I recently read the book, “The Shack” by William P. Young a couple of the concepts presented in this book were Relationships and Expectancy. The first talks about how God is a verb that she is constantly showing love through action and in the service of others through relationships. The later is about how expectancy is dynamic and undefined as opposed to expectation which is a fixed “law” or absolute. Both of these concepts have a theme around movement and not static rules. It is in this concept of movement that I am currently pondering.
I’ve thought a lot about my relationship with God over the years and in the beginning (mine not hers), I was just trying to understand what the Church was trying to teach me about what my relationship with God was supposed to be like. While I thought I understood that love was supposed to be unconditional and forgiving, I was confused as to why God wouldn’t accept me if I messed up. The idea that a set of rules He gave us were absolute and unforgivable didn’t coincide with what my belief of what love was. Even if you added in that Jesus basically dismissed having to follow these rules, you still needed to accept Jesus as your “lord and savior” to be saved and allowed to spend eternity with God. This is still an absolute non-dynamic rule and not much of a true loving relationship.
I was always afraid of screwing up and making God mad. Now as I’m older and nearly 40 years later, I understand my confusion as a child was completely misleading. I now know that I am acceptable to God or The Universe no matter what. As a matter of my belief, I don’t even believe that The Universe needs to accept me at all or even needs this as a requirement. I don’t believe there are any requirements. I am part of It and It is part of me. The Universe, as I see it, is completely neutral toward me because it equally an fully Loves ALL parts of itself completely and fully. If I were to apply the “rules” of the bible toward my belief then that would mean that The Universe would have to find some part of its own self unacceptable, which is just not possible.
What I see now as I expand forth into my days, is that my true impact and legacy will be in the relationships that I form with any and all people in my life. It’s not about worship or supplication to a god, but rather in how I treat my neighbors, my friends, family and equally as important – in how I treat strangers. It’s the time I take to slow down and be present with them that will ultimately change the world around me. I know now that it matters not if I claim any flavor of religion or spirituality . It is in the relationships I build and care for that I truly show my immense capacity for love.
This Great Flow of Life in all its infinite variations continues to persist with the ultimate goal and outcomes of growth and experience. Tragedy happens and sometimes it’s all so unbearable, but the trend and effect always moves toward learning growth. As I look back at my life and events up to now, I see the difficult times and the joy together and not as opposites. I see the Great Dance of my life as it manifests toward grace and love. I cannot deny this no matter what happens.
I was watching the beginning of the Presidential Inauguration today and was listening to the invocation and the above concepts again came to mind. The speaker was recounting some of the struggles and trials we’ve been through as a nation and world. This reminded me of the persistence of life even though in the moment things can seem so dire and out of control. If you know anything about history, each period has been full of these same sorts of feelings and events from the beginning. Death, destruction, war, poverty, inequality, natural disasters, world calamities, etc. These things feel this way right here and now, but the real truth is that even though they are present, they are really a small part of all of the massive amount of good that is happening in the world. Really, if you think about it for a moment, there are approximately 7 billion people on the planet and how many of those people are really fighting in actual combat or killing one another in cities and towns around the world? The number is but a tiny fraction of the total yet we perceive that at any moment we will all die or be affected by a great global or local calamity. The perception is what controls us and is totally false. This perception is what “those in power” want us to believe such that a form a control can be established. The spread of fear is by far the most effective means to control a massive amount of people with very little effort.
I’m reminded of a story I read about how they train elephants and control them. They start out by chaining their leg with a manacle and have it staked to the ground so they can’t escape. Slowly over time the size of the chain and manacle is reduced until finally the elephant has only a simple flimsy rope tied to its leg. Even though the elephant could easily break the rope and walk away, they don’t because the perceive they are still chained by the same force as it was before. This same kind of concept is being done to us each and every day through how things are reported to us by the mass media. Any event that happens in the world whether it be a bombing in a far away country or a shooting at an elementary school, it brought directly to us live and constantly for hours. The individual tragedy is the manacle and chain and the constant repeating of the event is the small rope that binds us with fear to live life.
We are so constantly afraid of what might happen or who will be offended that we stop living a joyful life. We are “trained” by advertising, reality shows and the news to be afraid of other countries, our neighbors and most of all ourselves. We are trained to rely on others for approval and to be told what is acceptable. We judge ourselves and others against this false ideal that can be broken and walked away from at any time.
What I challenge yourself to do is to see the truth of life around you. See how much of life really flows and creates with little or no effort by you. Look around and see how people in your community and in the places you travel treat each other. I think if you started keeping score of all the “good” things you see and the creation that happens, you will find that a vast majority of life is positive and full of grace. You will see that with tragedy comes understanding, outreach, cooperation, growth and rebuilding. Sometimes the time between these things is very long, but ultimately they end with us growing as human beings, even if the growth is perceptibly small at times.
I believe that this ebb and flow of life is a grand dance in an ever changing relationship of people and the planet. I believe that the persistence and inclination of life is Love itself and this relationship is the Grand Design of The Universe that requires nothing from us.
– Dwight Raatz