Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Leaping Over Walls: Recovery of a Soul - Steve Roberts

"For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall."
Psalm 18:29 

Over the past six years I’ve gone through tremendous spiritual and theological transition, reorientation, realignment, refocus, reflection, and pilgrimage (and any other words that may betray a new and unexpected participation in existence). 
Perhaps more than ever, over the last three years than over the last thirty, I have begun to appreciate the Zen-like riddles of theological and spiritual enquiry. I have become disillusioned with much of the circus called Christendom and have discovered that this gentle prophet of Galilee can still show up in the most unlikely of places entreating me with a vibrant array of new questions.
To quote Brian Zahnd - "I was weary of the tired clichés of bumper-sticker evangelicalism. I was disenchanted by a paper-thin Christianity propped up by cheap certitude." Brian, if we ever meet the coffee is on me!
I've also been labeled heretic, emergent, liberal, compromising, a false prophet, a false teacher, weird, backslidden, eccentric, a hero, a saint, an artist, a true prophet, a seeker, whatever... Most people keep their thoughts to themselves. They show great restraint and decline to bomb my inbox with caustic verbal napalm. It does seem as if personal epitaphs delight in swimming in an open ended ocean of opinion and heresay.
There has been the odd and painful day, along with the odd and painful month. There have also been times of significant insight and deeper awareness. To quote the lines of a recent poem of mine: "On the inside I sometimes feel like cough syrup, dust, and wrinkles—at other times I feel like starlight, dew, and an ocean breeze." There have been broad zones of spiritual enquiry and freedom along with narrow stone streets that bear a remarkable resemblance to the rigid dystopian cities of the movie Divergent. My post-apocalyptic version of myself wanted in someway touch the woven green stuff beyond the barricades of what was considered acceptable thought.
"Don't leap over the walls," old Steve used to say. 
But God has gone and flirtatiously dropped a handkerchief in those Elysian fields, drawing my thoughts to behold a far more lovely Face of the Divine, one I have never seen before.
Russian poet and theologian Vladimir Solovyov (1853-1900) once wrote, "I saw all, and all was one—a single image of womanly beauty, pregnant with vastnesses! Before me, in me— only You." There is wine there - don't you think? A place where I need to take both shoes from off my dusty and bleeding feet and simply discover the place of presence and beauty.
I am 53 this year, probably 60% of my life breath has gone, and I must say I am more excited about my remaining tomorrows than ever before. Maybe I should be grieving over lost time? At times I feel the pain of regret - for words spoken and beliefs enforced, but I do know that the second half of life is a journey I would not miss for anything—I have been gaining new eyes. The cheap religious certitude I once carried within baffles me now. A tawdry spirituality that beckons sabre rattling and violent rhetoric appears toxic to my soul (and probably your soul as well) if you have been on a similar quest for the mystic and the beautiful.
Though some of you may read and look with curious and puzzled glances thinking "What circus is he visiting now? What brazen clowns are force feeding him hot air dipped in error?", others may appreciate my writings and meanderings of soul on Facebook and other social media platforms. The shifting tectonic plates of spiritual perspective still grind away, they continue to expose a whispering ancient poetry in an unknown tongue... I think I am recovering a part of my soul I have never met before, and maybe you are too?