Keeping the Prophets Alive

This Lent we explore the cave, an ancient meeting-place for the Divine.

Last week we journeyed with the prophet Elijah, running from Queen Jezebel’s death threat to the cave on Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:1-13). We imagined ourselves in his story: heart-beating, retracing the steps of Moses, troubled and listening for the voice of God anew.

This week we learn about another character on the scene in Elijah’s day: Obadiah. Obadiah was in charge of the royal residence. He cared for King Ahab and Queen Jezebel and their household—all of whom were expected to be loyal to Yahweh’s rival, Ba’al. Yet Obadiah loved Yahweh. So much so that when Jezebel was killing the prophets of Yahweh, Obadiah risked his own life to hide one hundred of them in caves and to provide them with food and water. (1 Kings 18: 1-4).

Can you imagine it? Fifty prophets living in two separate caves. The care it would take to smuggle enough food and water to sustain them. Pilfering supplies from the royal stash to nourish the voice of dissent. Obadiah sits at the intersection of the powerful and the powerless and he pivots—using his position subversively.

Prophets are the truth-tellers, the wisdom holders in any generation. They hold dear God’s deep love for the world and long to show us the way forward. I can picture Obadiah’s prophets; tucked into the cave’s dusty darkness and yearning for sunlight. Deep and resonant voices whispering together for fear of detection yet longing to call out and set things right. Stomachs tight with hunger and nursed along with only enough food and water to get by yet longing for a feast; not only for themselves but for all of God’s people.

Are there still prophets tucked away in the cave which we long to hear from?

I like to think that there is one wiry prophet who is hanging on to God’s vision for a more integrated body/spirit connection. Our tradition seems better at teaching a “body negative” or at best a “body as irrelevant” approach to spiritual life. This body prayer prophet has not yet had her day in the sun — but I hope that soon she will. I don’t know what it looks like exactly but if I squint my eyes I can see the hazy outlines of a worship experience that is one part yoga studio, one part liturgy. If you find one, please sign me up.

Some back story. I grew up in a church. I was loved by a kind community who taught kids how to sing, who took us to the border and said lets love our neighbors and build some houses. And storytellers who taught me the beauty and complexity of scripture. There was also a lot of talk of prayer– but not much talk about how prayer and bodies go together.

As I got older I longed for a lesson in how to pray with my body. I felt the tension in my shoulders of being hunched over books in high school and college, as well as the catch in my breath deep inside after a day of listening to stories in my first job at a domestic violence program.

I needed to move and find God in the movement.

So, like many in our community, I was drawn to yoga. Some coworkers taught me how to do sun salutations and I was hooked. The relationship between the breath and the movement felt so intuitive and comforting. I was never a hardcore yogi able to contort myself into super tricky headstands or anything. But a steady stream of classes and books kept me inching along in my practice.

And during the post college years, when I was mad at church for being so lame, God met me on the yoga mat. During lonely times on the mountain in Peace Corps, and the rigors of grad school I came to trust God in the simple flow of breath in and out and of conscious movement.

So I hold onto the desire of a prophetess, deep in God’s cave, who can teach me and others yearning for this kind of integrated practice.

I wonder what prophets you think our world might need to hear from? What prophets might be buried deep in the cave of your own heart?

Join us this Sunday for a fresh cappuccino and good conversation.

Peace to you,


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