Category Archives: modern faith
On Sunday, many of us munched hot cross buns or searched for chocolate eggs while we pondered the mysteries of the day. Easter is a time for minds open to new possibilities. On the same day, scientists at CERN restarted the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and sent protons hurtling both directions around 27 kilometer-long parallel pipes while they pondered the mysteries of the day. Such an event is a time for minds open to new possibilities.
Physicists wait with impatient attentiveness to see what happens when the particles collide. They hope the LHC provides experimental evidence to support theories to explain some of our universe’s unknowns and puzzles. The Standard Model of particle physics—“the current best description there is of the subatomic world”— explains only about 5% of the universe.
People ponder the complexities of Easter with impatient attentiveness. We must rely on contradictory Bible stories as our best evidence, and they are unscientific and insufficient, at best. Do they explain even 5% of what Easter is all about?
I enjoy the association between the LHC and Easter. For minds open to new possibilities, they are hail fellows well-met.
The Standard Model
The Standard Model explains how the basic building blocks of matter interact, governed by four fundamental forces
It is a Good Friday to remember that sorrow is joy’s twin.
“On Joy and Sorrow” from The Prophet —Khalil Gibran
Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
Last year I was part of a group that drafted a new mission statement for our church. One of our biggest questions? What word to use to describe the “awesomeness.”
God? A turn-off to too many people. The Holy? People said to us, “What does that even mean?” Spirit? Conjures up images of ghosts. Source? Doesn’t quite cover it. Creator? Edges into the whole evolution/intelligent design controversy.
We settled on The Divine. This did not go unchallenged. Grammar purists argued, “Divine is an adjective.” Others thought it too vague. It’s not perfect, but it was as close as we could come to capturing the elusive, thin-place feeling of Perfect Moments.
And what is a Perfect Moment?
It’s different for everyone, and never the same twice. If you try for it, it escapes your grasp. But you know it when it descends upon you unbidden. It doesn’t have to be in an Ashram or in deep meditation, although it can be. It happens in grocery stores, restaurants or (often) on a walk in the woods. Usually it is deceptively simple, so that when it’s over, people wonder, “Did that really happen?”
We celebrate New Year’s Eve with a group of friends. One New Year’s Eve, many years ago, we met as usual, relaxed together, and our children entertained each other in the play room. We gathered around the kitchen table. Through ceiling-high windows that lined one wall of the room, I watched inch-wide snow flakes drifting down and settling into fluffy banks. Christmas tree lights reflected in the glass. Children’s laughter wafted to us from a distance. The moment began to take on a special quality of timelessness, almost a buzzing. I felt part of the scene and apart from it. A witness. I looked at the snow, the lights, my friends, and I thought, “This is a Perfect Moment.”
I savoured it until the special quality dissipated with that noticeable shift back to reality and then moved on. I thought the moment was mine alone.
Later, one of my friends told me, “You know, I remember one New Year’s Eve, we were in the kitchen and the snow was falling, and the kids were playing and for a short time I was struck by how perfect the moment was.”
I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t believe that we had shared the Perfect Moment, the thin place, the awesomeness, together.
It might have come from God, Spirit, Creator or Source, and it felt Holy, but it was above all, Divine.
Read our mission statement here: http://www.trinityunitedottawa.ca/about-trinity/momentum-for-mission/
“Why, then, ’tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to me it is a prison.” —from Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Don Wimmer and Pat Brady, creators of the Rose is Rose comic strip, must have studied Shakespeare at some point in their lives. Their work on October 12, 2002 reflects their philosophical reflection on Hamlet’s statement.
Perspective certainly does play a role in our “thinking” about the goodness or badness of an event. My Ottawa Senators NHL team lost their game last night: Bad. For fans of the Carolina Hurricanes: Good.
Rachel Homan’s curling team lost by one point in an extra end at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts curling event last night. Rachel is from Ottawa: Bad. For the Manitoban fans of the Jennifer Jones winning team: Good.
Time also dabbles with our “thinking”. A lost job: Bad. A better job comes along as a result: Good. An ugly divorce: Bad. A happy, stable relationship later in life: Good.
But when our tails get stepped on, like the cat in the comic strip, it doesn’t feel good. And in the time immediately after the stomping when the tail still smarts, we are entitled to enjoy the pain. To Hamlet, Denmark was a prison. To me, every Ottawa Senators loss hurts and every Rachel Homan team win is a joy.
So be it.
“Faith and fear have something in common. They both ask us to believe something will happen that we cannot see.” —Joel Osteen
Why is it so easy to accept fear-based dire predictions, but so difficult to believe in faith-based hope?
Why is there such societal pressure to go with fear instead of faith? Why are we so resistant to the idea of looking like a hopeful fool?
Joel Osteen has a point. Maybe the odds are 50/50 in any given situation? Maybe we should run with the faith option instead of succumbing to the grip of fear?
Maybe we’ll end up saying “I had faith that would happen,” instead of “I was afraid that would happen.”
“Onward” by Donald Smith © 2014