Monday, November 13, 2006
This is NOT Southern Baptist 101. . .
My favorite Bible verse, although I can't tell you where exactly it is located in the book, is this one: "Be still and know that I Am God." There's lots of other good ones, but this is the one that can just cut through all the crap in my head and stop the craziness that comes. (And yeah, I know, pagans quoting the Bible? Favorably? Oh No! Fact is, I like quite a bit of that book, when you divorce it from the stupidity man has drown it in.)
So, why does this affect me? How does it reach in and give me a definate sense of peace, when just about everything about the modern church causes me to want to run screaming? Well, a lot of that has to do with the way I conceive of god. The god that I hear in this voice is NOT the god I was raised with, the angry old man out to get everyone who pisses him off. Uh, no. Mostly, the voice isn't even male, really. There isn't anger or fear or judgement in that voice for me. It's simple, calm.
God is not personified in any particular way for me. In fact, I rely on the word God out of convenience. It would be more accurate to say spirit or force or presence. God is in everything and everything is in God. We cannot be removed from it, it cannot be removed from us. We are I Am. Be still and know that I Am God and you are a part of me and I am a part of you and we are never alone so what is there to fear? It sparks connection, not with some larger than life Daddy in the sky, but with everything in existence, including whatever it is that's got my going in circles. I am my fear, my fear is me. Breath. See. Embrace that truth and there's nothing to be afraid of any longer.
I used to think of faith as a chart, with little categories and gold stars for good deeds and behaviour. Get enough stars and you win a prize! Salvation, heaven, escape from hellfire. But it's so exhausting measuring every moment of your life, every thought, every action, to make sure they match up. That you don't tell a lie, or swear at your mother or lust after the football player (or cheerleader). That you read your Bible every day, pray every night or feel really really bad about it if you don't. It's hard not living, because you're too afraid of dying forever after you die. And it separates you, it pulls down an iron curtain between you and the Divine that should not be there. It cuts you off from an essential part of yourself -- the part that is meant to live and breath and enjoy and revel in being ALIVE.
The more we think of ourselves as separate, as somehow special and chosen, the further removed we because from the source of happiness. I honestly believe that everyone, even the people we cannot stand, is born with a spark of divinity inside them. And it doesn't matter if you call it God or conscious or common sense or whatever. You don't have to give it any god-language at all, it doesn't matter. That impulse toward togetherness, toward connection, toward basic decency -- that's where it dwells. When we demand it be labeled Jesus or Allah or Buddah or Goddess or whatever, we do it and ourselves a disservice. It doesn't matter what name we give it or if we don't give it a name at all. It doesn't matter if we do not acknowledge it or believe it exists. It is the same, in all of us, because we are all part of each other.
It sounds hokey and New Agey and like I've been dropping too much acid, but it changes how I view the world. Seeing how we affect each other, how we ARE each other vanquishes forever the notion that I am ever alone. I am a strand and you are a strand and those that love me are strands and those that hate me are strands and strangers are strands and friends are strands and we are woven together to make this web of life and we are never alone, are never forgotten, are never too weak or too lost to begin again, to stand up, to be powerful and unafraid.