I have a dirty secret. Well, it doesn’t feel dirty, but I know that in many ways, it can appear that way.
“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”—Mahatma Gandhi
Since I was a very little girl, I have been fascinated—no, obsessed—with questions about why we are here, what it means to be human, whether we’re doomed to a life of struggle and pain, or whether something beautiful is calling to us. Some people are like that, and I’m one. Can’t be helped, I suppose.
I eventually came to believe that there is something, some glorious possiblity, in the universe—that something like Love holds everything together (“and it’s the everything too,” as Rumi says). But I couldn’t find people to talk with about this. I wanted so desperately to have a conversation where this was a foundational idea:
“The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God. We are dealing with somebody we made up.”—Rob Bell
Gradually, I have become more and more fascinated with the work of the man called Jesus. When I read the books that we call the new testament, the words leaped out at me. This has happened many times in the past, but when I’d go stand among the “Christians,” I’d quickly realize that it was no place for me.
Very confusing, that. What were these people thinking? What did the things they were saying have to do with this man? And yet, they seemed to be unanimous. I must be crazy.
But wait! They aren’t unanimous!
“I don’t follow Jesus because I think Christianity is the best religion. I follow Jesus because he leads me into ultimate reality. He teaches me to live in tune with how reality is. When Jesus said, ‘No one comes to the Father except through me’, he was saying that his way, his words, his life is our connection to how things truly are at the deepest levels of existence. For Jesus then, the point of religion is to help us connect with ultimate reality, God.”—Rob Bell (in Velvet Elvis)
There it is: this is my experience. I want my eyes on God, on Love, all the time. I want my life-energy focused in that direction. Is that so much to ask?
The first time I encountered the viahafta in Synagogue, my soul was shaken to its core. That was it. That was the juice, for real. Exactly what my inner light had been screaming to me all along:
You will love the lord, your god, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Doesn’t that just electrify you, right down to your bones? I mean, what else is there? Find out what counts, and serve that, and only that, with every ounce of life in you. Because otherwise, what is life for?
I thought that one line was all I needed, but then someone offered me a new, improved version. Jesus Christ says (my paraphrase here)
Yes, you’re right. All those laws aren’t what’s important. What’s important is right here: Love God with all your heart and soul and strength, and also, love your neighbor as yourself.
It might be redundant, I’m not sure. But when I hear it, I know that’s the vision I have, and want to have, for what it means to be fully human. And so, here I am. A follower of Jesus.
And what I get from this path is the freedom to open myself up, pour myself out, and find redemption in that broken place.