I have decided that I am a somewhat unorthodox Christian. I have difficulty following the rules. I am enamored of those who stepped outside of the norm: Matthew Fox, Martin Luther, Meister Eckhart, Francis of Assisi. Hildegard of Bingen, Jesus and many others. I also love the stories/parables of Anthony DeMello and the plain speaking of Marcus Borg. I grow reading them.
I grew up in an eclectic family. My grandparents were Methodist, my parents Presbyterian and my Aunt and Uncle Lutheran. I guess I decided early on that no denomination had all the answers. I still feel that way. Jesus did not follow rules but loved people. He broke the Sabbath rules and many others.
As the “church” grew throughout history it took the message of Jesus and added rules/doctrines to try and be sure that we all follow the norm…. that we are all in sync. This is not wrong in and of itself as we do struggle with the meaning of the writings in the Bible and the words of Jesus. We must listen to the teachings of others and weigh them against our own experience. We also need the community of other Christians. We learn and are supported by the stories of others. I hope that I find a middle ground in all of this.
This doesn’t mean that we can’t find our own way. It’s freedom within form. I don’t ask others to follow my path. Each of us must find our own way and I pray that God leads me in mine. May he also be with you in yours.
There is some new information from several studies that is linking high intelligence with mental health issues. It seems that being extra smart sets you up for problems. One study said that the reason highly intelligent people have anxiety is because they can imagine more scenarios….see more bad outcomes….than the average person.
I don’t know if this is good news or bad. If you saw the movie “A Beautiful Mind” it was clear that his genius and his mental issues were connected. A recent blog http://eclipsedwords.com/2018/06/23/inspiration-from-the-mental-health-of-3-famous-leaders/ —talked about three famous people with mental health issues.
The blog talked about the depression experienced by Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt who was potentially bipolar, and Martin Luther King, Jr. who also had depression and attempted suicide as a child. Clearly three very extremely intelligent people.
With tongue-in-cheek I wondered if we are either not very smart and don’t suffer with mental illness or we are extra smart and suffer. Some choice! I guess this is one of life’s little jokes.
I guess we will have to see how this research turns out. Are we blessed or cursed? Who knows?
On Friday evening my grandson graduated from high school. He has been successful in school and is a wonderful boy. He works hard and puts himself into the things he does. Next fall he will be going to college and like most 18 year-olds he has no idea what he wants to do with his life. It worries him.
Some people are blessed by finding a passion early in life and driving forward to fulfill that dream. Most young people are not that lucky. The world is a big place and there are so many things that we can do. So many choices. In the past people were just looking for a job to feed their family and were grateful for anything. It is just as hard to get a job but many kids feel that they are a failure if they don’t do something that seems wonderful or exciting.
Most of us spend our lives just doing a job. In today’s world it is not unusual for someone to switch fields over their lifetime. People used to work for one company for most of their lives. Today they may work for many companies. Things are not the way they used to be and with technology moving so fast what you start out to do may change quickly and you may have to learn new things. Today we have to learn to be more flexible and that makes life stressful and more challenging.
Don’t be afraid that you don’t know what you want to do. Your choice could change over night. The job itself could change over night. Don’t be afraid. You have a lifetime.
It is so hard to live without answers. I want to know how things will work out with my friend’s husband. I want to know how my granddaughter’s life will go with a new baby. I want to know how I will feel tomorrow. I want to know if my IBS will kick me. This is just a small portion of what I want to know.
We don’t do well with uncertainty. We want to have answers so that we can plan. We want to brace ourselves if the outcome is bad. We want to run and hide if we think we can’ cope. We want to know!
It is so hard not to be able to make plans even if they don’t come off. Somehow planning makes us feel better but life with anxiety doesn’t let you make many plans. Maybe I have to stay home tomorrow and just cope or maybe I can meet friends for lunch. But each of us has reasons to explore what life has in store for us. Giving up is not an option. There are good things…things that we can be thankful for. If we wake up in the morning it is time to thank God and get up. It is hard to learn to live in the moment but we need to keep trying.
Thank God and get up.
“You did the best you could” words that we say or think often. Sometimes we struggle to keep going. Sometimes we don’t know what to do. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed and completely lost. So we fall back on doing the best we can. Later we question ourselves. Was it enough? Did we really do our best?
Maybe things didn’t turn out the way we thought they should. Maybe we end up feeling guilty. Maybe we question ourselves. We think we didn’t try hard enough, have enough expertise, plan well enough. We just wanted to take care of everything.
The truth is that most of the time we do the best that we can with the information we have at the moment. Later more information is forthcoming and it seems we could have done something else and we begin the decent into questioning, ruminating and obsessing.
This is the trap we fall into. Life is not perfect. Decisions that we make can not always be perfect but we expect it of ourselves. We have to adjust our expectations of ourselves. Expectations can kills us. We see failure where there is none. We push ourselves too hard. Again, life is not perfect. Things may not be okay at the moment but we can go on. We can tale each day as it comes. We can trust that we tried our best and that is all we can do.
Today there was more information about the plane crash yesterday. It seems that the crew were to fly the plane to Arizona where it was to be decommissioned. It was 60 years old and ready to be retired. How sad that after all those years and all those missions completed it had to fall out of the sky on its last trip and take the crew with it.
Life can be strange. So many poignant things happen. So much of it is called a coincidence. Someone misses a plane and the plane goes down and they don ‘t die. You see a car accident right in front of you and your car is spared. Sometimes when these things happen people have survivors guilt. It is easy to feel bad that someone died in your place. There are no answers to why these things happen. I wish that our questions could be answered and we could see the logic but that doesn’t happen.
This is the thing that turns many people away from any kind of faith. How can we explain why bad things happen. If God is so good and caring why do children die of cancer? Why does it seem that the best people die and the evil ones are still around. Why do some people suffer with mental illness, anxiety and depression? Why are others so lucky as to be tragedy free?
How I wish I knew. How I wish I could come up with an explanation that would satisfy everyone but I can’t. I can only say that I believe there is good in the world. I believe that the good can prevail. I believe that understanding why is beyond the ability of my mind to conceive. I choose to accept a loving and caring God.
What do you believe?
After posting the blog yesterday I have been thinking about death. None of wants to die. It is the unknown and we don’t like the unknown. So far as I know no one (except Jesus–if you are Christian) has ever come back from the dead and no one has told us what is there. Most Christians believe in a heaven although I don’t know if anyone has ever defined it. Some religions think of the afterlife as becoming part of God/cosmos/whatever. Some believe that we are reincarnated and come back as other people. Some of my friends want to come back as one of my husband’s dogs—he spoils them terribly. The point is none of us really knows the answer.
I have seen things worse than death. Some medical problems are so awful that death would be preferable. I think that is obvious since some states allow euthanasia. I am not going to get into the moral issues with that. I just want us to realize that sometimes death is a friend. And really, even though I fear illness I am not sure that I fear death. After all either there is something or there is nothing.
As a nurse I have been with people when they died and I never saw anything except a peaceful death. It’s getting to that point that we fight against it and do our best to ignore and avoid it but when death comes most people are peaceful.
In our culture we try to push death away. We go to the funeral home and look at a body that has been preserved and people say “doesn’t sh/he look wonderful?” I am glad that many people opt for cremation and my best friend’s daughter asked for her ashes to be planted with a young tree. She wanted to be at the root of new life.
I know this has seemed like a morbid subject and I hope you can see beyond that. I am including one of my favorite poems by black poet and preacher James Weldon Johnson. If you have never read his poetry (and sermons in verse) you are missing out.
Go Down, Death
(A Funeral Sermon)
Weep not, weep not,
She is not dead;
She’s resting in the bosom of Jesus.
Heart-broken husband--weep no more;
Grief-stricken son--weep no more;
Left-lonesome daughter --weep no more;
She only just gone home.
Day before yesterday morning,
God was looking down from his great, high heaven,
Looking down on all his children,
And his eye fell on Sister Caroline,
Tossing on her bed of pain.
And God’s big heart was touched with pity,
With the everlasting pity.
And God sat back on his throne,
And he commanded that tall, bright angel standing at his right hand:
Call me Death!
And that tall, bright angel cried in a voice
That broke like a clap of thunder:
Call Death!--Call Death!
And the echo sounded down the streets of heaven
Till it reached away back to that shadowy place,
Where Death waits with his pale, white horses.
And Death heard the summons,
And he leaped on his fastest horse,
Pale as a sheet in the moonlight.
Up the golden street Death galloped,
And the hooves of his horses struck fire from the gold,
But they didn’t make no sound.
Up Death rode to the Great White Throne,
And waited for God’s command.
And God said: Go down, Death, go down,
Go down to Savannah, Georgia,
Down in Yamacraw,
And find Sister Caroline.
She’s borne the burden and heat of the day,
She’s labored long in my vineyard,
And she’s tired--
Go down, Death, and bring her to me.
And Death didn’t say a word,
But he loosed the reins on his pale, white horse,
And he clamped the spurs to his bloodless sides,
And out and down he rode,
Through heaven’s pearly gates,
Past suns and moons and stars;
on Death rode,
Leaving the lightning’s flash behind;
Straight down he came.
While we were watching round her bed,
She turned her eyes and looked away,
She saw what we couldn’t see;
She saw Old Death. She saw Old Death
Coming like a falling star.
But Death didn’t frighten Sister Caroline;
He looked to her like a welcome friend.
And she whispered to us: I’m going home,
And she smiled and closed her eyes.
And Death took her up like a baby,
And she lay in his icy arms,
But she didn’t feel no chill.
And death began to ride again--
Up beyond the evening star,
Into the glittering light of glory,
On to the Great White Throne.
And there he laid Sister Caroline
On the loving breast of Jesus.
And Jesus took his own hand and wiped away her tears,
And he smoothed the furrows from her face,
And the angels sang a little song,
And Jesus rocked her in his arms,
And kept a-saying: Take your rest,
Take your rest.
Weep not--weep not,
She is not dead;
She’s resting in the bosom of Jesus.
From God’s Trombones by James Weldon Johnson. Copyright © 1927 The Viking Press, Inc., renewed 1955 by Grace Nail Johnson.
I want this read at my funeral.