love. That Love is healing and healing is Love. Freedom from the packaging. Freedom from the “correctness”. Freedom from the ritual and institution of biblical correctness. Love is freedom from anything that prevents me from Love. All I have to do is “allow”.
Which is why today as most days I wonder …
Why am I not allowed? Why am I taught that I am a sinner forgiven (at best) – incapable of being Love as God is Love – that the only way to “eternal life” (or “Love” by another definition) is through church-life? Why am I disallowed in becoming GSHJ’s “biblically correct” – disallowed from ever being Love right now in this moment and the next. Maybe because of more “packaging”:
The Garden and “my sin”.
I love the bible. Not the revered and taught packaging. Not the academic study and debates. Not the ever more “up our own arse” interpreted and officially endorsed institutional correctness. Nor the church-life and obligations – the switching-off and on – the “sacrifice” and “service” – the turning up to be seen to be turning up. I love the bible because it is none of the “outer packaging” that disallows me from being the inside.
Which is why I can put down the bible and never read it again. Never study it. I am living the inside. So why do I need to keep fretting over the packaging.
Just like Mrs Paul and her “paper-point” of unremarkability” –
We are living the inside.