There are many kinds of Christians. We are divided into so many denominations that I don’t think I could come close to naming them all. Even amongst denominations there is dissension. Most religions have people who see their faith in different ways. As a Christian it is interesting to me how we can spend as much time being upset about other Christians than we are about other faiths. We are busy telling others what they are doing wrong.
We know from history that there have been many wars fought over religion. It is sad that our perception of God can divide us so. Most faiths have extremists. It is certainly true of Christianity and it is obvious to us in Islam. Interestingly enough some of the ideas of Muslim and Christian extremists and the same. I don’t know that I have ever met a Buddhist extremist but I guess it is possible. How much damage is done in the name of religion.
God must weep over our ignorance and obstinance. We want to force our ideas on others. After all, what we believe has to be right! Why can’t we accept that we don’t all think alike or believe the same things?
(side note: I have just discovered that spell check doesn’t know the words amongst and obstinance)
We will never have peace in the world as long as we want everyone to think that same. We are not robots. God created us to be individuals.
The fast paced world that we inhabit is hard to navigate. There are so many things that we no longer do. Just sitting on a porch in the evening and rocking back and forth is so calming. Time to rest, greet neighbors and feel the breeze. No sounds except crickets and the wind in the trees. Heaven.
Instead we enclose ourselves in our homes avoiding silence and simple thoughts with electronic noise. Continuing to clutter our already overloaded minds so simple thought is overwritten. I wonder if this era in time will be known as the over-stressed era?
So many of us suffer from the results of this lifestyle. We have irritable bowel, high blood pressure, acid reflux, depression, anxiety and a host of auto-immune disorders. We were not created to live this way. The rise in emotional and mental disorders in frightening. Our inability to grasp why this is happening and acceptance of our mental stress is appalling. Mental disability still has its stigma. If we are going to survive without either killing each other, committing suicide or staying forever in the darkest of places something has to change. We are in the midst of an epidemic.
Each of us must start by finding that quiet space where peace can be found. A sacred space. Whether it is found in meditation, prayer, nature or wherever our safety lies we have to make a beginning. Things can be changed one person at a time, one day at a time, one life at a time.
For me the safe space is prayer and meditation. My peace comes from the Lord. But if I turn away from him there is no peace. It is up to each of us. Seek sacred space.
Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;
Advent is my favorite church season. Waiting for a birth is so full of promise. Advent arrives in the darkest part of the year. Light is waning. Many places are cold. Darkness rules and we are waiting…..waiting for light. We hope, we yearn for light to break through. Many times we are wallowing in the darkness of our own soul. We cannot see any light at all. We feel the dark close in around us and there seems to be no hope. Seeking light we want to escape our own minds but find no escape for the mind is strong and holds us in its sway.
We have to reach outside of ourselves, away from the thoughts that hold us in thrall. Light is dawning without and will banish the thoughts. Light will draw us out and open the doors of the mind and set us free. Wait, wait. The light comes.
We listen to the promises from Isaiah 59:9- 60:1
we wait for light, and lo! there is darkness; and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
Yet, for now, we are still in the darkness. But the promise is there. Wait, wait for the light.
When I think over the years of my life the one thing I know that I could never do without is my faith. Not just faith in God but faith in many things. I have faith that there is love in the world, faith that there will be seasons and that the sun will rise. Faith in things that happen regularly and are provable don’t seem to lie in the area of faith but to me they do. Science says that we can believe things that can be proved. A lab test that comes out each time is a scientific proof. Faith is not scientific.
Part of our problem with the word faith is we see it as something that we “have.” A noun. Faith is not a noun. It is action, it is a verb. Faith is also not a feeling. Feelings come and go….they are transient. Feelings are not an accurate judge of faith. Instead faith is a choice. It is something that I must do. Each day when I wake I have to choose to believe in something. If that something is God it is my choice. I may waiver from time to time and question my belief but I can continue to chose to believe.
I will never be able to prove that God exists just as I can’t prove that love exists. I don’t have to. Belief is the choice that I make and it is not necessary for me to justify it. It is what has supported me through my life. Making a choice of belief each day allows me to absorb the winds of change that pummel my world. It gives me a safe shelter.
I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without this. What is there to hold on to when there is no safety anywhere? God did not promise that we would be free of trouble….only that He/She would be with us. I give heartfelt thanks that God has been in my life. “Amid all the changes and chance of this life I rest in your eternal changelessness.” ( from “The Episcopal Book of Common Prayer: Compline)
Every day is different. There is no being prepared for what comes next. I am sad. Sad for two members of my family whose life has been disrupted each in a different way. Concern for them and wishes for some peace and foremost in my mind. It causes my worry to raise its head. Life definitely changes from day to day and we have to find ways of coping. The younger we are the less coping skills we have.
Things that happen to us teach us and we learn the skills we need. Some people are lucky enough to not have things go wrong in their lives. However, this means that they develop little ability to handle things when the fall apart.
The only people who can really understand what someone else is going through is a person who has had a similar experience. When people don’t understand they can be judgmental. For so long there has been a stigma for those who struggle with any sort of mental issue. Sometimes I would love to make them have the same problems so that they will get it. For many years those with AIDS struggled with abuse and being ostracized. It is still happening with mental issues. I is amazing how hatred can be born.
I think that people often wonder why those who struggle just can’t pull up their socks and fix it themselves. It is just not that easy. Everything can’t be fixed. That is a hard lesson to learn. You can’t judge others. You don’t know where they have been.
Yesterday I wrote about long term commitment and the benefits of it. When I think about it I left out something important. It is the ability to be yourself. No mask, no costume. nothing to hide the real you.
Most of my life I have been adaptable. It is something I learned early on from my father. He felt strongly that we should do our best to not make people uncomfortable. …..especially in social situations. This required not making anyone feel out of place by what they were wearing, how they spoke etc. I was a genius at adjusting language and conversation to fit my audience. I sought out people who seemed on the outside and tried to help them feel included. This is not a bad thing and it certainly is a kind thing.
This kind of thinking also led me into being the peacemaker. I do’t like conflict or discord at all. It can be very hard to always try to keep the peace. I’ve realized that this made me very tired. It is a lot less enervating to be yourself.
Somewhere along the way I forgot who I was. I was always wearing a mask, always being part of the group. I never voiced my own opinions if they were contrary. I wanted everything to go smoothly. … everyone to be happy. When my children were growing I smoothed most arguments. I was still playing a role.
Managing children at home led to more peacemaking and avoiding conflict. As our marriage grew I began removing the masks and the other personas and was free to be me. Total acceptance of who you are frees you. Unconditional love allows you to be totally open. It’s not that we were not ourselves in the beginning but now there are no closets unopened. Time has opened them all.
Someone talked with me recently about what it is like to have been married 55 years. This made me think about the differences in relationships today. Marriage has become a maybe situation. I think some people are marrying for the wedding. It is amazing what people will spend.
Some people are choosing not to marry and just live together. There seems to no longer be a moral issue in this decision. I wish I would live long enough to see how many relationships last as long as 55 years. When someone asked me that question I started to think about what we gain from being married so long. I wish there were a word different than “love” to express what happens in a long term marriage. Knowing that the Greeks divided love into 6 categories I looked it up and found it in YES Magazine.
- Eros – sexual love
- Philia – friendship
- Ludus – playful love
- agape – love of all mankind (God’s love)
- Philautia – self love (divided into two kinds; healthy and unhealthy}
- Pragma –Another Greek love was the mature love known as pragma. This was the deep understanding that developed between long-married couples. Pragma was about making compromises to help the relationship work over time, and showing patience and tolerance.The psychoanalyst Erich Fromm said that we expend too much energy on “falling in love” and need to learn more how to “stand in love.” Pragma is precisely about standing in love—making an effort to give love rather than just receive it. With about a third of first marriages in the U.S. ending through divorce or separation in the first 10 years, the Greeks would surely think we should bring a serious dose of pragma into our relationships.
That was so perfectly put that I couldn’t have done any better. The only thing left out is the rewards of this kind of love and it is that I have ALL of those loves at one time. All of these have been enhanced over the years by the understanding and commitment given to me. We have been through good times and bad, anger and acceptance, joy and sorrow and so much more both bad and good. Yet we have stood the test of time. Our love is deep beyond expressing and even death will not change it.