Category Archives: Religion and Spirituality

Awaiting the Spirit

Searching for my soul –
alone, bereft
long since in hiding
an aching deep within
is recovery possible?
how to miss so deeply
the body’s lightest weight

I yearn for my normalcy –
that cherished feeling of
blessed warmth and firm resolve,
in touch with my savior –
lost without it
teetering at the edge
of a yawning chasm
hoping for a sign
of abiding mercy

Come upon me –
Mystery of
wonderful nourishment
settling over me
when the Breath of the Spirit
touches inner knowledge
bringing draughts of wisdom,
answers, direction,
and a font of peace.

I await mysticism –
praying I let the door
open enough
for the Holy Spirit to enter.

A Flurry of Questions

Are you one of those who, when asked for a volunteer, raised your hand and said you would? Be wary, be very wary.  I recently volunteered to be the leader of the Staff/Parish Relations committee of my church.  I floundered through the first few meetings, doing an adequate job but not really knowing what I was there for.

Then I went to a meeting on heading up that committee and what my role was in it.  At 5:00 the next morning I dragged myself out of bed, unable to sleep because I wasn’t aware of the ramifications of the role or the committee to any educated degree.  Opening my computer, I spent the next few hours researching. OMG.

Overnight I was rocketed into a new dimension.  We had been given a rare opportunity to make a leap of faith into growing our church more and becoming vessels for change in people’s lives and in the community.  Now I have to say our church is special.  While having a small congregation, we do a lot with what we have.  We genuinely care for one another and we have services we offer up to the community which are used: a food pantry, thrift shop, 6 AA meetings a week make their home in the church, community dinners, and free catering funeral and wedding services.

But we need to do more.   I think of our congregation, with its elderly population and its old building requiring constant attention and ask how much more can we accomplish?  I would like to start a ministry in the prisons but I would likely be a committee of one.  We need to attract the minorities in our community and the children.  Young people and young families would be welcomed through our doors.  Gay people and those with other alternative lifestyles would be lovingly received.

How do we get the word out?  How do we make this old, majestic, but rather intimidating building become user-friendly to those seeing it and not knowing what is within so we can welcome new members?   How do we make the children’s rooms safe, happy havens with joyful voices ringing through the halls again?  I can remember those sounds, the explorations into vacant rooms and hidden staircases.  I want so badly to give other children the opportunities I had here.

And to accomplish those goals, I need to up my game as a leader and as a member of the congregation.  How do I ask people who give of themselves all the time to give of themselves more?  Busy people, who have jobs and responsibilities, who are lovingly dedicated… is it fair to ask more from them?  At least until we see results and the burdens of responsibilities can be shared by new members.  In a small congregation, there are many jobs but not enough people to do all of them.  What is fair and equitable?

Many questions stir through my head these days, but not near enough answers.  I hope to grow clearer and find my way to a resolution soon.  In God, I must trust.  That is where the answers will come if I can but hear them. As I read through this, I see that is where I left out the primary ingredient.  Trust in the Lord and open myself to his voice.  Hear the still, small voice within my heart.  Or maybe the clangor requiring recognition.  Become a true Disciple of God.  And trust what must be is what should be, regardless of my perceptions and opinions.  I must carry the shovel, use it to the best of my ability, but understand God, not me, is directing the plan.

 

This Old Church

My hand wraps around the banister
feeling warm wood glowing beneath the skin
climbing stairs to ancient classrooms
long stilled, the cacophony of youthful voices
echoing through rafters and down the balcony
children no longer haunt its rooms
the church’s youngest members,
from middle age and up
recall times of lessons and play
now hushed, rooms empty
since parish members were children.

The sanctuary’s seats are many
with a dividing wall 25 feet tall
to allow for overflow when needed
the organ’s pipes, overwhelmingly silent,
once rang with a sound so powerful
vibrations thumped within our chests
the organist fails to know
the music of the soul anymore

The Church was built for a time
when families faithfully attended
each Sunday, bringing children
to learn Bible rules and stories,
its storied stones and gloried stained glass
holding the congregation safe
within its all encompassing bosom

The remnant congregation,
wearing their coats against the draft
are committed, generous, active people
welcoming all who come to visit
saying prayers they will return
but times have changed
music and services need adjusting
to meet the desires of these generations
growing up outside the stone walls
without ever placing a foot within.

The Church is a wonderful place
where life can rejoice yet again
but it needs to host children,
young parents, the middle-aged
finding our way to that is the challenge
for although going to services and serving
on committees, more is still needed
so much more

My heart yearns to
sway in the arms of the Father,
raise my arms  and dance
to hear the Bible read and interpreted
giving meaning and translation
expanding the small parts within
to resonate with a defiant ring
so I can stare boldly at my Savior’s
glory and rejoice.

 

The Acts of a Christian

So what is a true Christian?
Someone who shows up at church
glad-handing those worthy to meet
standing upright in the pews
with head bowed at the proper angle?

The doer who takes on the work
of running a church
filling committees, cleaning,
lending her voice to the choir
taking children to the playroom
so mothers can enjoy service?
a practical Christian.

It’s all about the
what to do next, how to say
what needs saying without
distancing others in the process

Mortar, drywall, paint, pointing,
building a new roof and raising
the funds to do it
staffing the Thrift Shop
dedicating others to ministry

But my longing for God
transcends functionality
and I fear the more I function
the further away God feels

What became of raising my arms
to the Father
of finding a way to meet The Son
on my own terms
or on His
Believing in the Path
and how to walk its way

What became of joyful rendering,
of praising God even if
I feel uncomfortable
because it isn’t a natural process
to me yet but . . .
is something I desperately want?

In all the functionality
of being a modern, practical Christian
I miss God more than ever
and doubt Jesus even less.

So am I a true Christian any more,
a servant of God?
Or am I just a working hand
paying homage to the Building
and not the One for whom it stands?

 

Fontanels

Born open –
to the presence
of the Lord –
becoming human
we close off,
shutting away God’s
active voice.

Lost, feeling alone,
by age two separate,
exclusively homo sapien
we yearn to hear
comfort, peace,
needing to learn
turning inward
for the still, small voice
requiring special listening

Perhaps the reason
some babies colic
screaming, in pain,
is inward rage
at separation
from the Godly presence
they just separated from
while others emerge
at peace,
nestled in assurance
of God’s continued love.

Free Will

God granted us the Right of Free Will when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge. Yet, these days I find myself in a quagmire of thoughts about that act. Knowledge has led us far. We are not the Innocents we would have been without it. And yes, I am also a firm believer in Evolution. Justifying the two is an interesting balancing act on the scales, particularly the Scale of Justice.

When I pray these days, many times it is that God intervene and fill the hearts and souls of all aggressors with Loving Kindness so they could never imagine conducting acts of aggression again, and that those who have been persecuted not rise up in retribution should that happen.

But then I circle back to Free Will. Frankly, I think it has not helped us in many cases. We have only to look as far as ISIS and the treatment of Refugees. Of the girls raped and children turned into child soldiers. Or child brides. Or the Racism that pervades our society and the acts it generates. Of terrorism in all its facets. Or torture. The list goes on . . .

And then I look at the ramifications of not having Free Will. Would research for advances in science and medicine continue? What about the right of abortion and birth control? How would population control be handled? What about all the cultural distinctions of tribes, religions, and countries all over the world? Would the intricacies of our personalities cease to exist? What would happen to uniqueness? Would mental illness be eliminated? Would we all be committed to cherishing and protecting the environment and all beings – flora and fauna? Would Religions in all their varieties still exist or would there be a uniform one or none? Would atheists still believe as they do?

What would God’s will look like? And ultimately, would God choose to have both Good and Evil after all?

Palm Sunday

Are my whispering doubts
just the after words,
diluted by time,
of the rabid crowds in
Jerusalem, spurred on by
wrinkled, threatened old priests
perhaps lessened or camouflaged
in time’s passing?

I waved my palm today,
trying to weave a cross
from the dried out grass,
singing of love and adoration
and pain . . .
his, not mine.

Had spouted statistics
of 31 deaths in Egyptian
Coptic Christian Churches,
with many more injured
and felt sadness, mourning,
but not depth of feeling
for the atrocity and its effects

I’m outraged and worn down
simultaneously, by all the
madness and cruelty in our world.
Nightly I pray that the evil ones
doing ordering or following
be so filled with loving kindness
that never again can they do harm
nor for those underneath
to respond back in rage.

What is enough?
Enough for me to do,
enough for the world to bear,
enough for the Trinity to react
as was promised?
Where and when will it end?
Or is it still in it’s infancy?

What’s the Answer?

I’m a Christian, no doubt about it.
Or, shall I say I believe in the Trinity
well . . . the Jesus rising to Heaven
sometimes rocks my boat.
He was definitely God inspired
although I wonder, as a child,
with brothers to contend with
how could he pass through this life
without Sin?

I can’t get through a day it seems
without a damaging thought flitting
through my mind . . .
As someone with Bipolar disease,
Depression and a life of poverty,
it’s hard to rise myself to the standards
set by God Almighty.

And I wonder, was the same God
who was so angry at the Jews
when they swerved from the path,
the same God of the New Testament
who says all I need to do is repent?

So many people in the World
have never heard of God as Christians
claim God – how can they be not saved?
Those who worship loving Gods
and live in kind and compassionate ways –
how can they not be saved?

How can all the people who are traumatized
by life – who are victims in war,
who suffer in all manner of pain,
who love their children and family
and respect with kindness their elders
and those who cross their paths
not be saved?

I am so very tired of the struggle
of men who rage against other religions.
Of those who act in violence and cruelty
against others who live by different principles.
We have been doing so since time immemorial
in the name of our religions and governments.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God –
for I have to believe that God sent many
messengers to nations around the World –
filled the Hearts of everyone,
particularly those who carry on Wars,
with Loving Kindness,
filled to the brim, bursting out their
arms and legs and minds . . .
so they could never again imagine
raising a weapon or hand against another?

Yes, Yes, free choice needs to be considered.
But I’d love to see what such a World
would look like, would have the chance to be.
Where saving the World and each other
became the most important principle
by which to live?
I wonder . . .

Choices

Meal time on Memory
distant faces staring into
nothingness . . .
The feeders patiently shoveling
pureed fish or green beans
whatever the chef sees fit to send.

I look about me  and wonder
where these souls are
and where they are going.
Sometimes you see glimpses
of who they were
when choices could be made
and the treatment of life
was theirs to own.

And then I wonder –
are they going to heaven
or hell?

Where have all the Prophets gone?

As the world becomes more radical on one hand and more oblivious on the other, I look for prophets to guide us. The muslims seem to have a great deal more than the Christians. The need of prophets in our world, or what they address, may be changing.

Certainly Martin Luther King Jr. was a prophet. Ghandi, in our celebration of the 50 year anniversary of his death, was a prophet. Mother Theresa was that I consider a prophet. Each of them, in their own ways, devoted themselves through the course of their lives to God and doing for his people.

Matthew Sweet wrote “Prophets of the 21st century” on 12/2/96. In it he listed 40 people he considered Prophets. These included people from Quite a few fields. Under religion he only listed two men. David (Paul) Yongi Cho, a pastor with a flock of 700,000 who uses faith healing and prophecy to stir his audience. I’d find it hard to believe all those members are devout. Yet his writing is scooped up by other Evangelists hoping to grow their own churches and are read by millions. He says only members of his church will be those who go to Heaven during the Rapture. The other person he notes is Matthew Fox – called the Nostradamus of the Digital Age. Neither of these would make my definition of a prophet.

My pastor recommended Rev. King, William Coffin, and, in some ways, Billy Graham. William Coffin’s career was an odd mix, a CIA agent turned Evangelist and Chaplain at Yale Seminary and member of Skull and Bones, the highly elitist group our Presidents and other leaders coming from Yale were part of. William was a very active proponent of peace talks during the Vietnam War and was an advocate of gay rights. He led a war-torn country to a place where peace was given a chance to grow.

Billy Graham was founder of BGEA – an evangelism group with the mission of spreading the word of God to as many people as possible. He used global media to spread his word, with four huge meetings per year and internet programs. He knew how to spread the word. Many who read or heard or saw him may have been influenced to believe in God due to the mass scale of his organization’s dissemination of God’s word.

There are others – ones who I haven’t heard of myself. And some I am suspicious of. Marianne Williamson has written a Course in Miracles which she says was channeled by God and was very popular for a few years. I’m not sure she was prophetic or not. I didn’t get feedback from God on it.

When the Bible spoke about prophets like Issiah, it was about a smaller world, fewer people. In our time, we need more evangelists and prophets to bless this world with their understandings. This is a crowded, angry, hungry and frustrated world. We need those who can lead us.

We need all the help to find ourselves on the path to God’s Way, to Peace and understanding of the other humans in our world. To be protectors of the environment for wildlife and for future generations. To be messengers our-selves. Not necessarily prophets but pointers to the Way. May your life and all others be blessed.