Sometimes a trip into town can be most surprising. Today was one of those days.
As I headed into town to do a few errands I listened to a podcast from Michael Meade with ‘Living Myth’. I didn’t know anything about him. It simply was the first one that showed on my app and the title was intriguing. Off down the highway I went and soon found myself enjoying his social commentary from a contemplative perspective. He was telling a story about three fish and nestled within that story was another one about a wise bird. Although his main social commentary was coming from these animal stories, he also was describing the role of story, folk stories and myths in human culture. He said the stories exist not for us to believe them, but to learn from them. They are a means for one generation to teach another. Ah….will I allow myself to move from belief into learning, into transformation, into new ways, into something new being birthed????
During my first few decades within the church being a Christian involved knowing what to believe. I was taught ‘correct’ doctrine through sermons, small groups and independent study of authors who taught ‘correct’ theology. I did hours of Bible study that was shaped by commentaries with a particular perspective. I was taught apologetics, so I’d have a ‘correct’ answer to any question. It was all about belief.
What if we read the Jesus stories not to believe them but to learn from them? I was taught that it was important to believe that each detail of the Gospel stories was true. The belief in historical reality was what was important, not that I ponder and be shaped by the truth within the stories. Later I learned to pray with the gospel stories using my imagination. Jesus became so real to me. I watched him laugh, sweat and fall asleep. I sat with him as a child and walked with him as a man. He wasn’t a storybook character, nor theological construction, nor a remote divinity. He was a real man, who knew me and cared for me. He wanted to hear my questions, my worries and my discoveries. His love for me began to change me as I allowed him to give me his wisdom.
I’m grateful for my years of scripture study. And I’m grateful too that now I can still learn from those stories, as well as the stories within different traditions. I’m grateful that I’m not constrained by specific beliefs, but allowed to constantly grow and change, held and shaped by a compassionate, loving God who I know through Jesus.
It was a great trip into town. I came home with new plants for the garden, food for tomorrow’s picnic, reaffirmed in my perspective on being a spiritual human and having found a thoughtful person who is doing his bit to bring some help into our groaning, smokey world. Of course all done keeping social distance and mask on!
Where are you at today? Learning or believing?
Love and questions from a Mystic in Motion
Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire
Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder
Shalem Society Member