Saturday, July 26, 2008

There Must be Lots of Room in Heaven

A few days ago my wife and I drove to 'the middle of nowhere' to visit some long-time friends. They live in Huron County, Ohio far from the lights of the city. In fact, we are always stunned at the silence of their old farm when we open the car door. During the visit I count the number of vehicles that pass the house and seldom do I have to use my other hand during the count.

During one part of the discussion the word 'hypocrite' arose in reference to 'good Christians.' Our hosts were detailing some odd actions of some of the people they know, good Christians, and the word hypocrite slipped easily for their tongues. "There must be lots of room in Heaven," the retired construction worker said to me, smile on his leathery face. He generally is a man of few but important words. German farm background.

During our infrequent get-togethers the conversation often turns to 'church' with not unexpected bitterness. All four of us know the corruption of 'the church' and the farce that this implies. Although we four are Christian, we are not 'churchy' folks by any means. The lessons of the Beatitudes are sufficient for our faith inquiries.

I brought along for the ride Eckhart Tolle's book, A New Earth. I had already oddly read the last two chapters and began to read where most people do. He uses a marvelous analogy of the flower as an example of his often used term, the awakened consciousness. He says that the flower is the awakened consciousness of the plant. Rather deep. Later he argues that a diamond is the awakened consciousness of coal. The bird is the awakened consciousness of the ancestral lizard. The flower, he goes on, was the first non-utilitarian plant to be 'raised' by early human beings- beings with awakened consciousness.

I brought the 'awakened consciousness' phrase to the conversation that afternoon in reference to 'the church' topic and specifically the 'church people.' The four of us, it seemed, have transcended the past, the ordinary, the usual blather of our growing-up years. We no longer hold as treasure those stories, those 'thuths' we memorized in religion classes. We had freed ourselves from the bonds of earth just as the bird had in evolutionary history. To continue with the metaphors, we have now flowered and can see the diamond hidden inside the coal.

From a new height, a new consciousness, we are able to watch the bickering, blathering hypocrites and know that that is not the Way. The four of us, so different in our experiential lives, have found a common awakening - an awakening that alerts us to something higher in life, something more ethereal, yet to be defined, if that is possible. At least we know where we don't belong.

Synchronicity is at work this morning: I checked my Sitemeter to see why people had found my blog [a curious passion of mine] and found a Google search with the words 'inside the fundamentalist christian home' searched by someone in Bristol, Virginia. I found the 8th of 10 hits in that search to be The Naked Emperor: My Journey From Fundamentalist Christian to Atheist. Read his story, if you care, but apparently he had an awakening of consciousness somewhere between Bible College and his renouncement of God.

I have not read his blog. Only the front page. I wonder, though, if the term, 'hypocrite' is often used, although the word itself is not necessary. What matters is simply an elevated consciousness that transcends the present and asks, 'why?' 'Why?' questions are not often fully answered by those whose feet are wading in the religious pools.

Flowers, diamonds and birds. What was that poster that hung in my classroom for many years? Something about 'Some look at things that are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?'

Lefty Blogs