Saturday, September 30, 2006
Following a Thread
I have a friend who tells of her early years being very conscious of God. She tells moments where she experienced extraordinary devotion and worship of Christ as a young child. They must be stories from family lore as she recounts it like she is reminiscing from a photograph.
Some childhood stories have to be like that. You know, the type of stories your mother tells about frantic travels to the hospital or how you were such a fussy baby who wouldn't let Auntie Maude hold you.
But when does the consciousness of God happen? When do we start the narrative from our own experience?
God is sometimes described as Other. Holy, as in set apart. When do we become aware of His separateness?
I, for my part, cannot remember being unaware of God. There was no dramatic conversion. I had my middle school years in which I was challenged to pray and read the Bible. This began the Great Segregation of Time for God from the time when everything else happened. Did the effort of others to instruct me end up creating a great fault line in me that now must be ratified? I spend so much effort reassuring myself.
So I read books and talk with people. When my Mom was alive, we would talk for hours about faith and how we thought it should be. She had a dramatic life with real grief, qualifying her for wisdom and heart. We often ended the conversation with an "I don't know" and a shrug of the shoulders. And we kept on watching. We both seemed to be literally fascinated with Jesus. I would often ask her tell me stories of him that anyone would call the gospel. But for me they just felt like family stories, not unlike the ones she would also tell about her brothers keeping the farm.
When the books don't sound like her voice, when they don't speak from her trusted vantage point of real suffering, when they don't have the affection for the Nazarene Jew in their tenor, I find I am guarded.
The eclectic background of Catholic/Protestant/Recovery serves me to narrow the choices. I want to hear of faith as it holds up a mirror to what I want to see in myself. But I have a home of heart.
As I knit together my days, what's left is the hollow where light can shine. I make a life, but I also create an emptier space in order to be filled up with more stories that woo me home.