When I get past the feelings of the enormity of the crisis we all find ourselves in, I have some very charged feelings about a conflict between fear and faith, (both in myself and in the world). It seems difficult to find the line between them. Usually we know we are taking risk, like every time we get in our car. But now it has all gone very hazy. If I don’t wash my shopping, I live by faith. If I do, I live in fear. Then do I use soap? Do I leave it in the sun? See how fear breeds fear. (Incidentally I don’t wash my shopping.)
This is something I feel strongly about – fear breeding fear – and I see it as something that we are all going to find it very difficult move on from. I see faith as the antidote. I guess that is faith in God for me, but could be faith in goodness, faith in connection with others, faith in a higher source, faith in love, faith in the mystery. Whatever . . we’re going to need faith! This is all I know. Am I on my own here?
Seeing the colours in the light gives to me clues as to why I may feel a certain way in my body or emotions, or why I am thinking certain thoughts. I don’t mean that I am just dependent on my connection with the environment. Far from it – I am always asking God what things mean and how to interpret the messages I get through my relationship with the light.
Today, for instance, I notice a lack of yellow, and this always causes me to feel less emotionally connected than usual. When I first realised this, I was quite devastated, thinking “How am I going to live if I don’t feel really emotionally connected all the time. Isn’t this what everyone is striving for?” But I have had to let go of that way of thinking. God has shown me that connection runs deeper than heart energy or hearts or being grounded or breath or stillness or emotion.
I have visited many churches and sometimes been inspired by the preaching, sometimes moved by the worship, sometimes touched by the sense of community but I have never quite felt at home. I have always had a slight sense of isolation as I sit in my seat and the service unfolds. I start wondering about the person next to me and wonder what their life is like and how they are touched and moved by God but when the service closes and we speak, it is only of surface things and the depths within both of us remain untouched.
someone has wanted to know what bought me to their church and when I have said
God told me to come, they have given me a puzzled look and said “You mean you
felt you should come.” And I repeat “No, God told me to come!” And I wonder but
stop myself from saying “Doesn’t God speak to you too?” On other occasions people have asked me
directly “Are you a Christian?” Oh how I
hate labels! Of course the person wants to know whether I recognised myself as
a sinner and asked God to help me with my life on a specific day at a specific
time. Well, as it happened I did but
there was so much more. On that day I opened myself to the great mystery that
me and God are indeed one. Since that
day we have walked and talked and laughed and cried together as I have walked
the twisty turny journey of my life. To
reply to the question “Are you a Christian?” I would incur the same pain as if
someone asked me “Are you a wife?” or “Are you a mother?” How deeply impersonal and how wounding to my
different sort of church people don’t seem bothered at all by such matters. In
fact the minute the service closes it is as if we haven’t been in church at
all. The conversation is only of how well you timed your roast dinner to be
ready and who is making teas at the village fete. The word ‘community’ is used a lot and there
is much ‘doing’ and organising. But, I
think to myself – I am hungry deep down in my sprit – hungry for some touch of
another soul, hungry for connection, a moment of realness. I want someone to hear me, I want someone to
see me but I feel invisible. I want to
hear and see another but there is no chink of vulnerability big enough for me
to crawl through. I shake the vicar’s
hand, respond to the comment about how my son has grown and pass down the
church steps, unnoticed and unknown. I
had so many thoughts, feelings, ideas, gifts and talents that I wanted to bring
but there is no room for such things here.
I came to meet others on their amazing journey of faith but I wasn’t met.
I go now? Like many of us, the answer is
‘nowhere’. On a Sunday morning I will
stay home in the warmth and intimacy of my family. I will go walking in the hills and fields near
our home and watch the flocks of sparrows chattering in the hedges. I will make
junk model dinosaurs with my son and listen to him giggling with glee when we
can’t seem to make the head stick on the body. I will do anything to make life
flow through my body, interest my mind, light up my emotions but I will not go
to church where I feel no life and my soul simply goes to sleep.
Many years ago I found myself on a course to become a Shiatsu Practitioner. I’d been suffering with chronic fatigue and became fascinated with energy work as a way to understand my illness and healing. I was a long way from full recovery but just about found the strength to drive the 70 miles from Somerset to Totnes in Devon every few weekends to attend my course. Having arrived there I then had to find the strength to learn something new that challenged me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually!
The biggest challenge for me was spiritual. Within the philosophy of Shiatsu there didn’t
seem to be any room for a relationship with a personal God. I found myself floundering and lost within a
belief system that saw God as more of a cosmic force and us as metaphysical
beings. The most significant thing to me
was the absence of grace as I was told I had to work at my connectedness. It
seemed that God couldn’t simply flow in me and through me to heal others. I had to do energy exercises, breathing
exercises and meditation to work up the chi.
I was insensed, enraged by this challenge to everything that I had found
so dear, so beautiful and so meaningful.
Why couldn’t I just work with the connection I already had – permanent
I struggled to understand this new philosophy and to try to
reconcile it with my own experience for 2 years. I even created my own approach to Shiatsu
that I called Shiaki based on a more Christian philosophy. I found myself speaking up for Christianity –
the wonder of relationship with God and the gift of grace – at every twist and
turn of my course. I was utterly amazed
by my zeal and conviction as I had no idea that I would go out on a limb like
this in a situation where no-one else shared my experience or beliefs. It was as if God had lit a fire in my heart
and nothing could quench it.
Today I still feel the Christian message. If people try to discuss doctrine with me I
feel my energy sink and become almost troubled.
I don’t have all the answers and some days I don’t know exactly what I
believe but as I live my life I become more and more aware that the message of
Christianity is written in my heart