Hear O Israel the voice of one crying in the wilderness…
the one crying may not be the one you think…
I know it’s been a while since I threw anything up here, it’s been a little crazy. Work hasn’t been busy, but there’s always stuff going on that needs attention, which is good (job security), but after a days work I don’t really want to come home to another dozen or so chores and things that need to get done. Life… well, life is at the moment. I think it’s funny that almost all my close friends tell me that their social calendar becomes fuller and busier the longer they hang out with me. I don’t mean to do it, it just sort of swirls around me I suppose. So why write those phrases at the beginning of this post? What’s the big topic for discussion up tonight? Well… it’s complicated… in part because people are complicated and peoples with theology even more so.
I was moved to put some thoughts up on one of my social network sites today in part to the way some members of my world church had been expressing their feelings about a piece of what we believe to be divine counsel to us, and what it means for our church. The comment follows: all our talk of toleration and inclusion is for naught if, in the midst of our celebration, we marginalize those who disagree. Remember our years as strangers in the land and be sure to treat them the way we wish they had treated us.
I was wrong to refer to the passing of support for the document as a victory. Victory implies a loser and in this case I don’t believe there was, there are simply those who are accepting of this counsel and those who are not – honest, well intentioned people on both sides. So how do we stay in community? How can we? How can those of us for whom this day was a wonderful blessing keep our hearts open and sensitive to those of our brothers and sisters for whom this was a major step in the wrong direction? How can those who disagree so strongly keep the love of God for all of us in their hearts and keep fellowship with us?
The simple answer is “I don’t know.”
This is not something I’m good at determining, I only know I feel it needs to happen. My friends who are more conservative help keep me grounded in the roots and traditions of my forerunners, keep me on the path of what has come before and how that shapes where we are heading. They help provide me with a firm foundation from which to reach for the stars. My more liberal friends are the ones who are standing on that foundation with me, lifting me up and encouraging me to stand upon their shoulders to reach for the stars, the ones who open my eyes to the wonder of creation in unexpected areas.
I need both to flourish.
I can survive with one or the other… but that’s not the point… not when we have the opportunity to do more than simply survive.
I am not always comfortable with either end of the spectrum. To my conservative friends I’m too liberal. To my liberal friends I’m too conservative. To me I just feel a bit mixed and saddened by the sense I have that those on the fringe want to pull things so tightly to them that it rips apart the middle. Fortunately we have avoided that thus far… but I’m walking on emotional eggshells as what has happened before still follows me, and shadows my thoughts on these issues. I was just a child when it was finally passed…the counsel allowing women to be in the priesthood. I watched over 3/5’s of the people I knew and loved… from a place that should be safe above all others…walk out, turn their backs and harden their hearts. It made my relationship with God and my church very difficult for many years. I still have problems with those dissenters sometimes. But others are very very dear friends. It’s crazy, but one of my best friends is Democratic, one is Republican and the other is an Independent. We all know each other and we all get along. How do we build bridges like that in our everyday lives? To me, the mission of Christ is to build relationships. Being in relationship with someone, whether intimate, friend, family or something else, is an opportunity to share, to learn, to grow, to love. It’s what we are called to do and to be.
I’ve been humbled greatly by some of the things people I’ve seen for the first time in a long time, and some I see regularly, have shared with me this week. Humbled and nervous.
I struggle still with the outcome of my life. The long term goal, projections, etc. I’m still trying to figure out what I want from this. I’ve made many new friends, found a voice for the first time I feel like I can call my own, can occassionally be involved in things that impact more than just my own life. I have witnessed miracles every day, both big and small. I have seen the love of God made manifest in my life and in the life of those around me, through the smallest acts of kindness.
Why then do I still struggle so? Part of me wonders if this isn’t part of the great mystery that is God, that Mother Teresa and others spoke of. The sense that the closer we get to God the more alone we feel as the inadequacy of our finite vessel becomes clearer and clearer to us. We are made to appreciate the mystery more and have to cling to hope and faith ever more the harder. Faith…
“A belief in things hoped for but unseen”
I could share many testimonies of God’s love in my life. But the truth of the matter is, I don’t need to know God exists. I’ve had experiences that can’t be quantified, measured, etc. I believe God exists… it is the faith that is a gift from God’s Holy Spirit. A gift I don’t need science to answer. And since I’m still more or less on the topic of conservative/liberal…sort of…I can talk briefly about this.
One of the things that drives me nuts about people is that they try to force religion and science to answer each other’s questions. Religion and Science are not in opposition, but concert. Science tells me how I got here, how the things around us in the wonderful creation act/work, the laws they follow. Science tells me when things happen and how…and they can answer the little “why?” But they can’t tell me why I matter, what the purpose of my life is, how to treat my fellow human being and the earth. That is Religion’s purvue. Religion answers the big “Why?” That is not to say one is more important than the other. I think it is too easily forgotten that some of the most influential early scientists in Europe were priests, men of God who wanted to better understand in our finite and limited way the glories of the world around us. I think how wonderful that is… and how wonderful it could be again.
My denomination has just started a dialogue on several difficult issues, including homosexuality, baptisim and others. It’s not the big dramatic step some hoped for and it’s too big for others… It is my earnest prayer that that means it could be just right… for all of us. All of us are children of God.