The climb

“Is Christianity changing?” I ask Jackson.

“No,” he says, “but we are.”

I nod. Almost everything has changed since the first Protestant settlers came here: our cities, our houses, our transportation. Our tastes in music and fashion. How we navigate in space, how we take in information. All these broad shifts that influence how we think and act. Not to mention the countless incremental and personal changes that occur over each of our lifetimes. Just in these last several months, I’ve changed. Who would have thought I would have engaged in this epic church-going experiment? Not me, and certainly not anyone who knew me. The mention of God used to make me uneasy because I thought it had to be a very specific thing: big man in the clouds.

Critics may claim that a particular generation or population group is more spiritually complacent or less curious, but I don’t think you can judge what’s going on in others’ hearts and minds. Because despite all the changes, something fundamental stays the same. It’s what makes our need for the tools Christianity offers as vital today as ever. Each of us struggles to come to grips with being here, and with the knowledge that we will leave—as if these realizations are a fresh new thing just added to the human experience. Religion reminds us that people have been grappling with them for centuries. It’s spiritual dialogue across generations.

But being told a thing takes us only so far. We have to engage in it, each of us putting in the effort to make sense of it for ourselves. We wrestle with it so that we can reach beyond for a deeper joy. It’s like the Biblical reference to the mustard seed—all that potential sits in us, but it is the process, the expansion, the opening, that matters. No single church has changed me, no one sermon. But the act of going, of walking in those doors, is changing me. I feel my heart softening to people I had dismissed, my mind opening to ideas I once ridiculed. Each time I show up and come elbow to elbow with others who have also showed up, the chances are I’ll have a moment, however brief or fleeting, where the beauty of creation strikes me—the awe of this shared experience—and it won’t feel overwhelming or like something I can’t handle, but poignant and profound.

One point Jackson made in his sermon about Nehemiah stood out for me. In the first moments after learning about the destroyed walls, Nehemiah is overcome with grief and begins to weep. Jackson paused and asked everyone to think about the sudden painful rawness of Nehemiah’s emotions. Nehemiah hadn’t witnessed the walls being smashed—it happened earlier and far away. But all at once Nehemiah realized it was not an abstract occurrence that happened to others, but his very own experience. After a moment, the wave of anguish recedes, and he makes his plans.

A flicker of understanding rises in me: I see that each fresh recognition of the awesomeness of life is the huff and puff of gaining elevation on a mountain climb. Because it’s the facing it—the working through it, the accepting it—that gets us closer to the top where compassion, for ourselves and others, and gratitude resides. Each time we grasp the intangible, the mustard seed grows.

69 thoughts on “The climb

  1. Corinna says:……”all that potential sits in us, but it is the process, the expansion, the opening, that matters.” ……..whether you see it as the blossoming of a tight bud (Anias Nin), a spiritual road trip toward Fresno, selecting that narrow highway toward being with Christ, or the arduous climbing of a mountain, it doesn’t seem to me to make a difference from my perspective. It is the choices we make and the journey we take that changes us if we allow it to do so.

    Great insight, Corinna. Thanks.

  2. . <– The arrow is pointing to the mustard seed.

    " the tools Christianity offers as vital today as ever." I second that….(of course!). Spiritual hunger and curiosity is as alive today in our country as ever. That is something reflected in surveys, so it's not so subjective as one may think. One of the things that has changed is the number of people who don't think Christianity can provide those tools you mentioned, Corinna. If you think back to some of the places you've been on this journey, you may agree with their assessment. It has a direct bearing on the rise of the "Nones."
    Great, reflective, post…

  3. And, yes, Walt! The tools. I cannot discount that some of mine, do no doubt, came from my early years in the Methodist church……many came from my parents who taught as much by good example as anything…..and some I have picked up along the way because I was on the outlook for them, because that is who I am. If (some) Churches are not providing the tools…..and families are not providing the tools, we do have a conundrum, don’t we. Where can these spiritual hungers and curiosity be satisfied? Corinna talked about not even having the vocabulary to discuss spirituality, although sometimes words are greatly overrated!……I am not a “none” so it is sometimes hard for me to put myself in their totally secular shoes…….but it must feel pretty isolated sometimes. No answers. Just my ponderings.

    • It also occurs to me that people at some of the churches that Corinna has visited might think they are gathering up tools, but what they bring home is a beautiful, sparkling Craftsman tool box which is basically empty….with only a screwdriver or maybe a Crescent wrench in it. Useful, but not the full contingency of tools needed to help build a life of “goodness” or an understanding of life’s mysteries….or a way to recognize and avoid what someone called “un-goodness.” MET

      • I like your analogy here, Merrill. To extend it a bit: Some churches have given out tools, but they don’t really work or perform as claimed…. People try them to, perhaps, become more like Jesus, but keep coming up empty….

      • and you branded that tool chest with a “onbrand” name – too often many followers have pride packed under their belt, and this is what prevents them from gathering tools “why should I ? I already have the prestige of the church and its leaders to back me up”…kind like relying on google for everything LOL

  4. I loved your post, Corinna.
    Commenting on Walt’s post just above, my conjecture is that the rough places many people find in the Bible are those that require that they suspend their intellect and knowledge about science. Part of what has being driving a movement called “emergent Christianity” is related to the quest to find the Christ (anointed one) who wants to come live in your heart and change you from the inside out. Marcus Borg, author of Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, and The Heart of Christianity (amid many other great books) uses language about seeing things through different lenses. You will find confirmation in his writings for some of the feelings you have shared with us, and perhaps encouragement to persevere.

  5. Corrina, for me, this is probably the most personally compelling post you’ve written. Your readiness to see the good in nearly every denomination you’ve visited rally oust tings in perspective, and I love the analogy of the toolbox. I especially liked your statement, “But being told a thing takes us only so far. We have to engage in it, each of us putting in the effort to make sense of it for ourselves.” Until the Reformation, that was pretty much the policy, “If we tell you, that should be good enough; you don’t even have to believe as long as you obey.” I don’t think most of us have to anything as dramatic as nailing 95 thesis on a church, door, but your post gets to the essence of the personal experience of faith and knowing God. Nobody can do it for us or to us; we have to seek it out and embrace what comes, using the tools that work best for us. Great message, Corrina!

  6. Good day. I am not feeling well today, so I am not up to getting my head wrapped around everything Corinna said…it was a special post. I’m not up to doing it justice in a discussion. So I will say hello and see you later.

    One thought hit me though, on the subject of ‘tools’, and it’s pretty simple (and paraphrased): “And more blessed still are they who have NOT seen and who have believed.” Good old ‘orthodox’ that I am, I still think the gift of Grace is ALWAYS there, and doesn’t always require ‘building’. Saul on the road to Ephesus.

    Grace can come in increments or like a building falling on us. It comes of itself. The choice we face is to notice it.

    Yours in Christ.

    • I agree with you, Patti, that “building” is not always needed….but tools come in all shapes and sizes….and no shape at all. Sometimes a “tool” can be as abstract as the matter of knowing that you need to be open to noticing things…. like the coming of Grace. MET

      P.S. Get better. We need your voice.

  7. I love the members of the choir on here – each contributing their part toward a coherent song.
    I have to say that the ‘tools’ mentioned here are definitely contributing to my developing understanding of the essential wisdom Corinna speaks about, to live better. I learn something with every response! Just wanted to thank you all for your contributions! Hopefully Patti will be back soon. .

  8. And to think that I believed that you were searching for a way to connect with God’s word and find out his purpose for you (and the rest of mankind). Actually, it appears that you want a place where you feel happy and connected to something akin to “warm and fuzzy”

    • Hi Cheri, I believe writing these words is God’s purpose for me. In fact, I feel that on a very deep level. I won’t deny that I like the “warm fuzzies” but they don’t come easy to me and, in fact, I only experience them when I’ve gone way outside my “comfort zone,” which I believe this entire excercise demonstrates.

  9. Cheri – you don’t think God is ‘warm and fuzzy’ and makes you happy? If He isn’t there’s a problem. Of course, I can only speak for myself. . .

    • Perhaps I should clarify that statement. And please know that this is only my opinion. For me, the Bible is not God’s word, but man’s. That may be one reason why the Old Testament is full of God’s wrath and perhaps where you get the ‘figuring out God’s purpose for you’. Definitely to be taken with a grain of salt (at least, for me). Now the lessons of Jesus/God in the New Testament – there’s definitely some inspiration there and the reason to be a believer in the good in people – IF that’s where you need to get your inspiration from. The whole God vs. Satan just does not work for me (more Old Testament blarney). Scaring people into being good just doesn’t cut it with most reasonable and rational people and certainly has NEVER been a doctrine in the United Church, thankfully. So I guess what I’m saying here is that if Corinna IS looking for a place to feel happy and connected to something akin to ‘warm and fuzzy’ – I’m with her! Since it’s obvious that she’s already seeing good things in every denomination she’s tried I’d say she’s on the right track.

  10. Cheri, Sounds like you are pretty disappointed and frustrated that Corinna has not rushed to embrace that which you hold to be true. Actually, I also thought that this was Corinna’s most insightful writing. She has taken all her experiences from the past months, and has endeavored to make sense of them—in a holistic manner. What she wrote seemed to make sense for many of us….no matter where we are coming from spiritually/denominationally. It is NOT a contest—-this business of finding a way to best live our lives. Many of you are on a “Christian” track that makes no sense to me, but it seems to work for you all. I said to somebody the other day that I am an agnostic half the time….LOL…..but that doesn’t mean than I am not also searching and finding and searching some more. It is a journey that we do have to take by ourselves….I do not believe that today Corinna’s blog was saying that her journey is over….actually, I think it felt like she was at a wayside chapel taking a little breather before she goes on. I do not mean to speak for Corinna; she will do that for herself. But, I have appreciated her not rushing into anything because it seemed to be the “right thing” at the time….but instead has found worth and beauty every time she has courageously entered a new sanctuary. What she is experiencing—-as I read her words—is much greater and more essential than “warm fuzzies.” I appreciate being on this journey with her and all the others who have joined her….a combination support system and cheering section!

    • Dang Merrill; you be on a roll!

      Isnt that what her title is? “None gets some”?

      The weakness us humans have is to try to identify with others based ONLY on what we know – “if its familiar, its good”… which is not good because humankind is diverse in all sorts of ways, and what is familiar may not be best for everyone…and when we do that, sometimes we arrive at conclusions way too fast for good…”if you dont fit into slot a, then you belong in slot b (or in this case “none” lol) but actually, we only learn when we take the time to understand the why, where, how of people – there are millions of slots for each of us, and in todays world its changing fast…

      IMO religion takes care of that scary sorting thing – “oh, youre a christian” “oh youre jewish” “oh youre muslim” oh youre _____” a sub culture within the culture – the reason why people feel “safe” having a religion and feel safe recognizing someone else in their religion – you can understand who they are based on their “religion. But in todays world, cultures and sub cultures are beginning to blend due to methods of travel ( i can meet many different people from different cultures just by going to the airport – not feasible a 100 years ago- the world can reached all over) so what is familiar is not so familiar anymore.
      So Guess what, we are evolving…

      And this is why i truly believe that Jesus didnt come up with a rule book, but a simple message… unfortunately it was the new religions that started after he was gone that did…and so they are scrambling to try to fit something that Jesus knew didnt belong in a rule book. Actually, sometimes Im extremely amused to read or listen in on those explanations LOL

      good read, Corrina!

  11. Reading the Bible for me is simply a reading of stories. It isn’t necessary for me to determine whether or not the story is true. What becomes more important to me is, “What truth do I glean from the story?” I refuse to simply cast it into bare bones facts and cast them as laws or rules or prophecies to be obeyed throughout time when they were written in and for another time. I look for the metaphor.

    • a good way to look at it – because there are excellent parables in there to learn from so we arent “condemned” to repeat the same mistakes as others…

    • Hi Frank, I often wonder why determining whether these things are “true” –as in actually happened at some point–is such a big deal. What seems most remarkable to me is that these are the stories that have been bundled together and passed down for so many years. To me, that in itself is cause to read and wonder and think on them.

      • Corrina, I think trying to turn the Bible into a history lesson or a science book demeans its true purpose and meaning. Its an unfolding story of God’s love for us. It may have been inspired by God but it was certainly written by individual people. I read about a pastor who tried to combine all four Gospels into one book, combining the disparate incidents into a continuous narrative. What it ended up doing was robbing each Evangelist of his unique view of Jesus’ ministry. Matthew wrote mainly for a Jewish audience, so there is a lot of Jewish imagery in his Gospel. Luke wrote for Gentile converts, so his Gospel reads more like an explanation of who Jesus was. And of course John’s Gospel is more like a poem. Trying to cram them together denied readers the message that would have most impacted them. God uses the Bible to tell us He loves us, not to convince us earth is only 4,000 years old.

        • Tim- have you ever had the chance to read the gospels in Greek? and if you cannot read them in Greek yourself, I think Andy Gaus’s version is very humane…It reminds me that the bible was a book put together by men in politics, and is continued today in that format; but that the original gospels were letters and scrolls that were individualistic to the person who wrote them. Its very conversational even – the message is clearer.

  12. Hi Cheri–
    Maybe you can expand on your statement? I honestly don’t see the “warm and fuzzy” in what Corrina wrote. But I do see Jesus being warm and fuzzy all over the Gospels…”Let the children come to me…”, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Corrina has done her homework, it seems in part to avoid the superficial warm and fuzzy part of our faith.

  13. Corinna: “Each of us struggles to come to grips with being here, and with the knowledge that we will leave…it’s the facing it—the working through it, the accepting it—that gets us closer to the top where compassion, for ourselves and others, and gratitude resides.” Does that say it, or what?! Dang!

    I don’t think I ever thought before of religion being our human attempt to make sense of being alive and of dying. We’re drawn to others who seem to be “facing..working through…accepting” this reality of life and death, to others who want more than bread and circuses. I’ve found some of those folks right here, drawn in common by Corinna’s quest. The folks I’m drawn to are the ones who are more interested in questions than answers. Or when they do find an answer that works for them, they’re not interested in making others see it their way, not into the “sorting” thing, as Janice so aptly calls it; rather in encouraging others to keep asking, seeking, knocking. As Merrill says, ” It is NOT a contest—-this business of finding a way to best live our lives.”

    I like how Janice put it, “Jesus didnt come up with a rule book, but a simple message…” Which I see as: Love, and be loved. Maybe too simplistic for many folks, but it works for me.

    I love what you guys say. I love your hearts.


    • Yes! Love and be loved – you’re absolutely right! How simple is that? JUST BE NICE (and I DO realize I’m not sometimes. . . ) I think perhaps I’m just anti-fundamentalist – that is, I resist the attempts that people make to somehow ‘convert me’ with their message and/or the suggestion that some ‘bad guy’ is going to show up someday and I’m going to be really sorry . . .I much prefer the ‘light of the world and salt of the earth’ people on here — and their hearts (love that!) Hope you all have a good day; mine will be BUSY!! Group hug to Patti. . . feel better soon!

  14. Hi To Patti—Hope you’re feeling better!

    Historically, “conversion” in its modern form hasn’t worked real well. The Spanish missionaries tried to convert Native Americans and would up wiping out nearly all of them; the same happened with European missionaries in Asia and Africa. And it continues today. I recently saw a YouTube video with a nice, young, passionate preacher standing in what appeared to be a Buddhist temple complex in India. At first he started out okay, questioning whether Buddhists would really miss out on Heaven because they’re not Christian. After all, most are good people by any standard. I was shocked when he said “Yes, they are doomed.” Unless, of course, Christians like him preached the word and “saved” them as commanded in the Bible. It struck me as particularly offensive because this person intruded on someone else’s sacred ground to tell them they’re wrong. How would Patti or I feel if a Buddhist monk got up to preach at High Mass and told us our religion was false?

    “Conversion” in its earliest form was and is the most successful. After the Resurrection, the Apostles spent their time preaching, but also going out in the city, healing and feeding the poor. They showed what it was to be a Christian by example. St. Francis of Assisi did the same, and in our own time Mother Theresa ministered to mostly non-Christians. Living Jesus’ teachings goes a lot farther than shouting answers at people. God doesn’t “sort” us into groups; we do that to ourselves. He approaches us individually because His spirit knows what’s in our hearts. To me, the Great Commission, to “go and make disciples of all people” is tied to a phrase in the same verse, “do all I have commanded”. Love one another as we love ourselves. The best way to spread the word is to live His example of love, and leave the judging to God.

  15. Thank you all for the group ‘hug’, and hello. I am feeling a bit better today, but still taking it easy. I was running a fever all day yesterday an could barely drag myself out of bed. All I wanted to do was sleep. So, mostly, I did. 🙂 Thank you for the thoughts. The fever broke last night and I feel MUCH better today.

    There has been a lot of stuff running through my head lately and I am not even sure how to put it into words. I came upon an interesting (free) book for my Kindle, published in 1842, called “The Book of Religions” by John Hayward. Actually, he focuses mainly on Christian sects, but what is amazing is the complete diversity of theological belief, all using the same Bible to support them.

    What strikes me, then, is that the best way we can go ‘right’ about all this is to focus on Jesus’ words, as best we can and follow them, as we are able. I believe that what enables me to follow, when I do, is the Holy Ghost. I believe that we human beings seem to be unable to ‘stick’ with God of our own striving, and require the substitutionary redemptive act of Jesus to bring us into reconciliation with God. And I do believe in Hell, if only as a place and existence that is totally void of hope of any kind. I have dreamed it.

    Having said that, I also believe that the people on this thread are each and every one trying to find their way through life in the best and most loving way possible, and are pursuing many different paths to embrace that goal. Where they go and how they go is between them and God.

    What is important is how we live our belief and how we love our neighbors as our self. If we do not live this love out in our lives, what possible hope would there be for anything better in the next??

    Yours in Christ

    • While I find it unnecessary to believe that the “substitutionary redemptive act of Jesus” is needed for reconciliation with God, I accept that many do but I often wonder where they got that idea from. Those of us who grew up in one of the U.S. church traditions would have heard this story but considering that there is a large segment of the world population who are not Christian or did not grow up in the Christian tradition, it is unlikely that such a thought occurred to them. It may be that it is not an experience of reconciliation that is needed but one of awareness. Awareness that there is something more going on that guides and directs our lives and It is available to everyone. Once we become aware we have the freedom to choose how we will approach a further unfolding of the awareness and how to co-create our lives with it for the greater good.

      • Frank, I’d like to take a stab at what you have asked here. I don’t know what you will think of it! And who could really “simply answer” such a question, anyway, right? But, I think you are right that the first step is awareness of God. That comes through Jesus — well, at least for those who have heard about Jesus! But if you don’t know or have never heard about Him, there are other ways to see God and become aware of God (in nature, in circumstances of good which cause you to seek God). I think the idea is that once aware of God, are you going to change your life to accommodate God’s presence? Are you going to follow God? That takes some kind of change. That’s the choice you speak of. Walk away from God or walk toward God? That speaks of reconciliation, doesn’t it? So perhaps it is both awareness and reconciliation. Ginger

        • Yes. Perhaps I have a little philosophical difference in the way I see it since I believe that God is not on the outside looking in but on the inside looking out which, for me, means that everyone is already born with an internal knowing of who they are as a child of God but from about the age of 3, if not before, they get introduced to parental and familial and a culture that defines them and mostly causes them to forget who they really are. They take on many forms to please parents, teachers and significant others. Often, during those years natural talents and gifts that the child may have get snuffed out as they learn to live the disciplined or undisciplined life of their parents and their culture. I think many keep trying to recognize that inner voice that is trying to speak to them and come to believe that perhaps it can be heard easier if they belong to a religious group. It’s a great stepping stone but most get stuck there believing that that is the end of their evolutionary journey.
          The inner God does not leave them alone, however, and at some level the journey continues and eventually culminates in an awareness and realization of a revelation: “Oh…my goodness! God has been with me all along. It was I who forgot who I am.” With the renewed memory of the inner God who expresses Itself through you and as you you begin to gain an inordinate power to give the gifts you have always wanted to express and each uniquely created person will have their own unique gifts to share. To me it’s the moment the Apostle Paul speaks about when he speaks about how God’s Spirit merges with your spirit and you recognize that you are God’s child or the moment when Jesus at his baptism heard the voice: “You are my son in whom I am well pleased.” These moments happen to everyone who begins to recognize their spiritual legacy no matter what religious or non-religious life they have chosen.

          Here in Hemet, Ca., my town, someone erected a sign in an empty lot that simply says: “Prayer changes things.” I often pass it to get to my home and I’m always glad that the person who erected it didn’t qualify it by saying something like, “Only Christian prayer changes things.” I see it and envision robed Buddhist priests, Jewish Rabbis and countless others whose consciousness of prayer does its work.

          So, I say, remember who you are. It’s more than accepting Jesus or Buddha or Moses. It’s learning that the God within has something important to say through you, too and is awaiting your recognition of who you are, God expressing in your own unique way.

    • Patti, Glad you are back. Your reply came in while I was putting together my ideas (see below). I always love your open Spirit. And this idea:. “if we do not live this love out in our lives, what possible hope would there be for anything better….” I will stop there with that idea because I am not sure about “the next,” but I do know that if we want something better we are going to have to work for it…..and love is a powerful tool. MET

  16. Patti said:
    “What is important is how we live our belief and how we love our neighbors as our self. If we do not live this love out in our lives, what possible hope would there be for anything better in the next??”

    To quote the late Tony Soprano… “Badda Bing!”–you nailed, it Patti! Hope you can get some rest and feel better.

  17. I probably have already claimed enough air space about “The Climb,” but I would like to once again join in the chorus of voices speaking for a simple message—-it may be more than love or be loved…..but that is a very good starting point. The realization for me is that I can understand and act on the simple messages without the benefit of rules and guides and veiled threats of what will happen if I don’t fall into line. It makes ME responsible for my life and my behavior—-for my choices, good or bad. It is so difficult to talk “religion” here in the U.S. without feeling a necessity to filter through Christianity; it is the majority belief system here…..HERE….but I know that the great principles I try to live by are shared by all the other religions and other peoples all over the world….basic things like the one we all know as the Golden Rule….isn’t that one pounded into our consciousness from the time we are small! This idea, however, does not BELONG to the Christians. It belongs to all of us who have been born here on Earth…..who will live here and who will die here. To me it is still about that journey….. having questions, seeking answers, finding people who will walk alongside of us, at least for awhile……and then doing it all over again! Love you guys.

  18. Ok. I am going to say something here that will brand me as either a total looney or a very good Anglican (circa C. S. Lewis in “A Grief Observed”). I have absolute faith that there is indeed, an ‘after’ because my grandmother came to ‘visit’ me 15 years after she died. I was sitting in a Unity church (part of my path back home) and suddenly was surrounded by the essence of my grandmother in what felt like a gigantic warm hug of ‘loveness’, with a flavor of “I love you! Goodbye”. Now, you have to understand that my grandmother was such a character that there was no mistaking her. I started crying and I remember saying to the person next to me “My grandmother just came to say she loved me and goodbye.”

    This experience, along with a few others involving reincarnation, have left me with a honed steel strong belief in the afterlife, and a few interesting questions about it. Why did she wait 15 years? Why did it feel as though she was saying “I’m done here, going elsewhere?” WHERE HAD SHE BEEN??? This is one of the experiences I told Pastor Jacobsmeyer that I could not discount. And it is one of the reasons, Frank, that I welcome with extraordinary joy the redemptive blessing of Jesus Christ’s act. It allows me to get off that Wheel of Life. Whatever form life after death takes, I rejoice in knowing that it does not involve the endless repetition of trying to get it “right”. Which we never do. Which we are incapable of doing.

    I don’t believe in my creeds and forms because I am afraid of Hell. I believe in them because I know, from past life experiences and from present life situations, that I am, as a human being, utterly incapable of doing it better without messing it up. If I do not have the staff of Jesus Christ’s care and forgiveness of my sins always in front of me, my heart is utterly unable to contemplate life based on my own ability to be good. Because I can’t. No matter how I wish. And the real kicker is that, the more I wish, the more I muck it up.

    So, whatever reasons any of you have for believing what you do, I give you mine for believing what I do and I pass on the Good News of Christ’s redemptive salvation. That is my only job..

    With great love for all of you,
    Yours in Christ

    • Good story, Patti! What a great experience for you! Do you suppose that, because nothing like that has ever happened to me, I don’t believe in the afterlife? Could be… that’s why my belief in living forever is through memories, which isn’t so bad either. And, personally, I’m OK with being not-so-good. . .I think it makes me interesting and also makes me a good fit with most of my friends! Glad you’ve ‘come around’!

  19. Lest the previous comment be misunderstood…..I have no problem being not-so-good. Wish I did.

    Yours in Christ

    • Thank you, Patti. Loved it! I have more I want to say about this but I’m on my way out but will return for more comments but I leave with a statement I’ve made before: “If you wondered how your life was going to turn out; this is it! and for those believing in reincarnation; this is the life you’ve been dying to live.” I’ll be back for more. I’m happy to be “yours in Christ” Patti. It feels all “warm and fuzzy”. 🙂

  20. I understand that there is a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor about this being-not-so-good business. I am just clarifying: I see myself as a “good person.” Not just once in a while or when I take some special action, but all of the time. I am basically a good person. I start from there…. Do I mess up once in a while with that. Absolutely. Is this different than some of the others of you, or is it just about language and how you are couching your ideas? MET

    • Hi Merrill–I don’t think its really different. I think I’m usually a pretty decent sort. But Jesus challenges us to be good by His definition, “Be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect.” That’s a tall order, but as He said, “For man this is impossible, but with God nothing is impossible.” None of us can do the right thing 100% of the time, and I don’t think God expects us to. He just wants us to give it our best shot.

      • Yes. I think that it is basically just a matter of the language and how it gets filtered through our belief systems. I think that when I say I believe I am a good person, I am not saying that I am “perfectly good.” Good by Jesus’s definition is also, no doubt, also good by Ghandi’s (et al) standards…..although I do understand that this is not going to be translated the same for Christians who see Jesus and God as one in the same. Am I close to being right about that? But, anyway, humanly good words for me… is my best shot. Merrill

        • And a darn good shot, I must say! Funny you should mention Gandhi. I once asked our Episcopal priest if he thought Gandhi went to Heaven. Bear in mind this was a very traditional “Anglo-Catholic” priest. He smiled and said “Sure!” He painted a mental picture of Gandhi reaching Heaven, and there was Jesus waiting for him with open arms. Jesus said “Thanks for doing my work on earth. Come in and make yourself at home.”.

  21. “So, whatever reasons any of you have for believing what you do, I give you mine for believing what I do and I pass on the Good News of Christ’s redemptive salvation. That is my only job.”

    Well said, Patti. I think I said a couple of threads ago we can respect each other’s opinions while realizing there are differences among our beliefs, without slipping into the “warm and fuzzy” I’m okay you’re okay syndrome. Clearly, we hold different views about who and what God is and who Jesus was, etc. To pretend those differences don’t exist would be a denial of our faith and patronizing to everyone else. There is a passage in one of Paul’s letters where he said “When I was among Jews I became as a Jew, and when I was among Gentiles, I became as a Gentile, so I could work among everyone.” He may have changed his delivery, but never the message. The Westboro Baptist whack jobs notwithstanding, there is nothing in the New Testament that tells us to condemn those who don’t share our beliefs. I think almost all of us are striving for a better understanding of the spiritual dimension of our lives. Like Patti, the terrors of Hell aren’t my motivation for being a traditional Christian—it is trying (and usually failing) to live up to His desire for us to love each other as He loves us, here on earth. I share Patti’s belief that that is impossible without His Grace and action in our lives. Others may choose to define it differently, and that’s fine—God doesn’t limit Himself to one belief system, no matter how hard we may try to put Him on our own personal boxes. You don’t have to be wrong for me to be right, and vice-versa.

    • I think what you are saying is that the humanity “mission statement” is the same within all of us, but the path is very different for all of us also? And this “mission statement” can actually transcend all cultures, religions and personal beliefs?

      Because thats kind how i think LOL IMO recognizing that we are all human, and that we all are wanting acceptance in who we are inside and how we fit into this world. Its not what/who/where defines us inside, but wanting the acceptance of just being a living human being. Acceptance.

      Apathy is the opposite of Love, not hate…

      • I think what you are saying is that the humanity “mission statement” is the same within all of us, but the path is very different for all of us also? And this “mission statement” can actually transcend all cultures, religions and personal beliefs?

        I like that way of expressing it, Janice!

  22. Tim, my post about your untungledness got put in the wrong place because my fingers got tungled! !!! lol

  23. I know my reply is really late, but Corinna, I love this post and your willingness to share. Loved your application of the mustard seed. By sharing these contemplations about your experience you give us a very precious gift. I have learned so much from the things you have to say, and all the heartfelt responses of everyone else. Your idea of your spirit becoming activated by your climb up the spiritual mountain invigorates us to continue our own climb. So many wonderful thoughts here of all of us working out our faith.

    This post causes me to go read Nehemiah … (okay, so it’s no secret I like Bible stories! – and I do respect our differing opinions about it!). One thing I noticed in the passage you’re talking about is that Nehemiah says to God, “You, Lord, put this in my heart to do.” And what struck me is that while we ascend to God (the climb), God also descends to us. Isn’t that what God was doing when he put it in Nehemiah’s heart to rebuild? That kind of blows my mind! God descending to us. Seeking God and God seeking us is a sort of two-way street, or mutual effort.

    That being said, Early on above (I read some of the posts this morning but didn’t have time to respond) someone said the Jewish God is a God of wrath, but I have to disagree. When I read this story, I see God as a rebuilder, and as helping Nehemiah not get his head chopped off (his job was like the Secret Service Agent to the king). Instead, God helped him get the blessing of and the money from the king to go and do the job. And then, the community rallied together to rebuild the city wall – so many of them only having the distant memory that “this is our city,” yet they still did it. God, people, community working and standing together. It’s beautiful to me. That’s my idea of something truly living or at least becoming alive.

  24. Hello Ginger! Good to see you. Your love of Bible stories prompts me to make a confession. I have read the Bible through ‘kiver to kiver’ twice and probable a few more times in rotation (readings in church), and I must admit that the only two books I actually enjoy reading are Ruth and Esther. However, you inspire me to read Nehemiah and look at it in a different light.

    Have a good day everyone. I am off to church today to cook. I’m hostess (along with some friends) tomorrow, and I have MUCH cooking to do. We sit 40 to 60 for lunch, so there is lots of prep. Everyone have a wonderful day.

    Yours in Christ

  25. PS: It was you ‘Secret Service Agent to the king’ that did it. I never could resist James Bond. 🙂 🙂

  26. My my, what a wonderful church we have here with Anglicans, Christians, None’s, Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Bible Students, Atheists, Emergents, Jews, Christian Science and New Thought and we enjoy sharing who we are, what we believe and what we’re about. All good people sharing good lives and having the good sense to be themselves. What more could God ask for?
    A poem by Martha Smock: “No Other Way”

    Could we but see the pattern of our days,
    We should discern how devious were the ways
    By which we came to this, the present time.
    This place in life; and we should see the climb
    Our soul has made up through the years.
    We should forget the hurts, the wanderings, the fears,
    The wastelands of our life, and know
    That we could come no other way or grow
    Into our good without these steps our feet
    Found hard to take, our faith found hard to meet,
    The road of life winds on, and we like travelers go
    From turn to turn until we come to know
    The truth that life is endless and that we
    Forever are inhabitants of all eternity.

  27. Where do you get this stuff, Frank? You’re a marvel. Always the bon mot. One day the Ink Spots, today this lovely poem. What was it Carmen called you, “Wholly Father”? I’m down widdat.

    This thing you said, I really liked: ” Awareness that there is something more going on that guides and directs our lives and It is available to everyone. Once we become aware we have the freedom to choose how we will approach a further unfolding of the awareness and how to co-create our lives with it for the greater good.” There is that moment when we become aware of “something more”, or more like moment upon moment upon moment, stepping stones of awareness. Each of us on the planet calls that moment something different, depending where we live, how we were brought up, what experiences life has brought us. If you were from Indiana you might call it your “come to Jesus moment”. If you were from India you might call it your first enlightenment or something.

    I was just wondering if there are people who never have a moment like that, when they become aware that there is “more than this”? I think not. I think everyone gets a chance. I think however, that some people choose to ignore it, for whatever reason. They never think about it, never go deeper, never seek more awareness. And I wonder, how do these people get through life?

    • I think people go as deeply as they feel called to go and for some it is very much on the surface level. Some, like narcissistic folks, can’t get past themselves. I think of that movie The Stepford Wives where the original wives get killed and the models get rewired to say what the community wants to hear. It’s as if they get short-circuited in life. Some come into the world and find themselves in families rife with ignorance about how to live. I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense. I mean they simply don’t know any better than what they have and never seem to find an inspiration for a way out. It doesn’t mean that their not good people although some aren’t. Many haven’t figured out that they have choice and can choose to move out of their circumstances and still others think it’s too damn hard to make the necessary changes. I think they get through life by following the same daily routines, day in and day out and simply believe that that, indeed, is all there is. My personal belief is that God is in them, too, trying to guide, trying to point to ways toward a better life, always gently pushing for change but always allowing them to choose. It may well be that in this life they have forgotten who they are. Was it Ginger who suggested reincarnation? We’ll have to wait and see.

  28. Frank – Having had more then one close up opportunity to think about “death” LOL –

    I thought of something that made me become a little less fearful of dying but yet hungry for more “knowledge” , and it does somewhat reflect what you just wrote –

    Will the same way I came into this world – not really comprehending what was being done, or said those first few formative years, but having the innate “unconscious” ability to want to live/thrive; is this the same way I will enter into the next journey after this one is done in this body?

    • Oh Janice, you make me smile. Thank you for thinking that I would have the answer to that one!! I have traveled several religious and spiritual paths and had several interesting and seemingly unexplainable occurrences myself. While I have looked at most of the theories about afterlife I can’t say I’ve settled on one that I’m truly satisfied with. The one I live closest too at the present time is the eternality of all life. It goes something like this: We live along a line called eternity always having been a part of the spiritual Consciousness of God. All life springs off or out of this Consciousness of eternity and somewhere along the line of Its creativity and for those of us on this planet we have a short while when we become (you’ll love this one) skin bags for Spirit. This springing forth as it were is what we’ve forgotten. The Spirit within, of course, hasn’t forgotten, but It does not force Itself upon us. We’re born with choice. When this skin body has served its purpose we let it go but the Spirit within survives and thus at some level we survive. Since there is pretty good scientific evidence for the theory of evolution, I believe we evolve to another way and I have no idea what that is. I’ve hear some people refer to it as, “the third balcony”. With the advent of Quantum Physics there is some scientific evidence provided (See Dr. Amit Gosami’s books) for reincarnation. Apart from this theory I sometimes still go with the old time poem: “I once had a dog named Rover and when he died he was dead all over.”
      There’s also a poem I have heard read at some memorials about, “Don’t weep for me, I have not died……” which then trails off to the idea that I am now part of the wind and the rain and the trees. I like that one too. I like Jesus admonition about many things: “Be it done unto you as you believe.” So I guess we’re left with that, too.

    • Here’s the poem I made reference to:
      Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep

      Do not stand at my grave and weep,
      I am not there, I do not sleep.
      I am a thousand winds that blow.
      I am the diamond glint on snow.
      I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
      I am the gentle autumn rain.
      When you wake in the morning hush,
      I am the swift, uplifting rush
      Of quiet birds in circling flight.
      I am the soft starlight at night.
      Do not stand at my grave and weep.
      I am not there, I do not sleep.
      Do not stand at my grave and cry.
      I am not there, I did not die!

      Mary Frye (1932)

  29. Frank…..I am opting for the Heaven that awaits me (God willing) where my mother and my grandmother and the housekeeper who raised me for 21 years and my best friend who died at 42 and many, many more and EVERY cat and dog I have ever had are waiting for me. Without any necessity for litter boxes or puppy pads (the animals, I mean.)

    I’ll take that over doing this all over again any day. So I rest in Jesus’ words. And agree completely with the poem’s sentiment, just not expecting my atoms to be QUITE so un-coalesced, thank you very much. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s