Sunday, February 4, 2018
Finding Faith and God
"Is this the Target where you saw the bird?" she asked (See "Gather the Pieces" August 7, and October 16).
"Yes," I said to my friend, Linda, whom I hadn't seen for twenty-one years. We sat in Starbucks at the local Target store. "Finding God in nature added a new dimension to my faith," I added.
Grateful for the opportunity to be together, we caught up on our lives, and I was delighted to listen to someone who regularly reads my blog.
Author Diana Butler Bass
Reading in Diana Butler Bass' book, Grounded - Finding God in the World - A Spiritual Revolution, I noted her comment about living in the city.
"I grew up spending a few years in the city. The world of my childhood was paved over, save some small grass patches and a garden or two. I was a terrible klutz with nature. I constantly stumbled on rocks and slipped in mud, thus proving to my own mind at least that the earth was a threatening and inhospitable place."
She then describes how she viewed church.
"I was grateful for the church, a safe haven from the untamed world of nature. God apparently preferred the indoors too. His sacred abode was the Methodist Church in our neighborhood: four white walls, wooden pews, and colored glass windows. It never occurred to me that someone might seek God in the woods or on a mountain or at a beach, because God was so readily available in the building up the road. Church, unlike nature, was safe. When it came to it, I preferred singing hymns to digging in the dirt."
The author had a change of heart, however, when her family moved to the country and quit going to church. She continues,
"Although I had always believed God lived in that building, I unexpectedly discovered that God was also present in the woods as I followed streams through the forest. Sitting by the lake, skating on a frozen pond, riding my bike on dirt roads - it was as if I could hear God whispering to me. At the Methodist Church, I learned how to follow the rule, how to be an obedient Christian girl. But the country, the place of dirt that I previously feared became a school of wonder. Those woods and farms were a sanctuary of the sacred, a place where the Bible actually spoke."
I could identify with Diana's words when I discovered the egg outside Target (August 7), then found the mother mourning dove, her babies and the crippled bird left behind (October 16)
Growing up in the Episcopal church I had sustaining moments with the weekly liturgy and memorizing catechism for confirmation. God was limited to Sunday morning, within four walls of the church or as Diana also observed, I had no idea that there was any place else to pray or feel God's presence.
As I grew closer to God, I discovered God could be found many places even in everyday experiences. Baking bread and working with cloth nurtured my faith.
When our daughters were growing up we had homemade biscuits every night for dinner. Baking biscuits for my family brought me into God's presence as I remembered Jesus called himself the Bread of Life and then he illustrated faith by using yeast.
Even though the children are grown, I still make biscuits with deepening awareness how kneading dough is an image for the way God kneads my soul bringing me deeper into God's presence and to great awareness of others. Baking bread and prayer were woven together with each batch I made.
For a long time, I came to Jesus like the woman who touched his cloak and was healed of a hemorrhage (Matthew 9:18-26) Her faith took her to see Jesus, knowing the power he had could give her new life.
I touched Jesus for decades through handling fabric and making small quilts.The rhythmic flow of a needle through batting and two layers of fabric became meditative, pulling me closer to Jesus with each stitch and bringing light to darkness that seemed to linger in my heart. Quilting still, after nearly forty years, brings me to God, quiets my heart and keeps me close to Jesus.
The time I spent with the white egg and the mourning dove have welcomed me into a new dimension of being with God. I've always enjoyed a walk in the woods looking at the texture of tree trunks, and patterns of flowers and leaves, but the mourning dove and her babies brought me into communion with another part of God's creation leading me to deep self-discovery and transformation.
I explained to Linda that unlike baking bread and quilting leading me to prayer, observing a pregnant dove, studying the next and empathizing with the injured bird connected me to parts of my past that needed exploring. Realizing that observing a bird, her habitat, and life with babies could penetrate my emotional self, broadened the way I saw God at work in my life. I truly experienced my own trinity, God, the dove and me, exploring together.
As we finished our tea, Linda and I agreed not to let twenty-one years go by until we meet again We appreciated greatly how easy it was to talk even though so many years had passed. And I knew that connecting with Linda - a friend who reads my words each week - was another way God was meeting with me, encouraging me, and showing me my place in the world.
Questions for Reflection
1. We are uniquely made and God comes to us in different ways.
2. What has nurtured you along your path of faith development?
3. Are there objects meaningful to you as you've explored your faith?
4. Where do you find God - in the Bible, in nature, baking, taking a walk .... or many other ways?
Prayer: God, thank you for the ways you reveal yourself to us, often relfecting our interests and talents. Increase our faith in whatever way possible so we can move closer to you. Amen.
For further reading:
Communion Bread: http://jacquiereed.blogspot.com/2016/02/communion-bread.html.
A Different Kind of Communion: http;//jacquiereed.blogspot.com/2014/09/a-different-type-of-communion-bread-of.html
The Rising Womb: http://jacquiereed.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-rising-womb.html\\
Lament for a Fallen Bird: http://jacquiereed.blogspot.com/2017/10/lament-for-fallen-bird.html
The White Egg on the Sidewalk: http://jacquiereed.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-white-egg-on-sidewalk.html
A Reflection for Friday: http://jacquiereed.blogspot.com/2014/07/a-reflection-for-friday.html
Staying Within Reach of Jesus: http://jacquiereed.blogspot.com/2016/07/staying-within-reach-of-Jesus.html.