Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Logs Block Unity, Not Twigs

Firstly there is the unity in things whereby each thing is at one with itself, consists of itself, and coheres with itself.  Secondly, there is the unity whereby one creature is united with others and all parts of the world constitute one world.  The third and most important (unity) is that whereby the whole universe is one with its Creator, as an army with its commander.  --  Pico della Mirandola*

This quote echoes my own spiritual journey, only I have discovered these things in the reverse order -- unity with God, with neighbor and all of creation, and lately the unity of mind and body.  I had no idea, when I began questioning my understanding of God ten years ago, that I was starting on a life-changing spiritual journey.  But then, I had no idea that my questions and concerns would be answered in ways that revealed how completely interconnected everything is.  It's as if I am in dialogue with God and God uses anything and everything to provide an answer.  That has been the most amazing discovery of my entire life.  Did you know this was possible?  I didn't a few years ago.

I write this blog because I not only want to share what I am learning about faith and life through this amazing dialogue, but also because I want more people to know that this kind of dialogue is possible.  I know I'm not the only one who experiences similar kind of synchronicities between thoughts and events as I describe in this blog.  I've come across a few people and read of many more who have had similar experiences.  But I also know that many people are not aware that this kind of connection is possible.

Lately, I've been wondering why.  I believe this awareness is available to everyone.  I also think that I could see even more than I do.  So, Why did it take me so long to see this unity?  What got, and still gets, in the way?

Part of the problem, which I wrote about last time, is that when I get so busy going and doing, and thinking about all the things to do and places to go, I just don't notice the clues around me that reveal God's active presence.  Another problem, is that I often resist the clues I'm given.  There are two reasons (that I can see so far) for this:  I don't understand them, or, I become offended by the presenter.   In both cases, the best response should be:  don't give up.  Don't give up on trying to understand something, no matter how difficult, because it's those hard things that often teach us the most.  And don't let someone's attitude, or poor judgment, in one area prevent God from speaking through them in another area.  Don't give up on them.

But, even as I know that's good advice, it's very challenging for me to follow.  I can't tell you how many times I have stopped reading a book because the author was arrogant or disparaging, exclusionary or judgmental.  Even if it's an author I've like and learned from before!  A couple of false moves, and the book goes on the back burner.  This is also true with the people we meet.  I've heard more than a few stories of people leaving a church because of one judgmental comment the leader made -- despite the fact that that person helped many people in many other ways.  We expect perfection in God's messengers, I think.  Thankfully, God does not. 

Last Saturday, I almost missed an answered prayer because I was offended by the messenger.  I was in a bad mood.  I was tired and cranky, stressed by all the things to do that were piling up, and frustrated that I wasn't going to have time to do any of the things I wanted to do.  When my son added a few more last minute but urgent things to the "to do" list, I didn't know whether to scream or cry.

"You seem stressed," he said a little later when I again put my head in my hands.  I was.  I even realized I was.  I knew I was feeling more aggravated than was warranted.  So while driving my son around town, I thought, "What should I do to get out of this mood?  Do I just forget everything and read for awhile?  There are so many books I want to read, and so little time to read them.  Do I go take a nap?  Maybe that's why I'm so cranky...I'm tired.  Or, do I start tackling some of my tasks?  Not very appealing."  I left it at that, confident that God would give me some advice, sometime that day --  hopefully soon.  As I turned back into my driveway, I saw two Jehovah's Witness people walking towards my house.  I thought, "Hmmm.  I haven't seen them around lately.  It's been at least two years.  Maybe they will give me the advice I need."

But when they came to the door, they spoke to me in a way that made it clear they thought they were introducing God to me for the first time.  That was a bit presumptuous, I thought.  And then their message was all about The End Times.  They read a quote in the Bible and talked about WWII as a sign.  This is not something I believe in at all.  When they asked if they could give me their literature, I almost said, "No thank you."  But I checked myself.  I had felt sure when I first saw them that they would be able to give me God's guidance.  I already know that I don't think like they do about some things.  But I also know that God can speak through the most unexpected people.  Really, it was their initial presumption that set me off.  Recognizing that, I said, simply, "Yes." 

After they left, I looked at the literature they had given me.  I skimmed quickly through the one on The End Times, tossing it aside.  Then I looked at the second one.  In it was an article titled, "How to Invest Your Time Wisely."  I read, "Don't procrastinate...Balance work and recreation...sleep, but don't squander precious time for extra rest and entertainment."  It was the answer I needed to hear.  I got to work, tackling some of the jobs I had been putting off, and took, throughout the day, a few breaks to read a little and spend time with my kids.  It was a very good day, after all.

But I wonder how long it would have taken me to figure that out?  If I had responded defensively instead of humbly, and refused what they offered?  Probably a long time.  For, if left to my own devices, I would have gone back to bed, and then maybe read.  And the tasks would have piled up even more, creating even more residual stress. 

This incident makes me wonder how much my own defensiveness gets in the way of God.  Probably more often than I think.  Perhaps that is why Jesus said to stop looking at the twig in someone else's eye and take the log out of your own.  It's those logs that get in the way of hearing God's word.

May the peace
which passes understanding
be with you always.


* quoted in "Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle," by C.G. Jung, pg. 75  (Princeton University Press)

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