I’m beginning to struggle with words that have been part of my life for decades. Perhaps I’ve never questioned them before now, and their meaning goes deeper than surface, as all words do, so maybe it’s the superficial implications of the words that I’m having trouble with. Maybe it’s the perceptions of others, or my perception of what others think? There are most certainly societal considerations, and what is read widely in the media as the implied wide acceptance of meaning. There are prejudices and notions around all these words: Christian, Evangelical, Fundamental, and heaven and hell and love and the bible and God and Jesus. So many volatile emotions and ideas surrounding my old language of faith/theology/religion. So I wonder, how do I make peace with this? Is it even possible?
In any case, I’m believe I’m on a journey to find new way of describing who I am, a new language. I’m seeking to live a life of integrity where I really mean what I really say and it’s the clear truth of how I live. That means I need to know who I am and what I truly believe, and it’s not that easy. My experience of life at this point is there is always a tension, that I live in the angst of not knowing, yet wanting to believe and with some doubt, believing.
And I wonder why it’s so important to me. Why do I fight tooth and nail to identify myself in a unique way separate from another. To use certain words? Why do I turn my nose up at lingo and yet most certainly speak my own dialect that must be obvious to others. Does this language make me who I am? Or am I who I am, struggling to put words to it? Is it any wonder this would be my struggle as a poet, to find my own words and my own voice to describe my own experience of being human? Why does it matter so? Why? Am I alone in this? How everything somehow matters?
We are looking at Charles Darwin’s writings right now. I’m at Okanagan College part time taking a survey of British Literature from Anglo Saxon to modern. Poetry. Foundations. So I’m surprised at Darwin showing up and it sends me seeking what it outside the black and white of creation vs. evolution, the dichotomy that separates and alienates. I’m looking for the more. The both and.
And I find it. Thanks to my son and his teacher and a book called, “I love Jesus and I accept Evolution,” by Denis O. Lamoureux. I have not read much of the book yet, but inside it is a nifty chart that sets out five unique positions (of many) that one could take on this subject of origin of species. At first glance I can say I am leaning toward the reasonable positions of Progressive Creationism or Evolutionary Creationism. I don’t know… but if I am to choose a position, I will in fact, be placing myself in a camp of thought, a place I seem to be rebelling against in most areas of my life. Again, why?
I was out at a community arts event the other day and we went around the room making introductions. I introduced myself as a, “Recovering Evangelical Christian.” With this caveat, “I’m a follower of Jesus and trying to sort out what that means for me.” I felt some remorse at saying it, yet it is the truth of who I am. At my age I have experienced a lions share of fundamentalism and evangelicalism, and only a wee bit of what could be described as faith freedom. And I am drawn to the freedom of loving God and Jesus in outside my box ways. I’m drawn to the mystery of not knowing rather than the absolutes I’ve been taught since a little child. Because my experience is becoming more and more about what I do not know. Less and less about answers.
You may think me hypocritical because I often attend a community church that would call itself Evangelical Christian. I go for reasons of family relationships and a hunger for community and a heart of service and a desire to learn. And at times I feel like I fit. I truly love and respect the many men and women who are part of that faith community and call themselves EC, and are OK doing so, but I’m not certain I can anymore. I just don’t know. I feel marginalized but I know I am choosing this place. I’ve always struggled with living outside the perceptions of approved lifestyle, and it’s not the first time I’ve chosen apart because I don’t feel I am the best ambassador for what I’m not entirely sure of myself.
I’ve been reading books like, “My Faith So Far,” by Patton Dodd, and “Skin Boat,” by John Terpstra, and my bible, and watching and listening to what my heart says when I participate in meaning filled liturgical practices such as Lectio Divina, and sitting with God in nature and writing poetry and writing prayers. There is so much I do not know, so much to learn. At my age and in some ways still a babe in arms.
I’m taking a risk sharing this with you now, but it’s part of the integrity of living open and real. I have no answers, have not arrived at any clear direction, but I am willing to keep walking on believing God wastes nothing and in time, something may become clear.
Journeying… studying the bits found by the side of the road, the beauty of the cast off things, wondering how God might up-cycle me.