Expansive Faith

My faith life is evolving.

There is a sense of freedom and expansion and it’s life giving.

Prayer time for me has expanded to include not just conversations at God but frequent moments of mindfulness, breaks throughout the day of intentional contemplation and nights and mornings of meditation.

The love and presence of God permeate everything and everyone so I find myself posturing my heart throughout the day to remember the image of God in another, or the sanctity of the mundane : the “sacrament of the present moment” as is so beautifully stated by Richard Rohr.

I’ve written previously about my journey of faith and this year has taken an unanticipated scenic route.

If you would have asked me two years ago would I consider myself an evolutionist, humanist, and mystic I would have probably hesitated to say, “yeah I could see that”

Or how about this; if you would have asked me two years ago did I know I would no longer believe in the eternal conscious torment of untold billions of individuals who didn’t crack the code of knowing and saying the name of the Son of God; or  that I’d one day hold to an idea that God’s love reaches everyone without exception – even in death, I would have been like “Nah, can’t be”

But alas all the above is true and again it’s really freeing.

Earlier this year a few weeks before Easter I left an amazing faith community, at the time because I couldn’t deal with the inner tension of being an affirming gay man in a loving but nonaffirming church.

I told myself that I’d find an affirming faith community so that the people who I worshiped with would view my queerness as a beautiful, intentional part of God’s desire for me as opposed to something sinful, and broken.
I visited a few churches over the next few months.
I never settled on making a place my home; not for a lack of affirming churches in Atlanta- there are more than enough to be sure.

I took my time.
I’d been a part of faith communities for so long and I wasn’t in a rush to exert energy into commitment and investment with an entirely new group of people all over again.

To this day I still haven’t found a new faith home.
What I have found though is a more expansive faith life.
I found the beauty of gratitude-worship in moving, breathing and being through Yoga in an open field with hundreds of people from all walks of life.
I’ve been brought into a state of reverence (the kind of solemnity and awe you get when stepping into a massive ornate Cathedral ) standing before the 1.6 Million year old remains of Turkana Boy in the Museum of Natural History in New York; marveling at the expansiveness and prolonged care of God in the history and development of humanity.

Simple shared meals with close friends have become occasions of celebration for me on par with those Holy Days of the Jewish and Church calendar.
Time with cherished friends has been a reminder of the sacrament of community.

One day I may be led to another faith community but until that time comes I’m enjoying the break. Sleeping in on Sundays and still finding God everywhere and in everything.
Another testament to something that I thought I’d never do is visit a place of worship of another faith.
Like, I did that.
With a clear and joyful conscience too!
Heretic level 1000.

Dang heretic Danny, how did that happen?

Well, non heretic Christian I’ll tell you.
I  recently read this nonreligious book on human history and the author went off on this tangent about how emotions and thoughts are fleeting and he painted this word image of a person standing on the beach trying to both catch and push away each wave in front of him.
“How fruitless is that?” the author emoted.
The author then went on to describe that same individual sitting on the beach in front of the ocean – observing the waves as they came and went.
That, according to the author , was meditation.

That was what it meant to be grounded and to observe the thoughts and emotions within come and go.

“I want that!” I immediately thought after reading that portion of the book.

The following week I went to a Q&A on meditation at a Buddhist Temple. I listened to the testimonies of new and seasoned Buddhist and chanted Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō  over and over again with them.

I learned and participated in meditation and took away something of value to incorporate in my journey.

I knew I needed a rooted practice in my own life to help me process and not be negatively phased by my overthinking and insecurity.

Sure I could go to another cloistered bible study in someone’s living room and read about how to overcome insecurity and anxiety.
However, I also know that wisdom and human benefit aren’t limited to the Judeo-Christian worldview.

Lastly part of my expanding faith  of late has meant that my view and perception of God keeps getting bigger.

It’s so beautiful and I can’t say this enough, freeing.

I love this quote by Paul Tillich about God

“God is that than which none greater can be conceived..
God is always greater than we can think..
There is a form of atheism that is closer to God , because most Theism treats God as something we can think and if we can think it the object of our thought can be a form of idolatry because God is different from anything we can conceive “

I love that!
My view of Jesus is bigger too.
This 1st Century Jewish Rabbi who taught and embodied love as the highest expression of what it means to be human and divine and who bore in his death and resurrection both a co-suffering and elevation of all of humanity.
One of my friends has this comment that I feel encapsulates how I feel about this God-man very well.

“Jesus is the most beautiful human being I’ve ever known and I cling to that. My soul loves him and wants him to be king even in the midst of all the very human ways I find myself in rebellion”

This “most beautiful human being” allows me and every other human being to recapture the original innocence of the Image of God in us all. To overcome the hurt, unbalance and evil within and appropriate a better way of being. As the Trappist Monk and Mystic Thomas Merton says so poignantly,

“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak [God’s] name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship [and daughtership]. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely . . . . I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere. “

I am overjoyed with life and the shape my faith is taking right now. Excited for where I am and what’s ahead.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing in my joy with me.
Grace and Peace

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