Sunday, November 18, 2007

barefoot and reverent?

a little too cold to be barefoot
definately barefoot in spirit

A friend asked me recently when had I returned to the church. Given that we were having a amiable conversation about religion, this was a legitimate question. Anyone listening to us would've assumed that I have taken a baptismal dunk into the river.....that I had reached some personal conclusion about where I stand with respect to my beliefs. My writing sometimes seems to cut right to that place of worship. My reading interests have most definately changed to a more inclusive look at Christianity. My conversations, even with the people I'm counselling seems to have altered, simply because my thinking is more receptive to the topic.

My answer? It now seems like a broken record..........."I am comfortable figuring it out on my own, right now. I have my whole life to figure it out." I'm beginning to think this sounds like a cop out.

I am most definately seeing my world around me with a different lens and am happily willing to accept that a leap of faith may bring an acceptable answer to some of the occurances around me which before required a more specific, more scientific answer.

Doubt has lessened.
Leaping has increased.
Possibilities have opened up
But am I willing to commit?

What holds me back from crossing into a more secular lifestyle of regular church going, hymn singing, psalm reading attendance?

I don't like to follow along in a congregational pack? yes.
I slip into my own writing mode on Sunday mornings where I can independently consider certain topics connected to faith. yup.
I still have doubts that I feel compelled to figure out before I make any formal commitment? uhuh.
I'm not good at keeping it together while singing hymns. partially.........
I'm not looking for another membership to add to my life. I really don't like joining groups. affirmative.

Fear...............? hmmmmmmm....... is it fear?

Of what?

If I am honest, it's probably the same fear which keeps me in a holding pattern with moving forward with my writing. Both of these pursuits re-emerged at the same time a couple of years ago, and now they seem to go hand in hand.........more than that, they are intertwined, holding each other up, supporting and feeding each other. So, you'd think this would give me the fortitude to pull it together enough to at least make a more committed step in one of the venues.
What is it that I'm afraid of?

It has been said that we are all afraid to reach the end of our lives only to find out that we didn't matter.........that we never left a footprint as our legacy. These two pursuits hold such meaning for me. I guess I'm afraid that if they don't work out that perhaps my life will end up being a bust. Better to stay in the comfort zone than move out into the open to take that risk?

My religion......
What if I don't fit as a church going person committed to God? What if I can't find a place to call home? I do like a sense of barefoot reverence. I'm not a good lemming. I can't swallow something even if I'm told it's good for me. Can a misfit like me move from the fray and find a place where I feel like a belong? Jesus likes the Ragamuffins, but is there really a place for us
in the formal structure of the church? What if it just doesn't live up to my expectations?

My writing............
I am more clear about what I want to do with it and where I would like to go with it than my religion. But, what if I pull it all together and send it out to publishing land and then nothing happens? Would I be able to handle that rejection? I want my writing to be my future...........I want it so much that it seems to stop me from going for it. Is my timing right? Is the type of writing I do publishable? It makes my head hurt second guessing myself as I sit in stall mode.

As much as I am a strong individualist who does many things in my life on my own, independent of others.... As much as I am fully aware that I am a leader, that others perceive me as that, that it is expected of me..... As much as I am confident in my decision making, my creative problem solving, my vision and ideas, for some reason I feel this unrelenting need for someone to take the lead on both of these journeys. It would be so wonderful to have someone call me up and say..........."Hey! Let me help you here. I know how to do this................."

Are you there God, it's me Muskie.............I could really use some help here. And could you bring me a few kleenexes? I think I hit the nail on the head. My cheeks are all of a sudden soaked.


Neo said...

Awareness - I know how you feel about church. But I don't believe that faith is judged by joining into someone else's vision of what a good Christian should be. Our faith should reside both in mind and heart. Some need to confirmation and acceptance of others to define that they have found faith in practice in front of others.

I'd prefer to think that God doesn't need us to join a membership of a church to realize his plan for the world. Even in the bible Jesus says something about those who gather in small groups to worship.

It's all about timing, whether that is taken in the literary sense for the efforts of our souls to find their purpose or the journey of self discovery. I'm of the school that it will all find itself in time and dreams will find their meaning and path. In the meantime, enjoy the walk along the path.

Life wouldn't be fun unless we had to think of why we end up where we are going.

Wouldn't you agree?

Peace & Hugs,

- Neo

PS. /me passes you a tissue and a cup of hot coffee

Dustin said...


I think all of us, even if we are "members" of some ecclesiastical body, feel the same tinges of self-doubt and self-awareness. Even within me, a supposed pastor, I often find myself questioning what the hell I'm doing and why--and if it's even making a difference in the lives of those people I minister to. Then, there's always the struggles with the crap which comes along with the bride of Christ--mainly people :) And what I'm left with is an inner longing to leave it all behind, or at least the people, and simply strike out on my own, with no need of an organized body of "believers."

For the longest time I thought the stories of monastic orders and their 'exploits' were fodder for good stories but couldn't be true religious devotion. I wonder if much of the reason they secluded themselves has to do with much of what you and I have just written about.

Awareness said...

Neo....thank you for this. I guess in my pointy little brain I'm thinking that making that step to becoming a member again with a church that it makes me feel more commited. Kind of like marriage versus common law. I personally did feel different after my husband and I made the commitment to marry.
Church was an integral part of my life a long time ago, and it was all good. I'm not one who had a bad experience in the church......however then I wasn't questioning things as much as i do now. I was young. I also feel like I have changed or perhaps I have just grown up and want to make a more solid commitment.

Having stated that, I have ALWAYS felt my faith the strongest when I am in the woods, out in a canoe, sitting around a campfire.....or when I look around in my home in the middle of a family party and see how comfortable people are in my home. These are all self directed. I'm in control of it.
Perhaps the feeling of letting go of the control is where I have the fears.......because i think that is what may happen if I join a church. head is confused.
you're right......drop the "why" and enjoy the walk along the path.

Dustin. It makes me feel much better reading your comment knowing that you continue to question.....NOT that I want you to feel doubt....that feeling is difficult.
There is a strong urge to run and seclude oneself isn't there. Weird. However, the shadows follow......the thoughts accumulate...... WE need real life and the real world to help us figure it out.

Open Grove Claudia said...

On of my favorite stories about Mother Theresa was her doubt that God existed. She saw God in her world, yet with so much suffering who could help but doubt? I think you should go anywhere you can find peace.

yes, the world brings rejection. Find peace where you can. That's what I try to do.

Gypsy said...

Hi Dana
I don't believe that you need to be a part of an organised religion to validate your beliefs. As you said in one of your comments, you feel your faith most strongly when you are at one with nature and your family. Go with what makes me feel most comfortable. Frankly churches give me the heebie jeebies so being in one always detracts from whatever reason I am there because I am not comfortable.

As far as your writing goes, the Dalai Lama says "great love and great achievements involve great risk". Rejection is always a very real fear that no-one enjoys but even if you never got published, your writing brings a lot of joy and fulfillment to many people as your comments will attest. That is a great achievement in itself.

Gypsy said...

Oh...can I offer you a nice glass of white to go with that kleenex?

Tori said...

Your thoughts on not joining inspire me and make me feel like what I am doing is okay. I have never been much of a group joiner and there is an obvious trend throughout my life of signing up/joining and then not committing. It is a definite pattern and while I don't think it is necessarily built on fear there is definitely something that I am acting out in this now predictable behaviour. Perhaps an affirmation of self, being in control...hmmm...

urbanmonk said...

Its been amazing to somehow intersect with your journey over the last little while Dana. SOmething seems to have and be emerging from and in you. I relate to much of the question and angst and fear of your post here. Ive been going on a similar emergence from the wreckage but Ive come from the other end, years on the treadmill of religion.

Im tempted to say.. Dont you dare Go to an organized church that is tangled up with power structures and money and politics. But that would be speaking more from my own wounds and pet peeves, when ultimately its a journey between you and God which I know nothing about.

A stranger at a party said to me years ago. "He doesnt put his hand on you then take it off again.. He will lead you somewhere."

Where that is, I still have no idea. But I know now its not in religious structures and power systems. Gods and Artist Dana. Not a politician.

Email on photography on its way soon.

Marja said...

Actually I have a blogging holiday to catch up with other things but I can't stop reading yours so I just quickly want to tell you that the following man offered help recently for writers island. You can ask him questions about writing and publishing and his blog contains some articles about it. Just a suggestion. There is a market for your writing I sign up for a copy. Cheers

Awareness said...

Claudia....I had forgotten that story. Thank you for reminding me. The very idea that someone as dedicated and devoted as Mother Theresa having doubts..... yes, we all do. leap of faith is no small feat.
And you're right.....peace is a good goal. It's been a while since i felt anything more than a few moments of it....nothing long lasting.

Gypsy.....thanks! I havent felt the aversion to church like many's more of a detachment because it didn't "speak" to me for one reason or another. So, I should just stop thinking about it so much....
As far as the rejection thing? I am not willing to accept potential rejection with my writing. It's not an option in my mind........though obviously a possibility. I need to have a few plans/strategies in order to be prepared in advance.

Tori. I think my aversion to group joining surfaced more when I moved out here and didn't know a lot of people. I learned to do many more things on my own and learned to like it. Also, because I'm around people all day, I don't want to be a part of a group at night, like a book club or something like that. Having stated that........I am involved in different groups. I tend to be running them though! I'm better orchestrating than singing dewop in the background.

Monk.......I'm so glad you're back. It is funny how you and I are on the same thinking path, though coming from opposite directions. I have always felt that.

I love the very idea that God is an artist. Of course He is. I had never thought of Him that way. And His's there.....

not going away is it?? I'm comforted to know that.

will be looking for your insights re: photog email.

Marja. Thank you so much!! And I'm absolutely flattered that you sneak peaks here even though you're on a blogging holiday. I will check on this guy.

thank you everyone...... :)

Canuckguy said...

Yoohoo. News flash for you all. There is no god. For those who understand that, life is so much less complicated.

Awareness said...

Hey Canuckguy.....gee, it's been a while. what can I say? Fill yer boots with the simplicity of atheism.....

And to think I thought you and I lived in God's country??