Sunday, July 02, 2006

crisis?

I have been on hiatus.

It's funny..... Over the last year I have questioned every belief and discarded a fair percentage of them. At no point would I have considered what I was going through to be a crisis of faith, or even an unpleasant ordeal. It was a fascinating journey, daunting, even scary at times, but always exciting, stimulating, always pulling me forward into bigger questions and stretching my mind to an unrecognizable landscape.

Until the big question, the most important question, the scariest question, the question whose answer determines not only my happiness and confidence but also the course of my entire life. Not the existence of God, not the Godhood of Jesus, not the validity of the christian faith.....

Does God care?

Sure, I know He's out there. I can see that He's powerful and intelligent. All of these things are only comfort to me if I am certain that He..... shall we say..... gives a rats ass.

I mean, sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the evil and suffering in the world.... in my own neighborhood. I know I'm not the only person to feel this way, and I remember all of my theological reasoning to explain this stuff away.

Does He care? When little boys are forced at gunpoint to shoot their own parents, where is God? Why would he perform a miracle in one place, such as the restoration of a deaf man's hearing, but not in this moment, when the child soldier is initiated into a future of violence and mental brokenness?

While I understand that I can't expect to comprehend, I am going to admit that I have been doubting His goodwill. And if God is unable or unwilling to prevent that boy from shooting his own mother, then what makes me think that God is thinking about..... say..... my future spouse, or that He has any sort or plan for my life, or that He's even looking in my direction. Like Ani said:

What if no one's watching
What if when we're dead we are just dead
What if God's not looking down
He's looking up instead


But then the side of me that clings to faith points to the little things. Finding a job, a home, and a roommate in a new city over the course of about 3 days. Abu being born on my birthday. Corrie Ten Boom. Nelson Mandela. Ghandi. All the liberian refugees who made it safely to canada despite impossible odds. Trees. Dogs.

I can't disregard the fact that I have a home and a job and a dog and friends and family without being an ungrateful child. After all, it's not as though I was born to privilege. How could I think that God doesn't care? How could I be such an ass?

I consider myself a very patient person, but I guess there are some things which are trying my patience. Part of me thinks that God won't come through in the areas that are so close to my heart. Part of me thinks that an impossible situation truly is impossible, and the "God of the impossible" is preoccupied with the impossible middle eastern peace.

Once again, my dad comes through with balance and wisdom. "I guess you have to decide to have faith." My dad can say things like that because He's very familiar with the emotional and spiritual abuse committed in the name of "just having faith" exempt from intelligent thought.

But He's right. I think that everyone has that point, and it's different for everyone. But I have reached my point, that key stone that will hold it all up, and I have a choice now. I can decide that I believe God cares, and live my life accordingly, or I can decide that I'm the only one looking out for me. If I choose faith, I open myself up to disappointment, but I will be a more secure and content person. If I choose otherwise..... there's no upside to that. I look into the future and see myself becoming a frustrated, stressed out and cynical person.

In this light, the answer seems obvious to me, but as in all things, I may take a little while to process. It feels like I've been through a pattern of silence and disappointment, and I expect the same in the future. It's hard to believe one thing when a contrasting pattern tells you otherwise.

Please someone say something helpful. I really am having a hard time with all this. I haven't said the half of it, and I'm having a hard time organizing my thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by and witnessing my mess.

5 Comments:

Blogger Juliana said...

Ursa, thank you for coming over to Charisophia. I'm glad you reminded me to stop by your place too.

Darling girl! Much on your plate right now. I remember that place. I have walked it. I have had my feet stuck in it for a few years, in fact. So many things I'd like to say to you.

I'll start from the top down. The top being the more rational analysis. Typical gnostic philosophy tends to suggest that we're not meant to be "in to" faith. That you either know, or you're learning, or you don't know...

Rubbish. Allow me to dispel this immediately. One's pursuit of gnosis will require faith, from time to time. Not faith in "god who looks like this and does these things." But a faith in yourself to not abandon yourself. And - faith in human kind.

We must be faith to each other sometimes. We can NOT walk alone through turmoil and tears, change and complexity. We must have friends and family and dogs and trees to say to us "Ursa I am here, and will be here every day of your life as witness to your RIGHT to have a happy, meaningful, fulfilled and connected existence on earth.

There are things that happen that stop us cold - no matter our resolve, our faith or our sense of delight in the world. There are news items that make our stomachs flip flop. They shout "God is not here." They shout "screw hope and just make some dough cause that's all there is sunshine." And they drive home the point by being surrounded by ads for diet pills and cars and other bull.

You are in the dark place now, sweetie. The underground "Shaman's death" place where they take young adults to find their own vision.

Stay the course. Talk to us. Talk to Jordan. We are here. And God is all around us, and within us. For as long as we wish to find her and him, and make use of that power.

Bless you. :) Keep in touch please!

July 04, 2006 11:20 PM  
Anonymous I Gallop On said...

Ursula,

I have thought about you all morning long after reading your post. I’ve been thinking about how to respond, what to tell you that might help, and I found this—

I will never fall asleep upon the green grass, while the earth rings with the cries of the exiles. (from the Sequence of Sophia)

I know with everything I am that this is true.

As a 44-year-old woman who has run up against some obstacles, made some not so good decisions at times, been weak before I was strong, and lived to tell about it, I will echo what Juliana says, “One's pursuit of gnosis will require faith, from time to time. Not faith in ‘god who looks like this and does these things.’ But a faith in yourself to not abandon yourself. And - faith in human kind.”

I feel so deeply for you when you write about some things trying your patience at 25, especially when you say, “Part of me thinks that God won't come through in the areas that are so close to my heart.” I have felt that way too. And I can tell you this. Don’t give up. Have courage. Have faith in yourself. You can wait these bad feelings out, examine what you are feeling, take a breath, sit silently, don’t freak out, meditate, pray, you don’t have to make any huge, life-altering decisions today, right at this moment. And you can arrive at the other side of this dark place intact and whole, possibly even knowing more than you knew before, and having an even deeper well of your own from which to draw.

When I was 25, I lived in Boston, all alone. I don’t think I’ve ever been so alone in my life as I was in that cold New England city. I was also pretty pissed off. I was waiting for God’s plan for my life (something they talked about a lot in my Evangelical church) to unfold, and I was beginning to suspect that He probably wasn’t going to come through. After all, it wasn’t written on the walls somewhere for me to copy down in my life plan notebook, and go forth, and do.

This is where not abandoning yourself comes in. I believe this is part of gnosis. Because gnosis implies something active to me. A searching. A quest. A lifelong inquiry. Not waiting (which I suspect your impatience implies. I know mine did at your age.). Making a plan. Taking responsibility. What Juliana has said about not abandoning yourself is key, and a lesson I didn’t learn until much later in my life. I think of taking flint up to the wild, high mountains—where I love to spend time with my family, but where things can become scary with hailstorms, rain, dark, cold, big carnivorous animals—so I can start a fire if I need to. I can’t and I won’t wrap myself up in my slicker and fall asleep on the green grass no matter how tired or how afraid I am. This takes some faith in myself and my ability to start a fire. Not abandoning myself up there might be the difference between life and death. I have to strike the flint to get a spark, and it may take a while to kindle the fire and get it blazing and warm enough to sustain me.

Dear Ursula, I think your spark needs some kindling and nurturing right now. God is here. We’re here.

Blessings, Kimberly

July 05, 2006 9:42 AM  
Anonymous I Gallop On said...

Ursa,

my apology for the misspelling of your name. I must have been thinking of my friend Ursula here in Santa Fe, who've I've known for years. Cool woman - raised two kids on her own and sent them off to college on her very limited finances. Talk about having faith in yourself! ;-)

Peace, Kimberly

July 05, 2006 10:00 AM  
Blogger Jordan Stratford+ said...

You are surrounded by a network of love, little bear.

God is not some Magical Sky Wizard, a person with clearly better things to do (mideast peace, preventing supernovas, etc.) than deal with your life. The Divine is a verb, not a noun - a process unfolding in your thoughts and your cells and your heart. Don't have faith in it, don't construct faith around it, just be patient and observe it, welcome it, accept it.

The struggle just means you're paying attention. It's okay.

July 05, 2006 10:03 AM  
Blogger Juliana said...

So to sum up, little bear - Kimberly and I are reminding you to cultivate some faith in your self - two words intentional. I feel faith in self is a good way to put it and faith in friends too - that's not false. That's just reminding yourself, as with a mantra "I do not abondon myself, I have inner resources, My friends are here and will remain with me..."

And Father Jordan is reminding you to wait patiently and listen, not "constructing" a false faith of a God which lies outside. He is right. God doesn't stop existing because you cease to create an image in your mind of what he/she/it looks like. Turn off the projector and the divine will light up inside you. Those artificial lights will obscure your own.

Someone once told me, when the fishermen must come in because the seas are too stormy to fish, they keep busy mending their nets. They understand the life of the sea - the inability to "work it" sometimes. So they sit patiently and "attend to" their nets, as in mediation, caring for themselves as the sea changes its moods.

Tend to your nets, and look around you on the beach. We are all here next to you, tending our nets and waiting for the storm to pass.

July 05, 2006 11:02 AM  

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