Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Little Prince (again)

Perhaps my favourite book and one of the best accounts of friendship that exists. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's book tells of friendship, love and loss...through the eyes partly of a little prince, wandering the world trying to get back to his own home.

And he went back to meet the fox.
"Goodbye," he said.
"Goodbye," said the fox.
"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret:
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
"What is essential is invisible to the eye," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

When I lost my belief in god two years ago, for a while I was full of despair, because all I could see was us as machines, bags of blood and bone and chemicals, without souls, with no meaning to life, no goals, no reason. Everything was immediate, nothing that could not be measured existed.
It took me a while to realise that the fox's words below are true...we can be so much more than that.
What is essential is invisible to the eye.

So I cannot see love, friendship, pain, fear, sorrow, they are invisible.
I can measure the effects of them with fancy machines but the essence of the thing is invisible to my senses.
But with my heart, my emotional core, I can see and feel and perceive all these things and more. Life is not just about the concrete realities of day to day activities, underneath our physical bodies is a human spirit, unseen, untappable, not quantifiable but present.
The sum of all those chemical reactions maybe, but definitely present.

The spirit that makes my son1 fight to be the very best he can, despite his difficulties. That drives on son2 to be a listening ear for his friends, listening as a friend to their words and their hearts. The spirit in me that affirms that I won't...
"be made useless,
won't be idle with despair,
I will gather myself around my faith
for light does the darkness most fear
(Hands by Jewel)

My faith is now not in that god, living mysteriously above us, sending punishment and pain on those he hates and rewarding those that follow arbitary rules, but in that thing invisible to the human eye, the human spirit.
And we have to be "god's hands" in this world, as there is no one else to do it.

PS: another favourite passage...

"Good morning," said the little prince.
"Good morning," said the merchant.
This was a merchant who sold pills that had been invented to quench thirst.
You need only swallow one pill a week, and you would feel no need of anything to drink.
"Why are you selling those?" asked the little prince.
"Because they save a tremendous amount of time," said the merchant.
"Computations have been made by experts. With these pills, you save fifty-three minutes in every week."
"And what do I do with those fifty-three minutes?"
"Anything you like . . ."
"As for me," said the little prince to himself, "if I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked, I should walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water."

So would I.....

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hurt- finding the answer....?

Has anyone else felt like this? How did you get through it? Did you lose your faith?

Someone who has been hurt via contact with Christianity wrote this on a message board I used to frequent. I originally wrote out a reply to the thread but chickened out and just sent it to her instead.....
Wanted to record it here for my sake...

I can only tell you from my experience of pain and hurt and blame- and everyone is in a different place, so this may be totally irrelevent to you- that it was only when I let go of it, of the preoccupation of what was done to me, that I was able to start to reconcile with the things I associated with the hurt, Christianity being one of them.

And that was a painful process and not one best tackled alone. Finding suitable allies in my journey helped, and also learning to acknowledge that part of the problem lay within myself, as a human being. At times, unwittingly even, I have hurt others, I have not been worthy of another's trust, I have let other people down. We all do it, and most of us hurt terribly when we do so, when we see the hurt we have caused. There are few psychopaths in this world of ours that glorify in it. I learnt gradually, that it is safe to trust others, as they are human like me and hurt as much as I do when they wound. And the occasional psychopath who doesn't, well he is to be pitied, as there are many joys that he lacks that I have in fullness.

So I didn't get my faith back, but I found my hurt lessen and my trust in my fellow creatures return, albeit with a more realistic expectation of what trust means.
I hope your journey will lead you to a similar more comfortable place.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday

Those were the days. Off to church as a family, in my mother's car, bickering as children do. But getting the palms when we arrived, one each, and trying to make little crosses out of them. The priest walking round the church, shaking water at us and then the long gospel story, the first telling of the passion and death in this Holy Week.
Then the other services- Thursday, when all the priests would gather in one place for the mass of chrism, the evening mass, where the church was stripped bare, tabernacle emptied for all to see. He is not here, He is taken, captured.
"He is no longer yours."

Then Friday, again a long story, with the solemn condemnation of the Lord and his death retold.

"Surely you were one of them?" The maid's accusation denied.
"I am not one of them, I never knew him."

And Saturday- sleeping in the afternoon so we didn't sleep in the night, at the vigil, holding and lighting candles to celebrate "Christ our Light"
"Deo Gratis"- thanks be to God.

I loved it, always. It lived the story in the ceremonies, vitalised me, energised me, made me live it myself. I was there at the cross, at the empty tomb, I saw and breathed the air in, I believed.

It has taken a long time for me to be able to think that, type it, without a sense of utter sorrow at what I have lost. It is still there, but the utterness is not, it is a background flavour, a hint, a taste of what was once. Now I can lie in bed and listen to the excellent monologue on the radio this morning- the story of Esther, the woman caught in adultery, told in the first person, and gain new perspectives on those stories that still carry with them important messages for all humanity.

"Neither do I condemn you"

He didn't condemn. He didn't blame. He didn't judge.
He didn't even graciously forgive, patronise, use those passive aggressive techniques that point so well the faults of others.
He just acknowledged her as human, alive
Condemnation, blaming, judging, doesn't help in healing, moving on.
It just hinders.

"Go and sin no more."

But what was her sin? Was it the adultery?
We will never know, but such an impossible thing to ask, given the huge numbers of sins he and his church set up! But from a human perspective, he had already set her free, by destroying the hypocrisy of moral judgement from a high ground of worthiness and righteousness. He set her free to value herself, to care for herself, to think of herself as a woman, as human . Perhaps that was her "sin" that she didn't love and care for herself. Her lack of self love it restrained her from doing the same for others, it allowed her to be used, it snared her where she was, a prisoner of circumstances.

So, as hubbie gets ready for church, and I sip coffee and check emails and think things a million miles away from those other Palm Sundays, at least I know one thing. My link to the past is not to be forgotten, but to be nurtured and encouraged, so that the good I have found does not get left behind to wither as I journey on in the dance and exploration that is now my life.

So, go gently this Palm Sunday, condemn no one for faults that we all possess, and love yourself and others, for that is a key that I have found can help
To suffer less
Love more...others, but firstly, importantly, vitally- love yourself. As you are.
Then that can set you free.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Isn't it ironic?

Son2 and I often argue about whether a particular situation is ironic or not. In the famous song of the same name, I say, half the situations are not so much ironic but just bad luck. It was with that in mind that I just read elsewhere on the net about a crisis of faith, a dark night of the soul, like mine. Ironically, the person having it is the person who sniped and snapped at me in mine and effectively drove me to the position where I ended up leaving and eventually losing, my faith. I recognised in his words the agony I found myself in, but am relieved to see that he is getting better treatment from others than he gave me. Although, to be fair, he didn't know the daily agony I was in, as I don't think he ever bothered to read my blog and see it, to temper the words he flung at me. He just saw someone breaking the rules who should be driven out of the church, as the church could only exist if only pure people lay within it.

Do I sound bitter?

Perhaps because I am. I read what they say there and I too would still be saying it, believing it, if I hadn't been pushed down that road. And once you have seen the truth, there is no turning back, one cannot undo the sight of stark reality. And at times, like now, when I am fragile and hurting, nothing relieves me like my faith used to. Thanks partly to him, I lost that. And I will never get it back.

I am crying now. Loss is a terrible thing.

But I will be better in a while. I will think how much better off I am now, not having to believe in this peculiar deity who loves but hates, creates and destroys, punishes and condemns.
Life without God may not have the emotional kick backs that I am seeking, but it is easier to understand and process.

I hope that his agony eases soon. I would not wish what he is experiencing on my worst enemy. And I am sure that soon he will be picking up the pieces, and if I still prayed, I would be offering big ones for him.
Because he never meant to do me harm, and if it hadn't had been his words that were the final straw, it would have been someone else's.
Life goes on

In other news, my tummy is still driving me potty- I go for tests this week and in two weeks (in the middle of my holiday!) I go for a very unpleasant one. That'll learn me!