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Musings: to gaze meditatively or wonderingly; to comment thoughtfully or ruminate upon [something].
Random musings here, so warning, it may be offensive to some.
Sometimes certain Scriptures take on new meaning when life takes a twist or a turn, for me now the one that has taken a deeper meaning is the one recording the last known words of Jesus (from Matthew 28:20): “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” I re-wrote it to remind myself how his words apply to where I am on the journey these days: “And re-member, I AM with you All Ways, to the end of the age.”
It is not a new thought; it is a re-membering, a putting back together of that which is eternally true. It is a reminder that whenever Jesus says “I am” it is reminiscent of Yahweh (YHWH) revealing the Divine Name to Moses by saying “tell them I AM WHO I AM sent you”; or another way of God’s name YHWH is I AM BECAUSE I AM…or I AM WHO I WILL BE. It is quite important to remember and know this: in the Hebrew and Jewish culture your name implies your character, being and even your destiny.
So YHWH, the God of the Universe, has no beginning and no end, no changes…just the great I AM in perpetuity.
And I say I believe in this God but do I? I say I believe but I sometimes live my life like a ‘functional atheist.” I falter, I fail, I’d rather grasp at burning straws instead of resting in the eternal Wonder of this God Who says I am with you, ___________ (fill YOUR name in the blank), always – in All Ways – even until there is no more time (and we are just in eternity).
I believe in the One Who is named I AM without end or beginning. I do, I really do (trying to self-convince here). Yet so often, I put constraints and restraints on God, coming up instead with lists of Do’s and Don’ts, rules and regulations, hoops to jump through, fickle faith, and rituals that turn the sacred into sacrilege.
The other day, I scribbled the following words from Neale Donald Walsch on a scrap of paper: belief in God should produce belief in God’s greatest gift – unconditional Love – and in God’s greatest promise – eternal Presence.
But I realize, I limit God and his love, sometimes even more than religions do. I limit God’s presence even more than legalistic Christians do. I am just musing here…random thoughts on a not-so-random God.
So I ask myself: Is God’s love REALLY unconditional?
When I see in me, and in Christian doctrine and denominations, the placing of unbelievable restrictions on God’s love I have to ask myself, what do I believe about God’s supposed unconditional love?
We say God’s love is unconditional but most of us, if we are honest, believe that God’s love is only unconditional to the righteous, the right, or those who believe as we do – ahhh, the rudeness of rightness. But do we really believe that God loves the Jesus followers equally and exactly the same as the prostitute having sex in a car for drugs and cash? Or the man crushing up and snorting Oxy’s while he schemes up a new way to steal some pills to feed this habit? Or the corporate shark stealing millions from unsuspecting investors? Or the person who pummels the very life out a child or another human being?
Do I really think God’s love is absolutely unconditional for these? Or even for me?
When some say without Jesus, all are condemned to eternal, fire-based punishment? I am going to cop out here and not say what I believe or think about hell, but rather ‘represent’ mainstream Christian thought. I am just musing, and when I muse, I tend to stomp on toes and skirt the edges of heresy, I must confess. One thing I do know: God is bigger than my thoughts, doubts, fears and fantasies, so I have no problem bringing them to light…in the light of God’s love.
So is God’s Love partially exclusive or completely inclusive?
I have a confession to make, a paradoxical one: I love and loathe addicts and alcoholics. I am one…in recovery. I love them, us (for there is no ‘us’ in ‘them’ there is only us). I love the ‘Program’ as well. No, I’m not violating the Traditions, just musing on the one-day-one-step-at-a-time journey of daily healing and transformation that occurs for us ragamuffins.
I learn so much…from us. I see me in all of them, even the ones I silently sneer at within my brain. Then I remember I am one with them (so not much room to talk).
Every day I am reminded of God’s goodness and that there is more power in Love & Forgiveness than in hate and judgment.
I am continually reminded in this journey towards God and healing the infinite difference between expectancy and expectation.
Expectancy leads to grace, openness, newness, excitement and opportunity. Expectation leads to resentment, tyranny, close-mindedness, and obligation. Expectancy is dynamic and leads to life. Expectation is static and leads to deadness.
I need recovery, I really do. I need to walk it and work it or I fall from grace and turn from God and burn my worlds to the ground.
But I hunger for more as well.
I hunger for God to rise gently in me with tenderness through the opaque truth of poetry.
I need Beauty…and the soft, rustled breathing of the holy fur ball nestled up under my chin…my Domini Canus, my dog of God who is a god among dogs. I need mountains within eye shot, stable majestic silhouettes reminding me of my speck-of-dustness-but-oh-so-lovedness.
I need kindness towards self and good food…to breathe more, and deeper with slowing motions of intentionality.
I need to remember that God is in the pain, the mundane, the profane and the profound. God is in the other, and in me, in fragility, and falling down, in giggles and graying hairs.
I am learning it is Good to cooperate with Grace and not run from nor deny it. Wrestling with Grace can be likened to ‘aarrrrggghh’ moments of removing sticky duct tape from your fingers as it teases you, playing from finger to finger before finally being wagged off wildly. But Grace comes…and there but for the Grace go I.
One step, two step, three step, four <Breathe!>, step, step, step…12 of them that take a lifetime to trek.
And like rain to dry earth, almost in an instant that took my entire life to happen, I go from parched to overflowing. And breathing becomes more natural, reconnecting me to holy spirit…wholly breath.
And I realize again and again that I need other wounded healers, cracked and lovely, rough and hewn on the edges of life…to bring God into my velveteen heart.
Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.
The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.
But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.
Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.
To be enlightened is to see behind all the forms life takes to the God who holds them in being. Enlightenment sees, too, behind the shapes, icons and language that intend to personalize God to the God who is too personal, too encompassing, to be any single shape or form or name. Enlightenment takes us beyond our parochialisms to the presence of God everywhere, in everyone, in the universe.
The life that I could still live, I should live, and the thoughts that I could still think, I should think.
I have been thinking, praying, mulling over this quote. I am on the verge of making some major changes and I am in need of God’s hand and wisdom to guide and provide. But I keep asking myself, “why am I so afraid to leap when all these years God has been there, constant and faithful?” But still, I am afraid of making the wrong choices. And could they possibly be wrong if all I hunger for is God’s love, glory and my needs (not wants) being met? Is that too much to desire?
I hunger for more of God, for being a blessing, for being blessed. I know that as long as I still have breath in my lungs that I can reach long and hard for the divine destiny to which I know I am called.
If I am <still> then I shall see the face of God reflected back to me in the world that surrounds me. The famous Psalm, “be still and know that I am God” actually says in the original language, “stop being at war…and know that I am God.” If I am still, and wait with hopeful expectancy, then God and all that is God comes to me, the wars end and Life blossoms, opening up before me, fragrant and free.
As Jung, said, the life I still could live, as long as I jump into it headlong with God, it is possible and I should indeed live it. For in living out my destiny, I will by default assist others in claiming theirs.
So, the life you still could live, you should…live.
Author’s Note: this was originally published January 16, 2013
I keep hearing a great deal about God’s ‘grace’ these days but seeing very little of it from Christians. And quite honestly, I have little use for empty words and false piety when it comes to some of the commentary on God’s grace.
My take on Christianity (whether Catholic or Protestant) is that Christianity is meant to be a grace, mercy and compassion-filled intimacy with God; a passionate, living, breathing relationship with our Creator…and one based more on freedom than rules to follow, hoops to jump through or religiosity.
Most of us, if we are honest, take this relationship as an “outward-in” approach, which is more often than not based on human effort rather than God’s.
As I keep learning, God’s grace is both quite comforting and disturbing. It is comforting because it cannot in any way ever be earned by any human effort. It is disturbing for precisely the same reasons: it cannot be earned by any human effort and it flows and is given to whomever God so chooses and whomever asks regardless of whether I like it or not.
Some 2,000 years ago the people that “got” the message of Jesus best were often the ones who had been shut out of grace the most: prostitutes, the untouchables, the rejected and scorned, the poor, orphans, widows (all women for that matter), the hopeless and helpless, even the betrayers known as the tax collectors (those whom worked for the Empire siphoning money from their brothers and sisters to earn a living).
The ones who did not get it were the so-called ‘righteous’, the pious, those who tried (in vain) to follow the “letter of the law” thereby blocking the very vein from which flowed God.
I fear that there are many today (myself included sometimes) who are falling prey to the same tendencies, turning this truly amazing grace – this absolutely upsetting and freeing Grace – into an outward appearance. And this Outward-in approach is a shell for the real deal, a con job hidden in human effort rather than hidden in God.
The truth is that God’s disturbing and comforting grace is a complete Inside-out job. We come into relationship with God and he changes us; and he does so from the inside-out! In no way, shape or form do we author or control the changing. God does. All we can truly do is ask in faith, be open and receptive. We ask for God to come to us, to take over every facet of our lives, and God does. And then God does the changing in his time, in his way working and molding us like soft clay on the Loving Potter’s wheel.
This can be quite disturbing to many people. For it is not about appearances, church attendance, the size or particular theological ‘slant’ of your church, or buildings, or even based on piety or how spiritual we are.
It is solely about God’s grace, not our effort.
I said, “Show me what to do.”
He said, Die.
I said, “The water has turned into oil.”
He said, Die.
I said, “I will become a butterfly
circling around your light.”
He said, Die.
This is one of my favorite poems and as is the case with God, I was having a particularly rough day and this poem appeared in my email In Box. Thank You…enjoy.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw – and knew I saw – all things in God and God in all things.
Mechtild of Magdeburg
Source: Quoted in An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor