Both the crabapple and redbud trees are in bloom, but good light for capturing their beauty has been elusive. We had nearly six inches of rain in April, and May could prove to be just as soggy.
By the way, while I was away from this blog, we had a day-long flood in our neighborhood:
That was the second time our street has been flooded in the past three years. When the waters rise, I am grateful that we have neither a basement nor a crawl space and that we live on top of a hill.
The renewal of my faith that began back in December continues to deepen. Looking back, I feel there was a long prelude to this personal “revival.” The more I learned to cope with chronic pain, the more I felt the urgency of trying to purge myself of ill-will, grudges and envy. I knew that my negative feelings increased my stress, poisoned my relationships and aggravated my pain.
I suppose I was unwittingly preparing for an event I didn’t see coming, or I was too busy worrying about the past, present and future simultaneously to notice that deep changes were afoot. I was no stranger to that ineffable feeling of the Holy Spirit making his presence known within me, but I did not know how to sustain that radical serenity. The first time it happened was about 25 years ago, at a time when I felt lost yet stuck in place, when I was a college dropout doing time in retail purgatory. I had a dream so filled with bliss that I cried upon awakening because the feeling ended when the dream stopped. In the intervening years, that deep peace would return for a few minutes at a time while I was awake, yet I still didn’t know how to call upon that feeling.
Back in December when I first went to the Methodist church down the street, I was overwhelmed with that abiding feeling of peace, bliss and serenity. As soon as I moved into this neighborhood five years ago, I knew I should visit that church. I put off doing so for a very long time, with mental questions/excuses like: Why would a lapsed Catholic join a Methodist church? Do they dress up in the sort of clothes I can’t stand wearing? Will I look like one of the great unwashed to them? Is this an enclave of Trumpists?
Now that I’ve joined that church, I know that the concerns that stalled my first visit to the church were unwarranted. I’ve yet to hear anyone talk about politics before or after Sunday service. The congregation is fairly small and the majority are elderly. Some are accustomed to dressing up for church, others dress for comfort.
I feel a strong presence of the Holy Spirit during Sunday worship service. The sermons are thought provoking and encourage study of Scripture. I so wish I had devoted time to independent study of the Bible before I reached the ripe age of 46, for I can feel the Spirit’s presence when I take time to read the Word, too. Instead of regret, I feel comfort in understanding that God knows each of us well enough to foresee the choices we will make, and he knew that my spiritual adolescence would last for decades.
I’m eager to dig into the Prophets more, though I will admit that some of their metaphors are hard to digest. Speaking of digestion, I like the references to how some of the prophets ate scrolls containing some of God’s revelations to them (e.g. Ezekiel 3:3 and Revelation 10:10). The imagery is so elemental it’s like something out of a vision that’s endured for as long as God has willed people to exist.
I so adore God’s words to Jeremiah when he worries that he won’t know what to say, “Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.” (Jeremiah 1:9 KJV).
I pray that I will know what to say when I write or speak about my faith. May God touch my lips and give me the words.