I was answering a comment on an older post yesterday, when I thought of a statement I attribute to Deepak Chopra. I found the book, but could not find the statement. I’ll leave the attribution there, since I can’t think of anywhere else I found it in. Get a copy of How to Know God: The Soul’s Journey into the Mystery of Mysteries, (2000) even if it’s not the right one. It’s a great book and will expand your thinking.
Anyway, that lead me to pull a notebook out which I hadn’t looked at for a long time. It was made during a period I call my “wandering time.” It recorded many prayers and poems and quotations as well as Chakra drawings, gospels of Thomas and Mary Magdalen, and various positive statements about life, me, and so forth.
This wandering time was a time when I moved away from traditional Christianity and explored much more broadly into the spiritual realm. I looked at Buddhism, Hinduism, Native American practices, as well as what is typically called “New Age” but is probably more properly denoted as “New Thought.” That is a poor label as well, since some of that goes back to Plotinus in the 2nd century or so.
It is where I learned really about God’s expansive love and compassion. It is where I left behind the Christian model of retribution, sin, and blood atonement in the traditional sense. It is really when I left Catholicism I suppose. Chopra’s book was perhaps the beginning of that journey, which traveled though,as I say,many stages and writings, from “A Course in Miracles” to the Bhagavad Gita, to Thich Nhat Hanh, and dozens of others.
With each one, my concept of God grew, and with it my faith. Ultimately it led me back to Christianity, with the tools to, I hope, see the bible in a better and more truthful light. I have been able to find those Christian writers whom I did not know, or know well enough, to understand their message of an expansive, loving, gifting God.
In some sense, I now realize that it was not the outward issues of gay rights, women’s ordination, contraception, and all of that that led to my separation with the Roman church, but rather, it was something a good deal more deep. It was fundamentally how I visioned God, Jesus and his mission. And I realized that my model does not fit the “official” dogma of the Roman Catholic church very well.
I thank publicly writers like Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan for helping me to see the real issue. It is in their books that I have come to this realization. Not that they have upended my beliefs, but they have in a sense validated them in a resounding and emphatic way. And but for the Episcopal Church, at least in it’s manifestation in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, I might not have realized it. Here I was encouraged to think out loud what I thought inside, without fear. It still shocks me sometimes to think of it as we sit on Sunday, discussing the issues, all of us near middle age to elderly, calmly talking about this wondrous Jesus and his mission of inclusion, justice, and love.
So I thought, over the next few weeks, a couple of times a week or so, I might share with you some of what I learned along the way. My hope is that something here or there, you may find interesting, or of use to you. Something may resonate with you, something may be ahhaaaaa!, or perhaps you may discover that you’re not the only one who thought that! If I anger anyone, it is not my intention. But I do believe that there is no wrong in asking the question, and pondering alternative ways of looking at things. God knows it is done with love and intent to grow in faith, and that I am sure is enough.
I had this poem in my “book” but have no author alas. If anyone knows who wrote it, please tell me, and I’ll attach the proper authorship. It has no title either as far as I know:
The man whispered, “God, speak to me.”
And a meadowlark sang.
But the man did not hear.
So the man yelled, “God, speak to me!”
And, the thunder rolled across the sky.
But, the man did not listen.
The man looked around and said,
“God let me see you!”
And a star shined brightly.
But, the man did not notice.
And the man shouted,
“God show me a miracle!”
And, a life was born.
But the man did not know.
So, the man cried in despair,
“Touch me God, and let me know
you are here!”
Whereupon God reached down and touched the man.
But, the man brushed the butterfly away,and walked on.