The Nature of Unknowing

So, in the last few years, my faith has been on a roller coaster. Recently, I finally went back to the Methodist Church (which I grew up in and was baptized into) during the Advent Season of 2015 because I fought the pull to go back to the church on my spirit. Before that, I was trying to fit into the world and finding pat answers and answers to appease everyone whenever the right answer was to “Seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God,” (paraphrased slightly from Micah 6:8). This is the theme behind the Gospels and the Prophets, I have noticed.

I used to try to have all of the answers. I used to try to answer every single thing that came my way, and I could usually back it up with something from somewhere. But then I got in nursing school, which showed me this-

Surprise, surprise. I don’t know everything I thought I knew (which I even admitted wasn’t a lot at the time) and I knew even less than I realized. That was a year of humble pie; I’m sure seminary will be the same. I’m okay with that because I need to learn. It’s part of life.

When Jesus chose His followers, He didn’t chose the ones who were well educated (the Pharisees), He chose fishermen (I know He chose Paul, but that was post ascension, not pre crucifixion), He chose tax collectors, He chose women, He ate with those who were considered unclean, who were looked down on. He chose those who weren’t considered righteous, who weren’t considered educated, but men and women who were rough, who had not necessarily had the means to get the education that the Pharisees had. He chose those who were honest about their lack of knowledge, those who didn’t have all of the answers, those who He knew would deny Him, and those He knew would run from Him when He needed them.

We don’t know. I’m well aware what it says in the Bible, and what Christ said, but that doesn’t mean I know everything or even a part of it. The nature of unknowing is the nature of humility, of a child. It’s embracing the fact that you may not know, or that you don’t, and that that is okay. There is a lady UCC preacher who has reached the point to where all of her answers are, “Honey, I don’t know.” That is where I am at now.

Personally, I think, like Flannery O’Connor said in her story about the woman who had pigs and who just “knew” who was getting into heaven, that we will be surprised at the ones who will be saints when we all get there. God works in mysterious ways and we can’t possibly know His mind; but we can be in His heart which will show through our actions. We will be known by the fruit we bear (Matthew 7:16).

I hope this reaches whoever may need it so that you may know- it’s okay to not know. It’s okay to be in the unknowing.

The Nature of Communion

Last Sunday (not today, but last week) was communion at my church. I was one of the last rows to go and, so, I sat and eagerly people watched as each person filed by me. I was able to take in the different styles, the different perfumes and colognes, laundry soap at times if they passed by close enough and were not wearing any perfume or cologne. I noticed something; so many people had come together to worship and to have communion together and with the Holy Spirit presiding. But we forget something crucial- that it isn’t just within the church and just with Christians we have communion.

We all share communion through our interactions with one another and the world around us daily. I think we forget that quite often, and, I think, it leads to an us versus them attitude, eventually leading to dehumanizing people. If we don’t view ourselves as in communion with the people around us and with the world around us, not just within the church and with fellow believers, then we lose sight of how closely we are all connected. We then find ourselves indifferent and apathetic to our fellow humans and beings on this Earth. We lose the value of life that is needed for communion to work.

When I say value of life, I am not referring to pro life and pro choice. This isn’t political but it could be viewed as revolutionary because you hold all of life sacred and worthy of care and communion. We have to honor  the spirit that resides in us all- we have to truly value life and honor the image of God that each of us holds within because we are all created in the image of God. To honor God, to have communion with God and one another, you have to recognize that all of life is sacred because it was created for a purpose and created in the image of God.

The actions of those who have taken lives this week, from those who killed in Baton Rogue to Minnesota to Dallas to the attack in Bristol, TN against white people do not honor the spirit within each of us. It does not honor the image of God that we were created with. Spreading the hatred, the fear, screaming for revenge, violence, war, fueling these fires, all allow the Evil One to come in, disrupting and destroying our communion with each other and the world around us. These things pit us all against each other when we all need to be in relationship to one another, honoring and loving one another. Our actions, our thoughts, our emotions, and our perspectives affect not only us, but the world around us through our friends and family, which in turn affects the people that they are around, until you have created a tidal wave of negativity and fear that started as a pebble, grew to a boulder, and then was dropped right into a very small and peaceful lake.

Communion is meant to be entered into with a contemplative, prayerful, and meditative heart. There is no room for hatred, bigotry, and anger that has been held on to. There is no room for fear. Love, perfect love, unconditional love, casts out fear. The nature of Communion is one that changes and transforms, rather than seeking to destroy. It builds, heals, and restores- which is the whole point of the Last Supper that began the Communion that is a tradition in many churches today. As with that Last Supper, love is the foundation and the framework of the nature of Communion- (and, yes, I am aware that I went from a small C to a capital one- this type of Communion is holy and sacred and needs to have its importance noted). Communion, with a capital C, is about sharing our stories, our homes, our hopes, our sorrows, our joys, our fears, our loneliness, our happiness, praise, and holiness- even if it is just for a moment. Communion, with a capital C, is about remembering that we are never entirely alone on our journeys through life, even though we can’t always see those around us or before us or behind us. Communion is for weary travelers to come together, to dine, and to rest.

Communion, with a capital C, in its nature, is one of peace and rest.

Are we offering that to one another and to the world today?

A Fire

Add kindling to the flame…
Make sure the logs are sturdy and thick
If you want this to last,
Kindling must be added…
and the logs sturdy and thick
to burn bright and long
As the nights and days wear on.

A Process Of Healing

Studying the scar tissue,

Noticing how badly it healed,

I take a knife and rip it open,

Gasping as the old blood pours.

 

Gritting my teeth against the pain,

I slowly and systematically clean,

And then stitch it back up,

Tears falling, but determined.

 

Bloody rags pile up,

Stitches aching and blood all over,

The pain from the reopened wounds

Making my nerves scream.

 

Finally, it’s done.

The rags and other supplies

Are tucked away after cleaning.

I bathe in cool, clear water

Satisfied and happy that

Healing can fully finish.

The Nature of Salvation

Salvation is often used in religions to denote be saved from our sinful natures. However, is that the actual meaning? Or is it just what we have come to believe it means?

For the English, it’s salvation. The Edenic (Hebrew) word is ShalVah. The root words are salvus (Latin), sol (Indo-European), and salve (English).

“Salvus” means to “make whole, healthy, or uninjured.” “Sol” means “whole.” And “salve” is used as a verb sometimes and it means “to soothe, heal.”

So, when using the ending “-ation” for any word, you are saying that that word is an action or you are using it to denote a result of an action or a product of an action. Going on that alone, combining “salve” with “-ation,” you are saying that you are healing, not necessarily saving. When speaking of salvation in the area of our souls and even other areas, we are talking about healing of that area.

Using the Christian tradition of salvation, when the fall of humans happened, it opened a door that allowed darkness and sin to enter the world. However, breaking away from the Christian tradition of salvation, it’s not that we need saving: It’s a healing that is needed.

This does not mean that we are born broken or that something is wrong with us. However, due to the door being opened for the evil to come in and the affronts to God pushing into the world, we can be touched by it. That’s why “salvation” or “healing” is needed. And it’s not just us- it’s the world around us, and the very universe that we are connected to.

The very nature of salvation is healing. It’s not condemnation or damnation; it’s healing. Remember- yes, you can be saved- but being saved doesn’t mean that you will be healed. Looking back at the Gospel stories, Jesus healed people. He didn’t save them.

An Appalachian Summer Day

Riding in the back of Papa’s pickup

Down a gravel road

Four or five years old

The dust coating my skin

and filling my lungs.

 

Sitting in a white church

The chords of “Fly Away”

Filling the air this Sunday

Voices raised together

Joined in worship.

 

Wading into the pond

Walking carefully to the preacher

He holds me gently, baptizing me

Dipping me back into the water.

Eyes closed, I’m suspended for an eternity.

 

Breathing in the smell of burning pine,

Eating a roasted marshmallow,

catching lightning bugs,

The strings of guitars fill the night

The water of the pond lapping at our feet.

Summer Rain

Driving down the road,

Soft rain falls from the sky,

Washing the heat away,

And the flowers to sway.

 

Rain drenched honeysuckle

fills the air with the sweetness,

The taste upon the tongue

Soothing the thirst.

 

Soft rain, the summer rain,

Soothes and lulls,

The heat gone and the air clean-

The touch tender upon the kin.