It has been a long week, made that way by anxiety, stress, and a subsequent lack of restful sleep. These weeks come along to me regularly for some reason. I suppose (perhaps) because my brain isn’t wired to always handle everything that comes my way; I mean, I look at other people and they appear to be handling the same amount of ‘life’ in a more effective way. So I wonder, what’s up with me?
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
Found an excellent blog post on questioning, deconstructing, and reconstructing one’s faith. An excerpt is below, but the entire post can (and should!) be read at Experimental Theology. This is one part in a series of posts, so it may be helpful to read previous entries.
Faith must and will go through the fires. In the words of Paul, when our faith was a child it talked like a child, thought like a child and reasoned like a child. Faith has to grow up and put childish things behind it. But that can be painful. There are attractive things about a childish faith. It’s simpler. It’s consoling. It’s certain. To grow up in faith is to step into complexity, ambiguity, uncertainty and anxiety. And there are times when we wish we could turn back the clock of faith, to go back to simpler times.
But you can’t go back. I often tell my students that there is a threshold of doubt, that once you start asking certain sorts of questions there is no going back. When it comes to faith there is a class of questions that, once you get to them, just don’t have any answers. When you reach these questions you’ll live with them for the rest of your life.
Richard Beck, Experimental Theology
© Kimberly Jasper 2016 All Rights Reserved
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.
Taken from Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, a hymn with words taken from the poem The Brewing of Soma by John Greenleaf Whittier.
O Spirit of the living God,
thou light and fire divine,
descend upon thy church once more,
and make it truly thine.
Fill it with love and joy and power,
with righteousness and peace;
till Christ shall dwell in human hearts,
and sin and sorrow cease.
Henry H. Tweedy, 1933
© Kimberly Jasper 2016 All Rights Reserved
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Acts 1:6-11 NRSV
As I have read the Gospels over the years, the belief has grown in me that Christ did not come to found an organized religion but came instead to found an unorganized one. He seems to have come to carry religion out of the temples into the fields and sheep pastures, onto the roadsides and the banks of the rivers, into the houses of sinners and publicans, into the town and the wilderness, toward the membership of all that is here. Well, you can read and see what you think.
from Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
The newest book in my reading stack looks to be the perfect chaser to Peter Enns’ The Bible Tells Me So. Check out this sample from Scripture and the Authority of God by N.T. Wright:
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
I look at the rising sun and feel that now upon me falls the responsibility of seeing what all my ancestors have seen…praising God before me. Whether or not they praised him then, for themselves, they must praise him now in me. When the sun rises, each one of us is summoned by the living and the dead to praise God.
from Thomas Merton Journal
As I was finishing The Bible Tells Me So, one of the most moving parts I read was Peter Enns’s description of the unfathomable size of the universe:
The known universe is 13.7 billion years old. Traveling at the speed of light, it would take about 100 billion years to get from one end of the universe to the other. Light travels at about 5.87 trillion miles a year…[that means] the approximate total number of miles across the universe is 587 sextillion (587,000,000,000,000,000,000,000)….This is what God laughing looks like. (p233-34)
How self-important I think I am until I consider the minuscule amount of space I occupy.
“You can forgive someone almost anything. But you cannot tolerate everything…We don’t have to tolerate what people do just because we forgive them for doing it. Forgiving heals us personally. To tolerate everything only hurts us all in the long run.”
Lewis B. Smedes