Micha Jazz of the Contemplative network and St Cuthbert’s Oratory wrote this response to my post yesterday The Big Question We Never Ask. I didn’t want it to get lost in the comments and decided to repost it here. Micha is a long committed associate of MSA. We have journeyed together through many joyful and challenging experiences, learning from each other and helping to shape each other’s faith.
I find that what you speak of is in fact a learning that emerges through life alone. I dislike the way my youthful enthusiasm and excitement in finding Christ carried with it the ‘oughts’ and ‘shoulds’ that were the unseen, though larger part, of the iceberg of evangelical Christianity that provided my portal into Narnia.
Whilst I was initially amazingly successful within that evangelical, charismatic construct initially, I very slowly came to realise that in fact it was consuming me – my time, my energy, my resource and my imagination. The opportunity to step out and back that the unanticipated sickness of my lovely wife, Katey, provided, in fact enabled me to begin to search for the God who might lay behind the superficial survival faith I had embraced and also preached and taught to many others as both evangelist and church pastor.
Suffice to say the journey was challenging, not least because God was interested in my wasting time with him whilst I was constructed through education, cultural context and Christian church experience within England, to work out my faith, yet without either fear or trembling. I was over familiar in my approach to God, without realising God was in fact a stranger to me – whilst unbeknown to me, II was fully known by God and that was enough as far as God was concerned. Step one, learning to rest content solely in being a sinner loved by God.
So what a journey began, one that required years of unlearning and personal deconstruction, mostly in the private space, all against the painful background of accompanying Katey in her walk with progressive multiple sclerosis until her death in 2008. In this time, usually fighting, often angry and always making judgments, I also discovered what it means to be still and to know my creator.
This story continues – utilising the liturgy of the hours daily as a core rhythm of waiting on God – whilst learning to paddle in the shallows of the contemplative life. I now long to learn to swim and recgnise that God carries me out of my depth – always and only to be found in the depths of his love. For me to live is indeed Christ yet I cannot yet say my heart does not hanker after conformation to the world I knew and have significantly left rather than transformation to live in God’s world, God’s way enjoying the God-filled life.
The journey continues – the story unfolds – the narrative is crafted.