Sunday, February 17, 2013

"Losing My Faith" by Amma Gail

I came to a renewed respect for Lent via Ramadan.  It was several years ago when I listened to a series of personal accounts from Muslims from all walks of life regarding Ramadan and the meaning these Holy Days had for their lives. I was  moved by the stories of devotion and community which arose from these individuals as they shared their faith. As I listened over the course of weeks, I began to long for a sacred, set apart time in my own faith tradition. I finally realized that Lent was that time for Christians. Yet, Lent is an often overlooked time for a lot of Christians. Sandwiched between Christmas and Easter, it gets barely noticed or reduced down to giving up sweets or some other pleasure. However, as I listened to the personal stories of Ramadan, I thought about how I could let the season of Lent change my life. I could use this intentional time to search my heart, my habits, and my faith. As such, my life has changed since I embraced a more focused Lenten practice. One year, I fasted in order to identify with my Muslim brothers and sisters as well as with the poor of the world. Another year I chose to meditate on the writings of a local priest and learned deep truths from everyday experiences. During another Lent, I learned to be still in the presence of Spirit and meditate on a regular basis. Each year, I explored my love for communion, gaining new meaning and understanding of a beloved ritual. This Lenten season, however, I am losing my faith.

I am letting go of long-held beliefs of faith, God, and how God is known. Oh, I have seen this coming for awhile now. My faith has been an ever evolving journey of loss and discovery. Yet, I have often been covert about these changes of mind and heart and (if I am honest) wondered if I was "backsliding" or going down the wrong path. Yet, how can something be wrong that points me towards Love? This evolution of faith keeps pointing me to one direction, Love. To use Love as a yard stick for my life. To let go of a God with a face in order to take on a God that exists only and through Love. To know that wherever there is Love, there is God. To know that the absence of Love is the absence of God. Can it be this simple? or this hard? I think, yes. And I think this is why we, as humans, have tried to codify God into a set of rules or practices. To say, "This is the Way (and the only way)"  while being content with dismissing those who don't believe as we believe. But Love does not do this. Love is found among Jewish people, Muslims, Christians, Wiccans, Buddhists, Pagans and people of other faith traditions. Love is also found among agnostics and atheists. Wherever Love is, God is. So this Lenten season, I am losing my faith. I am asking Spirit to guide me in new ways to inhabit  Love. I am asking Spirit for courage to let go of negative messages of doubt and unworthiness. I am asking Spirit for the boldness to live like Jesus.

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."

Jesus of Nazareth