I do not know why I do or do not feel spiritually comfortable at different times in my day. I noticed, though, in church the other day, after not going for a while, that I was uncomfortable.
I am turning 50 years old; I should have all this figured out. I know I am not trying hard enough. I know I do not crack open my Bible (hardly ever) to seek comfort from God’s word. I should have a routine that protects me from the tough things life will throw at me. Our marriage should be insulated. Our children should be protected from harm. I should tithe 10 percent. I should have extra money left over to give as my heart leads. I should rail against the moral erosion of this country. I should decry the politicization of caring for the poor, homeless, downtrodden, hungry, pregnant, ostracized population of our fine country. I know, when I sing, that my heart is not truly abandoned; I have not accepted that Jesus paid it all, and all I owe to Him. I do not embrace the chorus with true peace and acceptance. I should be glad (and not judgmental) that all those other sinners are in church with me, even though I know what their particular brand of sin is. (Am I not just a little better than them, if compared side to side?). I feel like a hypocrite inside the walls of the church.
I hear ALL of that. All those voices clamor in my head to chase me away from a place where I can meet God spiritually. The easy answer is that Satan has established a foothold in my mind. This is surely true – and I do not have the right ‘god’ on the throne I worship. C.S. Lewis said in “The Screwtape Letters” that all the devil has to do is to get us thinking about how the other worshippers sound when they sing, or what they are wearing, or what they smell like (I paraphrase, of course, but that is the gist). The easy answer is that when I “pray about it”, it will go away and I can have peace with my savior. The easy answer is that as soon as I “turn my life over to God”, all things will be made clear, my path will be made straight, the rough places planed.
I know all the pat, rote, memorized answers. They worked for me for many years.
God and I are still a team. Jesus and I are still together. We lately just need a different venue to meet effectively.
By contrast, when I step onto the ancient, timeless, accepting earth of Ghost Ranch, I feel peace. When I walk the trails, even the easy ones (especially the easy ones) that Ghost Ranch has to offer, I feel healing and hope and promise. Those voices that drown my Zen (probably an oxymoron; at the very least a contradiction in terms) in church are not speaking to me out there. I started my latest re-invention of self out there last spring. It was quite possibly the only place where I could have found that much truth about myself and what I needed to face my future. I awoke on my 49th birthday to a cold, clear desert air that filled my lungs with a purity I have rarely known. I faced myself to realize what impact I HAVE had and what impact I have NOT had (Zuzu’s petals!) on my sphere of influence.
My realization to share with you is that God never changes how much he loves me. He never changes. He always loves me.
Safe words to use about God.
My discomfort in a church building is because I hear voices (old tapes) that are not God talking and are not what God is trying to get me to hear. My comfort in the wildness of Ghost Ranch is not because God is more present but rather that there are fewer distractions to muddy the audio.
I do not presume to tell you how to find spiritual comfort. I can only (barely) tell you where I find a quantum of solace. Ironic that Daniel Craig’s Bond found a quantum of solace only after he killed the bad guy, as revenge for the good people killed. I use the phrase not as a killer, but as a seeker. A seeker on a pilgrimage.
Like a sign post. Cartographers of old said, “Here there be Dragons”.
Here (where is that for you?)… There be Peace.