Thursday, June 7, 2012

and GOD spoke

photos by wm. blake spencer
corsons inlet, new jersey

you might want to click
on the pictures today
they are quite breath taking...

growing up as a presbyterian, faith was:
orderly and moderate.
i believed GOD loved, and lived.
i believed GOD spoke...
but not directly to one like me.

of orderly, moderate faith
spoke in history, through history.
i was also taught GOD spoke in the present
but usually through the voices of others...
and when GOD spoke
it was always orderly and decent. 

my friends who were less orderly and moderate
and of the charismatic variety
often spoke of GOD being present in overly dramatic ways:
visions, dreams, other world speaking,
jumping, dancing, skipping, 
being slain (thrown to the floor), hooping, hollering.

their stories un-

but i must admit...
this orderly, moderate, decent presbyterian boy
badly wanted GOD to speak directly to him.

"speak to me GOD...
but don't scare me!"
i suppose i was asking GOD
to be orderly and moderate.

and so GOD spoke
to me
on three separate occasions...
in very decent, orderly, beautiful ways.

the first two times GOD spoke to me
were ultimately a prelude for the third.

the first occasion followed
similar patterns from the BIBLE,
when GOD spoke with intention and
the person being spoken to doubted.
"i can't do what you want, GOD."
"i'm not smart enough."
"i don't have the resources, time, energy, interest...."

and GOD does not give up
and eventually the person responds accordingly. 

moses went to the pharoah.
ruth followed naomi.
jonah spoke GOD'S message.
mary embraced the angels announcement.

i went to africa.
the last place i wanted to go.
i went to africa after a two month
wrestling match with GOD.
GOD methodically spoke,
it was clear who was speaking.
i went to africa and my mind and
heart were opened in ways
that changed me.

the second occasion GOD spoke to me
was more like a dream,
only i was awake and walking
on a trail at a presbyterian camp in kansas city.

i was walking and doubting
that i had what it takes
to continue 
being a minister of the word and sacrament...
i was struggling
to understand this thing called ministry.

so GOD unfolded before me a scene
using the nature right around me:
sycamore trees, spider webs, wildflowers, wind...

and then...
an encounter with what i can only describe as
the communion of saints...
one in particular who had died in high school -
accidentally electrocuted.

my band friends and i had
only tolerated his presence
when he was alive....
we let him mingle with our
glorious selves on the back of the band bus.
we called him "moth ball"
because his mother put moth balls in his uniform bag
and when he opened it to put it on
the entire bus was moth proofed!

he stood in the midst
of the other saints in communion that day,
the other saints all part of my extended family.

when i saw him
i stopped and literally began to speak outloud:
"why are you here?"

he told me what a decent and
loving and good person i was.

i responded,
"why are you saying these things?
we were so mean to you
when you were alive."

he said,
"no you were not mean to me. 
you don't know just how
connected and loved you made me feel."

and with that the scene lifted like
one of those puffy clouds on a summer day.

i haven't readily shared these stories,
because honestly
most orderly, moderate,
thinking people of my tradition
are not very interested in direct interactions with GOD.

but for me...
GOD knew
the only way i would cease and desist
with my self judgement and denial
was to interrupt the world as i know it and speak
with such clarity
that i could not mistake,
could not ignore,
could not push away
the WORDS GOD wanted me to hear
and the life GOD wanted me to claim.

i wasn't surprised
the third time GOD spoke with me.
i was ready....

that is a story for next week.

my daughter is coming for a visit
and i will be spending every moment
i can with her.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Breath taking-- both pictures and story.
You're awesome.