Monday, May 25, 2009

Of Heaven and Earth

On the way to work a couple of days ago, I heard Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton on the radio singing, "When I Get Where I'm Going" (written by George Teren and Rivers Rutherford)...

Yeah when I get where I'm goin
There'll be only happy tears
I will shed the sins and struggles
I have carried all these years
And I'll leave my heart wide open
I will love and have no fear
Yeah when I get where I'm going
Don't cry for me down here.

It's a well-written song, beautifully performed by Paisley and Parton. But even while I was enjoying the music, I found myself thinking, "Why have I never felt that way?"

Even when I was trying to walk a Christian path, I was never focused on "where I'm going." I always felt like I was already there. Here. This is where I'm going, where I am.

As a child, I went to the Baptist church. I sang the Sunday School songs and colored the pictures of angels. Even then, the notion that this life is merely a trial to be endured on our way to our "real home" left me cold. Later, when my mother moved us from Baptist to Jehovah's Witness, the idea of a "new earth" made a little more sense, but not so much that I ever felt like I was just marking time, suffering and hoping to make the grade to get there.
Why is that? I am a southern American and our culture is saturated with Judeo-Christian (mostly fundamental Protestant Christian) references to streets of gold and mansions on the hills of our heavenly home. How is it that I never, not once, bought into that vision of our future or longed for the day when I would shed my earthly bonds and fly heavenward? I don't recall ever feeling burdened by sin and struggle, nor have I ever looked homeward toward angels.

Some will undoubtedly see my lack of heavenly focus as evidence that my heart is hardened and I'm lost to the sin and struggle. But I gotta tell you, my heart doesn't feel hard. My heart feels joy and pain. I feel bad when I do something that doesn't uphold my values. I hurt when I hurt others. I'm not evil. I'm not mean. I'm not cruel. No, I definitely don't buy the depraved sinner theory.

I don't know why I have always known that living this life is more important than focusing on some future state of supposed perfection. Maybe I've lived enough turns of the wheel to have figured that out. Maybe not. Whatever the reason, it's allowed me to find delicious joy and beauty every single day. When I'm in pain, when I'm struggling, the next beautiful thing is right here, right now, not something to hope for after I've suffered until I'm dead.

Regardless of why I've always believed this way, one thing that's crystal clear is my life is richer, fuller, more joyful, and more blessed because of it. Gratitude doesn't always require an explanation.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Joyous Encounters With the Divine - More Than One Door To God

After my post yesterday about opening the God door, I had to share something.

I was given a couple of glimpses of God today by people for whom, I'm sure, opening the God door was the last thing on their minds.

The first came early this morning as I was walking into the office. A few yards from the door, I heard behind me, "She's running...she's running! She's running to catch up to YOU!"  I turned and saw a friend running toward me. We laughed, shared our good mornings, and when she asked how I was, I responded (as I often do), "Fat and sassy!" 

She immediately replied, "Oh, we've got to eliminate that phrase!"

Me: "Oh, but it's a good thing!"

Friend: "Does your subconcious know that?"

Zing! Bullseye! Just the reminder I needed to pay attention to the messages I send myself. Funny thing is...I was just thinking about that very topic as part of a workshop I'm in the beginning stages of developing about how we claim to believe that words have power, yet we're careless with how we use those words, especially about ourselves. Even though, conciously, I infuse postive meaning into the words, I'm not sure my subconscious knows any other than the literal meaning of "fat." I don't mind being sassy, but fat is not a state I want to perpetuate. Shame on me, and thank you, Teresa, for being the voice of God this morning.

Next...standing in line in the company cafe, waiting to purchase my oh-goodie-it's-quiche-day breakfast...a woman turns and smiles, one of those hopeful, please talk to me smiles. I shared my joy about quiche day, and she asked, "How do you eat quiche and lose so much weight?"

Now, I didn't know her...don't remember having seen her...but she had noticed and watched my weight loss. And by commenting on it, she not only made me feel good, she gave me an opening to share my frustration at having gained a portion of that weight back. We then talked at length, sharing our frustrations, struggles, and hopes, our successes and continued efforts. It was a shot in the arm, better than any weight loss drug ever invented. And she reminded me that we are influencing others all the time, even when we're not aware of it. Thank you, Lisa, for being the smiling, sharing face of God for me this morning.

Blessings are all around us, all the time.  Sometimes God wears business casual and runs on the sidewalk.

Wishing you joyous encounters with the Divine, every day...and an open, aware, and grateful heart with which to recognize them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Opening the God Door

My friend and beautiful, creative sister, Sitara Haye, said something last night that has stayed on my mind all day. 

We (the members of my wonderful writing group) were talking about all the ways we keep ourselves from realizing our creative dreams.  Sitara said (loosely quoted)...

Consider that what sets humans apart from other earthly beings is our ability to create, to do more than merely reproduce ourselves biologically, to create something beautiful, moving, or inexplicable from nothing but our own creative energy. Some say that creative energy is God within us, and  what that energy gives birth to is how God is made visible in the world. Consider then, that if you are filled with the fire, the desire to create, and you let fear or insecurity keep you from giving birth, God is left unborn, unknown. Someone will not see God because you didn't open that door.

Sitara made and demonstrated her point in one fell swoop. Through her ability to string words together, to paint with syllables and sounds a picture I had not previously recognized, she opened the God door for me. And God was there telling me to get off my scared, tentative, never-think-I'm-good-enough butt and use the fire in my gut and the dream in my heart.

What can say to that?

"Yes, Ma'am."