Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Joining The Awkward Squad

'I don't do God comfortably...'

I am listening to 'Hard Talk', which is giving  air-time to the views of the former Anglican bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway. He threw his mitre into the Thames because the church is a cruel place to be, and he no longer wanted to be part of it. 

I don't do Church comfortably. I can't. 

I have wandered aimlessly between the denominations, wondering all the while, why I never seemed quite cut out for any of them.

 I really, really liked being an Anglican. My first and most profound 'spiritual' experiences happened when I was an Anglican: Baptism in the Holy Spirit,  speaking in tongues, healing and being healed, becoming a head teacher... . All very satisfying. 

The reason why I left does me no credit, but I'm not sorry for it. 

My next foray into institutional faith was a comic one. I became a Pentecostal. You want ego masquerading as God's Will? Watch a Pentecostal minister in action. I left because I was asked to stop praying for people. MY ego was having none of THAT! 

So now I'm a Roman Catholic. Not a good one, I hasten to add, but then, what sort of Roman Catholic would I be, if I said I was? Being 'not good'  is a given, even Jesus refused THAT compliment, " Why do you call me good? Only God is good... ." 

I'm still going. I don't stop thinking. 

I was talking to a fellow-Missioner, Dennis, last Wednesday. "You make Catholicism sound attractive", he says. "Well Dennis, " I reply, "When I was an evangelical Protestant, I was paddling in the shallows." I amazed myself. I would add two other thoughts:

1. My catechist, when I was in training for Catholicism, said,"I don't know why anyone wants to be a Catholic. It's too hard." 

2." If you're going to get in the lift, why get out before you reach the top floor?"

(That's a big IF though.) 

So that was last Wednesday. Where am I today? Immensely grateful to the Catholic Church for opening me up to the possibility of Mystery. Of helping me realise that the certainties I seek are unknowable, and that no church can do my soul-work for me. Finally, and most profoundly, of revealing to me my true purpose, which is to know that I am and can simply be, the 'image of God'. 

You can be a better Catholic than me by NOT learning those things, of course. Many get by on simply eating Jesus and following the rules. 

Being made in the image of God opens the Old Testament, in the Creation myth, and the New Testament, with the embodiment of God in Jesus. ( Who, like me me, wasn't always sweetness and light.) 

Both events say, "Look, this is who you really are!" I often think the Bible should have stopped there, because much of the rest of it describes the mess we made of trying to invent God in our own  image. 

Who am I REALLY then? 

Stepping Out

I am good.

I refuse to be named
In your harsh words, 
Or inhabit the terrible worlds
Inside your head.

You, who know me, and have 
Touched part of me
And laughed
Or cried. Listen! 
It's good. All good. 
Don't cry.

I am good 

When the sun shines
And I am pleased
With you, and Everyone,
And Everything 
When I am fed, and loved
And have cause to smile.

I am good

When I am mad at you
And at me
For indolence, 
Greed and the killing.
It's that - and disease,
And children dying - Yes
It's death that gets to me. 

As it must, and all of us.

I am good

Because I see
With more than these eyes
And can walk upright-
Even in my petty
Degraded self
Which I am - 
Sometimes, yes, often, I Am 
THAT small.

I am good

Because on bright days
I laugh and life's a dance
And I give you ALL
What you want, because
I want to. 

Oh! and how I smile! 

I am good 

Because I am made
In the image of God. 

All of THIS
All of me. 

I started on this meander with Richard Holloway, who left Church because it's cruel. I think I might stay for a season, because I'm afraid of speaking out and losing what I love about being Church. I know that a crisis is coming in me, because I'm not sure that I can keep quiet much longer about the casual cruelty of Church against those it chooses to pick on - gays, women, dissidents... . 

I am ashamed that I have kept quiet this long.

Is it enough to face the day just being me? I don't know. It's a Mystery.

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