Thursday, January 24, 2013

Faith's Channel Markers for the Spiritual Journey

Sometimes, I fear we drift about the sea of faith, not knowing for certain where we are going or have gone. How do we measure loving God with "all of our heart, soul, mind and strength?"

There are many willing to set buoys, marking religious channels for us to follow. Some offer us checklists for the voyage. It is all so simple, definable and settled. "Pray (instruct God about what God needs to do and how to do it), journal (in this $14.95 blank book with a cross on the cover), read scripture (from a specialized bible for 'grandmothers who crochet,' for 'teenagers who are cool' or for 'fishermen who have a bass boat,' or from one of roughly seven-hundred and sixty-seven other bibles) and all should be well."

I'm looking for channel markers of a different sort. For now, I've decided to look for some "fruit" the first missionary said will show up in my life if I'm intimate with God. Love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, patience, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. (Galatians 5:22 & 23a) Although I can think of plenty of that fruit born from my living along the way, the baskets aren't really overflowing in my life right now. I need help. I'm going to the Source.

Yes I'll pray. I'll even pray some of my own words. But I'll also pray the prayer Jesus taught us, and The Jesus Prayer and others from saints through the ages. And I'll certainly pray using scripture, pleading from my barren heart for vital Life-giving nutrients to siphon their way up from the soil of faith and into my living. And I'll seek God's presence in candlelight, Gregorian chant on Pandora, hikes, scents, art and in the presence of other seekers. (You'll need to find your places.)

I'm looking for the Holy One, and choosing to join my sojourners in faith on the road marked before us. And hopefully, the breadcrumbs we leave behind will look a great deal like the handholds and footholds of those throughout history who have been desperate for the fruit.

Lord have mercy, and grant us longing hearts.

Any markers of your own? Any places where you find the Holy about which you'd be willing to share? Please feel free to comment here.


jennifer Dickenson said...

We are definitely on similar paths, marked by a tinge of holy snark that is becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the conventional bouys and is searching/longing for the invisible reality. Journey on out loud! Your honesty gives strength and encouragement to me, and I'm sure many others.

David said...

Thank you Jennifer. My failures measure my journey far more effectively than my breakthroughs, I'm afraid. I read recently that artists are people who are at their core unsatisfied. I hold this deep belief that there exists some vast beauty, some mystic reality in our God, and that we only occasionally gather core samples of what we call "glory." Many of us will never be satisfied with drivel, or contented with a marketed god.

jennifer Dickenson said...

In answer to the question you posed, a new and rather bold marker I've only recently adopted is silence. Deliberate and frequent silence, where I don't speak, don't think...just BE before God with no expectations other than there is an incomprehensible mystery that WANTS to commune with me as much as I do with Him. Sometimes I get a clear picture of something lurking in myself that needs attention that I wouldn't have seen otherwise. Sometimes I "hear" direction or encouragement. Sometimes I "hear" nothing, but there is substance and value even in the nothing that I don't know how to explain. The book that has affected me the most is "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality" by Peter Scazerro, and what got me into the discipline of silence. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it. Very similar themes and re-exploring the value of the monastic tradition. Also understanding and observing the Sabbath has been HUGE for me (also from EHS).

Scott McKee said...

I could never claim to be as far along in my spiritual journey as are you. But, your comments are in line with, what I believe, are spiritual truths of the word - what He wants from us. I don't believe that God wants us to grow along some man-made path. I'm amazed at man's tendency to make this journey into a formula - as if the sojourner will look/act a certain way and progress at a certain rate along the way. How can we be so prideful that we can wholly define God and his will like that? Certainly, we aren't paying much attention to Christ if we attempt to do so. Do we really grow to appreciate the expansiveness of God (and his followers for that matter) by defining him in a manner that usually has more to do with our own tolerances of him...than, what is truly Him? Oh how prideful we are! I like Jennifer's comments, by the way!

david said...

So true Scott. Definitions are so tempting and when it comes to the Divine, impossible. Thanks for sharing here, and by the way, I don't claim to be as far along as you, brother.

Scott McKee said...

I know you would never claim that. Frankly, that is what tells me that you really get it. For me, communion with God begins on my knees in solitude and silence. The channel marker is whether my pride and will are TRULY surrendered. I am in awe of how the Spirit of God bends my own stubborn willfulness to His loving divine will. When I allow it, this usually occurs for me through these silent moments. But, how I fail to provide for these times to the degree that I should.

Sometimes, the actual channel markers in my journey are what I choose to acknowledge. God puts them there, to be sure. But, do I choose to see them? Or am I too caught up in the mundane to recognize them? If I do recognize and heed them, it is usually through silent reflection.

Zee said...

I had to chuckle at the "Grandmothers who Crochet" Bible edition :D

I've been listening to Gregorian Chants ever since I visited the Mass in Lviv a couple weeks ago. Some are in Latin, some are in English, but it's just... fills you inside out. I don't know how to describe the feeling, but I think you know what I mean. They inspire, calm down, make you feel as if you're flying (and no, I did not take LSD...)... just... ah.