From time to time we are in some new group and we are asked, “Tell us something about yourself.” Most of us are wont to reply with terms like, wife, mother, attorney, Irish, American and so forth. But in truth, that is not who we are. I learned this from Deepak Chopra, a spiritual guru that has taught me much over the years.
The proper and only response for all is this: “I am a spiritual being, having a human experience.” That defines us perfectly.
We are all, as it were, on a unique journey, the trip of a lifetime literally, and no one is on the same exact trail as we are. Some may be utterly unaware, some only vaguely so, and some few are fully engaged. We travel forth in any case.
I have been interested in writing a piece on church for some weeks, and realized finally that I was likely to offend some folks and anger others if I did not preface it with some explanation. This is that explanation.
For I truly and utterly believe that there is no wrong way to make the journey and indeed no uniquely right way either. This takes me to a absolute truth for me, and that is that each of us is like a blank key, and our journey is a process of cutting that key to fit the lock that is ours alone in God. We are each of us so perfectly unique in our creative circumstances, the where and when and by whom of our birth, and then our thoroughly personal experiences, that it stands to reason that God fashions a perfect but unique fit just for us.
Thus our paths may be quite different. Our choice of faith tradition can be one of great importance in this, but for some, it may be of little consequence for much of their life. Prayer, ritual, church, all weave in and out of our journey, sometimes of utmost importance and value, and sometimes not. Every mystic has remarked of the dry periods or as it is often called, the “dark night of the soul.”
I have had periods of intense church, and yet found my circumstances change and have chosen to journey alone, focusing on Eastern practices and reading on my own. I have returned to church now and feel blessed to be there. Some read inspirational or serious exegetical or theological works, others wouldn’t dream of such stuff. Some soak up each Sunday’s service with great reverence, for others it is business as usual, and remarked on little.
I am convinced this is as it should be, and no one can or should tell anyone they are doing it right or wrong. We are where we need to be in each moment, and it is with the Spirit’s help that we move into new ways of worship and growth. God calls but sometimes we have mufflers on our ears and don’t hear at all, and then sometimes we faintly hear, and then sometimes the sound is deafening. We transcend from one place to another as we are directed internally, and no amount of outside interference changes things but to make us either guilty or resentful I suspect.
Faith is a deeply personal affair. We each come by it in our own way, in our own time, or not. And if not, no amount of “evidence” or cajoling will make much difference. When we are ready, then something, most anything, will be the tipping point, and we will move on the trail, one we are forced to cut our selves.
To try to follow another’s lead is I believe fraught with disappointment and no little chance of actual harm. I guess I don’t believe that evangelism is something that should be done by anyone but the most well educated in human psychology. Too many I suspect, go on their merry way, secure in the fact that they have been “saved,” and that the work is done. Too many relax in the shrugging assumption that “wanting” to believe is akin to believing, and leave it at that.
Too many, I suspect think there is no actual journey, and miss opportunities to really grow. In fact, I believe the best evangelism is the life well lived publicly. You may not turn a life today, but you may fifteen years from now, or next week. A innumerable set of threads may come together and the remembrance of your joy and peace may be recalled, and be the final piece that causes a transformation.
Perhaps I am wrong. But this is the way I see things. I could not describe my journey as being a good one, or not. It was and is, simply mine. If it tugs at you in some small way, then Glory to God, if not, you may learn what to avoid. And this is how I see everyone.
So, as you read tomorrow’s post on Church, be mindful that I am not suggesting that all who are unchurched by choice or happenstance are doing something wrong. I am simply commenting on my analysis of scripture. We all seek to do right, and fail to be perfect. Some suggest that Torah was impossible to keep even for the most pious Jew and thus Jesus was sent to atone for our limitations. So read tomorrow with no thought that I am criticizing. I would be loathe to do so. I have enough trouble guarding against the splinters in my own eyes.