Growing up in a traditional American, Southern, Christian culture, my way of relating to God, was through prayer, church attendance, listening to my elders and reading the Bible. Those were the paths of connection offered. That is how we showed love, gratitude and need, to and for God. These ways were given to me in honesty and a strong sense of faith. My forefathers, and foremothers were giving me a kind of accumulation of understanding that they had. I do believe those are ways of connecting to my Maker, I just no longer believe they are the only ways for me. Not bad, but not enough.
I believe I have had some true experiences of God. I really do. There were times so holy and beyond my mortal comprehension, that I just don’t believe it could be anything else but God. When I’ve been in the breadth and width of those experiences, I don’t believe anyone could tell me anything about God that I wasn’t experiencing. That’s one of the best parts of the “experience”; it leaves no room for doubt, no room for words that divide or debate. No philosophies to shake out and no right or wrong. How do they say it?, “It’s the peace that passes all understanding”. Well, I guess that pretty much sums it up. Peace is a pretty good tree to sit under.
I am just shy of 51 years old and my back trail isn’t littered with “experiences” of God. When I look back, I do think it’s been a journey covered with questions, missteps, strides and close calls. My journey though, when I’ve been honest and reached out has put my spirit in the right frame to connect. That connection on occasion leads to those brief glimpses, those experiences.
One thing I think was key for me was allowing the connection to come through a wider conduit. To really believe that God is in everything. For one thing it helped shift the focus off the negativity and how others weren’t doing it right. In my culture, we were pretty much the kings of that kind of thinking. I found it easier to connect if I just accepted that I really don’t know much of anything, and that others might have some insights I could use. It allowed me find my Maker in things I never thought possible.
I live and long for those brief glimpses. As C.S.Lewis said, and this is not an exact quote, “When the garment is pulled back just ever so slightly, so I can reach for and maybe touch the hand on the other side”. It’s kind of like surfing in a way. You watch the winds, the pace of the sets, and then you line up right, paddle like crazy, hoping that wave will slide behind you lifting you for a glorious ride. A ride where only the experience of that moment counts. Where that “moment” is all there is.
Where do you find your connections that lead to experiences? When I don’t watch the winds and I don’t line up right for a wave, then I miss the ride. I hope that even though I miss the ride sometimes, that I stay in the water, watching, paddling, searching for even that is a part of the experience.
I like my friend Aaron Manes’ posts where he tells about music that helped him shape the blog. With his “advance permission”, I’d like to mention some of the music I was listening to as I wrote this post.
Bob Marley- “Three Little Birds”, Jack Johnson- “Banana Pancakes”, and Steely Dan “Hey Nineteen”.
Also helping shape this post, David Dark’s book “The Sacredness of Questioning Everything”