Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Baby on the edge redefining the centre for all

"... God comes to us on our level to draw us more deeply and lovingly to Godself.

This is the joy and the wonder of Christmas - a baby on the edge redefining the centre for humankind so that all can be within the ambit of God's reach of love for ever. ..."

By Bishop Brian Farran. The Anglican Encounter Newspaper, December, 2011.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Grace & Darkness

Recently a friend posted some nice thoughts about grace on his Musings from the Suburbs blog 
it got me thinking and follows nicely with the words I chose this year for my Mystical Wanderings website theme phrase of "Bordello's Grace". Some may find it strange, funny or even offensive but for me it's incredibly comforting.

So what do I think, suspect, believe or mean when I think or talk of the word grace? 
My mind drifts to my theological college days where the definition went something like "God's unmerited favor". I still like this as it succinctly says it's about God's giving of goodness even when it's totally undeserved and as HeShe is goodness God thus permeates all of creation. Let me ramble for a bit:

It's the good stuff that just happens in our lives, that perfect moment in time, of experience or place. Sometimes it's what we've asked for but also it's the lucky and chance moments along with the miraculous; an unexplained goodness in a situation and that sense of comfort, love, connection or goodness that exists even when the circumstances are less than ideal. I think here the example of the Bordello provides such a metaphor, for in a Bordello people gather with their own particular reasons and life circumstances, yet still a sense of goodness can be found and experienced, even though it may not be ideal for some or all concerned.

Recently while on holidays I had an experience with a Shaman. He encouraged me to take a soul journey to the underworld, sensing my hesitation he said I could go to the upper world to find my angel(s) but said it was best I go to the underworld first to find my totem animal(s). A lot of it I didn't understand as all that stuff is totally foreign to me. It was very difficult for me to engage fully in and pursue. For me the language of "underworld" and "darkness" equates to Hell, Devil and demons and not something to seek but rather actually the complete opposite!

My own world view has placed light as something that triumphs darkness and it's the light that is to be sought not darkness. From my own Christian background my mind goes immediately to what I now feel has been an unhelpful, simplistic and dualistic thinking, of opposites e.g. light \ dark, God \ Devil, Good \ Evil, Angels \ Demons, Night \ Day. Even in the liturigcal prayers of the church I  myself use it's full of seeking of the light; of Christ, "The light of the world". e.g. "Lighten our darkness lord we pray", "Protect us from the hours of this night" or "may our darkness be dispelled by your light".

I continue to reflect on this as I wonder if I've experienced such an over emphasis of the light metaphor that it's led to me to not being fully integrated within myself. Has this in fact negatively impacted the whole Christian message of God's love. If I really believe God is in all and his goodness if everywhere, is he not in the underworld and even gosh the devil?  Is there an aspect of "seeking" or "going to dark places" that is perhaps beneficial or even necessary? Does it help us to embrace all of life? Certainly over the past ten years I've pursued many things I was brought up being told were bad or evil only to find they were indeed the very opposite; they were life giving and where God's grace abounded.

Back in 2006 I blogged two thoughts about darkness "I love darkness" & "God began it with darkness" back then I was reminded of the Genesis creation story that it was darkness that existed at the very beginning. It started with God and God creating, what seems to be a sequence of events; ending with “and it was good”. Seemingly not saying the first was bad or the next was better, just that at each step “it was good”.

So it seems my journey to understand or maybe even embrace "darkness" continues.

These days I don't read or quote scripture a lot (overdosed in a past life) but this year there is one verse from the living bible I've absolutely loved and have prayed many times. " Bless the Lord, the God of Israel, who exists from everlasting ages past and on into everlasting eternity ahead ..." Psalm 41:13. I just love this, God has always been and will always be, Goodness is all around us and will remain in some way foreever if only we take time to notice and give thanks. That means there is always hope. And as I've said for many years "While there is breath, there is life and while there is life there is hope".

Of course in some places one would question if there is any goodness at all. We have a paradox for there is so much suffering, pain and terror in our world, there always has been and I suspect always will be. No simple answers from me, just many questions :)

Peace be with you!

Post script: My soul is singing and this song fits beautifully.
Bless the Lord, O My Soul
10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) by Matt Redman