The Divine Narrative

While sitting in the church sanctuary this past Sunday before services began, our deacon was playing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” on the harp (yes, our deacon is pretty cool) and my mind began to wander and ponder as it is wont to do. I find these moments before services rather meditative and most especially now that we have a harpist as it further enhances a sense of calm and serenity. As I sat there and let the thoughts roll through my head I was looking over the altar and taking in its details: the lit candles, the patterned altar cloth, the beautifully arranged flowers (lots of oranges for the fall season), the holy books, etc. As I acknowledged all of these details I was once again reminded of a thought that occurred to me during a visit to a certain Methodist church in our area that my husband and I attended for an acapella choral performance. On this church’s “altar” wall were mounted good-sized blocks at least 1.5 feet square or so with images painted on each one – a peacock, a dove, a fish, a lamb, with Greek Christian lettering and then snowflakes, a sun, etc. as symbols for the four seasons. I looked at the marvelous stained glass in that church with a great deal of fascination as there were both traditional and non-traditional representations there. Crosses, yes, and I believe a sacred heart, and everywhere curvy undulations of colors that were vaguely reminiscent of hills, oceans and the rocky layers within the Earth. Even glancing through their hymnal companion I found additions from other cultures around the world and songs praising “The Mother”, nature and our planet. The leader of the church was a fashionably dressed middle-aged woman (side note: why do they not give such women the moniker of Priestess?). Again, during that same time one has before the beginning of an even that allows for contemplation, as I was looking at and taking in everything around me, a phrase entered my head quite suddenly and firmly: “It’s all the same.” Religion and spirituality I mean; the sense that there is something greater than ourselves present in the Universe and a need to acknowledge and revere it. The methods may be different, but I believe that at the core of every religion and spiritual philosophy that what is being addressed as God is the same being regardless of how It is being acknowledged. It’s all the same.

Which brings me back to my contemplations this past Sunday morning which resulted in a quite similar end. It appears to me that the symbols, actions, holidays & so forth carried out in Christian churches (mostly of the Anglican variety, but not always) are but a mere continuation of the narrative used to address and celebrate the Divine that began long before any of the Abrahamic faiths joined in. Candles, flowers, incense, communion and altars are all too familiar things to the Pagan crowd of today and are reminiscent of practices performed by all of our non-Abrahamic forebears. The concepts of a Trinity, the Divine Feminine, a sacrificial God-Man figure, good & evil, otherworldly spiritual beings, etc. have been present in the minds and tales of man long before a scrap of the Bible or Torah were written. The idea of God is an ancient one and the desire to worship It just as old. This worship and reverence celebrated by our ancestors started a story that continues on in to the present day. This tome of world religious concepts, ideas, and practices is being added to every day by all peoples all over the world. Spirituality, to me, could be akin to poetry in many ways. It can be nonsensical, irreverent, deadly serious, funny, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, lyrical, whimsical and deeply personal. Spirituality and poetry are things which are oftentimes better understood more through feeling than through hardcore dissection and explanation. You can “get” a poem without being able to put that understanding into words. You can “get” nuances of spirituality and not be able to explain to another person how or why you do. There is an element of beauty in that kind of mystery that is felt but not easily expressed through words, and equally an element of frustration as well. You want to be able to communicate that sort of deep and meaningful experience you just had to another, but you can’t always get it out right. The poet is oftentimes the only one who manages to find just the right words.

I guess my whole point is similar to that which was made in the previous post, being that what you call the Divine, how you choose to worship It or not worship It, is all kind of BESIDE the point really. What really matters is what you’re adding to your own chapter in the grand and universal Divine Narrative. What does “God” mean to you? What makes you feel uplifted and connected with the world around you? Find what makes you happy and celebrate it to the best of your abilities. The only one who needs to understand your personal poetry is you.

~ ♥ ~


The God Box

I don’t believe that God, The Divine, however you choose to address it, is confined within one spiritual or religious philosophy. I feel that anyone who claims that they and others like them are the only ones who have the “true God” or are the only ones who are right about how they see God, are not only extremely arrogant but also sorely mistaken. Why would an infinite, all powerful being that is truly beyond all our comprehension be limited to how a certain percentage of people interpret It? Why does God care what you choose to call or not call It? Worship or not worship It? Is God not supposed to be beyond all these finite physical details? The way I see it, customs and traditions are transient things which change & evolve over time (sometimes disappearing altogether) while The Divine does not disappear.

Everyone thinks that they’ve got it “right”, that they’ve got the market on religion and salvation. Don’t believe their way and you’re going to suffer for all of eternity. Some folks are like Oprah when it comes to damnation, “You’re going to Hell! And you’re going to Hell! You’re all going to Hell!” Hell is nothing more than a myth constructed by those who wished to hold power over others by keeping them in fear. I believe in an afterlife, most certainly, but I don’t presume to think that I can tell you what it is and what it is not. Why is the Christian mythology of the afterlife accepted as concrete fact by most Western individuals, yet somehow the Hindu or Buddhist belief about it is a fantasy? How do you know they aren’t right and you’re wrong? Having “faith” that something is real is not the same as having the facts about it though, unfortunately, for a large number of people the two are actually one and the same. The notion of salvation and damnation are two things which I have very steadfast beliefs about. THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS EITHER. I believe that everyone ends up going to the exact same place once they die.

The world of spirit and the world of the Divine exist outside of our human understanding. We have created vast and elaborate mythologies to try and understand it all but that doesn’t mean that we do, and it certainly doesn’t mean that we’ve created accurate descriptions of that world either. You can call malevolent spirits “demons” all you like, you can call positive ones “angels”, but that doesn’t mean that’s what they actually ARE. Chances are they’ve always existed and have gone by many different names over the centuries, but what we choose to call them doesn’t make them what they are. We name things to try and better understand them but the names we use do not define what something is or is not. Just think of the Shakespeare quote, “A rose by any other name…”, and you get what I’m driving at here. In my opinion the same goes for The Divine. It doesn’t matter what you call It or whether or not you choose to acknowledge it at all, that doesn’t change the nature of the Divine nor does it define it. Your definition of whom or what God is doesn’t make it so, and neither does mine. God exists beyond what our paltry vocabulary can do to try and capture its image or its name. God is in each and every one of us and surrounds us all the time. He is and he isn’t. God is not confined to our concept of time or space or any human concept no matter how hard we try. Why can we not reach beyond our arrogance and acknowledge the fact that no one has it right? No one knows anything for certain, especially not when dealing with matters of spirit and that should be OK. I want to know just as desperately as the next person what is going to happen after I die, but I don’t believe that any one book or belief system can give me that answer.

I will be blunt: I don’t believe that Jesus arose from the grave and ascended bodily into heaven. What need do you have for a thing like a body on the spiritual plane? The spiritual plane is inherently non-corporeal and non-existent in our physical reality, so no physical existence is required. Not to mention the suspension of disbelief it requires to think that a dead body rose from the grave in the first place. It is inherently illogical. I imagine if I had been raised to believe that way it would be different, but despite my belief in things which many might find silly or crazy, I also believe in science and logic and “Zombie Jesus” is just not a concept I can get down with. I believe that a man named Jesus was crucified. I believe that he could have been the “Son of God” in the sense that we are all children of God and that he may have been an extremely enlightened individual who was especially close to the Divine. I don’t believe he was half human and half God anymore than I believe Adonis, Attis or even Hercules were.

A BELIEF does not change what is or was, and in my opinion if Jesus had actually been the literal Son of God and his crucifixion were a sacrifice to save the entire world, then my belief that it isn’t true wouldn’t make it untrue. A belief does not nullify an action, and therefore I find it silly to suppose that anyone who simply doesn’t believe in the divinity of Jesus would somehow be condemned to an eternity of pain and torment. Doesn’t that contradict what Jesus was supposed to have done? You can’t say that his crucifixion was so great a sacrifice that it saved all of mankind of its sins, and then add caveats to it. It doesn’t work that way just because you want to run a religious country club where “non-believers” are excluded. If God sent Jesus to save all of mankind through his death, then everyone is already “saved”, end of story.

People try to say that without this threat of sin and damnation, that without this threat of doing right “or else” then people will devolve into animals. I couldn’t disagree more. You should do right in this world not out of fear but simply because it is right. Otherwise, your actions and conduct are false and completely in-genuine. Who cares if you’re “behaving” when you’re not doing it because you want to, but because you’re scared of what might happen if you don’t? You don’t help people expecting a reward, you don’t treat people with kindness and respect because of a threat. When you go through life in that mindset than nothing you do is genuine because it isn’t coming from a genuine place of love or desire to do right. It’s just a lie otherwise, a false pretense you have set up and empty actions carried out in the hopes of earning spiritual brownie points.

I DO believe that God is Love and Love is a universal force present throughout all living things. I believe that because God is Love that there is no suffering after one dies, only peace for all. I believe that there’s an element of the Divine in all living creatures. I believe that everyone should show other living beings kindness and mercy, that we should respect all life that exists on our planet. I believe that the material differences that we treat with such importance and fervor are ultimately unimportant and will fade with time, just as we will. I believe that God is the same God for all people no matter how they address Him/Her/It. I believe that God exists beyond our ability to define It or understand It completely, and that what we do know (or think we know) is just a fraction of what actually IS – everyone is right and everyone is wrong. I am going through this life doing my best to learn as much as I can about the Divine and to attempt to get to know even a small fraction of what that Divine nature truly is. I cannot limit myself to one philosophy or religion because God is inherently limitless and is, therefore, impossible to be completely encapsulated in only one belief system. The Divine cannot be contained and neither can I. And that is just how I see it :).

~ ♥ ~

Saint Francis

I had a dream the night before last that began with me living in a large old house with my little sister and my mother. It was falling apart and in need of repair, and it was very large and very old. The siding appeared to simply be wooden boards and it had a very large porch. This place appeared to be haunted by the spirits of children along with something very dark. Terrible things had happened there and now it was a negative scary place, which we didn’t realize until we had gotten into the house. We could hear children laughing, things would be moved and we felt threatened like something wanted to harm us. Windows got broken. I remember we tried in desperation to banish the evil spirits but nothing happened – we all ran out on to the front lawn in a small circle and were telling them to leave, to go to the light, to cross over, but they mocked us by going to a light in the house instead and would not leave. I believe that the spirits were actually demonic and only imitated children as real children would never behave like that. While we were out trying to banish them I just remember feeling so powerless, like we were willing it and telling it to leave so hard but I felt no energy or will leaving us and actually being exerted outwards towards these entities. It was so strange.

Due to feeling so powerless, I guess, I ran to a large Catholic church with these massive statues of Saints sitting in high-backed chairs all along the front. I ran over to St. Francis and started pleading for help. That statue rose up and came with me back to the house to help me and my family. The funny thing is, this statue was still all gray, from the flesh to the robes, it was like the concrete just got up and came to life and was animated, and the size and height of the Saint was still the same. So, picture if you will a large concrete statue walking around and that’s what it was like. Another interesting detail was that I never got a look at the Saint’s face, not really. It’s like there was a head to it, but I can’t quite remember any details of the face. And even though I know that typically when people are talking about St. Francis they are referring to St. Francis of Assisi, this Saint had a vaguely feminine quality or air about them, almost like they really had no set gender at all. Sort of like an Angel I guess.

After the saint comes and I guess the spirits are done away with (I can’t remember a big to-do about the banishing part), we go to a different house. We go down a long hallway and there are many different rooms going off of it. There were a few other people roaming around the house and the house felt very light and airy, almost ethereal and other worldly, yet sill very grounded. There’s a guy there who is my age with black hair. I don’t know him, but he looks familiar, and St. Francis then puts a bracelet on my hand (like an orange rubber one I think, lol) and starts telling me about him. It sort of goes like, “You will know that he is…”, and the Saint goes on to explain how I will understand all of his positive and negative traits and accept all of them. She then does the same thing to him, only I think he gets like delicate silver bangles and slides them on to his wrist and tells him how he will know and accept all that is positive and negative about me. There was like a sparkly charge of energy when the bracelets were put on us both, it was crazy. He didn’t seem too pleased with it though, like I had done something to offend him and I was going to have to apologize about it. Different, to be sure.

An interesting side-note, yesterday morning I was over at a co-worker’s cubicle who was doing data entry on an individual and when she had brought up a screen all the info had been wiped out and then she had to re-enter it. The county the person lived in was St. Francis. I was reading a brochure this morning that had been emailed to me about an ECW Fall Gathering and it was being put on by a church called St. Francis. I feel like there is something important about all of this and there is some meaning to it all, I just have not yet figured it out. I started reading up on St. Francis yesterday and he certainly has a very intriguing story and history. I find all these occurrences happening so close together so simultaneously all very intriguing and I can’t help but pay attention. I’m listening Universe, just trying to decode the message now ;).

~ ♥ ~