Thursday, May 5, 2011
Going into the Woods
I have been debating what, if any, my contribution should be to this Rally to Restore Unity. I'll be honest my head is whirling with things I could write about. Then my stomach gets a little tight because while this blog of mine is public I think about ten people know it exists, of those ten about five visit regularly. I had this thought process of what if I make some glaring grammatical error and some stranger points it out to me publicly in my comments section?
Then again there is no way I could not participate in this because for years I have been saying if we could just set aside our differences and work together toward a common goal, like feeding hungry children, we might actually change the world. That seems like the point to me, our love (mirroring God's love), changing the world and then maybe we will get to that whole Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth thing. I must say props to Rachel Held Evans for well, actually doing something about it! Which leads me to say, go ahead to Charity:Water and donate a little cash would you? After all that's what this is all about, getting folks who really need clean water some water and learning to put our differences aside isn't it?
All week I have been noticing things that I could tie into the theme of Christian Unity.
In my own denomination we are nearing the end of a vote that will be a huge victory for some and devastating for others no matter what the end result. There has been much talk of how to be a gracious "winner". There has also been talk of what to do after "loosing", break apart, stand up for the truth?
Then Sunday night the news broke that Osama bin Laden had been killed. With in minutes I watched people in my twitter feed and facebook news feed start fighting with each other over the appropriate Christian response. Personally I went to bed wrestling my own theological ideas. I didn't know how to respond, I still don't, so I will stay quiet.
Tuesday night I attended a lecture that stretched me even further in another direction thinking about this idea of unity which for me has a whole lot to do with relationships. The inspiration just keeps on coming.
It seems to me that it is much easier to fight with each other. To argue and try to prove yourself and your God right is much easier than sitting down and listening. First let me say I know this from experience. Then let me mention the fear that if we listened well to our "enemy" that we might be stretched in our own beliefs. It seems to me, sometimes we want to and maybe we need to cling to our beliefs because they make us feel secure and help provide purpose for our lives. The idea of them being threatened is scary to say the least.
There are woods across the street from my childhood home, the house I still live in. When I was a little girl those woods scared the crap out of me, especially when it was dark. If it was dark and I was alone forget it. It was like a horror movie for me to ride past them on my bike. It probably didn't help that in the fourth grade just before Halloween our teachers decided to teach us all about the local lore, which here in the Pine Barrens of NJ includes the Jersey Devil. That's right it's not just a hockey team. I remember clearly getting off the school bus that day and running home crossing the street a few extra times just to avoid walking next to the woods. As I grew up the woods got smaller as more houses were built. I started walking through them. I stopped fearing the Jersey Devil. Tonight I walked right past them with my dog sniffing every leaf and I didn't give it much of a thought.
The thing is how I felt about those woods across the street from my house as a kid, it's how I feel sometimes about dealing with people I don't understand. Especially when they don't share in my beliefs, the ones who say things like it's "evil" for a woman to preach the Word of God or tell me that I am going to hell because I told a bunch of confirmation students that Muslims are actually peace loving people. When I see these people I sometimes run across the street and turn my head to the ground as to not have to interact with them. Just like running past the woods would undoubtedly save my fourth grade self from the glowing eyed Jersey Devil I imagined was lurking just behind a tree. The woods were scarey because I didn't know what was in them. I didn't know what I would find around the bend. What if some unknown creature jumped out and tried to eat me alive? Then I got to know them, I could anticipate the bend, the sounds and I could even see the beauty of God's creation in them.
The beauty is when I put aside my fear and was able to venture into the woods I eventually learned a lot about the amazing diverse creation that was surrounding me. I am left wondering am I the only one who puts their head down, crosses the "street" while picking up a faster pace and prays to pass unnoticed? I don't think so, because I have seen my counter parts do the same on the other side of the street. I can't help but wonder who I have already passed by with my head down, feet quickening, empty prayer, street crossing self.
Sometimes I am brave enough to enter new woods that still scare me because I don't know what to expect. I am glad to have found that part of myself because it has allowed me to build deeply spiritual relationships with wonderful people who believe nothing I believe. When I stopped seeing them as other, I was able to see them as fellow children of God, who like me are human and have a story to share. People with whom I can feed the hungry any day.
That's what it's about right? Jesus telling us to love one another. A love so radical it can change the world.
Today I am grateful that I have learned to go into the woods, even if it means that God's creation sends me back humbled.
May you be blessed with some wandering in woods you have never seen before.