Monthly Archives: March 2022
I treasure the memory of my child-self’s favorite escape from our cramped seventh floor apartment, Sunday evenings’ outings to a majestic three-tiered fountain amid flower filled terraces surrounded by groves of the stately trees of Forest Park
It’s the soft edge of the evening as I run ahead to the flowing layered fountain. The breeze sprinkles fairy mists on my happy face and thirsty heart. I pause to listen with delight to the gentle staccato of the tiny splashes of the falling droplets. I watch mesmerized as the silent pool swallows them with quicksilver circles of welcome. In the faded light of dusk, they have become one with its dark mystery. I wonder if dying is like this, just melting into a vast welcoming ocean of love?
A phrase I like is, “We are God’s boots on the ground.” But unfortunately sometimes that can morph into the song, “These boots are made for walking and I’m gonna walk all over you.” When young, even to middle-age, I was so emotionally fragile, that I lived fear. In my teens I became funny and outgoing and talked constantly, so no one got much chance to say something that scared or hurt me. I built a wall of words that protected me from the world around me. Experiencing the Love of God expressed in Jesus helped in a way. Instead of just being comic relief, I tried in various ways to share that Love of God, Jesus. But it was a bit of a struggle because I had developed another unconscious weapon against the misery of fear, a fierce ‘no holds barred’ anger. I finally recognized that when I got really, really angry, I wasn’t afraid of anyone or anything. It was like a super-power and for a while, I treasured this awareness. Sometimes I even emotionally danced with delight in the power of it. Eventually, I noticed it was also an arrow in the quiver of Jesus. I remembered the money lenders in the temple and even his peculiar zapping of the barren fig tree. But I also realized that Jesus gave it up. He could have zapped the soldiers in the garden of Gethsemane, but he didn’t. He could even have zapped Pilate, but he didn’t. He could have escaped death on a cross, but he didn’t. So, like Oscar, the Grouch, I have worked on my attitude by trying to let myself consciously experience hurt and fear rather than ending up emotionally self-protecting with anger. Praying helps. Reading Scripture helps. Taking time for reflection helps. But most of all remembering, savoring, and just basking in the warmth of the love of God melts not only my need to protect from others, but even the need to deny my own human imperfections and failures. I am unfinished, but I am loved with no small print by the healing Love of God expressed in Jesus.
Fear, Super Power, and Jesus, Oh My.
What does God actually require of us?
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you? To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
To me this is the essence of both the Jewish and Christian call of faith. The key to the first two is the third: to walk humbly with your God.
That requires recognizing how very limited our knowledge, understanding, and ability to love unconditionally are. So, we moment by moment, like a child crossing a busy street with their parent, prayerfully hold God’s hand. I do that by reading the Scriptures prayerfully every day, just like letters from God. Then when life challenges me, the words I need will come to mind as both guidance and grace.
This may shock my friends, but I do not think we have to officially be Christians to walk with God. When searching for God in my twenties, I read the original teachings of those that started other religions. They all say in one way or another, we are all one. What we do to anyone, effects all. Jesus told his disciples, “What you do to others, you do to me.” That’s saying the same thing in spades when you think about how much his disciples loved and depended on him.
Think about how many billions of human being have walked this earth. God created them all. Jesus calls God our “daddy.” What parent would doom most of his children for eternity?
Jesus said that he was the way to God. How? By fleshing out the unconditional Love of God. Then by showing us that his way of being a child of God went from loving the “chosen” people of God, to loving all people. Then he progressed from calling us to love one another as we love ourselves to loving one another as he loves us!
Sharing the love of God expressed in Jesus is costly, friends. And it requires realizing with our whole heart and mind that we are imperfect and unfinished and without the love of God we will not become able to love as God and Jesus loves us.
Jesus is my way of experiencing the love and friendship of God. He doesn’t seem to be everyone’s. But I personally need a friendship with a human being that “got it” and through the spirit of God within him walked with God and grew in love and understanding enough to forgive those who killed him.
I have sensed his actual presence and even experienced healing in times of great physical pain, in times of debilitating emotional pain, and in times of despair. I have experienced that overwhelming mind blowing love when I have faced and experienced the sorrow of having hurt others. I have experienced answered prayer that was so instantaneous and amazing that no amount of human doubt could deny the presence, love, and active involvement of God in our lives. At other times, such as my mother’s fourteen years of dying by inches with Alzheimer’s, I could not understand why he didn’t answer my prayer, but I was given signs to trust that “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal” and that someday I will understand.
We are all different. So, God’s activity and way of reaching and teaching us will differ. And as we grow in our spiritual journey it will change for each of us. Change is scary, so often we resist it. There is no blueprint for personal journeys.
We cannot judge others and we can’t even judge ourselves. Humans are born as complex beings with different gifts and limits and ways of being in the world. And the world wounds us in different and sometimes unrecognized ways. But when we are freed to be humble by knowing with heart and mind that we are loved just as we are, we can be healed and freed by the forgiveness Jesus expressed for all of us.
Jesus is my way, because I’ve experienced the healing, freeing love of God through him and recognized the way he grew and changed and became Love through God’s Love.
I will fall short of the glory of God’s Love today and many tomorrows, but I am forgiven before I do, and when I recognize that and accept the forgiveness and Love, I will grow a tiny inch closer to walking Jesus’ Way.
Reason and faith are two sides of the same coin. Reason stretches our minds and faith stretches our hearts. And both come from God. It’s not either/or. It’s both dancing together, a paradox. The trick is not limiting our faith by reason and not limiting our reason by faith. Since God gave us both, when we are open to God through both, there’s not a conflict. Just don’t make scripture or science into a God. They are ways to God, but not God. And if we think that we know the truth, all the truth, and nothing but the truth, we are claiming to be equal to God. And whether we base that on science or scripture, it is hubris. And we are called to walk humbly with God.