wait for the path

where do I goDo you ever have a day where you struggle to know where you belong? I have been at sea for over a year. I know that there is something somewhere that will fulfill this need I have to use the skills that God has given me over the years. I am working toward mediating for court cases but I don’t know if this is where I belong. The problem is that I don’t seem to belong anywhere.

It is a terrible thing to spend a lifetime acquiring skills that can be used to make peoples lives better and be unable to use them. In the last few weeks I have had some situations arise where I know that my ability to navigate the medical system is needed by so many people but I can’t find the place where I can use that. It feels so frustrating. Struggling through the maze of medicine today is so hard on patients. It is changing so fast and getting more and more complex. I wish I could see the direction that I could go to help and see clearly the path ahead. I want to know that this is what God is calling me to do or if I should just move in another direction.

Waiting-Is-Painful-CY12352I hate being in limbo! Again I am suffering from waiting. I have no patience. There may be a lesson that I need to learn before God opens the path in front of me. It has happened before and I have been the in wilderness before. I waited and the answer landed in my lap. I just need to listen for God and wait.

Ethical aging

possible futureAging brings some interesting dilemmas. Ones we don’t face until we are older. A friend of mine who is older than me has severe back pain. Today he was told that surgery for his problem is out because of his age. He is pretty healthy otherwise. I can’t imagine being told that I am too old to get help for constant pain. Something more than medicine or pain management. I’m sorry but THIS SUCKS! Medicine is reaching the point where implementing decisions based on age become the norm. If you haven’t read or seen the film ….this begins to sound like “Soylent Green.” At a certain age we will just be shuffled off to become food for others.

I do understand that resources will become more and more scarce and that there will be those who decide that the young must be saved but who gets to decide? Should we kill off  an Einstein or Grandma Moses? Is experience and wisdom no longer needed?

who decidesThe ethical decisions that we already have to make are way beyond the wisdom of Solomon. How will we begin to face the ones that will come in the future? How will we decide to not give birth to a child who will be at risk for Alzheimer’s? What will the ability to choose the sex, hair color and maybe even intelligence do to God’s creation. Are we taking over or will this make a better world?

I know that I have no idea and in some ways am glad that I don’t have to face that future.

man-creates-machine

A miracle?

I recently ran across this quote: “I don’t believe in miracles because it’s been a long time since we’ve had any.” Joseph Heller

I disagree totally with that statement. I think their are miracles all the time we just don’t have the eyes to see them. We live in such a scientific world that there always seems to be an explanation for what could be called a miracle. Miracles are in the eye of the beholder. As a nurse I have seen patients with results that no doctor understood. I have heard some say “it was just a miracle.”

miracles

My favorite writer Madeleine L’Engle says that “a coincidence is a miracle in which God prefers to remain anonymous.” Someone recently said that Moses crossing the Red Sea was not a miracle but a tidal withdrawal followed by a surge. Again a scientific explanation. My question to them was why were the Israelites at that exact spot at that exact time.

There are so many things that happen each day that defy explanation. I choose to see them as miracles. And yes, they are still happening today.

Can you question?

what is god likeSometimes I wonder…. have we created God in our own image instead of the other way around. There are so many interpretations of God. Every group seems to have its own god. As a teen I visited a church with a friend and was upset by the wrathful image of God in that place. God was scary. Sin was paramount and love was not mentioned. I felt as if God was waiting for me to transgress so that I could be punished. This was certainly Dante’s kind of God with his various parts of hell.

Was this what they found in the same Bible that I was reading? I guess I spent more time in the New Testament. The various religious texts are there for all of us to read no matter our faith. However, I have discovered that interpretation is the key. Each of us can come up with an entirely different meaning for the same reading.

I have read parts of the Book of Mormon and the Koran and came to the same conclusion. The person reading will see it through their eyes or the eyes of a teacher. Each person also interprets things based on their life experiences. No two of us are alike. It certainly explains how different sects can arise reading the same material.

I have noticed that Buddha and Jesus seldom made things easy for us. Nor did the readings of Hinduism. True mystics seldom speak clear messages but want us to use our minds and our hearts to discern meaning. Jews use exploration of texts placed against thoughts through the ages to interpret scripture. This is sometimes called or related to Midrash. They are unafraid to question and debate over meaning. (see below for definition)

questionDo you take the word of scholars/teachers about meaning or do you absorb ideas and be willing to question? Questioning is not doubt. It is expanding your belief.

This makes it all the more difficult to know who or what to follow and is not for everyone. Questioning can be scary and rock our belief system. It can make you doubt your belief but can move you to a deeper faith. It is not for the faint of heart but it can be rewarding. When I ask questions I grow and end up with a stronger connection to my faith.

I suspect that I mostly see readings through the eyes of love. Living with compassion and love toward others is my benchmark. That doesn’t mean that I can do it all the time but that is my goal.

 

(Midrash is an interpretive act, seeking the answers to religious questions (both practical and theological) by plumbing the meaning of the words of the Torah. (In the Bible, the root d-r-sh is used to mean inquiring into any matter, including occasionally to seek out God’s word.) Midrash responds to contemporary problems and crafts new stories, making connections between new Jewish realities and the unchanging biblical text.)

Infinite intimate God

moses chI have been pondering images of God. How do we see God? If asked I am sure many people would see Charlton Heston (too old for most of you) coming down the mountain with the ten commandments. Some might say the softer image of Jesus in the garden. Our image as children usually changes as we become adults.

There have been interesting books written about this in recent times. In the past I read Models of God by Sallie McFague a theologian who was at Vanderbilt University. She offers some different images than what we normally think about: God as friend; God as lover; God as mother. She says that if we can’t move away from the masculine patriarchal God as our ONLY image that we will never have peace in the world.

Today I read some thoughts from Richard Rohr, A Franciscan  who writes many thought provoking meditations. He wanted us also to think of God as mother. He quoted Marcus Borg, a controversial theologian who died just recently.

“Marcus Borg points out many other good reasons to identify and honor the female (as well as non-gendered) images of God throughout the Bible:

  • Male images for God are often associated with power, authority, and judgment. When used exclusively, they most often create an image of a punitive God. God must be appeased or else.
  • Male images for God most often go with patriarchy—with male primacy and domination in society and the family.
  • Male images of God most often go with domination over nature. Nature is often imaged as female (“mother earth”) and domination over women extends to a rapacious use of nature.

Female images of God suggest something different. God is the one who gave birth to us and all that is. God wills our well-being, as a mother wills the well-being of the children of her womb. God is attached to us with a love that is tender and that will not let us go. And like a mother who sees the children of her womb threatened and oppressed, God can become fierce.”

infinite-GodI think Borg has some thought provoking ideas about embracing more than one image of God. We have to expand our thinking and stop putting God in the “masculine” box. God is so much more than that. God is much more than we can ever understand

Are we dulled into not caring?

dulledWhat is the world coming to? It seems that violence has become the norm. We don’t go very long before another atrocity is being reported. Some seem like random acts such as the shooting in Las Vegas and some are planned and executed like the recent deaths in New York by an extremist.

It is appalling to me that these things don’t shock me any more. What a horrible thing to say! Violence is such a part of the world that we live in that we accept it. We are bothered at the moment and then just move on with our lives.

We have seen so much that we are inured to anything. I don’t want to be this way. I don’t want any of us to be this way. When violence happens we should be shocked to our core. Outrage with those who committed the violence should shout itself from us.

How did this happen? How did we get to this place? The answer is so complex that it almost can’t be resolved. I do think that all the media we have today has been part of it. Violence on TV, violence in the news….these go on every day. Some children have no concept that if you shoot someone they will actually die. They expect that they will show up alive and well in the next TV program. There is a sense of unreality about it.

I know that throughout history much violence has been connected to religion. Feelings are so attached to beliefs. Many people can’t accept anyone not agreeing with what they believe. There is the idea that I must be right…therefore you can’t be. Religious extremism is totally intolerant of any other opinion.

gandhi

Why can’t we have a world where others opinions are simply theirs and we can have ours? Why can’t we identify and heal those who are so estranged from society that they turn to violence?

I don’t have any answers. I know that I abhor violence in any form. Life is difficult enough without it.

What is right?

moralThere are so many ethical issues that we have today. Some of them almost seem insoluble. Advancements in gene studies have given us major things to wrestle with. Where do we draw the line.

When I was working in Neonatal Intensive Care ( many moons ago) there already was the issue of which babies should be saved and which ones to let go. King Solomon wouldn’t know what to do. Now it is even worse. We do invitro  fertilization and have eggs left over. Scientists want to use eggs that will be discarded tto get stem cells which can be used to help many diseases. Are they “potential” babies or not?

Medicine has challenged many ethical and moral ideas over the centuries. We can do so many things that were not done before. We are living a lot longer and there is a question about prolonging life beyond what is reasonable and moral. Are we using up resources that could better be used for others?

pathThe Bible does help us with its basic moral ground but these things were not issues when the Bible was written. We have to learn to ask questions and spend time understanding the answers in order to make judgments.  Even then there may not be any clear path. Sometimes there are two good choices….sometimes two bad. Who is to decide? It seems that it is up to each of us to understand and make a decision based on our own beliefs. This means that there will be differing opinions and we will have to learn to accept that others may not agree with us. It is important for us to view their decision with tolerance even if they can’t see ours.

God, as always, will be present and knows that we will try to make the best decisions with prayer and compassion.