Category Archives: Religion and Spirituality

The Lord’s Guidance

Lord, I ask you to guide me.
I am lost . . .
I have squandered the life you gave me
by being afraid to live.
Fear has dogged my every step.

Dreams I’ve turned to nightmares.
People see me as fragile,
how self-created is that?

Lord, help me out of the quicksand
I am sinking in before it goes
above my nose.

Help me have the strength
to free myself
from my self-created prison.

Inside is a published author of books,
a healthy person –
someone to give to those in need.

A woman who has the right
to find love and a lover.
Someone who wants me.

There are many facets of my being
and I only show the worst
the helplessness, the sorrow . . .

Release me from the burden of myself.
Show me what it is like to be free,
confident, inspired –

for I can not find my way out alone –
not without you.

 

 

 

 

 

David: Chronic Doubter, Constant Believer

This is a post that resonated with me tonight by J.S. Park.  Struggling with this blog has been a 6-7 month challenge and I do believe I am supposed to be doing it for a reason beyond my humble aspirations. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

 

David: Chronic Doubter, Constant Believer

Originally posted on J.S. Park: One of the most remarkable things about David was his doubt. All through the Psalms, we see David contending with his doubts about God. Whenever there’s a stanza of praise, it follows just…

David: Chronic Doubter, Constant Believer

Originally posted on J.S. Park: One of the most remarkable things about David was his doubt. All through the Psalms, we see David contending with his doubts about God. Whenever there’s a stanza of praise, it follows just…

David: Chronic Doubter, Constant Believer

Originally posted on J.S. Park: One of the most remarkable things about David was his doubt. All through the Psalms, we see David contending with his doubts about God. Whenever there’s a stanza of praise, it follows just…

J.S. Park: Hospital Chaplain, Skeptical Christian

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One of the most remarkable things about David was his doubt.

All through the Psalms, we see David contending with his doubts about God. Whenever there’s a stanza of praise, it follows just as quickly with despair and confusion.

There are so many Psalms where David is singing in a flowery refrain of awe, but out of nowhere, he’ll say, “Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.”   It’s all going so well, until you turn the page. These are like cysts that swell over the canvas, so jarring and troubling that you won’t see them on coffee cups and Twitter.

David was really all over the place in his faith.

But just as much as David interrupts his own Psalms with rage and grief, these are…

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What Is The Church?

Within the building a musty odor clings to the air,
There are cracks on the ceiling,
The nave has been closed for years
because so much of it is unsafe.
Every penny we have goes to the roof
and all other repairs.

But I remember running through the balconies,
Sunday school lessons with many children
My father’s rich voice from the altar –
and others before and since,
the beautiful organ with all those pipes
and the music it stirred within the soul.

Couples have married here, babes baptized,
countless communions, church dinners,
fairs, thrift shops, and food pantry days.

Now the congregation as dwindled
so many being in their elder years
members for thirty or more years
wanting to die here as they lived here but
the organ is silenced – no money for repairs

What is a church really?
A place of worship
or a place to be worshipped?
A place for the few
or a place where the few
give to many – spreading the faith
that has brought them such comfort.

We may be the few now –
but God and his grand plan
are calling us – asking us to listen
to the depths of our hearts.

To know that just as Jesus died on the cross,
disciples were executed and exiled,
and even today, some Christians have to hide
in the woods, basements, away from prying eyes,
to practice the religion- without books or other paraphernalia
– we have been privileged to have this building.

A church need not be a fortress
holding people in, keeping people out.
Imposing, Magnificent, Intimidating.

Jesus authorized his disciples to go forth
with just the clothes on their backs,
taking nothing with them as they
proclaimed his message to the world.

But we would not get far
with these boards and mortar on our backs
our voices would be crushed by the stones.
Jesus said take nothing.

But a church is not a building, it is the people
and what those people are doing
to strengthen their faith
and to make the hard decisions.

What would Christ have us do?
That is where Christianity lies.

Passover Week – Who would I be?

When he rode the donkey into Jerusalem that fateful week,
would I have been one of the palm wavers,
dancing before him, singing psalms of his glory,

Or would I have been the cynical one,
or one too reserved to let loose my inner craving for him
and to bless him for all he had done.

Would I be a pot stirrer, easily swayed by Pilate’s men
to decry him, to rabble the crowds against him.
to cheer as he was whipped and beaten.

Was it foretold I would be Judas, his betrayer?
Would I run and hide as Peter, denying my intimacy to him?
Or refuse to watch as he was tried for crimes unknown.

Would I have been Simon the Cyrene, the man who picked up his cross,
shouldering a burden he was too weak to do all by himself.
Or perhaps faithful Mary Magdalene,  following his footsteps to Golgotha

After the betraying, violence, cruelty I participated in,
would I then grow quiet and cry watching him move in such pain.
Or have cheered for Barabbas, the murderer, to be released rather than the King?

I want to say “Of course I would be faithful!
But as human nature would have it,  I could have been the good Jew
that jeered and plotted and planned, scared of new thoughts and feelings.

Could I have opened my mind enough to accept the New Path,
and act against traditions millennia old, that my ancestors revered?
Could I have the strength of purpose to preach, to spread this new religion?

Or would I have done nothing, nothing at all . . .

Thomas Merton

Thoughts in Solitude

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain
Where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that
I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am
Actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You
Does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that
I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that
Desire. And I know, if I do this, You will lead me by the
Right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I
Will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the
Shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and
You will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton
Thoughts in Solitude

This is one of my favorite prayers.  It has always brought me comfort in times of need.

Maybe we were all born for one moment.

Richard Zimmer   “The Seventh Gate”

My Christian Journey (so far)

It took a while but I finally understand hiding from the opinions of experts about my religion, or at least those who have something to say that differs from the path I am trying to walk, is the height of spiritual weakness. God can handle my questions. He is stronger than the swirling chaos of dissention in the masses. And he can certainly stand up to the fragility of my journey. It is me I most fear. . . I don’t want to give up before growing comfortable with my path.

I’ve always been a spiritual dabbler. My father was a Methodist minister and a gentle soul, beloved by his congregation and others who knew him. His sermons were sensitive and always under five minutes, the longest length of time the typical congregation member could handle and maintain interest. Growing up I wanted to be a minister like him. When I became a middle-school student I thought it might be better to be a missionary. Come my teenage years, boys and booze I gave it all up, thinking it was far more sophisticated to be an atheist. Many years passed before I could see was that I didn’t want to be a minister so much as I wanted to be like my father.

 For the next couple of decades I bounced from one religion to another. My ex-husband was Christian Orthodox – going to mass with him was a time of the Spirit as the service was often in another language. I bathed in the power of the Spirit without having to worry about the verbiage. Exploring the New Age feminine mystic became an art form all its own. It evolved into a kind of Wicca thrust followed by American Indian studies. Buddhism gave me comfort until I dug deeper into it and saw it didn’t match my world view. Then I moved back to New England where it’s hard to be anything else but Christian or another conventional, traditional path.

 I began going to the church my family went to. My sister’s family, my cousin and her twin babies, my mother and aunt and I squeezed into one long pew . . . my nephew and me teasing each other like incorrigible brats. Going to church was first an obligatory exercise fulfilled to quiet my mother’s incessant pressure. I listened to the sermons and took pleasure in the messages they imparted.I attended a program called Alpha designed to address the questions of new or returning Christians. The church tried hard to address the needs of its flock. There were programs during the week for everything from financial management, wellness, women’s issues, and a variety of Bible and church related needs. On weekends there were three services you could choose from and groups for diverse needs – parents of different aged children, married couples and singles. In services, we actually explored the Bible and what Jesus said. It finally occurred to me I would not be a Christian unless I understood the Bible and what it meant to believe in Jesus. I can’t say I agree with everything but it’s making a dent in my resistance.

It took visiting my children’s services in California to see where my religious education was missing. Methodist’s don’t talk much about the Bible. All those questions lurking inside were banging at my walls. The whole Jesus issue defeated me and the Trinity – forget about it. Their churches actively explored the Bible during worship services. And the music was uplifting, modern, more designed for this present life. Suddenly I had a hunger for a Church very different than the one I grew up with. Those questions I had could no longer be ignored. Although there were people I was comfortable with, it seemed I came to church alone, while there I usually felt alone, and I left alone. My needs as a single, middle-aged Christian woman were ignored despite my frequent queries to the minister. It was clear I needed to find a church which addressed my needs. So it came as a surprise when the church that met those needs was Baptist. I always heard they were Bible thumpers, highly restrictive in nature. In the end, that is where I needed to be.

In moving back to California, I found a church far different from what I had ever known. One Wednesday night I was driving past the church and there were people walking into the church smiling. I stopped and asked what they were doing. They just smiled and said they were going to Bible study and I could come if I wanted. I didn’t that night, but I thought long and hard about a church where people smiled before what had to be the tediousness of such study. But one Sunday I decided to give it a try. It was contemporary, fundamentalist. Bands played the music. Singers were uplifting, energized. Instead of hymnals, words were graphically displayed on a screen in front. People raised their arms and swayed back and forth. An occasional person would go up to the front, bow to the ground, and prayed for his needs. There was a separate room in the back for mothers with crying babies. (Oh, that I thought was a wonderful idea) There were about 2,000 people in the service I regularly attended – more than 4,000 overall. Mission work was highly emphasized, both in the community and worldwide. There were separate programs for women and men during the week. On Sundays, the congregation sang for a half hour then the minister spent the rest of the service in Biblical instruction and sermon.

There were some things that I heartily disagreed with – political discourses, when I had always believed in the division of church and state, an emphasis on money I wasn’t used to. Sometimes ministers seemed more like performers than priestly servants.  One church I visited had strobe lights and a minister that acted more like a comedian, like it was all an act. But even though I got a lot out of it, it didn’t meet all my needs. I still felt alone even though I made a few friends, one especially whose husband and she answered many of my questions and weren’t afraid to show their humanness. In fact, after I moved away, they went on a mission to Thailand.

 After three years, I moved back to Connecticut and found myself attending the church my Father was the Minister for when I was in the 5th, 6th, and 7th grades. It is the anti-thesis of California’s brand of worship. Now I’m on the Board of Trustees. We are working hard to determine the ongoing needs of the church. Many parishioners have been members for 40 or more years but even though they give everything they have to the church now, they may not be able to work toward growing the church as we need to. But the funniest thing about it is, I’m where I belong, exactly where I thought I’d never be. I love our minister. I love the community this church has. I want to see it grow in whatever form God directs us. And I want to be a part of it. I don’t feel alone.

How Do I Know?

 

Lord I hunger for your touch. . .
ache with the deepest longing
yet still believe.
How does one continue
In endless moments
With face turned upward
Begging for 0ne touch.
To say . . . I believe,
Not just spouting words
But searching
Within and without
For the Truth
And the Word.
I await
Your glorious splendor.
Thoughts whir
through my head
drowning out
the soft sounds
God leaves within
God, he’s easy
No one can dispute
His majesty.
But Jesus
The Word, the Light
Both son and equal
Of the almighty?
Of course he was human
Any fool knows that.
But divine? –
Still waiting for
A Proof I can believe in.
Sometimes I think
I believe . . .
But believe enough?
Enough to ward off
Doubts, despair
Soul wrenching
Emptiness?
In darkest night
I huddle, question,
Wrap belief through
My fingers,
And wait for assurance,
For answers.
For a quiet peace
To steal over me.