I love summer storms. There was a good one last night. Lightning blanketing the whole horizon in repeated flashes. Thunder rolling in like ocean breakers. A drenching rain. To be in a safe spot in the midst of nature’s powerful wrath is one of the most comforting feelings I know. Better than ice cream.
At the last God and Guinness session we each chose a spiritual practice to try. I chose an hour of immersing self in God and asking God to take over my life. Or something like that. When I chose that spiritual practice I knew it was the right one for me because when I imagined letting go - I had this surge of terror rise from my gut.
If I peel away all of my daily distractions – like the beauty of this morning. The overcast sky gives it the magical feeling of dusk. A breeze keeps the mosquitoes off and the sweet subtle scent of lilacs in my head. If I let go of all the ideas I have for the church’s health regime. If I let go of all the good tasks I have piled up to meet my duties and needs for daily accomplishments. If I let go of the chance encounters; the laughs we share, the stories of loss or hope or worry or wonder. If I forget that wonderful dinner the ladies left me at the church last night. If I let go of all these distractions - in my mind there is a storm. When I stop and try to think “what’s it all about?” “where am I heading?” and “who’s in control here anyway?” a sense of panic surges up from somewhere deep below.
Do you know that feeling? Felt it lately?
The woman from the Mohawk community who led us in worship at last weekend’s Conference taught us about the ritual of braiding one’s hair. As the strands of hair are woven together, one names and honours each of creation’s sacred spirits that we share this planet with.
In another session it was suggested that prejudice and privilege have been woven into our Western Christian self-identity as the dominant conquering culture and religion. We spoke of the need for repentance if we hope to establish Right Relations.
The scripture tells us that God knows the number of hairs on our heads. I imagine a tender mother stroking my hair who knows me better than I know myself. She sings…
I am the artist that all artisans draw from
I am invisible but all creation reveals my nature
I am your next breath
I am the light of the world
I am Emmanuel; God dwelling among creation
I am the one who rejoices with those who rejoice
I am the one who cries with those who cry out
…over and over again.
Will this ship of mine wreck in the coming storm?
Would I do the brave thing and be a hero or would I cower?
“Deliver us from evil - Save us from the time of trial.” we pray.
If I was diagnosed with terminal cancer tomorrow would I laugh and live with courage or would I crumple and start dying right away - hoping to end it quick?
God knows – or does She?
God knows that within me is both courage and selfish-hate.
God knows that I am capable of either, and both are woven into the story of my life so far.
I don’t believe God knows my fate any more than I do. God doesn’t know how I will react to the storm (and doesn’t send the storm to test me either.) How boring that would be for God. Way too predictable for the Master Artist.
God can see all the future possibilities of my actions and reactions all at once. God can see all the possible futures of how what you choose to do will affect me and my ancestors as well – infinite possibilities.
I also believe that God has no power to control my destiny. There are no strings to pull. It’s not a puppet play. God doesn’t manipulate life – only loves it.
The all-powerful God is not in control of life’s chaos.
It’s natural that we feel terror and panic as we face that chaos that comes to every family eventually.
To sing that “God’s got the whole world in His Hands” is a comforting child’s thought. If it makes you stronger and braver in the waves then sing it out loud.
But when the ship wrecks and lives are twisted and people die – then God’s Hands are to blame. No wonder so many have a hate-on for God!
God’s power is love. Love does not control but persuades, heals, encourages, springs forth eternally. God believes in us, hopes for us, and loves us.
It’s what I tell people about my role as Minister in the Church. “I have no power – except persuasion.” I have no vote as a staff person – but I do have a say and I can use my talents to create what I hope for.
We cannot change the wind. But we can adjust our sails.
God hopes the best for us. God loves us and tries to show us – make us feel - that love – the power of it – in every circumstance. In the storm, God pours on the love.
If I have practiced watching daily for that love, opening my heart to it even when it hurts, weaving it into my life’s braid, then when the storm tears away all my distractions and defenses – maybe I will know from where in my soul to draw the courage that God has nurtured in every chance opportunity for just this moment.
What will happen?
God is just as interested as you and I. And at the dawn of every day is just as curious to see the next episode of “How the World Turns.”