So Long Mayberry

I’m puttering around my little office room. It’s late in the evening, and I’m attempting to organize the ever growing stacks of papers that contain my family’s heritage. Folders, Binders, Family groups, Census reports, well they just seem to grow and multiply.

Anyway, Jack Johnson was singing thru my ipod, and the line I’ve heard a thousand times kind of hit me…”There were so fewer questions when stars were still just the holes to heaven”. This thought has been rummaging around in my mind for years now I assume. Maybe since I was a child. It seems those of us that are questioners have been that way forever. I want to try and shake out just a little of that in this post.

I can’t seem to embrace my Grandparents beliefs. Some I can but there is a larger part that I can’t. I try and believe me I have a deep respect for the way their faith governed their lives. I have a deep respect for anyone who is trying to live their lives connecting and honoring the Big Mystery. I don’t think I’m deeper or smarter, I’m simply asking the questions that live in my soul. My deepest belief is probably that the Creator honors that humble journey.

It doesn’t matter if your Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or Native American, there are folks that are geared to follow the traditions of their faith, some to the letter. Now if I’m being honest here, I’d have to say that yes, I believe some are lazy. They just take whatever answer that was handed down and adapt it as their own. There’s a world of difference, if they’ve taken what was handed, looked at it, run it through their own personal filters, lived it and still stayed there. To me that’s an honest, honoring faith.

But then there is the rest of us, the agitators ! Then ones who may never find that peace. Oh we may get the sweet hint of a taste from time to time, but we may never rest in it as we keep up the process of examining and questioning. It’s not a choice, it’s just our nature. Always seeking, always peeling yet another layer.

Since I was little, I have been a huge Andy Griffith fan. The characters and spirit of that T.V. show surely shaped my outlook on life. Everything was simple and people were generally good. Those are two things I follow, simplicity and the belief that people are good. Then comes 911. Innocence lost, a new view. A new way of being in the world. A sadness and the inability to go back. Mayberry was lost. I couldn’t watch it for a long time, I couldn’t find that peace in my spirit to open up to it’s simplicity and love.

So it may be with my journey. Once you question and once those answers no longer hold the water they once did, there is simply no going back. When people smile that smile when hearing that some Native cultures believe that the earth came from the rising of the Turtles back, well do they smile the same smile when they hear about Noah’s Ark? That fable told to teach, seems as hard to believe to me.

But it’s all gonna be Ok. The journey of life spirals closer to God, then further, then closer again. I still have wonder as I sprial closer to this Creation. Sometimes I think we have to say so long to Mayberry to be able to say hello again down the line ! I think I am better off when I’m just sitting in the unknowing, not trying to have the answers, honoring this Big Mystery, by just being and by knowing I’m loved perfectly. That should be enough and tonight as I close, it is .

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The Searcher

I am a pain in the ass. I know this to be true. I have always been the questioner which is weird because in many ways I’m a rule follower, I guess until the rule no longer fits. When folks say to turn left, I naturally wonder what’s down the road in the other direction and  I have never really had that fear of getting lost. I’ve traveled my way through rough spots with some kind of crazy, naive concept that since I like everybody, that everyone should like me and therefore I won’t be harmed. So far it’s worked out pretty good, but I’m not sure it was always the smartest choice.

I have a long time friend, who is a wonderful deep Christian thinker. He’s always called me a “Searcher”. Years ago that bugged me. I didn’t like the term because I took it to mean I was lost, and lost for me at that time and in that way wasn’t a good thing. Everyone in my culture seemed so sure of their answers in life and I was never that way. I always saw each answer from a slightly different angle as I grew and participated in more life experiences. I think I’ve also had either the knack or the flaw, of seeing a truth in the other side of every story.  I guess in the back of my mind, I intrinsically thought God knew I wasn’t suppose to have all the answers, and that the journey of seeking was really more important than being right. Seeking to connect to that Mystery was where the real sweet spot was.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve made some turns that I never thought I’d recover from and I have like many of us, had friends that didn’t make it back from the turn that was just for the experience. I’m not as reckless as I once was, but that spirit of searching and not being static in my perspectives is alive and well, and I enjoy those fruits as well as nurse the aches that come from it. And more than grasping and clutching, I hope I’m gently cupping my hands to hold those sweet waters that renew my soul and remind me that love comes first.

So searcher?, Yes, I suppose that fits me. As I’m on the “Falling Upward” side of life as Richard Rohr describes it, I begin to embrace that term a little more; I begin to sit a little more peacefully in the gray shades of my life where a faith doesn’t demand all the answers and where there’s a deeper sense of trust, that it’s all gonna be ok .

Original Thought?

They speak of original sin. Perhaps there was an  original thought too. Maybe the two are connected, I don’t know. I was thinking that, well for one, I don’t feel like I’ve ever had an original thought.  They all seem to be built upon other thoughts of people I know or things I’ve heard or read. As we are the accumulation of our ancestors, connected by DNA, we are adding our layers of bricks upon everything in this life.

The very conversation that I hear around my campfires, at my church, over a beer with friends, well, those conversations, the same kind have been happening since time. Nothing new. We think they are new mostly because our culture doesn’t teach us to look into the past, all the past, not just the past few generations. Our culture focuses on youth, trends and looking forward. Not that that’s bad, there just isn’t much balance. It’s a big window, our history, and the further we look the bigger it gets. If we don’t look to history, we can if not careful, build a certain kind of arrogance and self centered nature, that leads us to think we are the only one having these thoughts or feelings, or worse that since it’s our original thought, that we have the original answer.

I like community. I like knowing I’m not the only one who holds fears, who questions parts of life, and God.  I like knowing that my DNA connects me to my ancestors, throughout time and that certain “ticks” in my personality can be traced to Grand Fathers and Mothers back down my line. It’s happening whether you know it or not. Same with our thoughts. I find comfort and connection there.

Our culture as a whole can make us feel guilty or at least separated from the whole if we don’t follow the popular thought. Thing is when I really go one on one with people, I find that “company line” getting pretty blurred.  That’s the beauty of the human family sharing this journey of walking, stumbling, crying, dreaming, hoping and doing our best to connect to our Creator in some meaningful way.

I have no desire to take credit for anything. It’s all coming through me and all will live on in my children and friends. They will take that accumulated knowledge, insight, and perspective, and shape it along with all they have learned from the wide and varied sources that God provides.