Contemplating God

On a recent drive, I finished listening to Love is the Way, Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times by Bishop Michael Curry. It was so comforting and got me thinking, contemplating God, religion, my church upbringing and how do I feel about all that now. I had heard Bishop Curry being interviewed on
Brene Brown’s podcast. His voice, Southern accent, Southern stories and his message of love got me interested in his book. I grew up in the Episcopal church. Even though I don’t attend church anymore, I appreciate growing up in this somewhat liberal church with rituals of communion, incense, and fellowship. 
How do I feel about all that? I appreciate the experience of the Episcopal church, although I can only remember feeling the presence of God there once. It was a Christmas Eve service at our church, St. James in Jackson, MS. My parents and my daughter attended. The church had invited the children’s choir from a local black church to join our children’s choir. As those precious faces looked out and sang Happy Birthday Jesus, I was moved to tears. This coming together of people who are not the same is where I see God. I didn’t feel him at any of my three church weddings, the obligatory Sunday morning services or in the priest office where I was sent as a middle schooler when my family was experiencing trouble. When the priest asked if I had ever masturbated and suggested I try it, I never went back for another session. Who knows where that might have gone. 

Attending a webinar with Kiese Layman and his auntie Rev. Carolyn Coleman, I witnessed love. Reverend Coleman reminds us silence is a great teacher, a great communicator. I have learned that during the past four years more than any other time in my life. She also reminds, until you learn to forgive the unforgivable, you don’t really know how to love. Recognize there are imperfect places in all of us, the grace of God covers us and calls us to still rise. With silence and forgiving myself, I am loving myself and others more and more. Someone recently said to me, “I can forgive you”. Those genuine words have brought a sense of peace and lighter heart. Although neither of us are church goers, God was felt. Ironically, some of those I know who are church goers and followers of Jesus are the ones I feel the most judgement and lack of love from. 

Krista Tippitt, On Being, Remembering Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks – Rabbi Sacks tells us we need to be enlarged by people who are different from us, not threatened. We should see that the welfare of others is linked to our own and is best for our own welfare. He wrote Dignity of Difference which is a radical proposal for reconciling hatreds. I’d like to think we can reconcile civilizations and our closest personal relationship and love will rule. 

How do I feel about all that? God shows up in all of us, in community, in nature, in silence, yes sometimes church. I believe most, if not all religions are trying to get at the same thing: love, and how to live in communion in this world. I believe our relationship with God is private. 

“Follow your dream, speak your truth” Rev. Carolyn Coleman

Offerings

Our intimate group from Marc Moss’s online storytelling workshop took some time yesterday to share some of the projects we’ve been working on during quarantine time. Katie asked for podcast recommendations, an exchange of “offerings” as her friends call it. You recommend your latest, favorite podcast, book or movie and I’ll offer you my latest.
Here I offer the list of podcasts that came out of our exchange:

Dolly Parton’s America – with Jad Abumrad, number one for the one I want to listen to. She has the gift of bringing people of all philosophies and lifestyles together enjoying themselves in-spite of their differences.

The Way I Heard It– with Mike Rowe, short mysteries for the curious mind with a short attention span.

Story Story Night– story telling podcast based in Boise, Idaho.

Snap Judegement – Mixes real stories with killer beats to produce cinematic, and dramatic radio. Hosted by Glynn Washington

The Story Collider – True personal stories about science. Liz Neeley, executive director.

Radio Lab – investigating a strange world, making science accessible to broad audiences, with Jad Abumrad.

The Memory Palace – with Nate DiMeo –  “The Memory Palace podcast is among the most potent pieces of audio being produced today; the show’s short tales are so emotionally concentrated that, upon listening, they bloom in the space between one’s ears, like a single drop of dye propagating through an entire glass of water. Nate DiMeo, the show’s sole creative force, often seems to be operating on a level wholly separate from that of other podcasts”

Everything Is Alive – Jennifer Mills produces Everything is Alive by looking all over the world for objects that are willing to speak. “Poignant, touching and at times laugh-out-loud funny examinations of the human condition…prepare to think deeply about yourself, to laugh and at times, cry.”
–BBC

This American Life – with Ira Glass. This American Life is a weekly public radio program and podcast. Each week we choose a theme and put together different kinds of stories on that theme.

In The Dark – An investigative podcast, hosted by Madeleine Baran, that has examined the cases of Jacob Wetterling and Curtis Flowers. Now reporting on the effects of COVID-19 in the Mississippi Delta.

Happy listening everyone.