Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Two Truths

Sometimes it seems that things are moving at a fast pace. For instance, back in the summer I bought a Blackberry, and since then several new models have come out, making mine seem just a little out of date. Yet with all the progress we make, all the technological advances, we’re still very much the same people. We are people who often yearn for love, wrestle with fear, and lash out as we try to maintain a place of higher importance over the people around us.

But now we are being called, called to a new understanding, a new thought.

You are meant for more. You are meant to learn lessons and take wisdom from the past as well as to learn from what you have experienced in your personal history, and then to push unstoppably forward. You can learn and walk forward into new understandings, new wisdom, new truth. What is this new understanding, this new wisdom, this new truth? There are two of them in particular to focus on at the moment. Let's start with the second.

The second truth is something that we are being called to realize and to take part in. This truth is like a little child standing at the edge of a majestic forest, looking over her shoulder and reaching her arm back towards us. She waits for us to take hold of her hand and to walk. This truth is that we are one people, that one by one boundaries are being torn down. They crash to the ground as we focus on our commonalities with our fellow humanity, rather than on the ways in which we differ. Even more, those differences which once were obstacles to our unity, now they are opportunities to learn. As we realize this truth more fully, the more we shake our heads at the images that we see on TV, images of people living even side-side who are killing one another. Gaza and Afghanistan come to mind. Don’t misunderstand me, these are life-altering and tragic conflicts for those directly involved. But as we more fully realize the truth of our unity, these conflicts, or at least the reasons for them, seem to grow smaller and smaller.

Of course this truth is something we can not walk into unless we learn the one that comes before it. And that is that a key part of the answer to one of the biggest questions of life – the meaning of life - is much closer than we may have previously realized.

Who is it that we are to worship? Who will give us the answer? What are we to do to be acceptable to God?

These questions, and the anxiety that they produce, lose so very much of their importance and grip on our lives when we realize that the reason for living is to live.

While we are all connected as part of existence, we are each unique. There is no one like you. That is a good thing.

You are a good thing.

Isn’t it time, my friend, to lay down your arms that you’ve had aimed at yourself and your seemingly outlandish, lofty dreams, and instead crack the door open to the notion that you are an irreplaceable part of life, a gift. You contain a perspective and wisdom within you that needs to break out into the world, into life. Keep being curious, keep acquiring knowledge that will help you to understand life, but be sure to use your own voice and realize that you aren’t meant to be a copy of anyone who has ever lived.

I pray joy for your journey today as you continue to discover and to step forward into your own new truth.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Before, When I Had A Saviour

Toronto, Ontario

The other night I had one of those moments. You know, one of those. The kind of moment that shakes your soul from its slumber like a bear in a wintry forest shakes the snow from its fur. One of those moments that says, “Come back to life,” and inspires you to rise above the dreariness that can so easily cloud your day. What does it for you? Maybe it’s sharing a good conversation with a friend while sipping on a cup of hot cocoa. Maybe it’s an unexpected warm smile on the face of a stranger as you pass them by in the mall. For me, on this occasion, it was a song.

I was walking to work listening to music and the song “The Roar of Love” came on. It’s part of a 1980 concept album of the same name and is based on The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. The performing group is The 2nd Chapter of Acts, an old Christian group. I’ve loved Narnia for a long time. This particular song speaks of the moment when Lucy and Susan see Aslan alive again after they had watched him being killed by the evil White Witch. Overjoyed, they embrace the great lion and then jump on his back and they all ride off through the forest. The song brings to me a deep feeling of happiness.

Of course if you’re familiar with Narnia you’ll recognize that Aslan is Jesus, the Lion is the Saviour of that magical world. So while the song brings to me happiness, it also makes me nostalgic, well as nostalgic as a relatively young man can be. And this is because I remember back to when I too had a Saviour.

I had known about him from as far back as I can remember, decided to have a closer friendship with him when I was still a little boy, and said a long goodbye to him about 6 years ago.

This time of the year you hear about Jesus more than at any time of the year. Of course this is decreasing as years pass, with the increasing religious (and non-religious) pluralism, and Holiday trees replacing Christmas trees, but you still see Jesus in nativity scenes in front of churches, and you still hear about him in the old carols.

The idea of having someone come alongside you to be your Saviour is an appealing one, particularly when you’re facing some difficult challenge. You can reach out for help, and they are there to lift you out of your situation, or at least help lighten the burden.

But eventually I had to say goodbye to my Saviour. You see, when you spend so much time reaching out for a Saviour, you can forget what it’s like to look inside yourself. You forget, that is if you ever knew it in the first place, that you have the power inside of you to rise above every situation that comes to you. When you call out to your Saviour, I think something else can happen. At the same time that you’re calling out, that power within you that is waiting to rise up goes back to sleep, now that you’ve given the job to someone else.

As I write this, I want to say that I recognize and deeply understand that this works for many many people. Many who call on Jesus in this way are sincerely happy and fulfilled.

But for me, I couldn’t keep my friendship with my outside Saviour.

However, this does not mean that Jesus means absolutely nothing to me now. I still listen to the traditional carols and I still make it out to a service every Christmas Eve. But it can be even more than that. You can read the Christmas story and you can see Christmas in a new light. For me, rather than seeing Jesus as someone who was born into the world to die for our sins and therefore make us acceptable to God, I see Jesus as an example. In my mind there is a place for Jesus as an example that divinity and humanity need not be separate. Here is an example of someone who realized the power within him, and with that knowledge he did powerful things.

Whatever your beliefs are this December, I wish you a very Merry Christmas. May you have moments in the coming days that help you realize much joy and peace.