Being Guided Part 1: Trust Over Fear

While on the Isle of Eigg, I had an eye-opening lesson on the rewards of faith.  Although many of us might profess a faith in God or a higher power, how many of us would be willing to act on it?  How many of us would truly pray, ‘Guide me Lord and I will follow’ and then do just that?

The Isle of Eigg is my personal choice as a place of restoration.  It is sublimely beautiful. It offers within nature what is most popular about Scotland.  You get thistle, heather, ferns and foliage which changes to beautiful autumnal colours in the fall.  You get the crags and huge rocks and lots of wild scenery.  There is hardly any light pollution so you get an abundance of stars at night and beautiful sunrises and sunsets and sometimes (if you’re lucky) the aroura borealis.  You also get migratory birds of various breeds and many sea animals.  You get all that and the sea as well with majestic views of other islands. It is truly paradise….

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sunset on Eigg

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Unfortunately, sometimes things can go wrong like the time a hiker broke her ankle while she was on the Sgurr and they had to get a helicopter to rescue her.  I can’t help thinking that it could have been worse.  I don’t know the full story but she was lucky.  Somehow, someone knew where she was and that she was hurt.  When I was there nearly three weeks ago, I was on my own during off-peak season.  Kids were in school so there were very few vacationers on the island.  Therefore, when I chose to do some hiking and broke my ankle, no one would know.  If I got lost, I would pretty much stay lost for some time…maybe having to spend the night on an area of grazing land…with cows and well…cow pats.  Not a pleasant thought but even more unpleasant is the possibility of falling off a cliff.  I don’t like heights much so it’s no surprise I guess that thoughts would run through my head such as, ‘If I fell off the cliff, how long would it take before they found my body?’  I am a bit embarass to admit this but I confess I thought of this a wee bit too much.  So much so, that even in the midsts of beautiful scenery, I felt a bit of tightness in my chest and I walked very very carefully in some places.  I didn’t want to fall knee deep in cow manure and break my ankle.  I especially did not want to fall off a cliff.

BUT…

I was on on a quest.  Ever since my first visit to Eigg, I had known about this Holy well.  It was on a map of Eigg which I saw on the wall in Tigh Eilidh.  Not many people on Eigg seem to know much about it or cared.  I had vowed that one day I would find it.

So one my second day on Eigg which was a Sunday, I thought it would be a good day to look for the well.  I knew which direction to head towards but didn’t have a route planned.  After about 5 or 6 miles walk, I lost confidence and assumed that I was going in the wrong direction so I decided to postpone looking for the well and just do some exploring.  My anxious thoughts were agitating just below the surface so I asked God to guide my steps.  All I meant was, ‘Please don’t let me get lost, hurt or step in any boggy, sh**-y mess.’ I just wanted to be safe and not have any mishaps.  The weather was beautiful and I was happy just to walk and explore a bit….safely.

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I came out from the woods, and down the path and had an instinct to go through a gate into an open safer looking area.  The weather app on my phone said I was at Galmisdale.  After walking only a short way, this was the view that met my eyes:

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I realized that God had something better in store than just keeping me safe.  He wanted to calm my spirit, to teach me to trust him more and simply to bless me with a gift of staggering beauty and wonder. He wanted to awe me.  I was.  His love never ceases to awe me.

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Thought For Thursday: Madeleine L’Engle Quote

“We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are.”  —Madeleine L’Engle

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I actually chose the quote and photo a week ago before yesterday’s message.  The quote speaks volumes on its own and on a personal note, I feel it is for me.  Of course it is true.  It is truth in it’s highest sense.  God always wants more for us and from us just as we want that for our own dear children.  It is the voice of Love that beckons us, “Further up and further in.” ** Why should we choose to do any less?  We can be more of who we are with the help of the Spirit who is ever within.

Namaste

** From C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle

Trying To Stand Up While Still Sitting Down

Photo by Marilylle Soveran

Photo by Marilylle Soveran

I still get a joyful shock when a revelation is revealed to me.  I am never quite sure whether to call it my inner guidance or the Holy Spirit but perhaps they are one and the same.  It sometimes happens when I am asking a question and sometimes it just happens.  It is the still, quiet knowing voice which speaks within me and reveals something new to me.

Recently, I had a dream which I didn’t remember until I was meditating later that day.  I dreamed I saw a flying insect which didn’t fly very well.  When it landed, I was ready with a fly-swatter and was prepared to deal it a death blow when I realized that it wasn’t an insect at all but a small sparrow.  Luckily, I caught myself in time and didn’t kill it.  During my meditation, I realized that the bird was my spirit and the dream represented my freedom to soar.  I found myself praying words which I hadn’t prayed in years.

                               ‘Forgive me Father for I have sinned.’

I realized I was sacrificing myself, my calling and my relationships with God and my family.  I had been living life frantically.  I needed to give up my frantic lifestyle in order to soar effortlessly.  I needed to remind myself that serving God and giving love to others takes precedent above all else.  Oh, but it is such a hard lesson to learn!  The worries…the fear of the sacrifices…the excuses.

Then on another day, this question was asked of me,

                     ‘If your life were a book, what would it be called?’

The answer came effortlessly before I even had a chance to think about it.

Trying to Stand Up While Still Sitting Down

What did it mean?  What was my subconscious (or God) trying to tell me? I pondered a bit about it and thought that perhaps even though I may not have been aware of it, my inner dialogue goes something like this:

‘Move!’

‘I can’t.  I’m too scared.’

‘You need to start walking!’

‘What if I fail? What if the things I sacrifice turn out to be for nothing?’

‘You won’t get anywhere by just sitting there!’

‘Oh yeah?  Well maybe a door will open magically and I can crawl through it?’ (Said with a rebellious tone).

‘Or maybe you need to start moving so you can find the door?’

‘I can’t.  The risks are too high.’

Other times, the title of my life can also be called:

Trying to Be Still While Running Blindly.

During those times in my life, my inner dialogue goes something like this:

‘Stop!’

‘What do you mean stop?’

‘Just stand still and breathe.’

‘I can’t.  I need a change.  My life is not how I want it to be.’

‘But you are running the wrong way!’

‘Really?  Okay, then I will run this way.’

‘No! Not that way either!’

‘Well, which way then? Give me direction.’

‘Just stand where you are and breathe and I will come and find you.’

‘What? Just stand here and wait?’

‘Yes.’

‘I can’t.  I’m scared and I have too much to do!’

The Guidance is there. Do you hear it?  Do you sense it?  Do you still struggle to follow your inner guidance?  So do I!  The risks seem high.  What if we make the sacrifices and we fail?  However, what if we come to the end of our lives and never even tried?  Can you face that regret? Neither can I!

If you know the direction Guidance is telling you to take, then be courageous enough to take it.  Here’s a tip, I have used in the past:  Try it for a year.  Follow your inner guidance for a year and then review.  If it isn’t working at all, perhaps you were wrong and that’s okay.  You can go back to what you know or try something else.  Just remember, to be still first and breathe.  Don’t jump into anything but take your steps slowly and carefully.

 

A Story About Grace

 

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The tempo of the music bursting from the speakers increased and so Dermia picked up her pace to match.  The hair on the nape of her neck had already become drenched through her efforts.  She felt proud of herself because she knew that her new exorcise routine was going to pay off and hopefully she will look great in the dress she picked out for her sister’s wedding.  It hadn’t been easy trying to find the right dress.  Every one she had tried on revealed some unwanted bulge.  In the end she decided on a dress that concealed her flabby arms even though it didn’t perfectly hide her round tummy.  Dermia chose it because she felt it was easier to lose a bit of fat more easily from her middle than her arms.  She only needed to lose ten pounds and the dress would be fine.  It was really important to look her best on the day, after all she was the sister of the bride and part of the wedding party.  The wedding was going to be a large affair and there was the chance that she may meet someone rather interesting.  It didn’t feel fair that her sister would soon be married to her childhood sweetheart while she being older was a single mom who had had her heart broken.  As if on cue, a small voice interrupted her thoughts from the doorway.

“Mummy, is it breakfast time yet?” asked Grace, Dermia’s four year old daughter.  “My tummy is rumbling.”

“It’s almost breakfast time,” Dermia panted.  “I just need to finish working out to this cd and then I will make you some breakfast.”

When the CD was finally finished, Dermia put it back in its case. She was about to run into the bathroom to have her shower when Grace popped in front of her with a hopeful grin.  Her blond hair was still dishevelled from her night’s sleep and her mother suddenly noticed that her pyjamas were in need of a wash. Grace’s large, bright eyes looked up at her mother’s.

“Can I have Cheerios with raisins for breakfast?”

“Um…Grace, can it wait till I have my…”

“Pleeeassse!”

“Mummy is just going to have her shower first. I will be very quick.”

Dermia ran into the bathroom and quickly stepped into the shower.  She spotted the new shower gel she had bought and suddenly slowed down in order to inhale the fragrance of patchouli and jasmine.  It had been a bit expensive but it was worth every penny.  She felt a twinge of guilt for dipping into the money from her child support which she received from Grace’s father but then brushed it out of her mind by telling herself she often uses her own hard earned money for things Grace needed. After finishing her shower and drying off.  She went upstairs to her bedroom and carefully chose her clothes for the day.  Today she was taking Grace to her first day of preschool. She chose clothes which she hoped would make her look like a successful business woman to the other mothers even though she actually worked nights as a seamstress in a clothing factory.

Fully dressed and with carefully applied make-up, she went downstairs and walked into the kitchen to find Grace happily eating a bowl of cheerios without milk.

“Grace! What are you doing?  You were supposed to wait for mummy to get you breakfast.”

“You werm bishy so I wamted to hep by getting it myshelf,” said Grace with her mouth full of Cheerios.

Grace grinned up at her mother.  One solitary Cheerio was hanging precariously in front of her mouth making it look like an oddly shaped and enlarged tooth.  Dermia smiled back and went over to the refrigerator to get the jug of milk out.

“I’m sorry I made you wait so long for your breakfast.”

“That’s okay Mummy.  You had to get ready for my first day of school.  You’re pretty mummy.  I love you.”

“You’re right Grace.  It’s an important day today and you and I have to both look pretty.  So hurry up and finish your breakfast so we can get you dressed.”

Grace arrived with her mother at Little Acorns preschool looking adorable with her OshKosh B’gosh polo dress and denim jacket and her hair put up in one wavy ponytail with a Frozen hair ribbon. Dermia had a quick word with Grace’s teacher to ensure Miss Price was aware of how exceptional Grace was and how devoted a mother Dermia herself was.  She then dashed off to her ‘business meeting’ aka the nail salon to get her infills.

Grace was enjoying her day at preschool.  Miss Price handed out paper and crayons and asked the children to draw a picture of someone they love.  Grace worked hard and thoughtfully on her picture.  When she showed it to Miss Price, her teacher smiled quizzically but praised her effort.

Dermia was happy with the results of her new manicure and was about to do some grocery shopping when she ran into a friend of hers.  They decided to have lunch at a café.  The café was closed however so they went to a small restaurant across the street.  As they were both on diets, they decided to each have the soup of the day, a bowl of marinated olives and a glass of wine each.  What they ended up having was the soup of the day with crusty bread and butter, a bowl of olives and three large glasses of wine each.

Suddenly, Dermia realized she had five minutes to get to Little Acorns and pick up Grace but it would take fifteen minutes for her to walk there.  She quickly said goodbye to her friend and toddled off as fast as she could to Little Acorns.  On the way there she passed some construction workers who were working on a new build.  One of the workers did a wolf whistle and Dermia deliberately tried to walk more provocatively.  Because of this (and because of the wine she had), she ended up losing her balance slightly and scraped her arm on a fence with a jagged splinter of wood sticking out tearing the sleeve of her designer lookalike blouse.

When she arrived at the school, Grace was sitting on a bench outside chatting away with Miss Price and holding her drawing carefully in front of her. She saw her mother arriving and stood up with a huge grin and ran to her.

“Mummy!”

“Hi Grashe, sorry Um late,” her still tipsy mother said.

“That’s okay Mummy, you’re here now!”

Miss Price scowled slightly at Dermia.

“Will you be driving Grace home?” she asked.

“Oh no, weesh only lif around the corner,” answered Dermia.

“Would you like to come into the classroom so we could discuss Grace’s first day?” Miss Price was no fool and she wanted to ascertain whether it was safe to send Grace home with her mother in the condition she was in.  Dermia agreed to come in.  Although she was a bit tipsy she was aware enough to realize what Miss Price had realized.

They walked into the classroom and sat at the small desks.

“So tell me about your first day at preschool!” Derma said smiling at Grace and trying to appear the doting mother once more.

“I made this for you Mummy!”

“What is it?”

“It’s a picture of someone I love very very much!”

Dermia studied the picture.  It was a picture of a rather gangly figure with several arms and legs.

“Who is it?” asked Dermia confused.

“It’s you Mummy!”

“Why do I have so many arms and legs?  People only have two arms and two legs each Grace.”

“Sometimes when you exercise and dance you move so fast it looks like you have lots of arms and legs.  Also sometimes you are so busy you can’t help me or hug me.  You have sooo much you are always doing.  But see that red thing there in the middle?  That’s your heart because I know you still love me even though you are very busy a lot.”

Dermia’s eyes welled up with tears.  “Oh Grace, I am sorry I am so busy sometimes.  Does it make you sad?”

“We-e-ll, a bit,” Grace said tentatively. “But it’s okay mummy because you are very very pretty and you are sometimes sad because there’s no daddy and I love you…THIS much!”

Grace held out her arms wide. Dermia hugged her daughter.

“I do apologise Miss Price for being late picking up Grace.  I can assure you, I won’t let that happened again.”

Miss Price smiled and could see that Grace’s mother was relatively sober and it would be safe to let Grace walk around the corner with her mother.

“I understand that sometimes business meetings can run late,” Miss Price responded tactfully.  “Please do try to not allow that to happen too often as it is hard on both children and staff alike.”

Dermia took Grace’s hand and walked slowly and remorsefully home.  She realized that she had been taking Grace for granted.  She realized that Grace is a beautiful and loving child who loves her unconditionally and that she was lucky to have her.  Dermia vowed to actively love and care for her child more and to never be too busy to spend time with her and to hug her.

Who is Grace?  Grace is the One who gives because of Love alone.  Grace doesn’t say I am for you because you earned my time, my gifts or my love.  Instead Grace says, ‘Here is my heart because in spite of what you put out, I see you.  Here are my hands ready to serve you and to help you because in spite of how little you give me, I value you.  Here are my arms wanting to embrace you even though so many others deem you unworthy.  I know you and you are not unworthy to me.  I am here for you even though you don’t yet know how to love fully and you don’t always see me.’

Photo by Marilylle Soveran

Does Your Parenting Style Have An Effect On Your Child’s Religious Outlook?

There seems to be quite a debate when it comes to the best way to rear our children.  I have heard all kinds of comments and opinions from advocates of ‘gentle parenting’ to those who believe the problems with youth today stem from the lack of corporeal punishment.  It can often feel very confusing to new parents who are wanting to raise happy, well behaved children.

Another interesting comment I have often heard throughout my nearly thirty years as a parent is the one of regret.  ‘If I could do it all over again, I would do things differently.’ I myself would like to have done some things differently. When I first began having children, I had no real parenting role models so I raised my children partly on instinct and partly on books by parenting ‘experts’. Looking back at it now, I personally wish I had trusted my instincts more. I often tell new parents (even those adopting) to trust their instincts and to do everything in love. I believe that if we continuously ask ourselves what is the most loving way to handle every situation, we would make fewer parenting mistakes.  However, the sad truth is that not everyone can trust their own instincts.  Why? Because studies show that adults who have been raised by authoritarian parenting methods are often lacking the skill in hearing intuitively! This is especially true in those children who were not allowed to have their own voice or exercise any free will. Children raised in a militant style fashion are taught to do as their told and no questions asked.  Is it any wonder that they grow into adults who turn to others to make their decisions for them? They have not learn to discern their inner voice and when they hear it, they do not trust it.  They turn to advice from those who are smarter or wiser than they perceive they themselves are.

Parents are often authoritarian because what they desire above all is for their children to be well-behaved.  Basically, they want their children to be like adults before their time.  I remember being a young mother and fearing my children’s behavior in public because I felt their behavior was a reflection of myself as a parent.  The sad truth of the matter is that it is often perceived that way.  How often have we seen badly behaved children and heard some comment like, ‘She/He does not know how to control their kids!’ After having six children, I learned an important truth: all kids are different.  Some behave well and some do not and it isn’t always down to parenting skills or lack of.  Every child has different trigger points that can set them off into tantrums.  One of our jobs as a parent is defining those trigger points and recognizing moments in which they can occur.  This can be quite a challenge when your child’s temperament is different from your own or your other children!

I have known of families who impose strict regiments upon their children and guess what?  They are some of the most outwardly best behaved children I have seen.  But let’s not look at things at face value.  Why are they so well-behaved?  Is it because of fear of punishment?  Is it because they feel they must earn their parents love? If that is the case, then they are learning through dominance and dominance does not make for transformation.  Real transformation is from within and is not fear-based. I have seen some of these well-behaved children turn into violent, angry teenagers while others become fearful doormats. Don’t we want our children to be well-adjusted, spiritually strong, happy individuals who see the world as a friendly place?

In the case of religion, children who are raised by overtly strict parents tend  to become dualistic thinkers. Everything is either white or black, right or wrong, good or bad.  There is no room for tolerance in others. Because of the way these children are raised, they have not learned to question what they or others believe.  Everything is set in stone because they were not given the tools to learn for themselves. Can you guess what their perception of God will be like later in life?  Have you seen religious outlooks that are rigid and lack love and tolerance? I am not pointing fingers at any particular religion.  It is more of an individual thing.  You can have one particular church, synagogue, temple with individuals that are both tolerant and intolerant.  Fundamentalism is not a religion, it is a sickness of the spirit. What kind of God do we want our children to know?  A hateful dictator or a loving saviour? It is really true that a great part of how our children will be spiritually is down to how we as parents raise them.  If we raise them in love and respect and allow them to have opinions, then they will be loving, respectful adults.  Let’s discuss rather than dictate religious views with our children.  Share your viewpoints but also allow children to share theirs and to explore their own beliefs. Above all, raise them in love.

 

 

The Inheritance by Rhonda Blackhurst– Book Review

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The joy of reading is a privilege of which I am always grateful for.  A good book has the power to enrich our lives, sometimes even teach us or cause us to reflect.  This morning, after just finishing the book, The Inheritance by fellow WordPress blogger, Rhonda Blackhurst, I find myself reflecting some more on all the teachable gems which glittered throughout the pages of the book.

The story begins with a tragedy. A mature couple, married for 36 years and still deeply in love lose their lives in a car accident leaving behind three adult children (and two grandchildren).  At the time of the reading of the will, the adult children are shocked to learn of the terms and conditions of their substantial inheritance which their parents had put in place.  They are also stunned to realize how well their parents knew them, so much so that even their presence is felt in the room as their will is read.  The terms of the will are ones where they will have to make some changes and sacrifice.  They are unique and individualized for each of the three siblings.  Each feel that they alone got the hardest terms and there are hurt feelings that cut through to the core opening up old wounds and repressed childhood emotions.

From as early on as chapter one, I felt well introduced to the characters of the story and deeply interested in each one. Their personalities, opinions and emotions all seem very much like real people I have known or could know. The story bids you to ask the questions, How well did their parents know them really? and Are the conditions of the will really spot on for each of them?

Unlike many overtly Christian novels, God is mentioned seldom in subtle ways allowing the characters to experience and the reader to see the quiet, deep ways God works within the depths of their hearts.  This is a beautiful story with great character development.  My only critique as a reader would be to wish the story had been a bit longer in the earlier part of the book but perhaps I read it through too quickly.  I read every morning before getting out of bed and last thing at night wanting to know what happens next to the characters I grew to love.

The Dance

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“May I have this dance?” The soft voice asked.

I looked into the clear eyes which smiled into mind. I saw love in the gaze and felt my heart quicken in response.

“But there isn’t any music,” I said.

“I Am the music,” He replied.

I looked at His strong outstretched hand and knew that I would be safe.  I looked into His eyes once more  and also felt that I could trust Him above all others so I placed my hand gently into His.

Suddenly the air was alive with the most beautiful music I had ever heard. He led me across the dance floor and although I had never danced well before, I found myself gliding gracefully.  He led me and I followed with ease.  Together we spun and twirled in the dance of His love.  I could barely feel the ground beneath my feet and I wondered at His strength for surely he was lifting me most of the time.  I stumbled only once when I had dared to look away.  Afterwards, I kept my gaze upon His and I did not falter.

“Do you love this song?” He asked.

“Is it a song?” I asked for there was only instrumental music exquisitely playing.

“If you love the song, then sing with me.”

“Lord, I do not know the song,” I replied embarrassed now for I felt I should know it somehow.

“I Am the song,” He replied and began to sing.

At first I was afraid but when I looked into His loving eyes and listened to the words, I realized that I did know the song.  I lifted my voice and sang with Him.  Although I had never sang well before, I found myself singing in perfect harmony with Him.  I sang with Him and I sang too Him.  The song surged and I felt myself lifted higher even than before.  We sang whilst still dancing and never lost our breath or skipped a step.

I wondered how I knew the dance steps when I had never danced this dance before.  I wondered too how I knew the words to a song that I had never heard before.  I realized that He had spoken truly when He said He was the song.  With joyful surprise another thought came to me.  I looked up and realized He was smiling and nodding at me and I saw He knew my thoughts.

“So I am right?”  I asked.

“Yes, but you must say it Dearheart” He answered.

“Together…we are the song!”

“Yes! What else?”

“Together, we are the music!”

“Yes! What else?”

“Together, we are the dance!”

He laughed with joy and lifted me even higher and spun me around so that the lights from the candles reflected off the sparkles of my gown making them shine like a multitude of tiny stars.

He then placed me safely on my feet.  I bowed low to Him but He never let go of my hand nor I His.

Quote from John O’Donohue

“In Greek, the word for “the beautiful” is to kalon.  It is related to the word kalein which includes the notion of ‘call’.  When we experience beauty, we feel called.  The Beautiful stirs passion and urgency in us and calls us forth from aloneness into the warmth and wonder of an eternal embrace.” –John O’Donohue

On A Dark Night: part 2

More than ten years later, I begun to be aware of other Christians who really loved God, served Him but did not share the same beliefs as those of the fundamentalist persuasion. This wasn’t even a new kind of Christianity but these were Christians of many mainstream denominations.  However, learning that they didn’t view the biblical texts as literal truths shocked me to the core and challenged my faith even though I had never placed my faith wholly in the bible alone.  It didn’t help matters that I learned all this while going through a very difficult time in my life.  So I stopped going to church completely and I clung to God in a rather desperate way, no longer knowing what to believe except that He loved me.  The problem was that the love of God I had been taught was merciful towards unbelievers wanting to repent but conditional to those who already believed (you should know  better).  It was the kind of love that we humans often administer, hence God made in our image.  So I began to doubt that God could yet love me.  I read books of different thoughts and beliefs some by Christians and some not wondering where do I now fit in. I went through this inner struggle for ten years.

The ten years pains me.  It is a confession I guess.  For during those ten years I lived in my head and I served my struggle instead of actively serving others (outside my own family).

But then came the breakthrough.

*On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings–oh, happy chance!–
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.

In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised–oh, happy chance!–
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.

After purging much of what I had formerly believed in, my house was at rest and I was able to respond to God once more.  Through writing and meditating, I began to unite with the heart of God and know the depths of his love.

*In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide, save that which burned in my
heart.

So am I a Post-evangelical? Here is where my heart is:

I believe and long for everyone to be in touch with their spirit and have a relationship with God.  I also believe that everyone should be a free-thinker and not have religion forced upon them.  There is no value in believing what others dictate to you so it is important to work out your own beliefs.  I believe one can be aided in this with a spiritual counselor who doesn’t dictate but helps you to work it out. The reason I wish for everyone to be in a relationship with God is because of my own day to day experience which has led me to believe that although we are all capable of loving one another and serving one another and feeling compassion, our loving compassionate nature becomes charged when we are ‘plugged-in’ to God.  However, being plugged-in doesn’t mean going to church or having a particular belief system.  It means uniting one’s heart and spirit to the heart and spirit of God.  It is with unity that we become aware of God’s heart and purpose for us and it is with this unity that transformation begins.  This unity is deeper than being filled with the Holy Spirit but not necessarily exclusive of it.  There is a danger of one getting caught up in the experience in that it can become something which we desire for what we can get out of it. God’s Holy Spirit is a gift not something we should selfishly seek as a sort of spiritual ‘fix’. However, to seek a unity with God is to have the desire to sit at his feet, to learn from him, to know his heart and to allow His heart to transform yours.

*Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!

I desire this for everyone because it is wonderful beyond words, essential to one’s spiritual growth, makes life easier on so many levels and can lead to global transformation. However, it is not something you can rush into or rush someone else into. Jesus cared about the heart of a person, the kingdom of God within.

* I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies

*Excerpts from the poem Dark Night Of The Soul by St John of the Cross

On A Dark Night: Part 1

Recently, I came across a term I had not heard before, ‘Post-Evangelical’.  Apparently, it was coined by Dave Tomlinson in a book entitled, The Post-Evangelical. Having not read the book,  I wondered if I could describe myself as a post-evangelical.  I expect definitions may vary so I can’t say for sure. Why  is it important for me to classify my Christianity?  I am not sure it is.  In the past, I sometimes had the dilemma as to what to say if people ask me if I was a Christian.  I wanted to answer, “It depends on what you mean by Christian.” My beliefs no longer reflect what I use to consider what a Christian is but I know I am one.  Perhaps that begs the question, “What kind of Christian am I?” However, here below is a bit of my journey in the way of an an honest, revelatory confession:

When I first ‘became a Christian’, I was immediately invited to a rather old-fashioned evangelical church and was discipled by a good friend of mine who was a new Christian and well-meaning fundamentalist.  I had not yet at that point in my life reached a maturity level to be considered a free-thinker nor had I been raised to be one.  By that I mean, I was raised by strict parents and if I thought something they said or did was unfair I could not repudiate or comment without incurring their anger. They would call it talking-back, …it’s old-school parenting but they meant well too.

When I was 19, I had what one would call a ‘religious experience’ what others would call ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’, what I called it then was ‘feeling the presence of God’ which I still believe is more accurate but on reflection I would now say that I came face to face with the love of God for the very first time.  It is an experience which has repeated itself over the years and still leaves me in awe.  However, that first time was incredibly awesome because although I had known about the love of God, I had never experienced it before.  Because this first experience happened to me while I was with a group of people who I was meeting for the first time, I immediately came to the conclusion that whatever they believed in had to be 100% true because God wouldn’t be there if their religion wasn’t the true one. So for some years, my early Christian friends were what some may call Evangelicals…but I think the definition of that idiom may be much broader and  not necessarily a bad thing so what I want to focus on here is the fundamentalist aspect.  So as not to be misconstrued, when I say fundamentalist, I mean those who believe that the bible is inerrant and that every text in the bible is to be taken literally.  I also see Fundamentalists as those who see a distinction between ‘them’ and ‘us’. Fundamentalist also believe that to be a deemed a Christian means you have made a personal decision to follow Christ usually on a moment in time you can point to and some fundamentalist will say that exhibiting ‘gifts of the spirit’ such as speaking in tongues is the evidence thereof.  (This is just for starters but I will not list it all)

Note: I have been having a growing conviction that there is (or perhaps was) a lack of teaching in public schools in the US in abstract teaching.  I was an avid, well-read teenager for my age but had not fully grasp metaphors or abstract thinking.  It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s did I actually start to educate myself in thinking in the abstract.  I find this so sad.  Is it the school system or something else?  Please comment if you have any thoughts.

I loved my relationship with God and my fellow Christians but what I was taught to believe conflicted within me with God’s unconditional love and mercy.  I told myself, it was part of the mysteriousness of God and not for me to understand and forced myself not to question it.  My faith was a belief in a loving God even if my religion contradicted it. Who was I to judge God?  I believed my understanding was limited because of my humanity.