As I have pulled back on my participation in familiar spiritual environments, as I have ceased the once familiar spirituality of my history and context, I find that I still encounter God in the midst of (re)movement. I do not speak, but stay silent; I do not move, but am still; I do not ask, but receive; I do not believe, but am content in questions; I do not act, but am filled in the waiting. God meets me here again and again, in the slow, subtle withdrawal from all that once made me a “good” Christian. Perhaps someday I will return to some of it, or all of it. But for now, there is some deeper communion with God, apart from the familiarity of my original story. The Bible is sometimes difficult to approach, but I see God in the words of a book or poem. I don’t listen to “worship music,” but I hear God in songs of honesty. I witness God in the messy human experience portrayed in films. I find sanctuary in the silence of mountains and forests and water. God is becoming more real outside my former spirituality. Why? It is fresh, new, exciting, necessary.
But the (re)movement may be full of trepidation and hesitation, even fear. To some, leaving the tightrope is equivalent to walking away from the one true way, risking one’s soul, and possibly even perishing.
Throughout my history there is no doubt God has met me in the places from which I now withdrawal. I won’t ever say it is God who pulls me away, who tells me to leave. It is my choice. However, I can’t deny the sense of a quiet leading into darkness and unknowing. Into a long night without moon or stars. All the light that once comforted me is now hidden beyond thick low lying clouds. Yet a hand still leads me, or a voice, or a small flame, something. I wander but am not lost.
No matter how hard some of us try, we can no longer see ourselves, the world, eternity, God, in a narrow, exclusive way. The way may still include God and Jesus and the leading of the Holy Spirit, we may still hold to certain original beliefs, but the outworking and implications are continually transforming.
If we have lost God in the familiar, God may be found elsewhere, no matter our history or what our friends or family or church believes. If we’re seeking, God still shows up in the most surprising ways. In that word or book or poem or film, on the mountain or in the forest or by the river or ocean. In that conversation or moment of silence and stillness. Let’s keep our eyes open. Pay attention. Live in expectation. God is always t/here.
There is more than one way. When you have lost one, let yourself be led to another. God knows what you need, even when you do not.