If you see a guy with long hair and flowing robes, running by your home, pulling along a panting white middle aged lady, that would be Jesus and me. Just so ya know.
The reason is quite simple. In my very best Jackie Gleason voice: “I got a BIIIGGGGGG MOUUUUTHHHHH!”
You heard me. I said it the other day. I said that I was experiencing one of those high moments in my spiritual life. I figured Jesus was too busy to hear that, having to finish off marking the Oscar balloting and all, but no, he heard me. He tends to take me at my word.
So, it seems I’ve started off the Lenten season a bit earlier than I expected to. You see, I think of Lent as a time of great interior reflection. I not only try to enter into my Lord’s passion but I try to figure out what is wrong with me, where I am wanting and in need of repair and improvement. Like I said, I expected to start that process in a couple more days, but I guess Jesus is no follower of calendars. We started Saturday.
Now that you are thoroughly panting to know what I’m talking about, I’ll set the stage. I have returned to THAT forum, you know the one I mean. The one that sucks your soul dry and spits you out bruised and wondering if you even know your name anymore. Black becomes white, and so forth there. It’s a big black hole of anger and lousy theology.
The reasons were simple. I got bored one day. I used to be a big user of MIRC. For those of you who are unaware, that was the original “talk” medium on the internet. You downloaded a program, hooked into a server and ended up choosing from hundreds of “rooms.” Once in there, you could chat in real time with any number of people at once. There was public conversation and private. I really loved it, and frankly, met a ton of people in real life. The Contrarian and I even used it before we met in real life.
Anyway, I missed the immediacy of chat. The forum can approach that sometimes if you are both on at the same time. You can carry on a delayed conversation of sorts. I have met a number of really fine people there, despite the fact that most of it is frequented by reactionary numb skulls.
Also, I pick up some interesting readers for my blog. One guy there carries my web address and visits from time to time. I see that a fair number of others do as well. I’ve met a few Episcopalians too.
Anyway, a couple of threads had devolved as we say, into rather nasty remarks going each way. I was having a hard time being civil to people calling me a heretic for being a non-Roman Catholic, and to protesting that we Protestants had no right using creeds and such that they claimed were the exclusive property of their Church. Being told that you aren’t smart enough or haven’t studied enough to yet realize that there is only ONE church and it is theirs gets a bit old after a while.
I finally got a rather terse post from someone I respected. He pointed out that I had been hailed from the mud, and apparently decided to join in the dirty mess myself. I was in effect no better than they, though he conceded I was articulate, and had something valuable to say. He questioned my approach.
Well, I was crestfallen in a word. The wingnuttery types I just get angry with and dispute, but someone I respected? Talking to me this way? Well, it gave me pause. I began to think and the more I did, the more I realized that I couldn’t avoid the fact that he was right. I had succumbed to the swamp and joined. I was not representing Christendom any better than my attackers.
Yesterday, I went to Church. I recall as I do most every Sunday that Jesus seems so very close to me there. I frankly have not felt that way very often in any other church. Our Bishop was visiting and that always is a treat. He’s both articulate and funny. He gives a great sermon. We have a newly installed deacon, we had a great bible class, I was feeling pretty darn joyous.
I was thanking Jesus for leading me to this place, among so many new deeply spiritual people. And then I remembered, and I whispered, “Jesus, heal me from my arrogance and ego. Teach me to preach the truth as I know it with humility and kindness. I’m having a lot of trouble seeing your face in some that I meet.”
I returned home, and some time later, I got on the computer and went to see what was being said today. The person who had so correctly accused me, had left a message. He expressed sorrow at his words and said some very nice things. He encouraged me and gave me a couple of tips to make my posts less threatening in their sounding to those who feared my message.
I thanked him profusely, glad that our forum relationship seemed repaired. I answered a few posts directed at me in this new way he suggested. He happened to be around, and quoted part of one of my posts to me. “You see, the Holy Spirit, is already at work. Good job!”
And indeed, I believe that is true. I don’t have to play in the same mud pit. The fact is that some people will continue to overstate their church’s views no matter what you say. They will state as fact that we Protestants are all just pretenders, unaware that we offend God by our prayers and actions in our churches. I apologized to one woman, and made my points in a gentler way. She replied quite pleasantly. She ended by saying: “I hope your journey at the TEC is but temporary. I feel sure that the Holy Spirit will enlighten you soon and you will see that there can be but one true and holy church, and that you will return to it. “
No doubt this women doesn’t have a clue how rude and unseemly her remarks are. Nor how prideful. Imagine telling billions of souls that they haven’t the knowledge which you have, and thus are deluded? But she means well, I suspect she really does.
And that is enough. Enough for me to smile gently, and back away. Thanking her for her thoughts as I chuckle to myself. It’s one step. And that is enough for God I warrant. One step, and then hopefully another. If I stumble, well, I know I have someone to catch me. And I’ll keep trying until this more humble me becomes me, God willing.
If this is any indication. Lent will be a busy time for me this year. Blessings to you on your journey to the cross this year.
*** picture credit to http://www.oneyearbibleblog.com