Hope and experience

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I was discussing faith issues with some friends and we were trying to work out what people were looking for in their spiritual journey. Our conclusion was that there were those who were looking for an experience of the Divine and those who were needing hope to get them through life’s journey. I am sure there are other motivations and desires but these were the two that we arrived at during our brief discussion.

In some ways the two are similar, as our experiences of the Divine, such as thin places, moments of intuition, the still small voice within etc. remind us that we live in a universe that is so much richer than our five senses can detect. And even that we are not alone. And this can give rise to hope. Hope that our circumstances can improve, hope that what we do here on Earth can have a fuller, richer meaning, hope that there is an ultimate purpose to existence.

What do you think people are looking for? Are they just answering a primeval urge to seek the Divine or are they wanting to receive something back as well?

I hope that get to experience the Divine in some way this week.

Blessings.

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feminine divine, ‘sorry’

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In regards to Elohyim, as we do not see you as powerful

In regards to Creator, as we do not know you have fashioned all things

In regards to El shaddai, for we have not allowed you to feed us

In regards to Ruach, for we have not received breath from you

nor have we moved with the winds of your spirit; your plans

 

In respect to Yahweh, as we have ignored your right to define yourself

In respect to Lord, for we have not understood your authority

In respect to Shepherdess, as we have not welcomed your protection

In respect to Wisdom, for we have shunned you and chosen folly

and did not see you become flesh; Yeshua, the Christ

 

In relation to the Lamb, as we have not honoured your gentleness

In relation to the Lioness, for we have not admired your strength

In relation to the Spirit, as we have discounted you and grieved you

In relation to the Fire, for we have quenched you and silenced you

To our shame and own peril, we have done this great injustice

 

In spite of all this, you have pursued us as the beloved

You have gathered us to yourself as chicks under the wing

You have consoled and comforted us as the Great Mother

You have taught us, healed us, guided us, stayed with us

loved us with everlasting love; drawn us with true kindness

The Smithy

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What do you want from me?
How hot must the forge be?
Why take me back to the anvil
… yet again
I despise the hammer

I despise the hammer
the tool used to shape me
to temper me
Why do you demand strength from me
the heat, the tempering
Was my heart hard like a rock
unmalleable
Was I too stubborn for the potter’s hands
too unyielding

What do you want from me?
How hot must the forge be?
Why take me back to the anvil
… yet again
I despise the hammer

The potter treads the clay
The winemaker treads the grapes
The potter forms the chalice
The butler fills the cup
The farmer grows the grain
The baker makes the bread
The blacksmith heats the metal
The blacksmith beats the metal
I despise the hammer

What do you want from me?
How hot must the forge be?
Why take me back to the anvil
… yet again
I despise the hammer

Did I ever say to the potter
‘You did not make me’
Or did I ever accuse you
‘You have no understanding’
I do not recall saying such things
I know you understand
Being human is what you did
Remaking a pot is your right
You are the potter laureate

What do you want from me?
How hot must the forge be?
Why take me back to the anvil
… yet again
I despise the hammer

 
Polluted now the potter’s field
on it, blood was spilled
Thirty silver shekel pieces
all the clay lay still
God’s human form despised
lay dark inside a cave
Until the sun arose three times
Love destroys the grave

And now I weigh the suns of God
against the finest gold
Regarded not as earthen jars
but … chalices of gold

Even more about faith

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The word “faith” creates many impressions in my mind. From the faith to heal the sick to the faith to move mountains, the common associations come with doing things or seeing them get done. Then there is the faith that is linked to believing things that we cannot prove.

For me, though, the strongest connection to the word “faith” is with trust. Trust that the circumstances I find myself in will turn out alright, or trust that someone else has ultimate control over the universe. This is the kind of faith that I think about the most frequently.

So that then leads to questions about what does trust look like? Can trust sometimes look like inactivity? When is it time to trust and when is it time to take action yourself?

For me I think I know when I have faith at a particular time when I can go to bed at night and leave my concerns behind, or when I can get up in the morning without being preoccupied with the concerns of the future.

And that only comes about when I remember that the Divine One loves me and cares about me.

I hope that you can find comfort in that.

More about faith

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‘Faith gets excited about change, rather than resisting it’.

You know you are hanging around with some seriously amazing people when, over coffee, a friend says something as profound as this in the course of everyday life. Thank you Cheryl; you are a genius.
This quotable comment is transparent in its meaning, full of wisdom and easily understood.

Let’s take a look at a frequently used comment about faith: ‘Faith is a crutch’. Now, this statement is usually not intended as a compliment, and often insinuates weakness. It is commonly framed in judgements like: ‘She uses faith as a crutch’ or ‘He needs his faith to get through life’.

Well, good on them! She, who knows how to lean on faith when she feels injured or rejected, and He, who knows that life is hard enough without doing it all alone. Both He and She are willing to draw on the strength and faithfulness of a Divine being. Maybe they have come to know through previous experiences that this God/dess is real and active and caring, and, that this Deity can be relied upon in hard times as well as good times. Perhaps they are right. Perhaps they’re onto something!?

There is a beautiful old hymn that I use to love as a child entitled, ‘Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?’. I can’t remember all of the words but I can remember these lyrics from the chorus: ‘We have an anchor that keeps our soul, Steadfast and sure while the billows roll, Fastened to a rock that cannot move, Grounded sure and deep in the Saviour’s Love’ (or something like that).

Call it a crutch, call it an anchor, call it a necessity, call it a strength, call it a weakness. By any other name, it is faith. And I think it is beautiful and truthful.

While we are on the topic of faith, I would also like to propose a statement of my own that you may quote if you consider it worthy of such esteem: ‘Faith is sometimes the only reasonable option’. This comment speaks against the dualistic understanding of the relationship between faith and reason. Our regular readers will be aware that many of our blog posts are concerned with the Science/Spirituality conversation and that we like to play in the ‘middle ground’ of this interaction of synergy. We are well aware that faith and reason can, and should, be used in the same sentence as often as possible.
So, it is with this freedom that I dance the dances of faith and I sing the songs of faith. And, I laugh often because I know that I also hold the crutch of faith for times of injury or weakness. And I know the anchor of faith holds me safe and secure in the rough waters of life.

I would like to finish with a question. Is it reasonable (wise, healthy, intelligent) to reject the gift of faith when it is offered to us? Who knows what that small seed of faith will produce.

Faith

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What is faith?  Can we have too little faith?  Can we have too much faith?  Do we have enough faith?  What, or who, should we put our faith in?  If we have faith in a Divine being, what is S/He like?  Is faith quantitative or qualitative?  What does faith achieve?  Where do you find faith?  How do you get it?  Is it worth searching for?  Or will it arrive as a gift?  Is it something we do?  Or something we choose to receive/reject?  What does faith look/smell/taste/sound/feel like?

I will not attempt to answer these questions.  I guess I believe that anyone who asks such questions probably already has faith.  So, instead, I will walk you through what I think I know about faith:

  • Faith is a unique thing for each person; as unique as the relationship Creator has with each one of us.
  • The character of the God that we have faith in is more important than the faith itself.
  • For me, faith is trusting in the faithfulness of God.
  • ‘God is Love’.  I have faith in this statement and this God.
  • It is impossible to please God without faith.
  • In the Hebrew/Greek sacred text, faith is often talked about in the context of small things (mustard seeds, children) so it is probably more qualitative in essence than quantitative.
  • What can be achieved through faith is talked about in the context of large things like moving mountains, growing big trees, enacting miracles.
  • Maybe we should not ask ourselves, ‘Is my faith big/good enough?’, but instead, ‘What color is my faith? What color is your faith?’
  • To believe that God loves me perfectly, sent Christ to secure my friendship and asks me merely to have an inkling of faith to receive abundant eternal life is probably not too much for me (most days!!).
  • If this is too much for you at the moment, may I suggest you hang with someone who has faith in a God/dess that you want to believe in. Also, spend some time with young children (under 7) because they are our teachers when it comes to having faith.

So, please, don’t make faith harder than it is, and don’t judge another person’s style of faith and don’t belittle your own attempt at faith.  All (and any) faith delights our loving, faithful Creator.  Christians believe that when Christ returns, one of the big questions will be, ‘Is there faith on earth?’

I hope the answer is ‘Yes!’

If you would like to read more about faith, I suggest reading this blog post: Faith so Simple

Redefining masculine

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As we begin a new year, 2018, we look to the future and the possibilities of new opportunities, new priorities, new ways of thinking, new relationships.  Those of us who live in cultures that have been ruled by patriarchal values and structures, are now looking for a new paradigm.  We are looking for a new healthy definition of masculine in our selves, our homes, our relationships, our culture, our world.  This new gender-balanced world view will not be achieved by passivity.  It will be achieved by intelligence, direct goal-setting, clear communication, passion, grace, respect and a genuine desire for equality.

I recommend reading this blog post, written by an amazing young woman called Sascha Hjort:

The Element of Fire

The Living One who sees me

A Christmas gift to our readers written by one of our favourite bloggers…

GinAndJesus

“She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi (well of the Living One who sees me); it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.”

– Genesis 16:13-14

This story is detailing the conversation between Hagar the slave and the “Living One” she encountered at a well as she ran from Abram’s wife Sarai.

As a slave, Hagar had been forced to sleep with Abram and then mistreated by Sarai to the point where she found it better to run away, risking death, than to stay where she was.

Desperate, alone, abused, and fearful.

At this point of extreme emotional trauma as well as dehydration, Hagar met what she deemed to be “God.” She met “the Living One who…

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Knowledge and Mystery

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During our short lifetime on earth, many of us spend our time searching for knowledge, truth and meaning.  In the West, this includes trying to stay abreast of the rapid advances in science and technology.  By doing so, we are able to ensure that our knowledge base is up-to-date and that those we love (including ourselves) are given the best in health, employment, communication and lifestyle.  And, to some degree this is true.  However, in achieving this goal (or focusing too much attention on it), perhaps we have created a dualistic relationship with an important complementary aspect of being human, namely mystery.  Embracing mystery, and understanding that those more intricate aspects of our world are unknown (and, in some cases, unknowable) is achievable for the human being.  We have the consciousness to contemplate life beyond our own experiences and to wonder at the mysteries of the earth, the universe and even entities that may lie beyond the dimensions of this universe.

In every generation there are people who allow mystery, wonder, spirituality to sit comfortably alongside the accepted knowledge-base of their time.  These individuals are aware that such things give meaning to the human life when experienced in balance with the acquisition of information.  They welcome knowledge from the unconscious mind through dreams and meditation.  They allow animals, plants and the earth to impact their lives on a daily basis and expect to learn from these interactions.  And, they regularly find time for solitary stillness to focus their attention on unknowing, wonder and awe.  Some even discover they are not alone.