Monday, September 15, 2008
like a fire burning II
I went to a Quaker meeting yesterday. I visited once before, last year, and I had forgotten how strongly I felt the spirit there. It’s actually been quite a while since I have felt the spirit; months and months, and in the back of my mind I was beginning to wonder, to worry. So to feel it again so strongly, yesterday, among that quite group of oldish whitish hippyish folks was an overwhelming relief.
I stepped on the path of questioning a few years ago with the utmost trepidation and fear, well versed in the church’s language: take heed lest ye be deceived, don’t be led astray. And so I determined to follow closely the promptings of the spirit to take each questioning step with prayer (allowing myself to question The Church, but never that spiritual guidance). Removal of the garments, first alcoholic drink, experiments that to a true believing member must seem like an attempt to mutilate and destroy spiritual sensitivity, but I went about it with a keen sense of listening to the spirit. Does that make sense? An intentional pushing, a deliberate testing of boundaries. A controlled scientific experiment even (closely looking at cause and effect). And during that time of experimentation, I did feel the spirit sometimes so strongly, a comforting validation of my being “okay” (Good with God? On the path? Something like that.)
And so this long stretch of numbness has caused me some concern in the back of my mind, the lingering language of the church, warnings of the traps and snares of the devil, being gently led to destruction, and I have wondered. (“Am I deceived? Damned?”) But that is only in the back of my mind, a quiet audio-feed with my mother's voice. I am just surprised at how much I have changed in these past few months; I went from being a mystic to a skeptic. I’ve lost (almost) all belief in anything supernatural and feel much more inclined to look at things with a rational eye than a spiritual eye. Mostly, I am just questioning everything now. Including the feelings I have previously felt, including spiritual guidance.
So yesterday, sitting in that simple room, sitting in silence… to once again feel that tangible clear feeling inside my ribcage and running up and down my veins. Well, it was relieving. But it has also brought up all sorts of questions about this thing I call “The Spirit”. I was a missionary (and after that, and MTC teacher) whose major focus was ‘helping people feel and recognize the spirit’ (and then getting them to understand that the spirit was telling them to join the church).
Now I sometimes wonder if it isn’t chemical euphoria, perhaps a by-product of my mildly manic depressive tendencies.
I really like JohnR’s post about the subject, a skeptic’s yearning for “those sublime moments in which we feel a deep awe and a sense of connection to humanity and the universe.” I like the sound of that much better than the effect of a frenzied mind.
Anyways, just some thoughts.