Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Must write now!

I rushed to start this blog because I had that overwhelming urge to write, not just have my head explode with so many thoughts. Expect a long and rambling road! Perhaps it will sort out better if I keep it up.

I consider myself a progressive Christian, which also means that I am not fond of labels. So try to think of me instead as an independent voice.

I was wondering why people come to embrace spiritual issues or come to spiritual pivot points in their lives. My friend Karen, a huge 12-step advocate, says, why is grace given to some but not others? Jesus says, those who have ears, hear, which implies that many do not have those ears --- at least not yet. I feel I have been bountifully blessed by God, to the point that I am able to take on a few spiritual tasks outside of my immediate life and family. So many people never reach that point. I wonder why?

Is living in the United States beneficial to spiritual growth? I think the evidence indicates the opposite; it is poisonous to live in all this material abundance, where the focus is material wealth and prosperity. People forget that we live in a world of enormous need and pain. We are too insulated from it here in the states. I've had someone tell me that I lack awareness on some level because I did not grow up in poverty. Since I have no way to remedy that, I am not sure it's a valid point. Of course, I could become more like Jesus and give up all my possessions -- but that's not happening either, from where I sit today.

In the sequence of spiritual growth, people are called to LOVE first and foremost. I think that is the foundation of finding a true spiritual path. It's easy to get sidetracked every day. I have a much easier time loving people from far away than my own family, friends, and neighbors. Whenever I find myself working on a cause but distanced from a loved one, or angry about what someone did, I know I have strayed from the path once again.

Sometimes, people who consider themselves spiritually advanced comment that it is so hard for them to have friends who seem small-minded and intolerant. But of course that flies in the face of true spiritual discernment. I am not to judge that I am superior in any way to any of my fellow human beings. Oooh, it's so human to judge, though. It's so embedded in our culture.

The more enlightened a person is, the less that person should be prone to judgment. Discernment, yes -- clearly we are called to discern good from evil. But a truly enlightened person is a light shining for everyone else to follow, and that light cannot pick or choose where to shine or on whom to shine. (No, I'm not there -- so far away, but able to visualize it at least.)

All that is getting really abstract. Back to a bit of tangible reality -- I am reading "Not on our watch" about how to end genocide in Darfur and other places. I think people who are on a spiritual path need to be endlessly idealistic and never fall prey to cynicism that says, peace is not possible on this planet. Or another one I've heard: the Bible says somewhere (Revelation?) that peace will not happen on earth. Even if that were true (and isolated Bible verses rarely can stand by themselves), it is not an excuse for inaction. If everyone raised their voice against injustices like genocide, they would be exposed to the light. Evil actions wither away when exposed to the light of awareness.

Somehow, the holy spirit worked within me at a recent meeting held by my friend Susan in San Antonio. (Funny how friends can lead us to spiritual growth.) I met people from Rwanda and Darfur, and somehow it dawned on me that these are my neighbors -- just as the Samaritan who put himself in harm's way was the neighbor of the injured man (likely a Jew), as told by Jesus when asked, "Who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:25-37)

Darfurians do not have the power to end violence in their homeland. The United States does have the political power, worldwide. Without even sending in a single U.S. troop, our nation's leaders could end this genocide. They pressured Sudan's President al-Bashir into expelling terrorists, including bin Laden, after Sept. 11. They could now see that the warrant for his arrest is brought to fruition.

But this step forward in my own spiritual life was years in the making. Like genocide, it didn't just happen out of the blue. So if you're not there yet, don't despair! Remain open to God's work in your life. He often speaks through other people. (Use discernment to find out.) Pray continually, said the apostle Paul. It's hard to sin while praying.

Here's a funny thing. I posted this blog, then realized while I was waiting for my kids to get off the bus that it included a really hateful comment. Me, hateful?? Just goes to show -- we all have to be endlessly vigilant to remove violence and hatred from our own lives and daily words and actions. Anyhow, I edited it out and it's gone now. I will try my best to remove any hate speech disguised as free speech from my writing.

While this post does relieve my inner pressure a bit, I realize it's quite messy and disorganized. I will try to pick actual topics and stick to them in future posts.

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