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)
I often think about the song “what a difference a day makes.” The song is not talking about all of life but it is so true. One day everything can be fine and in 24 hours your life can be totally different. That happened to me at the beginning of 2017 when my job was done away with. The problem for me was it wasn’t a job but a ministry. I lost my identity.
A lot worse things have happened to others. Loss of a loved one among many things. When this kind of thing happens we are blindsided and have to restructure our thinking. I am beginning to realize how long that takes. I know that at some point the pain of this will lessen. It already has some.
There are people who seem so strong that nothing can rock their world. I am not so sure that they aren’t vulnerable as well. It is possible that nothing has ever happened to reach their core. There are some people that I am sure have strength that doesn’t come from themselves. People like Gandhi and Mother Theresa. They are what Quakers call “centered.” This is kind of strength that we all need. This comes from seeking something more than ourselves. My only experiences with this kind of centering have been fleeting. I know that the way to connect in that way with God (or whoever works for you) is to spend time with him. In the kind of rushing world that we live in it is so easy to do other things. It requires the kind of life change that (for me) started this thinking.
Now, again, I am focusing on the things that matter. I have no idea what the future will bring but my only way forward is with God. I have to reach out and seek the connection that never fails.
Today we put up a Christmas tree. Like the Scrooge story I started thinking about Christmases past. Most of my memories are good but not all. There were two Christmases when my husband was in Viet Nam. There was one Christmas when I was in the hospital and not home with my children. The interesting thing is that I remember the happy years more than the sad ones. Our memories are selective. It’s funny how one person can remember an event clearly and someone else who has the same memory remembers it so differently. It has made me think about how our brains pick and choose which things to make easily accessible and which things are hidden away. We know that the memory is there somewhere. Why can’t we access it? My daughter says that our RAM memory is full. She may have a point. If only I could remember everything that I have learned.
I am grateful for the memories that I have and glad that some of the bad memories are less clear. I wonder if this is our way of living with the bad things. People who have PTSD can’t shake those bad memories and relive them over and over. That is living in a nightmare. I know that many people have bad memories that are so traumatic that they are vivid and color their days. That kind of memory produces pain that most of us can’t imagine.
I think that mental pain can be so much worse than physical. The torture that our own minds can produce is far worse than what someone else can do to us. That is why so many more suicides are committed by those in mental pain. There is no way to get away from it. Our thoughts rule out lives so we have to create ways to escape from that pain. The treatment of mental pain is so much better than it has been in the past. Now if we can just remove the stigma that accompanies it.
Christ cast out demons. I am sure that they were the same kind of demons that afflict us today. His healing is still there for us. We just need to be able to accept it.
If we are blessed with a good family when we are young we don’t worry much. As we reach our teens we encounter social issues and worry about how we seem to others. For some teens this can encompass their whole being. Social media has made this worse.
If we are blessed enough to find a partner and start a family our worries grow…..will there be enough money?….Will the job work out….etc. Then we have children and the worry increases exponentially. As we age our children grow up, find partners and have children of their own and then we have a larger group to hold close to our hearts. I guess the law of large numbers (out of my area) means that the more people involved the more potential for problems.
One of my children lives in the same town. One live 3 hours away and one is an 18 hr drive. We talk frequently and I am glad they also talk to each other often. No matter how old we get our children are still our children and when something crops up for them they call mom. I am glad they can do this. I see it as my place in life to be there for them.
This allows me to utilize my skills at worrying. My grandmother used to tell me to sit in a chair and worry as hard as I could….then get up and see if anything had changed. She was so right. Worry doesn’t help anyone but I am so good at it.
Worry can turn into anxiety as we magnify the problems and think of all the things that can go wrong. I am good at crossing many bridges before they are anywhere in sight. My husband says do what you can and then stop thinking about it. He is right. It is time to let this go. Jesus tells us:
Matthew 6:27-29New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.