My quandary about time

So, there’s this concept of “God’s time” that I’ve always sort of struggled with. It’s the idea that things don’t always happen when we want them to happen, but when our deep inner soul and the universe are ready for them to happen. Honestly, I’m thinking that if God really loved me it would be about Kaye’s time, not God’s time. At least that’s what I’m thinking when my tired, whiny 10-year old inner child makes an appearance.

I’ve had enough experiences of God’s time that you’d think I’d be a little more patient about it. For example, I was all set to teach two classes at Carthage, back-to-back, this semester. Then the chair of the department contacted me and said they needed to give one of my classes to someone else, and would I be willing to teach that class at a different time starting after Easter. Well, I wasn’t terribly happy about it and tried to work some different scenarios only to finally resign myself to his original suggestion.  Truth be told, if that hadn’t happened, this semester would have been just awful because the new class I’m teaching is taking up so much time in preparation. Here I tried to force something that would have been against my best interests just to do it Kaye’s way in Kaye’s time.

Holly Whitcomb writes, “There is a rightness about God’s time: a ripeness, a maturation, a waiting that is worth it. It is as if some of the geographic physical, emotional and spiritual pieces have to gestate before coming together. “

It’s always easy to look back and see where waiting was the best thing. The trick is to try to give waiting the benefit of the doubt while we’re in the midst of it. It involves trust and letting go. Perhaps we need to give ourselves permission to wait for “God’s time” instead of forcing our own. I think I’m going to keep working on that.

~Kaye

 

Lent, patience, humility, Bozo nose…

If I can’t use my infirmity for a good Monday blog, then what good is it really? Long story short – it appears that I have a sinus infection that has not only doubled the size of my nose, causing me to look like Bozo, but it has spread to my chin, cheeks and under my eyes. So, really, I look like Bozo with a hangover. Actually, now I’m Bozo, with a hangover, on steriods!  This better work.

All of my Lenten spiritual themes seem to be running together in the midst of my misery, forcing me to learn something from all of this. Lent itself is a time to go inside, to become more self-aware, to connect with our authentic self and in the process connect to God within. To do that, one has to let go of one’s ego. We have to be willing to look inside and see the dark, shadowy places within us that we’d rather not deal with or let anyone see. Ego has little, if any, place in spirituality. Deepak Chopra states,

“If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time. It’s very important to be aware of them every time they come up.”

Well, my ego was very unhappy about preaching to a record Sunday attendance looking like I’d been going rounds with Muhammad Ali.  Perhaps I’m to learn that looks aren’t everything (and people didn’t laugh at me too much – just that sympathetic chuckle and shake of the head), that control is an illusion, and that I don’t need to seek approval or judge myself.

Then the theme for my Wednesday night lenten gathering this week is “patience.” Heavy sigh. And patience usually requires waiting. Heavier sigh. I’ve never been very good at either of these. Perhaps that is why I keep having these wonderful opportunities to learn how to do them better (note the sarcasm, please). Sorry, I’m a little grumpy and whiny – comes from lack of patience.

Truly, the spiritual journey is all about patiently, actively waiting. It is about living the questions that we have about our lives, our decisions, our future.  It is about waiting for clarity. It is about waiting for God to show us the new thing God is doing in our lives. And it is about being okay with being patience, gentle and kind with ourselves while waiting. Eventually the answers will come when our hearts and minds are ready for them.

I believe my mantra for this week will be from Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: “Above all, trust in the slow work of God.” And my goal will be to not roll my eyes and snort while reciting it.

~Peace, Kaye

Love without limits

Yes, I know that Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark holiday, but I like it anyway.  What’s wrong with showing the people you care about that you love them? (I do not do Sweetest Day, though, that’s going too far.)  True confessions – I am one of the world’s ultimate saps. I like the little red hearts, flowers, chocolates, romance, the whole shebang. But everyone likes to know they are loved. Everyone.

God does a good job of this. God is love (1 John 4:16) and God loves everyone unconditionally. That means WITHOUT conditions or limits.  God loves us even when we don’t believe, even when we mess up, even when we question and doubt, even when we hurt others… to do otherwise would not be unconditional love. Get it?  I believe there can be no contradiction in God, so that God cannot love us, yet cast us into hell for all eternity.  God cannot love us, yet cause bad things to happen in our lives to punish us.

Here’s the kicker… we’re called to love as God loves.  We’re called to practice a love that is not limited by other’s responses to us.  Our grade school teachers try to help us learn this. All kids must give a Valentine to everyone else in the class, no matter how much they smell, or annoy you, or don’t like you. Sadly that ethic doesn’t seem to follow us into our later years. We rationalize that since we haven’t been loved by everyone, we certainly shouldn’t have to show love to everyone.  If we’ve had to earn love and respect from others, certainly others should have to earn our love and respect.

God’s call challenges us like no other. God says that spiritually we need to keep working on ourselves until we can get to a place where we love without limits. Deep inside ourselves we need to be so connected to God, the “ground of our being”, that we are loving in the face of crazy, annoying people; that we are non-violent in the face of violence; that we place more value on the soul and spirit than on material things. I keep working on this.

Happy Valentine’s Week!  Know that you are loved! ~ Kaye

To doubt or not to doubt?

I heard it again in class today, “doubting is bad”. Religion has told us this for ages.  Believe what the priest/pastor tells you. Do not question. Do not doubt. If you do, it shows that you do not have enough faith. And not having enough faith is bad (presumably because then you will not get to heaven, or have your prayers answered, or be healed, or whatever).

I categorically reject everything I just wrote. Please doubt! Please question! And please do not let go of your doubts and questions until you come to some understanding, or they become irrelevant. If I hear that people are doubting and questioning God and religion then I know two things. First, I know they are thinking, and I really believe that God wants us to use our minds about everything including spirituality and religion.  And, second, I know that they are engaging God instead of drawing away completely and giving up. Holding questions in our consciousness gives God the opportunity to provide answers either through an event in our lives, through something we read, someone we talk to, through a dream or even through flashes of insight. It may take us a long time to find the answers, and some answers may simply lead to more questions, but that is how we grow. (If a religious leader ever tells you not to doubt or question – run!)

I also don’t believe that God would ever withhold anything from us because we doubt and question. Over and over again in scripture, God takes people just as they are, meets them there and helps them to move forward on their journey. I trust that whether we are confused, angry, sad, scared or lost, God will not beat us up for not having enough faith. Instead, God will meet us there and help us to move forward, one baby step at a time.

The art of dancing

I’m convinced that all of us (some more than others) have a tendancy to take life and religion too seriously. Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things if we take a beverage into worship with us? Is it really horrible if I feed my kids chocolate cake for breakfast? Will lightning strike if I make fun of Jesus freaks who wear “Jesus is my homeboy” shirt and WWJD bracelets? (Not that there is anything wrong with that.)

At a former church, in what feels like a former life, we got in trouble for having too much fun, because, you see, “fun” is not in the Bible. Whatever happened to “eat, drink and be merry” (Eccl. 3:13, my paraphrase) or King David dancing nearly naked (oops, we’re not supposed to talk about that) before God in celebration (2 Sam. 6:14)?

I’m firmly convinced that life is meant to be lived abundantly, in all it’s wonder, beauty and pain. Last weekend I led a women’s retreat entitled “And She Will Dance…” and we talked about what it means for our spirits to dance through life, allowing ourselves to feel the depth of our emotions and then to allow them to be released in dancing before God – laughing, crying, hurting, celebrating. The most beautiful part was watching these women, coming from various places in life, some really good and some really difficult, all smile and laugh while watching Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia sing “Dancing Queen.” A bunch of us even risked looking totally foolish and played the song over and over learning the movements to it. Honestly, it was hysterical (especially me in my Eeyore pjs! The pictures have been confiscated.) But more importantly, it was good for the soul. It brought us light and laughter and love despite whatever may have been weighing us down.  I think that is what Anne Lamott talks about when she says, “and she is going to dance, dance hungry, dance full, dance each cold astonishing moment, now when she is young and again when she is old.”