Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Still Seeking

Sometimes I think I can only claim to be "Christian." When one breaks it down any more than that, I begin to waver and can't make a clear choice. Even the Bhagavad Gita has a place in my heart. Am I a fence sitter or a lost sheep? ~ (Reid)  (Macrina Wiederkehr, A Tree Full of Angels, p 126)

Just when I thought I had journaled all I could on Macrina's book, she blows me away with her friend Reid's letter, and her response as recorded in her personal journal.

Why did she blow me away?

Well, I think this lady has once again either been reading into my journals or listening in on my thoughts!

Actually, I find it comforting to learn that others seek as I seek and Macrina at least is not hiding the fact that as a Christian...she is still a seeker. She responds to Reid, saying:
"A fence sitter...Definitely not! You are a seeker. I am too. I've chosen to be a seeker within a particular denomination. At this time in your life you are seeking within what Simone Weil calls 'the paste of common humanity.' Simone felt that she had a vocation to remain anonymous. Yet she never stopped seeking." (Wiederkehr, p 126)
As part of her own reflection, Macrina speculates that perhaps the opposite of a seeker is a settler.

"There are people who settle in. In churches they often become pew warmers. I'm speaking of people who aren't there for any kind of passionate reasons of their own. Sometimes they are they because they inherited a certain church from their ancestors. Or they may be there because it is socially acceptable to belong to a church. Sometimes people belong to a church because they are afraid. It takes a great deal of conversion and a lot of dwelling in God to be in love rather than in fear." (Ibid)
Macrina reminds me of a long forgotten story of a man who, while walking down a country road, meets an angel.  We are told that the angel is carrying in one hand a bucket of water. In the other hand she carries a flaming torch. When the man inquires of the angel why she is carrying these objects she responds, "With this water I'm going to quench all the fires of hell and with the torch I am going to burn down all the mansions of heaven; and then we're going to find out who really loves God!

I remember when I first heard this wonderful story.  Like Macrina, I too thought it should be told in all churches.  But, within the busyness of being a pastor of a small congregation, I had totally forgot about this heart/gut poking lesson.

Macrina explains that all to often, she believes, we settle down in our church pews because we fear greater punishment or we look forward to great reward for having done so. She continues...
"For people who are created in God's image, it would seem more appropriate to be there because we are in love. Perhaps we don't spend enough time dwelling in God to fall in love with God." (Ibid)

Perhaps I have not spent enough time dwelling in God to fall in love with God.

Now, there's a provocative thought to sit with and reflect upon!

I love the words of the song, He Knows My Name, because I passionately believe the words of Psalm 139 apply to ME!  However, just as vs 13 proclaims that I was created and knit together in my mother's womb by God's own hand, vss 1-3 say:
"You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways."
While it is comforting to know God created me, it isn't always as comforting to know he "knows me" better than I know myself.  For I know that this much loved Child of God often has questions with no easy answers. For I know I have great respect for others' sacred books and sacred places of worship. For I know that I just cannot know the mind of God!  While Jesus is my path...I simply cannot condemn a devout individual who follows his own path.

I appreciate Reid's question: "Am I a fence sitter or a lost sheep?"

Oh, have I held similar questions in the past!

It isn't that I am not sure of Jesus! It's that I am not sure that he fits into the neat little box I have created by listening to the teachers I have chosen to listen! I cannot deny the wisdom, the love, the sacred truths that come from other paths. All to often, I can hear Jesus sharing the same lesson.

For me...Jesus is Lord of the Cross and I will bow down and worship Him when that day comes...but I cannot help but wonder who else may be bowing down and worshipping alongside me.

I have prayed fervently that I am not simply copping out as a Christian.  I have questioned over and again my views that are held within a world of "gray." Yet, as much as I question the gray, I cannot find the message of the Gospel within black and white.

Several years ago I left the church of my ancestors and my family.  It was the most gut-wrenching thing I had ever done, yet looking back, it was the only way I was going to move forward.  I didn't know what I wanted, but I thought I knew what I didn't want!  I began searching.

I began searching within the places I felt safe, like other mainline denominations.

I ventured into more conservative, but still familiar, denominations.

Eventually, I found myself in churches without an affiliation with ANY denomination.

But, I remained restless.

Finally, I ended up at a spiritualist retreat.  It is with a smile I remember going to a Spiritualist Retreat for Women at Camp Chesterfield.  What a weekend of experiences that turned out to be!

The other participants were wonderful people who I am sure talked about Sandi long after that weekend.  For me, during that long and often times difficult weekend, I became more convinced than ever that Jesus was my path!

Do you know, that was the first time in my life that I had to make a decision on whether I was going to wear my cross on the outside of my sweater or tuck it inside where others wouldn't see it?

Never in all my adult life had I been in a place where being a Christian was not the most popular or only kind of person to be!

That tells you how small of a world I have lived within. : )

Still, even though I finally knew I wasn't into any path other than Jesus, I remained restless and by golly...Macrina addresses that next with her friend, Reid!

Like I said, it is comforting to know others have carried similar questions and have traveled similar journeys.  I am looking forward to reading and reflecting on what Macrina shares next.

Until then...

We All Bow Down...

Many Blessings ~ Sandi


  1. do you have any idea how much i would love to be able to attend your church? oh, how long and convoluted has my path been. how many questions, doubts, clashes with all i was taught to believe... only to come fully home to 'You are familiar with all my ways' in an undeniable way that i will never deny or forget. have you read, The Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd? i'll continue to enjoy the 'services' from my computer screen. blessings ~ tanna

  2. Sandy....I have indeed found a soul sister. I personally quit wearing a cross shortly after I began attending seminary. I did not partake in communion as I wrestled with how my universalist way of thinking might work in the church world---I believe God is so much bigger than the words we utilize to articulate the Divine.....I could be a Universalist easily, but Christianity has always been my path to God. I now wear a labyrinth---I've had it on now for almost ten years...never take it symbolizes my journey with and to and in God......I would love to hear you preach, take some bread from your hand, worship ...but for now I will echo.....thanks for inviting me to think....

  3. May your path continue to be lit by the light of Christ. Amen.