Sunday, April 6, 2008

All We Need is Love

This is going to be a rambling hodge-podge of a post and it is not the promised movie review, but I only have a few moments so here goes.

First of all, thank you to everyone for the comments on my friend's situation with her husband. You guys are so, so wise. I will give an update tomorrow or Tuesday when I talk to her.

Today is a gloriously warm and sunny day here in east Tennessee. The kind of day where you are magnetically drawn to the outdoors and the feel of the sun on your face. I am eagerly awaiting the end of the kids' nap time, so we can all head to the park and soak in some vitamin D. I wouldn't call Spring my favorite of seasons, but it's definitely up there. I love the smell of fresh cut grass and I love the vibrant, almost neon green that everything turns if we are lucky to have enough rain. I also love daffodils and tulips and eagerly await their bright faces. And I can't complain about breaking out the short sleeves and flip flops. Allergies do bother me a little and I am counting down the days to swimsuit season with dread, but all in all, Spring is a good thing.

This morning we made our third visit to a Presbyterian church in town. In the three years we have lived here, we have visited just about every Presbyterian and Methodist church in a 15 mile radius but have found none that really suit us. It seems we are in the minority of 30-somethings who don't like contemporary services and music. We have had difficulty finding a church that has traditional services but also has a large number of families with young children in attendance. Back in Nashville we belonged to a huge traditional church of around 4,000 members with a superstar preacher and every program under the sun. There just isn't anything like that here, in part because Knoxville is so much smaller and because it seems to be more religiously conservative here.

Thankfully, though, it looks like this church might be the one for us. It is small compared to our old church, but actually is probably a better fit. There are enough kids, the music program is excellent, and the people are friendly. It is progressive and is very focused on social justice issues, so I feel right at home. It probably has the highest concentration of Democrats under one roof than anywhere else in the city and I am looking forward to not feeling as isolated in my interests. And most importantly, we have very much enjoyed the services and have come away feeling like we have learned something each Sunday.

This morning the sermon was given by a guest minister who was in the region at a poverty and hunger conference. One of the focuses of her sermon was how we often fail to see God right in front of us. She told a story of being lost looking for a restaurant in Seoul, Korea and how a man came up to her and said, "I am a Christian. Are you lost and do you need help?" The man led her to a McDonald's (of course!) and they ate Big Macs together. The story was much more detailed and insightful and it made me think about my conception of God and God's influence in our lives.

I am not super, super religious really, but I am pretty spiritual. I am not the best church-goer and I have difficulty with literal interpretations of the Bible. I don't see God as some supreme being who answers prayers and is always interceding in our lives. I don't agree that God causes people to die or suffer a disease for some particular reason. I am not sure there is a reason to everything or that God tries to teach us things through troubles in our lives. I don't think of God as a being who is capable of those things.

Rather, I think God is within us all and is simply goodness and love and energy. God is the love and goodness that makes us give the homeless guy on the corner a sandwich. I don't think of God as a being who directs me to give the guy a sandwich, but rather as the feeling of love and mercy I have in my soul that encourages me to make the decision myself to give the man a sandwich.

During the minister's sermon, I tried to think of all the moments in my life when the love and goodness inside someone else affected me in a profound way. I am sure there have been many times throughout my life, but the ones that came to mind were recent.

Some of you were readers of my previous blog and know that I had a very serious battle with postpartum psychosis last year. There were two people in my life whose help I could not have done without: my mother and my friend, Shannon. My mother gave up her life and job in Nashville to come live with us for four months and care for me and my children. My friend Shannon was a source of constant support and understanding. Both of these women acted from the love in their hearts. Obviously my mother loves me, but Shannon and I had only been friends for a year or so. It would have been easy for her to kind of stand back and not want to get involved in such a personal battle. But instead, she offered me all the support she had, calling, emailing, bringing little gifts and sources of guidance. She did this because her heart is so good and she has so much love for other people.

These are bright and shining examples, but there are other folks as well who have offered much needed and crucial love during times of crisis. And I bet there are folks who have helped me and I don't even know it!

Who has been a force of love and goodness in your life?


Mamma said...

That does sound like a great church--one even I could be part of. I feel the same way you do and I often have trouble finding comfort in organized religion.

jennifer h said...

There is a woman whom I met and worked for in college who became like a mother to me. Her support is unwavering, and I've been lucky to know her for over 20 years now.

MamaGeek said...

Sounds like a wonderful church! Whenever we moved it was always such a challenge to find a church that was a good fit.

Missybw said...

I'll be posting about your Pastor's message later this week. Thi Thi and I had this same conversation on Saturday. Sounds like you've found another homebase for here. Yay for you!

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

I think you and I have very similar views of religion/spirituality. I grew up "in the church," raised Southern Baptist, hung out with the United Methodist youth group kids in high school, went to Wednesday night supper, the whole bit. Right now we "sporadically attend" (cough) a big super church here in Nashville. I love the environment, but I wish we could find something a little smaller. BUT our girls like it, and I want them to grow up in a positive church environment. There were so many Sundays I truly loathed going to church!

OK, enough about that. My mom and my best friend from childhood are definitely the closest to me. My best friend are so different but so alike in many ways. I've known her since 4th grade!

I'm so glad you had positive, loving people to give you the support you needed in a time of crisis.