A lucky man I have been. A lucky man I am. I get to be old now and watch the rest of the world in a blur of uncertainty, unrest, unified, and not unified. With all my mistakes upon this spiraling speck of universe, with all my unfulfilled dreams and wishes, with all the modest achievements, I can bring no ultimate wisdom and leave no notable legacy. But, here is what I believe has sustained me along all the orbits made on this magical place we call Earth. Luck has of course sustained me, but the most exquisite and precious gift of sustenance has come from Love.
“The Bible” Spectacular just concluded on television recently. The ‘Special’ was watched by millions and it was ignored by millions. Raised in an area of the United States often referred to as the Bible Belt, Appalachia, Hillbilly Country, and other names that could easily be determined unflattering by many, I watched “The Bible” with special interest. All through my early years of lower class mobility and family separation, there was a bewilderment that only a child can know and have difficulty in expressing, the anxious feelings, the fear, the frustration, the great unknowable elements that controlled his life. There are two indelible memories that have remained in my mind with some relative clarity for all the years and have convinced me of their subtle manipulations of my life, my wanderings, and to the ultimate conclusion that Love must be the most precious gift.
Number one memory, there were the family disconnects, the broken home, the terrifying and ugly fights of Mom and Dad when they were together (all too brutally one-sided against my Mom). The memory is so clear, sitting, paralyzed by my fear, too small, too scared and stupefied to make any kind of difference, so smothered by the invisible walls that surrounded me. My sister was there in her own little hellish enclosure during these fight scenes but I was totally immersed in this electrified frenzy within me. The facts would later settle within me that these fights were the result of the times, the Appalachian poverty, no jobs, the economy, health conditions… My sister and I would spend time in state institutions until the times got better. In these institutions we would see the good, the bad, and further bewilderment. It is perhaps impossible to quantify the effects this number one memory brought to my later life.
Number two memory, there were my Southern Baptist church experiences that came during those times when my Mom would make another attempt to reunite us as a family. There were the loud sermons that conveyed to me all the many sins that would keep me out of heaven if I did not repent from my evil ways (it seemed that the preacher man was talking directly to me although there were hundreds seated in the big congregation). There was not the paralysis that overtook me during the ugly fight scenes, but there was a heavy emotional magnet pulling me to the front of the church at altar call time. “Just As I Am” and “Let’s All Gather At The River” and other beautiful hymns were sung by the choir and by the congregation throughout the big church, and there went I, this elementary schoolboy, down the aisle with tears on my cheeks to confess to sins I knew little about… I just somehow knew that I must go and be saved. Memory number two would contribute to the enormous sense of guilt my later life would carry
These two memories have in so many ways shaped my life, have driven me to find love and family. What do these simple memories say about ‘matching and mixing’ and about a world anomaly? What do they have to do with the TV Spectacular, “The Bible”?
My memories are not so unique… The world offers up so many memories like my own, some much more terrible and laced with the darkest edges of evil. “The Bible” TV Spectacular reminds me that the world has been fighting since the recording of it started in our oral and written histories. The world has known poverty and family disconnects by the millions. Church leaders still sermonize about the wicked ways of man. Today, we have more sophistication to go with our wars and with our family fighting and feuding. What is relevant today and through the ages is the incapacity of people to find peace within themselves and among the nations… Pretty tough when you think about it: different languages, different cultures, different skin colors. There is so much mistrust, envy, and hate to be found in any city, town, village, and country. AND, there is Love…
Love! Faith! Hope! Love is the greatest gift of all, but it won’t come to everyone in the right proportions during anyone’s lifetime…that is, with all of our differences, how could it be otherwise?
When I look back on my Southern Baptist experiences and my family disconnects, somehow I know that Love and Faith have to become something that each individual finds on her/his own. My God-view has been altered since my childhood, but I still have my faith, fragile though it has been. I believe the Bible has truth and that different interpretations can be drawn from its pages. I believe in Jesus, that He lived, that He performed the acts attributed to Him, that He died for our sins, that He was resurrected, that all who believe in Him will live again after death. My early experiences in the Southern Baptist environment does not portray my God of today, nor does it make me feel cheated. Forgive the truism but we all do not believe the same. My faith was not destroyed by my childhood. My childhood experiences and my life up to now have simply clarified my faith for me. I cannot look at the orderly turn of each orbit of our Earth, at the Sun, the Moon, the planets and stars, and make a choice as to the ‘chicken/egg’ conundrum of our existence. I cannot look at the precision of a nine-month birth cycle and determine that we exist because of a ‘big bang.’ No, I have Faith that we exist for a reason other than just living, making our marks, and dying. Yes, we must exist in a matched and mixed world of happy and sad, good and evil, confusion and doubt, but, up to the very last mortal breath that escapes us, even in that last fleeting second, we can see the eternal light of God.
I believe that Love and God are somehow synonymous, and that tug at the soul that brings a tear of sadness at a sad book and movie is a tender reminder of Love at a most spiritual level. My search for Faith and Love took many turns, right and wrong. I was lucky to find Faith and Love a number of times, only to misplace Them. But that search has led me to this point in the world anomaly. This post is not about corrupting anyone’s belief system, not about converting anyone to Faith, Love, and God. You are superfluously allowed your own turns, right and wrong, in life. It’s just my hope that we all keep steering our lives toward Faith and Love. In that striving may we find our peace.
http://goo.gl/BNbAM (Goodreads page)
http://www.goo.gl/tdRZD (amazon.com – USA)