Below is my contribution this week to a multi-faith service to be held in Germany. It is based on Matthew 6:19-34, which comes first – followed by my contribution to the service.
Matthew 6:19-34 (NRSV)
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes
and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than
they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you — you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
My Zen Master, Guy Mokuho Mercier (from France), considers the author Eckhart Tolle to be a Zen Master too (although Tolle would probably not say so himself).
When I hear these words Jesus said, I am reminded of a story Eckhart Tolle recounts in his Findhorn Retreat book. The story he recounts goes like this: “A woman found a scroll in an old box. It was ancient, and as she started to unroll it she saw some writing on the left and some on the right, and she heard a voice saying, If you read what is on the left, you will know the past, and if you read what is on the right you will know the future.
She looked to the left and the right, and then she rolled the scroll back to the beginning, where there was a central panel on which was written, God is. She said, This is all I am interested in. I don’t want anything else. And the voice said, Congratulations. You made it this time.
Her focal point had become the present moment.”
The present moment is not the “tomorrow” Jesus refers to. It is the eternal present. It is right now. It is the only place to experience life, and the only place to experience the divine. You can’t go back or forward in time to find divine life! So why spend so much mental time troubling yourself about past events or future concerns!
Being present with the present, life can unfold and become very beautiful and simple – even when it is very complex and full of pain and suffering. And this is truly seeing life for what it is. Without any illusion. Suddenly the gift of it becomes very clear. Lillies are just lillies and yet see how splendid! Already perfect. Just like you.
Do you get the sense that Jesus is saying the same thing in different ways here? I do. He is asking you what is in your heart. Is your heart filled with light, compassion, and joy? Or is your heart grabbing, wanting, worry, and darkness? He is also saying that it is very simple to change what is in your heart; it does not require any effort. The reverse! Removal of effort, and letting go to what is! The Lillies of the field just get on with it. So why can’t we! Splendid and perfect and bobbing in the breeze.
The kingdom of heaven is always just around the corner. Just like this.