I ran into Fran’s blog today, and as happens quite often, she stopped me dead and made me think. She does that quite often, and what I deeply love about her is that she is unafraid to ask the hard questions, and answer them as well.
The question was: “What conversion am I being invited into today?”
Indeed. Think about that.
I’m not especially crazy I don’t think, but I find a lot of competing persons inhabiting my body at any given time. This is especially disconcerting, since I experience from time to time, really deep, moving, spiritual moments. Each makes me think I am forever changed, yet within a few days, certain unsavory elements seem to resurface, and I feel like my “old” self once again.
We hear often, especially those who have returned from the brink of death, that they are forever changed, how they will never look upon life the same way again. Perhaps, but I rather assume that within some weeks or months, they are pretty much taking most things for granted again, and have slipped back into old patterns of behavior.
This doesn’t mean that I think that these “conversions” are not meaningful, it just means they are less life altering than we might wish them to be. We change, I submit incrementally.
I have become beyond incensed by all the talk about Harvard profs and cops, and what type of beer these men will drink. I’m nearly insane from continuing “revelations” about Michael Jackson. I’m ready to assault the next Republican I meet when I read that the public seems to be starting to buy all their lies about how the health reform bill will destroy medical care for those who have it. And the list is forever long, and I get forever distressed and I sigh and I go for a donut to just put it out of my mind.
That’s one side of me. It’s the mean, snarling bitch, ready to come here and rant and make snide little jokes about Sarah and Hannity and, well pick your subject. You know all the ones I can rant about.
But there is the other side too. There is the side that soars on Sunday in my church, among my family of faith. It is the place where I feel drawn again and again to service, and keep finding more time and more place for “other” in my world. Where the tears flow easily, where shame and guilt are replaced by dedication and warm friendship, and feeling integrated into a world of love and acceptance. Where Jesus holds my hand and slowly urges me forward to forgiveness and tolerance, even for those I most disagree with.
I see this transition in of all places, a forum where I am wont to get virally angry. Angry at the intolerant viciousness that can be found there. At ex-Episcopalians who, unable to get the church to conform to them, have found refuge where they are not happy, and so spew tirelessly their hatred and desire to see the entire church destroyed to vindicate their pain. I get angry, and sometimes I erupt in indignation and hurt, but more often I don’t. I turn my mind to those who are gentle, who listen, who offer advice and uphold. There are plenty of those folks around, and the private message is alive and well!
For I see that conversion is not a one time thing, as so very many think. Those of us in the trenches of the journey, know only to well, that conversion is a daily thing. And even when I think that “well that problem is over” it rears its head again and again. But less often, with less severity. That’s the progress, that’s the process of conversion at work.
Those who are so enamored of the “born again” philosophy will no doubt disagree. But frankly, but a few really do change that dramatically. Some perforce are better at portraying that “change” publicly no doubt, especially those who have found a way to profit by the “change.” But most of us backslide nearly as far as we progressed, and we do it seemingly endlessly.
But, when we finally look around, we find, lo and behold, that we can see a good deal farther than before. Our vista is grander, and that means we have indeed made progress up the mountain. We are better people than we were last year, if only by a bit. And if we wish, and if we try, we will be even better next year.
Best to ask that question every day, “What conversion am I being invited into today?” It’s a way to move that process along at a faster rate I think. The answer is easy. What makes you uneasy, what makes you angry, what makes you tighten your jaw, stresses you out, snap at the dog? That’s the place you need to breathe into and just for the moment, come into God’s presence. It is there the healing occurs, the change is made, and the increment is achieved.