Monday, March 29, 2010

punch in the gut

If there is any definitive route to happiness, it is surely sense of place. - John Scoles

I feel somewhat homeless.

Proverbially speaking, of course. I am very privileged and blessed with a safe place to live. But I no longer feel the sense of place which I once felt.

Part of this is because my sense of place has been moved around from time to time, and because I don’t currently feel an anchor. At one time I felt wholly identified with Evangelicalism; within that body of people who understood God to be a certain way. Another time I felt anchored within the faith-based social justice movement, because God seemed more real and honest there than within the churches. I’ve tried other God-rooted groups. And Godly rooted relationships. Constantly looking for a home to rest in. These never seem to last, for one reason or another.

If I do have any true anchor, it is within Christ. But my understanding of who Christ is seems to shift so often. God’s bigness is difficult to work with. The more I know, the more I am convinced that I don’t know, the more intangible a relationship or a true understanding of the divine is.

Lately I feel like I have lost track of Christ. Like I have diverted my eyes for a second and Christ dissolved into the air, into the waters, into my skin. Which is cool, but frightening because it seems that Christ is so damned unknowable, so intangible, so frighteningly large and lovely and scary and I don’t know how to follow any longer because Christ is everywhere. Which is beautiful, but confusing, and I sort of long for the days where I felt so assured of heaven and hell and black and white and I knew the boundaries and where I fit in. I don’t know the boundaries anymore. And I definitely don’t know where I fit in anymore. And churches feel either exclusive and steeped in rules or inclusive and unanchored. And I love Anglicanism but I don’t think that it loves me. And I love the United Church but I don’t know how to do it – I don’t know the language and I don’t understand the discourse and I feel like an outsider looking into this wonderful group of graceful people. And I don’t know what to think about the atonement, or about communion, the sacrificial lamb story, the torn curtain, the mysterious parables, on and on and on.

I suspect this is good for me. But it feels like crap.


Chris said...

Consider: every particle of your being, every atom, has existed since the origin of the universe and will continue exist beyond day when your coporeal from expires. It billion billion years long after our sun goes supernova, the atoms and parts of atoms will still be there. You, like all you sense around yourself, and your thoughts and feelings are a product of scale so vast as to defy the human capacity to understand and know. Structured religious life that attempts to delimit something so unfathomable as serves a very limited point, which I suspect has as much to do with assuaging animalistic fear of mortality and providing meaning to life than any real relationship to the devine.

Stepping into the void - and finding solace in the infinite and unknowable - I think is possible once you recognise that you and all that you are have always been and will always be. I suspect Jesus, like Buddha and others, was plugged into this in a pretty profound way. So maybe, I humbly suggest, this moment you're having is actually a step closer to the devine...embrace it.

Bryan Neisteter said...

Sometimes we need to go back to the pages of Scripture and meet Jesus again for the first time. We need to ask the Spirit to remove all of the man-made boxes and paradigms we have heard used to describe Him, and let His word speak life to us. This is certainly true for me, and I suspect it is true for everyone.

It is impossible to fully know Jesus because He's God, but we can still know Him. And the best way to do it, in my opinion, is still through His word. May the Holy Spirit bless you and guide you on your search Bre.

Bryan Neisteter said...

I would like to respectfully suggest in response to Chris that if there is a Divine Being who truly had any good within Him, He would want to make Himself known. And He would reveal Himself in ways understandable to humanity (an infinite being can do this), and not remain hidden. The soul cannot be saved through the infiniteness of space and nothingness, and neither can the Divine be encountered as an infinite vacuum.

I can never fully know another person, because there are things in the depths of their heart that not even they are aware of. But I can still know another person well, and have a relationship with them, and learn the things that are on their heart even if I don't know the complete fullness of them.

The same is true with the one who existed BEFORE the origin of the universe. He in knowable, He is real (I have met Him), and He is incredibly good!

Sabrina said...

I like what you write, Bre. I must say, it has been lovely to have my own evangelical thinking expanded this past semester. I took a course with Jane, and it was lovely. I echo you're sentiments on how knowing more results in really recognizing how much there is we don't know.

How to be okay with ambiguity? I don't know. Being okay with not knowing all the answers or how it all fits together - yet still desiring to know more is a delicate tightrope to walk.

Thinking of you and praying that you would find your home and your confidence in Jesus, and a community out there to nurture you in your walk.