Thursday, May 17, 2012

Not Sure Where This Is Going

Ever get the feeling that the life you are living is not the life intended for you? Do you ever feel disconnected from the everyday and deep down certain that you have a higher calling that just isn't being fulfilled?

I trudge on, day after day, through what could be a very beautiful life. I am fed and safe and healthy. So are my children. I have the freedom to live life as I see fit -a privilege many women around the world can only dream of. And yet I feel fearful and trapped.

I used to think I knew the difference between right and wrong but these days I cannot make heads or tails of the decisions (or lack of decision) in my life. Am I doing what I am doing out of guilt? virtue? laziness? fear? love? selfishness? I cannot identify my own motivations. Perhaps there is a little truth in each.

I pray and I wait but there is no inspiration or certainty. I ask for a sign and wonder if I'm perhaps a little unstable mentally. What if there is no response because God, as I have imagined God to be, does not exist. Then I start to rail against the small gods I have created. The Father Christmas with his naughty and nice lists, the physician who prescribes bitter medicine for my own good, the loving but impotent old man, the intelligent but impersonal energy that connects us all. How can I believe in all these gods and none of them at the same time?

Intellectually I am aware that God is beyond understanding but emotionally I cannot accept it. Unlike carbon that is transformed to diamond under heat and pressure, I seem to reduce God to one of many juvenile caricatures when spiritual stress sets in. Aware of my mistake, the big fear then sets in: what if no one is watching? What if I have been comforting myself with nothing more than a psychological crutch. Deep down I think I know what I believe, but some days even that comes into question. Am I regressing? Am I losing my faith or just growing up? It seems as if I've been at this place too many times before. Perhaps it's not God but Christianity that is failing me. I mean, other than the life and teachings of Jesus I find it hard to understand let alone respect the God I encounter in the Bible.

But I digress.

If it seems as if I'm all over the place lately it is because I am all over the place. Everything is up in the air and I'm feeling rather foolish with all this juggling.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Not So Delicate Awakening

I want to sit up straight, suffer quietly and break a sweat. I want to work out my salvation with fear and trembling. I hunger for righteousness but my laziness overtakes me. My distractions are plentiful and intoxicating. I am a slave to the meaningless and I knowingly subscribe to the illusion, momentarily satieted by big shiny lies. I eat heartily until the sun sets and then groan with regret when I lay down on my pillow at night. It's so quiet. Too quiet.

What if it's real. Really real. What if every prayer is heard and every hair numbered? How can I account for my behaviour other than to say, I just didn't know. Because it's true, I don't know.

I'm haunted by the thought that God is even more than the thought that God isn't.

Are you hanging on these words God? Do you hear you deaf old bastard? Sometimes I hate you.

Apparently only a wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign. So be it. I never claimed to be anything but. And yet I don't want you to move a single finger in my direction because I suppose I know which one it will be and I don't need the confirmation.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I Know This Much Is True

There is an infinite and timeless love pulsing through the universe. There is a source of light and mercy and hope and miracles that flows like a river. I am a giver, receiver, creator and destroyer of miracles. There is a conscious, intelligent spirit guiding me. I choose to participate and cooperate with divine wisdom or I choose not to. I can heal and I can wound. God is not separate from me. God is a part of me, bigger than me. God is my source. God is growing and I am helping God expand. God is more than I can begin to define or understand. God is not a He or a She. No religion owns God. No religion owns me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The 24 Hour Fast

I'm going to fast today. I've tried to fast in the past but I've never been very successful. I am sometimes able to abstain from specific foods for a period of time but giving up food altogether for any length of time has proven very difficult. I plan to fast on water only.

Over the course of the day I am going to update this post to offer my insights and challenges. I have not eaten since last evening so I'm already well into this fast. For the sake of simplicity I'm going to consider midnight of last night as my start time.

7:00 AM - I have not had anything to eat since going out for ice-cream with some friends after supper last evening. I'm not much of a breakfast person so I'm not feeling any loss yet. I have tea or coffee every day but my hot water substitution is surprisingly satisfying.

8:52 AM - I'm hungry. This is where I usually fail -the first hurdle! I might say something simple and dismissive to end the fast without debate, like, 'fasting is stupid.' Or, I might give myself a rational excuse about how I have to work tonight so I need to keep up my energy. I'll tell myself I will fast another, better day when there will be fewer challenges because I don't want to set myself up for failure. I'll remind myself that there is fresh fruit in the fridge that is going to spoil, that I am meeting a friend for coffee later, that God loves me just as I am and I need not prove anything with such an outdated, legalistic practice. Today I am going to try simply being aware of such thoughts and letting them float by without grasping and playing with them.

10:42 AM - I made some pancakes and topped them with a generous amount of butter and maple syrup for the girls. When you're a mom you don't get a break from preparing food, even if you are fasting! My belly is starting to growl.

4:25 PM - We live in an apartment building and I can smell at least 2 tasty dishes being prepared this evening. My belly actually aches. It's been a good day so far though. My hunger reminds me to turn to God with some extra prayer.

8:30 PM - Still fasting. I work the night shift tonight so I slept a few hours which helped the time pass. I am surprised by how well I am doing. Once I took the option to eat off the table, so to speak, the hunger became manageable. The real battle is the mental war, the hunger pangs are a small discomfort.

11:00 PM - I'm suffering with nausea and a little shakiness now. My body is definitely ready to break this fast. Just one more hour to go. Thank goodness I can eat as soon as I arrrive at work! I can only imagine what it is like to live with hunger all the time. I know one day of hunger cannot begin to compare to a lifetime of poverty but I have been reflecting on these issues throughout the day.

Final Reflections - I broke my fast at midnight with an orange followed by a banana. For the last hour, and even for an hour after I ate, I felt miserable. I was extremely nauseaus and very weak/shaky. Heading to work after 24 hours of fasting is not recommended! However, this particular job is not physically demanding and I didn't need to interact with anyone so it was manageable.

I wish I could have spent more time in prayer and meditation yesterday, but it's not always possible to carve out a half hour or an hour when you are a working mom. I did find myself leaning on God a little more throught the day and I will definitely be fasting periodically from now on.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I am tired, empty and confused. I feel suffocated by the circumstances in my life. Do I follow my head or my heart? Do I even know what my heart wants anymore? No. Why is the voice of God so hard to distinguish from my wants and fears? God feels a million miles away. I cry and I pray and I sleep away the day. I try to play with the kids and talk to my husband and do the next right thing. But I pretty much feel like the walking dead. Yet, there is something there. A spark of hope. I think I am becoming much better at dealing with suffering. Some days anyway. A lot of days I still find myself looking over the edge and wondering if today is the day I jump. I can't tell you if God is trying to push me off or hold me back. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Beauty in Brokenness

I dig deep
and pull up a shard
a fragment of my broken life
sharp, jagged edges
clutched in hand

I squeeze tight
and bleed

I have found the source of my pain, but I don't want to let it go.

Then, prayer
silence and waiting
more prayer

Something almost imperceptible shifts
a pinky quivers
and a shadow of hope is cast

I start to notice
hands lifted in surrender
scars on palms

Another finger relaxes
I let go completely

A brief silence, a skipped beat, a sharp breath
catch me?


Long exhale
rest and recovery

God raises that shard to the light
and rainbows dance in dark places
spreading hope

The promise of life has been fulfilled,

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Back in the Garden

The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden continues to weigh on my mind. I find it a little funny to be hung up so early in The Story, but here I am, questioning from the get-go. I'm pretty sure that having a proper understanding of this myth or parable will greatly influence how I read and understand the rest of the Bible. I have no doubt there are very profound truths about the human condition contained within this deceptively simple narrative. Although I am willing to admit that we are imperfect beings, I don't subscribe wholeheartedly to the doctrine of original sin as commonly understood.

In fact, from a certain perspective I don't consider The Fall of Man to be a rebellion or corruption at all, seeing it instead as a necessary step on the journey toward spiritual maturity. The garden story is the perfect example of ignorance being bliss. Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the dawn of consciousness. At that point, man grew beyond his oneness with nature (was expelled from the garden) by becoming aware of right and wrong. He developed a conscience. Do animals feel shame? I don't think so. But from that point on, Adam and Eve felt vulnerability (nakedness) and shame.

Once man evolved beyond his animalistic instincts he developed the ability to consciously bring harm to himself and others. He was also able to use his mental powers to judge despite his errors in perception. Consciousness, or self-awareness, created the fundamental spiritual challenge: overcoming the temptation to serve and preserve oneself at the expense of others. In short, learning to love.

There's a similar perspective I learned through the writings of Emmet Fox and I can't tell you how true they ring. To me, it makes more sense than anything else I've heard up to this point. (These points are paraphrased for the most part.):
  • Adam and Eve represent two aspects of the same person. Adam represents the physical body and Eve represents the mind.
  • The serpent represents our lower nature -our carnal mind or ego (an aspect of Eve), thus it was Eve who the serpent tempted.
  • Eve eats the fruit first because mind is the builder and body is the effect. The mind can bring harmony or trouble into the body/world but the body cannot act independent of the mind.
  • When Eve ate the fruit (gave in to the temptations of the ego) she started to view herself as separate from God, this mistaken belief is the Fall of Man.
  • When it says Eve shared the fruit with Adam, it represents those mistaken beliefs becoming manifested in the material world (acted out). (I guess you could call this sin!)
  • The result of these mistaken beliefs is much suffering and effort. (Eve experiences pain in childbirth; Adam must till the ground.)
  • A belief in separation from God also causes us to feel vulnerable and fearful, hence the feeling of nakedness Adam and Eve experienced and the desire to cover up that feeling with material things.
I don't know about you, but I find all this stuff absolutely fascinating. The Bible is an amazing, amazing book filled with truths beyond what we can even currently imagine. I really must spend more time reading and meditating on these inspired writings.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm Doing Nothing For Lent

(c) Holly Stanley

In a world where productivity rules and efficiency is king, intentionally leaving the margins blank seems counterintuitive. We text while waiting in line-ups, read on the toilet and respond to emails while watching television. I've become so accustomed to doing that I have a hard time not doing. Just lounging on the couch without music or television, a laptop or telephone, writing or reading seems totally foreign to me. And yet this is the place where dreams are made, this is when we are most creative, and it's also when we are most likely to be receive revelation.

We don't need to carve out more time for rest, we need to use the time we have more restfully. Multi-task less, go for walks without the iPod, sit and stare out the window for an hour. Do nothing, intentionally. And do it every day.

This is my plan for Lent.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I Am Who I AM

Sometimes, the hardest thing to be is yourself, nothing more and nothing less. The past few years I've been peeling back layers of my personality and getting to the fruit. I am coming to accept that I am who I am. Social stuff, even close relationships, weren't easy for me and I have battled feelings of inferiority for as long as I can remember. I didn't think anyone would like me just the way I am. I feared being found out -that people would eventually realize what a fraud I was. If I spent an evening with friends I'd spend the next 3 evenings picking apart every "stupid" thing I said or did. I despised my own words and feelings. I rejected my own story. 

But something really wonderful has been happening lately: I am seeing myself as a child of God and fellow sojourner -just another Bozo on the bus really! 

This perspective of brotherhood heals me in a fundamental way. We are equals. No matter how pretty she is or how intellectual he is or how much compassion or creativity or success they have, I am an equal.

Nowadays, when I catch myself being completely myself there is a quiet freedom that teeters on joy. I can ask questions when I am uncertain without being afraid of looking dumb. I can share my view, even if it's unpopular, without fearing judgment. I can tell my story without feeling shame. Why? Because when I tap into that perspective of brother/sisterhood and seek to share honestly and humbly, I have no facade to maintain or persona to defend. I am no longer speaking to impress, I am simply sharing/engaging without an agenda. At that point, I simply am who I am, nothing more and nothing less.

Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Broken Body of Christ

I'm back at church for the first time in over a month. The worship team is playing one of those songs that put a lump in my throat and little Kathleen, who is usually running wild, is resting in my arms with her head on my shoulder. The air in the room is heavy with grief. We are saying goodbye to sweet Elinore. I am crying too, but not for Elinore. I am crying for us. We are a motley crew of lost and broken-hearted. We sit alone together: an adulteress, an alcoholic, a rape victim, a man so lonely his pain is palpable. The body of Christ is still bleeding.

Not one of us gets through life unscathed. For some the pain comes early, for others it will be much later, but misery will find us all -if only because we have decided to take up the cross of our brother who can no longer carry it himself. If we are living safe, comfortable lives and belong to a church filled with good, happy people then we are either delusional, in denial, or lazy. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 

Across this broken body of Christ a new vision is formed and hope springs from bended knees. Our wounds mark our brotherhood and surrender becomes our salvation.

We are one. We are one. We are all one.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

To Be a Prayer Warrior

I can only imagine what it would be like to consistently begin and end each day with prayer; to seek guidance and express gratitude as a way of life; to say grace before every meal; to pray with each child at bedtime; to humbly present myself at the Throne of Love when I am floundering.

I believe in the miraculous power of prayer.
I believe prayer can change lives.
I believe prayer will change my life.

Today, I pray.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Questioning 'Questioning Christianity'

Lately I feel less than inspired to blog here at Questioning Christianity and I think it's because I'm not in the same place I was when I started writing. I still have loads of questions, I'm just not as hungry for answers anymore. Or maybe the answers don't satisfy so much because as interesting as it is to debate God stuff it's infinitely more rewarding to experience God stuff. These days I'm keeping busy practicing Christianity rather than studying it. I don't plan to stop blogging but I do think the content has been generally moving in a new direction -one that balances questions with experiences and pays just as much attention to the heart as it does to the head.