The first three decades of my life I always felt God’s presence, and I am incredibly grateful for that. There were of course times when I felt closer to God, and other times when I didn’t feel as close, but those patterns often mirrored how active I was with my prayer life. The times when I struggled to make spiritual practices a part of my regular routine, God naturally seemed less a part of my life, but I knew God was always there waiting for us to spend time together.
Spirituality & Love
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Bedtime, any night in 1957. My brother and I are on our knees next to Mom who is praying for the missionaries in a far-off country. Meanwhile, a few blocks away there is extreme poverty and people in need of help. Such is life on an open Native American Reservation in the 1950s. The lesson being taught was that prayer “counted” with God.
Last week my wife and I took our 13-year-old grandson to Disney World in Florida as a birthday treat. We joined thousands of other people at Epcot one day and at Animal Kingdom the next. Given the 90 plus heat and the crowds, I approached this trip with mixed feelings – anticipation of my joy of being with him and his joy of being there. Yet I feared the heat and crowds. In Disney speak, they call my experience “the magic.” In my faith, we would call it a miracle.
If you were to ask me if God is all-wise, of course I’d say yes. But if He’s so smart, why can’t He give me a straight answer when I pose questions about life’s problems? Where’s His wisdom when trying times confront me? It’s stressful when I ask God a question and don’t get a response. “I know I need a different job, but what should I do?” “Why is this person acting like that?”
My post on the movie Nomadland stirred some great conversations. These discussions caused me to see how my circumstances as a financially secure, privileged white man led to some unintentional romanticizing of the experience of being homeless and living in the back of a pick-up truck.
Having faith means voluntarily finding what’s true, and doing it critically, and with empathy. To have faith is to have faith, and that’s really it! In my experience, the most satisfying faith community is the one that says “we don’t have all the answers, but let’s figure it out together.”
Our local movie theatre reopened recently with a showing of
Nomadland. What a wonderful way for the theater and the people who attended to come out of Covid-time. The movie is a sweet story of a woman whose husband dies and loses her job to a factory closing. Then she loses her community due to the loss of a major employer. She takes to the road with her losses, her pain and her inkling of residual hope.
The “Higher Power” (who I grew up calling G-d) was punitive and finger-pointing. I grew up in a secular Jewish home, and religion was not discussed, except when it was punitive. For example, the idea of “sinning” and “punishment” were often described. I was angry a lot at Him because I felt cheated; cheated of a “loving family,” a “fun childhood” and “life without compulsive overeating.”
For several years I have been fascinated with pilgrimages as a living metaphor for walking the spiritual path.
Most things that are important to me require a leap of faith. Loving requires faith that I won’t be hurt and that it is worth it to risk being my real self.