A seasonal contemplation
One day the Buddha was sitting in concentration and was serene, when a Brahmin priest walked past and says: ‘I’ve never seen anything like you. Are you a god?’ ‘No,’ said the Buddha.’ Are you an angel or a spirit?’ ‘No’ said the Buddha. ‘Well, what are you?’ And the Buddha said: ‘I’m awake!’
The writer who brings this story of the Buddha, Karen Armstrong, goes on to say that “…religion is not an anaesthetic”, but is something which encourages a wakeful standing-in-the-midst of life’s turbulence.” There are images which symbolize this in all religions…” for Christianity she cites the picture of Jesus on the cross, “in charge of his death.” (taken from: “Conversations on Religion” p183ff)
The theme of wakefulness played a significant part at the founding events of The Christian Community. It was at the end of the two weeks in September 1922, all the ordinations had taken place and three of the now-priests had celebrated the Act of Consecration of Man. The final step remained, that of ceremonially handing over the biretta, one on behalf of all the group. That in itself carried then and carries now a strong gesture of wakefulness within the priestly vestments: I walk to the altar, I put the biretta to one side when the priest-in-me celebrates. I wear it when I speak my own words, etc.
On that September morning the closing words then followed and the vote of thanks, by Fr. Rittelmeyer, for all that Rudolf Steiner had contributed, not least of all with his closing remarks regarding the weeks and months which lay ahead for these 45 pioneers of religious renewal. He had stressed the need for wakefulness, in all that they would undertake, even that they should be on their guard for opponents and attacks from other religious streams. “Watch and wake” comes to mind from the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt. 26) …”that your truth can be effective” (Rudolf Steiner).
It sounds like an example of Michaelic consciousness, an example of one of the attributes of Michael, to be awake, alert. And in the context of The Christian Community, now a movement fast approaching 100 years in age, it is tempting to add a further note: we can continue to be wakeful, generally, and equally with regard to challenges from different sides. Let’s also extend our wakefulness for others who are similarly sensing the import for religious renewal, in other places, with other backgrounds, individuals and groups. The Christian Community is not alone…no longer alone, in this striving.
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