I'm beginning to feel y'all who said I should just consider myself a follower of Jesus. For awhile I thought maybe that was too simplistic, but now I'm thinking about the gospels. Jesus was pretty simplistic, wasn't He? He irritated the religious scholars by refusing to engage their endless "conversations" and complicated theological battles. He spent more time eating and drinking (they called him a drunkard and glutton) with all the wrong people.
Jesus didn't focus on the things that has me all tied up in knots right now. I think if He were standing right next to me, His questions would be, "Have you write a letter to Malvin lately?" Mal's in prison. For Murder. Nobody writes him anymore. His family completely abandoned him, and it's hard to blame them. It was a pretty heinous crime and he'd hurt them a lot even before the murder. Once I sent him a letter (and a money order. Send a money order when you write a prisoner.) and he said he cried. Everyone but Jesus had forsaken him and it touched his heart to be remembered.
I think Jesus would ask me if I gave a word of comfort to Ken's ex. One of her dearest friends died. Yeah. I know, we are supposed to have that "thing" between women who have been with the same man, but for us it's a nominal thing. We share a daughter in common. We love her. We are literally neighbors now, and in this harsh world we both know that we need each other a whole lot more than not. So when her friend died, and she shared a letter she left behind for her loved ones, I cried with her. Jesus said weep with those who weep. Cheap Christian sentiments don't mean a thing when you face the harshness of death. We all need comfort.
Jesus would probably want to know if I've remember the homeless. I sure have. My sister is driving me crazy. Some times she drinks in the room she is sharing for now with my little girls. I'm a bit of a nutjob when it comes to alcohol because of how I grew up. And she just doesn't listen sometimes, but where else can she go? She doesn't really have anybody, and God knows I know that feeling. It's hard out here. She's getting herself together, and despite her flaws, I have to see her as Jesus, too. Beer drinking in my babies room and all. Nobody said being the hands and feet of Jesus was easy.
But you'd think, if you could get in my head, I didn't do anything for the kingdom. I'm really hard on myself. I don't consider myself a very good Christian. Fr. Joseph said I seem like a woman of prayer. I laughed and promptly told him that I suck at prayer, even though the truth is, I'm making a huge effort to pray the hours. Everyday. But I rarely consider that God is moved by even my desire to spend time with Him. Nope. If I don't pray seven times a day, the Hours and the little hours, too, I'm a big, fat failure.
Man. I need Jesus so much.
Did I ever tell you that once I heard Billy Graham in an interview on one of the big news shows (I think it was 20/20)? He said he felt like he was a failure in life. If Billy Graham feels like a failure, you know I'm going straight to hell in a hand basket.
Or not. Because Jesus is merciful. And thank God for grace.
So I'm thinking about the questions Jesus would ask. He was all about the Matthew 25 stuff, wasn't He? He thought more about those who were marginalized, and not so much about the religious leaders who thought they knew all there was to know about God. And maybe they really did know all there was to know. Well not all. God was right in front of them and they missed it. But don't you find it interesting that He gave them the most trouble, and vise versa.
The older I get, the more I see how completely unknowable God is. I'm not saying He's unlovable. He gets more lovable the older I get. And I'm really fortunate that we have a pretty intimate relationship. It surprised me to find out everybody wasn't intimate with God! But I realize I don't understand Him. How can I? I'm just a mortal. A loved mortal, but a mortal just the same.
I used to think I'd be the big defender of the faith. Once upon a time I armed myself with tracts and books like knowledge would save me. Save us all! Paul said knowledge wasn't so great without love. And wisdom says love with no knowledge at all isn't the plan either. It's a really delicate balance. I find myself with a deep respect for the roots of my faith, and a great enthusiasm for the fresh green shoots sprouting off the vine today, even if those shoots can be a little screwy sometimes. I really do believe Christians have more in common than they don't. I've learned to open the windows of my soul to let a few new breezes blow in. And yeah. I know. With the windows open a bug or a bird and the stench of a skunk came come in too. It's a little risky to have open windows, but I like it more than stuffy stale air that fills the space when I can't open the window at all. No fresh air can actually make you sick.
Lord, have mercy, ain't that the truth?
I don't know where that leaves me. Will I be Catholic? I'm already Catholic, in the truest sense of the word. Stay Orthodox? As long as it's what Brian aptly called "a Generous Orthodoxy". Am I Pentecostal? Absolutely, I may not pray in tongues, but the Holy Spirit is still magnificently present, every moment of my life. Am I Protestant? Not so much. Protests tend to weary me in general, unless they are in defense of the defenseless.
The fact is, none of us has it all right. We all see through a glass darkly. Sometimes I read the church fathers and see a misogyny that Jesus didn't have. Why, because they were just men. And they were seeking God just like I am. The gospels tells us about how Jesus treated women. He certainly wasn't scared of us. So, I'm just saying, if the fathers can miss it, I'm certainly not immune to error. I could drive myself insane trying to figure out who's a heretic and who isn't. Again, according to Matthew 25 it'll be pretty clear who the sheep and goats are, and the measure of the livestock wasn't what they believed in, or where they went to church, but how they treated the other animals.
I'm not a theologian. I doubt I'll ever become one. I'm a storyteller much more interested in about how we engage the God that we do have a relationship with, and how that plays out in how we treat our fellow man. I am what I am. Whatever that is. If it helps, I believe the Creed. That's the best I can do today.
My friend Jenny sent me this great Daniel Ladinsky poem. I'm thinking of it as I write tonight. I hope it blesses you the way it touched my heart.
For a While
We have all come to the right place.
We all sit in God's classroom.
The only thing left for us to do, my dear,
Is to stop
Throwing spitballs for awhile.