Loving God Living Life Loving Life Living God

Painting by Shiloh Sophia McCloud

Painting by Shiloh Sophia McCloud

Loving God Living Life Loving Life Living God. This is the question and the answer all rolled up in one. Lately my family and I have been exploring what happens to us when we intensely commit to God as we understand God, and what happens when we are less committed to our structured God practice, but still loving and living fully, with God. And the findings are not all in yet  – but one thing has come up for all of us:

How do we keep our wild creatives spirits flourishing while in the midst of the structure/paradigm presented by the God House instructions. Let me first be clear, when I say GOD I mean the Mother and the Father.

Sure some of the instructions are up for debate, but the message of Christ seems so clear…take up your cross and follow me…love one another as I have loved you…sell all you have…and so on. This is a tall order even for the best nun and monk, and for us who are living in this world, struggling not to be OF this world, it is a constant ‘doozy’ to the consciousness to consider what He really means.  The thing we have all discovered, as very recently we all threw ourselves into our respective churches and practices during Lent and had amazing experiences, conversations, conversions, eye openings, awakenings and all around stunning observations. However, on the tail end of that, each of us spun out in our own way, for different reasons and ended up back at the altar of creativity, which for all of us, is dedicated to God and the DIVINE but not in an “organized” kind of way.

Our work, my  husbands’ quest for truth is in his music and writings, my mother’s cabalah and poetry about God and God’s people. Papa Jimmie and his humorous drawings of what happens to us when we choose Christ, how things get narrow and wide and pressing and opening, and his continual research into the lives of the Saints, and my painting and prayers and urgent poetry…we have turned back to these mediums to take a breath from running the good race, at least according to church standards.

We stand, not in judgement of ourselves, or the situation, but in questioning authentic prayerful hopeful confounded wandering concerted tired attention at where to go next. A pilgrim’s path, faith is, and each of us is on a journey to the center of the soul.  I tell it true, we did not discuss our departure from daily God rigor, although we discussed the rigor, rigorously when we were in it. Reading book upon book. Attending meeting upon meeting. Prayer on prayer. We talked/fought/worked it. But then suddenly, the air waves were quiet a few weeks and when we picked up our respective paintbrush/book/pen/guitar we found we each were at the same place. Not sure where we were – but at a similar page in some vast book of life not sure whether to turn the next page. What is it about our commitment to the “church” that changes us into little judges and then turns us back out with more pagan views than before? (I shall speak for myself here as I am the most apt to include non-christian tendencies into my circle. My closest circles include atheists, pagans, witches, lesbians, wild folk, exotic dancers and the like. And one, Greek Orthodox thank God.)

The classic answer regarding our recent stay would be that we did not desire the discipline. The obedience. I love that old hymn, Come Thou Fount, it says: Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above. But I know us, and I know that while lack of discipline plays a role,  that may be a part of it, but there is more. Something deeper than that – as we each desire profoundly to be close to God’s heart and are willing to be very dedicated. The thing we all found was that we were not able to be, you guessed it: self expressed. Is this about ego, no. It is about identity.

For myself, I will say, that the Orthodox has my heart, and I am inside of the heart of the church pretty much forever now. I don’t think there is a going back on that for me.  I have been sealed. And in some ways I have found more evidence of creative expression there than I have found at any other sanctuary – the icons, the music, the paradigm, the outfits, the books, the conversation, the people are so completely rich with beauty and art that I am blessed as a aesthetic spiritual person.  And I am still finding my way inside of that, as there is a certain order to the work – there is expression, but within such a profound enclosure of structure – which I really appreciate! However, as a creative being myself, where does my creativity bloom within the context of the church? And while Mary is honored, the feminine surely lacks her proper due. In some ways, they honor the feminine more than any other place I have been, save the Goddess Circles. But personally I like to be somewhere that both Male and Female are honored.

Loving God, and Living this life, while working to love living this life no matter what, and then living a Godly life is something each of us face, even if we do not call it that…and so I end with a few questions: How does God inspire our creative self expression, while telling us to deny ourselves? How do we be individual and unique while still conform to the corporate body of the church? What does a Christian woman, who is also a feminist, and a teacher, say when someone asks about the hell/harm/havoc of the institution called Christianity?

I don’t have answers. I have questions.

And for this moment…I shall go to the feet of my Lord, and the lap of my Holy Mother, a rebel wild child in wonder, and listen for divine instruction.jpeg

A poem from Rumi I happened to open to today…fitting. Somehow so fitting and sad too. I don’t want to be the kind He is running from.

What Jesus runs away from

The son of Mary, Jesus, hurries up a slope
as though a wild animal were chasing him.
Someone following him asks, ‘Where are you going?
No one is after you.’ Jesus keeps on,
saying nothing, across two more fields. ‘Are you
the one who says words over a dead person,
so that he wakes up?’ I am. ‘Did you not make
the clay birds fly?’ Yes. ‘Who then
could possibly cause you to run like this?’
Jesus slows his pace.

I say the Great Name over the deaf and the blind,
they are healed. Over a stony mountainside,
and it tears its mantle down to the navel.
Over non-existence, it comes into existence.
But when I speak lovingly for hours, for days,
with those who take human warmth
and mock it, when I say the Name to them, nothing
happens. They remain rock, or turn to sand,
where no plants can grow. Other diseases are ways
for mercy to enter, but this non-responding
breeds violence and coldness toward God.
I am fleeing from that.

As little by little air steals water, so praise
Is dried up and evaporates with foolish people
who refuse to change. Like cold stone you sit on,
a cynic steals body heat. He doesn’t feel
the sun
. Jesus wasn’t running from actual people.
He was teaching in a new way.