Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hungry for More

Lunch with Katie, April 2008.

I had dinner tonight with one of the wisest women I have ever known.
Funny. Beautiful. Insightful. Full of questions. Seeking answers.
Encouraged me enormously on this faith/life/unexpected/disturbing journey I am on.

I barraged her with questions. Why am I so disillusioned with my church, all the rules they seem to be adding on to what I understand the Bible to say, and why does it hurt so much to face the mounting contradictions? What am I to do with all this confusion, all these questions I have, and all the tears I seem to be shedding these days?

She listened, smiled, nodded, asked a few questions of her own. She pondered, looked me in the eye and said (among other things), "You are in a great place, Gail. This is a great journey you are on. You are being transformed. The word 'rest' is in the word 'wrestling." So wrestle and rest. You are being liberated, set free from the box you were in... Be careful when ideologies get confused with theology; people begin to worship their ideas - and that is idolatry. Be careful when nationalism and politics get confused with theology; people begin to worship their country and their flag. Remember that you are have not committed your life to rules or ideologies or a nation or a church, but rather to a Person. Be true to the person of Jesus, to the teachings of Jesus, and not to people who have tried to trap Him and His teachings in a box that reflects them and their own ideals rather than Him and His Character. Learn to ask yourself, 'Does what I am hearing and learning reflect who I know Christ to be?' As you answer that question, you will see your life, your family, your church, the whole world differently."

The beginning of wisdom, she said, is when we realize how big God is
and how little we know.

I listened. Nodded. Took notes. Asked more questions. Cried. And I left that restaurant with a lighter heart along with confirmation of something I had already suspected: I am crazy. But the kind of crazy that is causing me to ask a lot of questions of the things I used to assume were true. The things I have been brought up believing. The things that are in need of being questioned and reevaluated. The beliefs that have been perpetrated as truth but have begun to ring quite hollow with and for me. And I left there with a lot more questions.

I came home and shared some of her comments with Kristiana - who is on her own journey to and through her understanding of faith and who she is in the context of what she believes and how she is experiencing this topsy-turvy, sorrow- and wonder-filled world.

A view from the terminal here in Charlotte, April 2008.

Then I turned on the television to "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations." The introduction to his show summed it all up perfectly:
"I write. I travel. I eat. And I'm hungry for more."

I write. I read. I ponder.
I travel. I wander. I pray.
I eat. I drink. I ponder some more.
And I'm hungry for more.
A whole lot more.
Of all of the above.

Coffee, journal, and a wild mind in Roma, January 2008.


jmgb said...

i love that god invites us out of our systems, our ways of 'knowing' into what is real and ever changing as we let us ourselves feel his love.

such beauty indeed!

keep writing. and wrestling. and absorbing that which is the gift of laughter and tears outside of this system of religion. inside his presence.

Lisa said...

I am *right* there with you, my friend.
Although I seem to have gotten about a 5-year head start, the questions and wrestling (and rest!) continue.

Could I *be* any happier that we are on this journey together? - supporting, sharing, crying, questioning, laughing, marveling, knowing, wondering, seeking, musing, teaching, learning, shining through and emerging more whole...no way!

Go forth in the strength and beauty and truth you know is yours today, my dear.

Melissa said...

Your friend is a wise woman, indeed, Gail. I love what she told you about the beginning of wisdom. So true (and it's taken me years for it to really sink in)!

Amy said...

I just commented under my daughter-in-law's name (Melissa). Sorry! I'm using her computer and forgot to post under my name.

Kacey said...

Hi, I hopped over from Amy's blog..An Authentic Life. I see you're going to Blogher too. Maybe we'll meet?

Deana said...

This was beautiful. A few years ago I finally found my place. I was brought up in such strict Independent Baptist teachings that I felt guilty over everything, my past, things I enjoyed. I walked out of that world and finally was truly able to forgive and move on. Just like I can't stick to a strict diet I cannot believe all their rules are realistic. Fundamentalists get more and more like Pharisees to me Jesus would be a liberal. I turned into my own personal life trying to be what he wanted as far as me giving my time to him and others. To be helpful. Attending every church service did nothing for those in my community hungry and in need. I wanted to do not just talk about it. I left the "club"...not that I don't respect churches but I agree so much with what your friend told you. Advice I took for myself and it made all the difference. I am on my own journey and I am happy and I am not afraid anymore.