Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Today’s readings explore one of the tenets of Sufism—the divine nature of human life, the meaning of love, and the reality of union with God. She talks about how Sufism started out as asceticism and moved more towards mysticism.

Reflection questions:

1. A central tenet of Sufism is that God’s mercy is greater than God’s wrath. Meditate on both God’s mercy and wrath. In your own life of faith, do you find yourself dwelling on more on the mercy of God or the wrath of God? Why?

I am seeing a switch in my thought processes. I’ve spent a lot of my life being apprehensive of “the wrath of God.” I have always felt that I wasn’t living up to whatever I was supposed to be living up to. What I am starting to realize is what I used to think was part of the “wrath of God” is really “the wrath of the world.” But what we often want to attribute to “God’s punishment” or “God ignoring us” or “God kicking us in the ass”, is really the world and our realization that the more holy parts of us don’t fit in the world so well.

In the last few years, I have started to see “the mercy of God” overriding “the wrath of God” in my life. This was not anything conscious. It just seems to be shifting this way. This might be a side effect of just being more aware of God and spending more time “just hanging” with God. There was a place where I finally got tired of being afraid of “God the authority figure.” I’m a grownup, I don’t need to be cowering to authority figures. God had to become something more real to me if I was going to feel any kind of “anything” towards God. I knew my relationship with God had to go “somewhere”.

2. Do you find yourself longing for mystical understanding and experience? If so, what are you doing to answer your longing? If not, why not?

Uh, yes and no. I did not set out on this journey thinking, “Oh, wow, I’d like one of them thar mystical experiences.” Quite the contrary. As a thinking person, I poo-pooed the mystic aspects of religion. It was for “soft squishy people”, “weak-minded people who want to escape from reality.” Then I go and have a couple of mystical moments where I am literally privy to God’s presence, “The glory of the Lord,” whatever you want to call it...and after my initial “What the hell just happened” moment, I started to realize there was a reality to this experience that is more real than anything I’ve seen in the physical world. It is a reality that lives in the center of myself, a reality I never bothered to consider. What I find now is I crave that experience in a way I did not expect.

Mostly I just try to sit and “be” and let the moments take care of themselves...to think of my body as just kind of the vehicle that animates something bigger inside of it, try to get that “something” to come out and play. Part of that process is to focus on something bigger than me...a star in the yard, the moon, the pattern of the flames in my chiminea, and just let it drive the bus. It doesn’t always work but it’s still good.

3. Write about how you understand “the divine nature of life, the meaning of human love, and the reality of union with God.”

Truthfully, I really don’t, yet, in any meaningful amount! I am just learning! I’m having to do this as an “adult learner” so it is slow going at times. But what I’ve figured out so far is that there is a reality in our own souls that I did not appreciate. It is filled with more goodness than I ever imagined and I need to become more in touch with it. This goodness inside of me had to be placed there by God, in fact, maybe it is the “image of God in which we are created.” God is not about fear and wrath and being an authority figure, despite a lot of peoples assertions to the contrary (sigh). I know I used to be a person who didn’t have much use for “love” in the sense of our stereotypical pop culture view of it. But I am understanding deeper underpinnings to love. The problem is it makes me pretty dissatisfied about any sort of love that is “less real” and makes me have very little patience for things that are “not real”--even more so than before, and I’ve always been a person who craves “real.”

I know that in those times when I just “sit and be” with God, I can feel his presence—not in equal amounts every time but at least in some amount. I know that this is addictive, and very real. That’s about as far as I can get with it at this point.

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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