Monday, October 04, 2010

I'm thriving, thanks.

My local hometown bird cage liner (The Providence Journal) has recently started a themed section called Thrive that appears on Monday mornings. This section of the paper is entirely devoted to New Age spirituality in all it's various forms. There are articles on Feng Shui, yoga poses and 'finding your inner strength'. Today's version had story after story about how women are leaving churches in droves to seek God within themselves. They described a bookstore where you can find crystals that will help you channel your inner healing energy to treat your cancer, or buy a smudge stick of sage to get rid of negative energy in your house.

I've been there, done that, believe me. I was the high priestess of the church of what's happening now, following every rabbit hole for a sense of peace and serenity. I did smudge sticks, runes, tarot cards, astrology, new agey music and chakra healing. I tried to manifest my destiny with positive visualization and crystal meditations. For the majority of my adult life, I was a seeker. What I didn't realize until after I was a 'finder' was that the very thing I was seeking was a deeper relationship with God.

And you know what? That seeking led me to get baptized in a pond in Chepachet. And in that pond I found out that a deeper relationship with God requires only one thing- Jesus. No crystals, no trances, no mystical music, no burning weeds or pseudo native spirituality. No purchases in New Age bookstores. None of it could bring me to a place of peace. Always, always, my soul was restless within me.

In fact, I think that a great deal of spiritual damage has been done by the New Age stuff. There is a perpetual sense that if only you were more spiritual, you would handle life better. If only you could visualize more powerfully, your cancer would go into remission. If only you search more effectively within you, your relationships would be great, your friends kind and generous and your dog would stop pooping on the rug. When you become God, you end up responsible for everything in your universe.

I ran into a friend who is fully in the grip of the New Age stuff. I asked how she was doing and it was clear that she was really having a hard time. Life has been a challenge lately, and she believes that she is somehow responsible for all of it. She believes that if she were just more focused, things would magically resolve. It is a heavy burden, I tell you. One that I carried for years. (Why oh why can't I just manifest the thin, rich, happy woman I think I should be?)

When I saw my friend, I wanted to just shower her with the REAL love. The love that has only one source. The love that is not dependent on us in any way. The love that flows freely whether we deserve it or not. I wanted to shake her and say 'Put down your copy of The Secret and try this instead' and hand her the New Testament. It's all there, my sweet friend. All the secrets we need to know are right there.

For me, no more searching. My spirit is no longer disquiet within me. I am armed with scripture, an abiding trust in Christ and a religious community in which I can grow as a Christian.

And finally, my dear friends, I am thriving.

My heart is not proud, O Lord,

my eyes are not haughty;

I do not concern myself with great matters

or things too wonderful for me.

But I have stilled and quieted my soul;

like a weaned child with its mother,

like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord

both now and forevermore.

Psalm 131 NIV

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