The religious leaders were giving Jesus a hard time one day as he tried to talk about what the Kingdom of God was like. They wanted details: time, date, description and email address. In the Gospel of Luke (17:20ff), as they pummel Jesus for answers of this sort, Jesus responds: The Kingdom is among you. The Kingdom is in your midst. The Kingdom is within you.
I like to think of “the Kingdom” as a metaphor for that safest place that one knows, that sheltering place that holds us in our most terrifying moments, that go to place when all else troubles us. Jesus said that it could be found in community, even inside of us.
I truly believe that. I have come to see through many experiences of grief, obstruction, frustration, opposition and challenge, that the place to go to for help is always within myself and within my community.
Going within takes some little bit of daring. To choose a quiet spot and a space of time when I can simply stop–all the thinking, all the worrying, all the mindless activity, and be in and with myself–is to enter the Kingdom. With each new and mindful breath, I have learned that I can enter the Kingdom. With every observation of where I am, who I am, when I am, and why I am, I can enter the Kingdom. Each of these moments become for me, Sheltering Walls.
Going to community, for me, is more challenging, but it has not failed me. When I can bring to my Beloved Community my hurts, fears, disappointments, angers, heartbreaks, joys, gratitudes and blessings, I am instantly surrounded and filled with a throng of the heavenly hosts praising the most high. Community allows and encourages me. Community is around and within me. That’s where the Kingdom is. That’s where the Sheltering Walls are.
Those religious leaders really didn’t want to know where the Kingdom of God was. They wanted to know if anyone was threatening their control over things. He was. And he knew that the Kingdom that they thought they could control was already lost to them–and found within every person, and within the Beloved Community.