Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Red Line

"There's a bridge I can’t get over
There's a weight I can’t get under
It's a dream I still remember
But it won't come true
If there's a lesson I would learn it
I would cross it now or burn it
There's a bridge I can’t get over
Between me and you"
(The Bridge, Patricia Conroy 1994)

            Being a good person is harder than it might seem. It takes a lot of energy, and concentration, in order to focus on knowing what the right thing is and applying it through action. It is much easier to give in to the selfish and defensive manners we all have as humans. The ways of the world around us stand as proof that it is simpler to burn a bridge than to build your own. It is much quicker to give in to impulse than to act by instinct. I often find myself on the thin red line between what I should do and what I really want to do. It is a constant battle for me to maintain some semblance of compassion or control and not flee from the human race to save myself.
            Sometimes I miss the way I used to be. I was a complete asshole most of the time, but I had few worries or concern. I rarely felt guilt or remorse because I just didn't care. Narcissism, so comforting in our modern world, gave me the freedom to put myself first and left everyone else to their own devices. Sometimes I miss this freedom that I had, and with that freedom, the capacity for more self-indulgent behaviour. I often think it would be easier to return to my lesser days so I didn't have to commit even more to these better days. There are times when I'm sick to death of being the good guy.
            I do not claim that I am now without moments of temptation. I am very flawed and have the scars of life to prove it. I am as human as they come. I make mistakes and fuck up like everyone else. For the longest time, I thought my imperfection was the sum of me. The things which the baser part of me relished made up my true nature and I could not escape them even if I tried. When I found a new way to travel, I put them behind me and allowed a spirit to work its way throughout my life. I changed. Something is different, crossed over in me. At times, I feel like a part of me has disappeared. I find it ironic that union with God may result in a ‘born again’ experience. They forget to tell you what dies in the transformation.
            I’m not saying God is boring. I'm not trying to justify some return to my hedonism. I'm not even merely ranting out of some need I have to be heard. From the holiest sage to the new Pope himself, I believe we all want to give in to the darkness every once in awhile. Spiritual issues may be the most interesting of topics to me, and a handful of others, but most people don't stop to think in these terms anymore. Sometimes I wonder if anyone ever really did. Was it forced conditioning or in history did people really believe in striving to be something greater than they were? Did they really want to be better, to do the right things, or does it stand in evidence the mistakes men have made? When have we ever stopped the evil that men do?
            As a once deceitful and unreliable scoundrel, I will not try to justify or excuse my past behaviour. I crossed the red line by my own volition. As I was once quite wild, it would appear I have been tamed. I make my choices for good the same way I used to make my choices for the selfish part of me, knowing full well what I was doing. No excuse, medical or environmental, can deny me this fact. Now my life seems like a monochrome snapshot. There is a part of me which strives to rise even more, yet I am captured by the thrill a more decadent life has to offer. It is all black and white and rarely, if ever, grey. I may thrive on the spiritual, but there is something to be said for the rush of choosing to be bad.

"Well, I've spent my whole lifetime
In a world where the sunshine
Finds excuses for not hangin' round
I've squandered emotions
On the slightest of notions
And the first easy lovin' I found
But soon all the good times,
The gay times, the play times
Like colors run together and fade
Oh, Lord, if you hear me
Touch me and hold me
And keep me from blowin' away"
(Keep Me from Blowin' Away, Patricia Conroy 1992)
             I believe it is important for us to understand not only why we did the things we have done in the past, but the lessons we may have missed had our course been different. We are defined by our experiences. We are shaped by them. We would not be the person we are now if we had travelled a different path. Is it worth trading your identity in the hopes of a better life? I am the sum of all that I have known and would not be who I am now without it. We are a product of our thoughts. What we think, we will become. The past can seem like an easier way of being in spite of any transformation met along our way. Sometimes craving the way things used to be can act to remind us how good we really have it now, even if we long for something familiar from yesterday. Despite the damage it may have done, it can still make us feel safe.
            It’s human nature to hunger and want and then give in. At some point in our lives we all fall short. For me, it has always been about falling. I felt like I was trying to climb a tree with my hands tied. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t reach the top. I so wanted to be a better person, to live the life that would make my parents, and Jesus, proud of me. In spite of constantly feeling like I was at war with God, I just wanted my now to stop and my tomorrow to begin. I used to pray for the freedom of stability and the quiet which I believed it brought. Be careful what you wish for.
            I am not a simple person. This complex weave of spirituality, ego and dissension has brooding, dark moments mixed with heavenly bliss. I once cried out for the bliss. Through tears and tremors, yearning and daring, I would beg and plead for but one second of anything but the way I felt and the way things were. Now that I have put the past behind me and found a better way of living, I find myself longing for the excitement of sinning and the thrill of the hedonism which commanded my attention. I don't want to go back; I just want to feel the freedom I did back when. It is a different beast that my place holds now. Even a handful of the people in my life have expressed to me that they too are a little tired of me only being the good guy.
            I’m not discontent with the life I now have. Sometimes I just miss the nomad that I was then. I was carefree in a sense, without regard for others. A free spirit filled with life and passion. I did as I pleased and was loyal only to myself. I had no limits or boundaries to cross. I only existed on the other side of that silly red line. I was happiest in my hedonism so I never let it rest. Now I think of others and try to put them first. I strive to do what I believe is right and this limits the part of me that once was. I often feel like I am boring, a drone of morality and ethics and the like.
            I would not want back the part of me that caused harm to both myself and others. I make no claim on the desire to be as I was. I just wish I felt freer. I wish I had moments of mischief like I did in the past. Sometimes I want to be bad, like a dog in the yard. I long for the adventure, and with it the illusion that doing what one pleases is truly living a full life. This desire has little room in my current thinking, but it taunts me, catcalling like a whore on the corner. I hear the summons and I have the impulse, but I cannot seem to follow through. I always flash back and remember that even though I thought I was happy, I never really was. I still don’t like the person I used to be. In the end, I'd rather be a bore than an asshole. I like me now, even in these times of struggle.

"Some people believe they're in control
They got it all worked out
Some people like me think nobody knows
What this deal, is all about...
It ain't nobody's fault
It's just the way it goes
It ain't nobody's fault
It's just the way the cold wind blows
It ain't nobody's fault
It's just the way the dice will roll
It ain't nobody's fault
Nobody at all"
(Nobody's Fault, Patricia Conroy 1998)

            My life is mostly black and white. Anything monochrome confirms that you can have it both ways. Everything turns to grey. You have to make a decision, which master to serve. People try so hard to have it all, but in reality you can’t. If you like being hungry but desire an apple, once you’ve eaten it you lose the hunger. We have to trade longing for living. We have to balance in the black or the white. There is little room for moderation when one speaks of surviving God.  
            Searching for God can be a trap, a slippery slope that leads to confusion. We are bound to be as we claim to be if we serve some higher purpose. You cannot fake it. People will know it, you will know it. You either have it or you don't. It screams within you and shapes you, it makes you so. This does not mean one loses their humanity in the process. This is what temptation truly is. We walk a thin red line.
            We can go backwards, longing for a past we once hated, or we can go forward trying our best. Trying to be as God has made us to be. Trying as we can only hope we are supposed to be. Trying, this is what counts.

“So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:16, NIV)




(Original Post February 10th 2011)




Tuesday, August 20, 2013

For the Birds

            Birds are feathered, winged, two-footed (bipedal), warm-blooded (endothermic), egg-laying, vertebrates. Fossil records indicate that they emerged within a class of theropod (hind-legged) dinosaurs around 160 million years ago, during the Jurassic period.  Most Palaeontologists agree that birds are one of the few species of dinosaurs to have "survived the Cretaceous–Palaeogene extinction event 65.5 Ma (million years) ago." Despite a large predator base, severe climate changes, and a specific extinction factor at the hands of other species, they have not only survived but have flourished. Birds can be found on all seven continents and far outnumber human beings.  
            Some birds, such as the parrot, are among the most intelligent of all animal species. They have been observed creating and using tools, and many more "social species exhibit cultural transmission of knowledge across generations." Birds are social creatures. They communicate with each other using "visual signals and through calls and songs, and participate in social behaviours, including cooperative breeding and hunting, flocking, and mobbing of predators." A bird's main method of locomotion is flight. Whether to feed, breed, escape, or to avoid their predator base, flying is the primary method used by birds to survive.  
            There are between "120–130 species of birds that have become extinct as a result of human activity since the 17th century." 1,200 species of birds are currently threatened with extinction at the hands of humans. Although efforts to protect them are progressing, for many it may already be too late. Despite human disregard for their existence, people throughout history have deified birds. Birds have played both salient and diverse roles in folklore, legend and myth. They have been prominent figures in most aspects of human culture including religion, literature, art and music. 

“Man is a biped without feathers.”
(Plato, Classical Greek Philosopher)

            There are about 10,000 living species of bird across the planet. Each breed has adapted to the environment where it lives. They thrive off the coast of Iceland and migrate from Canada to Mexico. They dwell in the icy waters off Antarctica and in the deserts of North Africa. There are birds everywhere there is earth. From the smallest hummingbird to the grand ostrich, they come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Some birds do not migrate each year while others travel back and forth, from destination to destination, relentless in their journey. It is estimated there are between "200 billion and 400 billion birds living on the planet at any given time." The bird population, in spite of the extinction of some species, is vastly greater than any species other than insects and plants. It is ironic that such abundance still occurs, given it is believed that birds did evolve from the dinosaur, a victim of extinction.
            The richness of the species is matched only by the diversity of each flock. Some birds are white and some birds are black. Some birds are streaked with colour while others are plain and layered with earth tones. Each breed is unlike the other and each individual bird is unique, different from all others. Some birds are savage and some birds are silly. There are birds who have never encountered man and birds who feed from his hand. Some birds are eaten and some birds are worshipped. Some birds spend their lives in a cage, entertainment for the masses. There are birds which we believe bring tidings from a new season and birds which we believe harbinger darkness and death. There are mythological birds that rise from fire. There are so many birds, in so many places, that their number resembles the stars in the heavens.
            Each bird is special and unique, even in its own flock. Differentials in colour and size, combined with gender, development and temperament make the individual bird as awe-inspiring as the flock with which it flies. Some birds have families and even practice monogamy. Some birds spend their life alone, waiting to mate. Some are known to murder. Some engage in homosexual activity. Some birds can talk. Some birds make music so sweet that their song inspires poets and lovers alike. Most birds fly. Some birds swim. Most birds have song. All birds have wings. 

“Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her,
 still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.”
(Victor Hugo, French Poet)

            I wonder if birds consider God, and when they picture it, do they see Big Bird? Do they even believe in God? Do they even believe? Do they question and can they think? Do birds subscribe to loyalty and charity or are they self-absorbed and selfish in their nature? When a bird is flying, soaring high upon the winds, does it look down and become lost in the sight of the planet passing beneath it?  Do they know secret things that only they can see from far above the ground? Do they love and do they hate? Does the sparrow despise the swallow because of its greater speed? Does the starling envy the blue jay for its colour and beauty? Is it possible that birds will abandon their children because they don’t like the way they sing? How do birds know not to sing in the rain?

“A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
(Maya Angelou, American Poet)

            The human being is a strange animal. I wonder if we would be different if we had feathers? Would we still kill in the name of revenge and justice or would we simply fly away? Would we exorcise each other based on our differences or would we nest together in our common goals? Would we have mercy on the wounded or would we be merciless in trying to save them? Would we feed on the weakness of other breeds or would we find solidarity on the wind and in the clouds? Would our freedom make us more enlightened?  Would we flock together or travel alone?
            Would the shape, colour and genetic predisposition of the individual stand as the determination for exclusion or would we simply feed from the same pile of seed? When we take to flight, would we soar merely for the joy of it or would we use our speed, agility and grace to rise above each other, in hopes of ruling the roost? Would we still dream of heaven or would heaven be but a moment away? Would we sit and argue the origin of our species or would we embrace the feather, claw and hallow bones that allow us to glide through space with precision? Would we sing for the sake of singing?
            Would we reject each other, condemn each other and fear each other for our flight patterns or would the earth and sky and air command a better way, a simpler way? Would God consider us all or love only those for whom the way back home is revealed? Would we hate and envy and covet each other or recognize we all come from the same evolutionary egg? Would we finally see that we all are essentially the same species or laugh at the face of diversity, beasts to our ego and our overwhelming sense of self? Would we cage our own kind for entertainment, and in judgment, or would we all be free to follow the sky and the stars and the sun? Would we sing all together? Would we use our wings to move about that sky or would we forget to flap and plunge, then die?

I wonder if we would be different if we had feathers.




(Original Post November 22nd 2010)

'How many birds are there?’
Kevin J. Gaston and Tim M. Blackburn





Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Standards and Practices

            Most of the Christians I have known throughout my life always seemed hypocritical to me. The rules didn't seem to apply to them. With one hand, they condemn and attack others for not living up to the standards set by their Resurrected Deity, then they use their own humanity as an excuse when they fail to do so themselves. Sinners are plunged into torment for their shortcomings, but Grace pardons the Elect when they do the very same things. I assume it is the exclusive nature of their religion which dictates that the "saved", who backslide, are immune to Divine Judgment. Whether at the hands of their own frailty or at the hands of Satan himself, once Jesus is your Lord and Saviour, you get special treatment and are above the Law. 
            Not every Christian is foolish enough to believe this, of this much I am sure. I have known a select few who see "the Way" as a process towards salvation and not a guarantee you already have it. They are accountable for their actions and do not rejoice in the suffering of others. Rather than blaming a fallen Angel for their iniquities, they accept responsibility for them. They recognize that the lessons we learn in life are constant, and ongoing, not fodder to fuel the fires of denial and excuse. Some people really do believe that the Devil made them do it. Conveniently, this allows such creatures to deflect responsibility and shun accountability. This is something they are glad to deny when someone not covered by the Blood of Christ does the same thing.    
            Once born-again, the follower of Jesus knows where they are going. This blessed assurance is obtained through recognition of the sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross and a commitment made to the Risen Lord. Some believe you cannot be born again, again, once you have crossed this threshold. Falling to sin is merely a test; you can never lose your salvation once it has been claimed. Some believe their rewards in heaven are not stripped from them through sinning but rather lessened as a punishment for their actions. Salvation, it would appear, is a crown of jewels, the reward upon arrival at heaven. For each sin, they believe, a jewel is removed, but the crown remains. Some believe that only small sects of Christianity will be privy to the Kingdom of God. Only these select few will inherit eternal life. Every other person on the planet will be cast into the pit reserved for the Devil and his minions. 

The Master was asked, “What is Spirituality?”
He said, “Spirituality is that which succeeds in bringing one to Inner Transformation.”
“But if I apply the traditional methods handed down by the Masters, is that not Spirituality?”
“It is not Spirituality if it does not perform its function for you. A blanket is no longer a blanket if it does not keep you warm.”
“So Spirituality does change?”
“People change and needs change. So what was Spirituality once is Spirituality no more. What generally goes under the name of Spirituality is merely the record of past methods.”

Don’t cut the person to fit the coat.
(True Spirituality, Anthony De Mello 1984)

            I've never understood why so many religious people seem to strive for perfection. They want perfection for their life, in their relationships and in the kinship they have with their God. When this perfection fails to materialize, they believe they have been driven away and are being punished by a loving God. Rather than embracing their flaws as a part of who they are, they reject their own humanity, believing it will hinder their entrance into heaven. The practices of their faith artificially reassure them that they have been cleansed, that they are somehow different through what they believe and how they react to that belief. They become renewed in their own mind. They claim that birth from above will free them from the very things that make them human. They will settle for nothing less than this perfection, then emotionally flagellate themselves when their flaws and defects remain. Some of these people believe so strongly that they would rather kill themselves than feel unrighteous before their Lord.
            I much prefer imperfect people. Not only do they tend to be more interesting, they do not come with all the pomp and circumstance and they rarely seek to judge. Imperfect people don’t try to make the right choice, they simply try to make a good choice, try to follow it through and accept the consequences. Low expectations are a path to contentment. This may be all that’s really needed when one is trying to survive god. We all know our limitations and we all should know that others have them too. It's easier, I suppose, to believe there is something wrong with you and that Divine intervention will make it all better, than having to change on your own. It is simpler to believe some paranormal force has led you astray, then to fix the problem. The Devil made them do it, but God will lead them home. No one can lead you home but you.
            We have expectations of people when we discover they lead a spiritual life. They are supposed to think differently, to function on a different moral and spiritual level. It's a fact that these "men of God" are as limited and dysfunctional as the rest of us. Imagine, being as limited as everyone else. The big secret of religion is that silent reality that nothing outside of ourselves can do anything to better us unless it parallels with the inner part of us seeking redemption. We must convince ourselves that God has moved within us in order for this type of life-changing transformation to occur. If we don't believe it, then change will not come. People spend their entire lifespan chasing Jesus and never meet the expectations of their faith. The real truth is, only we can fix ourselves.
            We see others differently than we see ourselves. This perspective seems to explain why human beings will follow anything that appears to hold the answers, including other people. It seems most of us are searching for the path that will lead us to God and salvation. Everyone is looking, searching for a ray of hope in the darkness that life seems to bring. People are innately flawed, no matter their esoteric calling or personal revelation. We forget that if we don't stand for something, we will fall for anything. Letting another person lead the way for you will surely send you in the wrong direction. People are not better, or perfect, they are just different. No one can walk on water.

A disciple once complained:
“You tell us stories, but you never reveal their meaning to us.”
Said the Master:
“How would you like it if someone offered you fruit
 And masticated it before giving it to you?”

No one can find your meaning for you.
Not even the master.
(Eat Your Own Fruit, Anthony De Mello 1984)

            I have to swim in the ocean just like everyone else. I cannot walk on water. I cannot perform miracles. I cannot talk to the dead and I have about as much insight into the true nature of God as you do. Just because I travel on a path of discovery does not mean I hold the secrets of life. I’m as much in the dark as everyone else. My shit still stinks. I am not the son of God. I am a son of man.
            People find out you have a trace amount of spiritual fortitude and suddenly they hold you to a different standard. They expect you to preach what you practice. When you speak about things like God, mercy and unconditional love, they treat you like you’re either their saviour or completely insane. Being for God doesn’t mean I can turn water into wine or bring salt to the masses, it simply means that I am on a journey outside that which most men travel. The road can be treacherous when people know you’re in search of “the answers”. They assume that, because of your inner dialogue, you are qualified to assist in their daily life. I just won’t do it. I spent years in the Pentecostal Church being told how to believe and what to believe, so I will not tell anyone what they should think or shouldn’t think. I will not interfere in your quest for God. I can try to lead you by example, but I believe the path to God is a lonely road and I’m sorry, but you have to walk it alone.  Figure it out for yourself.
            I often feel like I am not allowed the luxury of being human. Who I have become, what I claim to believe, and its manifestation through action are the measure by which I am judged. The Buddhist will hold me to the measures found in their faith. The Atheist will only validate what agrees with their position. The Christian will not recognize my right to exist unless I live up to the Jesus standard. Unless you meet their criteria, you are nothing but a fake. I cannot help but feel like I am no longer allowed to get angry or make mistakes. I should know better.
            I think it is natural to measure another person against who you are. We all do it. It is such a simple thing to expect another to live up to "my" expectations. It is easy to extract an expectation regardless of the common knowledge that each person is trying to find a way through, just like you. I’m just doing my best and that’s really the best I can do. Still, I never agreed to live to anyone else's standards and practices. I am not near perfect. I will never walk on water. Most days, I find it hard enough just to swim.

“This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfections.”
(Augustine of Hippo, Church Father - Saint)




Walking on Water
(Original Post October 25, 2010)

The Song of the Bird
Anthony De Mello, 1984




Port Burwell
August 31st 2012


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hide nor Hair

            It seems to me that every time I take one step forward in my relationship with God, I end up two steps back. When my Spirit and my mind find a reasonable place to co-exist within me, I always seem to lose my way. I often feel as if God has ditched me on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately, it appears that God prefers me in a barren place. I lead a contented life and am often unimpeded by the past and any interference my history may bring. The grind of daily living does little to affect me. I strive to follow what I hold as my purpose and am usually in tune with the inner part of me. Suddenly, I find myself feeling alone, unmoved, as if abandoned by the only source of light I knew to be dependable. It is as if that part of me goes missing. Sometimes, no matter how I seek and try, I just cannot find God.  
            This pattern has repeated throughout my lifetime. I have long periods where I am served this communion, years at a time filled with that sense of Oneness and enlightenment, then like a ship dashed against the rocks, so quickly everything seems gone. I sporadically feel a great distance from God. I cannot put my finger on why I am less drawn to Him or why the Spirit within me will apparently hibernate. Perhaps the constant flow of spiritual ideas becomes too much for me. At times, the overwhelming influx of God and all that comes with Him seems to deaden the one thing I count on to get me through the day. Day after day, dealing with religion and theology and the emotional response one can have when one's weight is much too heavy, does nothing to pull me further. Indeed, it seems I have been torn away. I wonder, was I ever even there? 
            I've been through this “phase” many times before. For a stretch during my 20s, it seemed to me that God was completely absent. I never felt Him at all. Then, long after the death of my first partner, I found myself almost empty, crying out, hurting no longer just from grief but the lack of any spiritual perception. It took me years to rediscover the way back home. Now that a few years have passed since my Mother's death, I find myself on the same shore, sitting and wondering why my ship won't come in. It's not even that I still blame God for killing her. I could be mistaken, but I just don’t think He works that way. I don’t blame God for anything other than squash. I don’t like squash.
            I have re-analyzed the situation and I admit I’m still stumped, ever so slightly. They say if God seems far away, then who moved? I stand in the same spot, over and over, and I got nothing. He used to be there, but I'm no longer the one who is missing. I think maybe all this writing about God, researching my thoughts, and their expression, is manifesting overkill. Perhaps I have just burnt out, again. I imagine God can relate, considering all the scripture and texts He has authored over the years. I'd like to know if He ever got writer's block and am I God blocked?
            Perhaps the part of me that awoke from a long spiritual snooze, after my Mother's death in the summer of 2010, has now become somewhat familiar. Maybe the part of me that craved more of the unknown has simply gotten used to the presence I have carried with me throughout my entire life. I do feel like a spoiled child, calling out for candy while most of mankind dies of hunger. God help me, but it just isn’t enough to think it, or write it, I need to feel it too. I want more. I want to be filled like those television preachers on Sunday afternoon, raging from the inside with Spirit and urgency. I yearn for that which has often touched me. I need to have it thrive within me. I do not wish to be restored, I wish to be maintained. Life can become empty without it.
            It’s not about being happy; I am, relatively speaking. It’s not about glory, for I could care less. It’s about feeling purpose, no matter how small. It’s about allowing myself to be used as an instrument. It’s about being lost without it but lost within it. I guess I just want the comfort I have when I am broken to remain when I have healed.   Once again, something has happened to draw me away from the Divine. I do not know the reason, but it still is true. I no longer can hear that almost silent, small voice and I hope that the Spirit still dwells within me. I cannot help feeling like I’m playing in a bathtub without any water in it. I am having another dry spell.

"If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me." (Jeremiah 29:13, NLT)

            I could blame the Christians for making me feel like the monopoly they claim to have on God holds merit, but let’s be real. Intellectually and spiritually, I recognize the limitations of their experience and it holds little validity for me. God doesn't come in a box. I will admit that sometimes I get caught in the trap they spring on those searching for something Holy, as if formulas and semantics lead the way to Grace. I have learned over time to think of their ambush as if it was the action of a band of awful Christmas Carollers, showing up at your door unexpectedly. You want them to leave but they won’t shut the fuck up. It can seem life would be better off without them.
            I would be off base blaming God Himself for my lack of enthusiasm. According to the latest roundup of theory and opinion, God doesn’t make personal appearances anymore. I often wonder if He ever did. It’s hard to have a relationship with a deity that refuses to respond. It’s hard not to place blame on something which claims control over life and death. Every single time I look at a picture of someone who has gone on, or I kneel at their grave, I think to myself that there should be a better way. Perhaps I am experiencing some form of fragmented rage towards that which I consider Divine. Maybe the spirit within me refuses to take part in my blasphemous thinking and has withdrawn to a proper place now hidden. I’m hoping it is not my heart, for it has little room for something which would only bring more burden. I am already full of it.
            Perhaps God is not so elusive. Perhaps that which dwells within me is merely reclusive. Could it be that I am missing my own point and it is me who has changed? Is the relationship different? I am, after all, still a sinner. I am still homosexual, and a practicing one at that. I still question God, scripture and I am constantly battling the drive within me to think and do things outside that box. Perhaps God seems far away, not because I moved but because He wants nothing to do with me. Is the spirit still hidden within or does it leave us in protest? All the pomp and circumstance we give to salvation has done little for me but make me feel like I’m walking in Death Valley, crying out for water. It is hard to quench your thirst on sand and a sun-baked desert floor.
            There are moments from my life that are so unique, so vibrant in example, that I have nothing to compare them to but joy itself. They have come to define joy for me. These supernatural instants have touched me in a way that I cannot help but look back on with great fondness and exuberance. I am one of the lucky few who have experienced that feeling of communion with the unknown, call it God or Spirit or some universal force. I have been witness to the unexplainable. I have experienced the Light. Each encounter has left me overflowing with renewal, alive in a way I have never known on any other human level. Like all good things it fades away, lost to time, circumstance and familiarity. I keep searching for more through my feelings. Am I looking in all the wrong places? Maybe God isn't a feeling.

 “To find something, anything, a great truth or a lost pair of glasses,
you must first believe there will be some advantage in finding it.”
(All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren 1946)

            Years ago, when I was involved with the Pentecostal Church, and actually listened to what members of that congregation had to say, I did not receive the Holy Spirit during a revival service I was attending. I walked up at the altar call and stood before a packed sanctuary, then called out as instructed for all to hear. Dozens of other young people from the congregation claimed to have been filled with the Glory of God, but I was left to myself and an empty soul. I could have put on some grand performance and shouted joy with the rest of the group, but I did not find it within me to pretend I had been possessed. I felt shame and rejection, but most of all I felt unworthy. My sincere cries to God had fallen on deaf ears. This was later confirmed by my Minister when he reminded me that not everyone will know the Spirit. Some people are destined to their own doom.
            After that meeting, I was approached by a member of the Church Choir and we headed to the music room so that we could chat in private. Eileen was always a friendly face for me, a beacon of truth on a sea of judgment and expectation. She was older than me, married with no children and a fixture in the Calvary Pentecostal congregation. She had been witness to what had not occurred during the altar call and overheard as Pastor Higgins verified my unworthiness. We sat down on the merger stage that occupied most of the tiny room and she apologized for his words and action.  
            I had struggled with the manifestation of the Holy Spirit since I joined this fundamentalist path to salvation. I have never been sure if I was unacceptable or the expectation itself was nothing but speculation and mass hallucination. I only knew that the preacher was right, I would never find contentment in this flock. I spoke of this elusive nature as Eileen and I talked about the spiritual life of a Christian and the anti-climatic anticipation the words of mere men can have on what she called "the peace that passes all understanding." She suggested I was, perhaps, looking in the right places but for all the wrong things. "God is not a feeling," she relayed to me.
            As we sat discussing the ethereal nature of the Triune God, she conveyed an insight regarding the phenomenon of the indwelling of the Spirit. Her mother had died a few years back and had left her Will in a large yellow envelope. When Eileen opened it and read its contents, she had little argument with what it contained. When the legalities were done and everything had been divided, there was one thing she could not find. Her mother had left her a very expensive diamond ring which seemed to disappear without a trace. She told me that she hunted for years through the home they had shared and could not find hide nor hair of it. Eventually, she just stopped looking. A few years later, she was doing paperwork while trying to clear out some clutter. She came across her mother’s Will in that large yellow envelope and went to clutch it to her chest in sorrow. As she reached for it in its hiding place, she noticed a hard lump near its bottom. She pulled out the Will, then reached deep inside the package and pulled out the ring. It had been there all along; nestled in the first place she should have looked.

"Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:8-10, NIV)




Dry Spell
(Original Post October 18, 2010)