How do I love the Lord exam

Do I love the Lord?

Scripture teaches us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, strength, and soul. How do we measure up to that in our meetings? How do I measure up to that as an individual?

The idea came up for me as I was thinking about my lack of intellectual commitment to God. So I thought I’d do the inventory and see how I’m doing.

HEART (Emotional):
I experience heartfelt depths of emotion in meeting for worship on a regular basis. I frequently end meeting with teary eyes. Also, I experience this occasionally through prayer, listening to spiritual music, or other faith-based activities. My first experience of meeting for worship in September 1990 brought me close to sobs: “Here are all these people sitting together in silence. That is so profound and moving.” There was something beyond words there for me, and there still is. That’s why I go every Sunday (except last Sunday when Younger Son was just too sick with a cold to make him go, or to inflict it on others).

On this level, I love God wholeheartedly!

MIND (Intellectual):
> 1/2 panentheistic: At some level, I believe God is both immanent (within all things) and transcendant (larger than everything). Marcus Borg has written quite a bit about panentheism. This is probably the most comfortable fit for me as a Quaker. And it definitely means you don’t have to have all the answers because God is way bigger than our minds can comprehend!

> 1/6 deistic: Having received a college degree in physics, I’m willing to see God as the Clockmaker of the Universe, having established its form and rules at the beginning and now watching as it unfolds. This is extremely unsatisfying to me intellectually and emotionally.

> 1/3 agnostic: I’m willing to believe that God is essentially a manifestation of our unconscious. That the still small voice within and the Burning Bush is literally a message from the other, primarily nonverbal half of our brains (cf. Julian Jaynes’ The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, an interesting book that apparently doesn’t stand up to modern research in brain science). I’m very interested in what I believe has been called “neurotheology,” the study of the brain and nervous system under the influence of religion.

Princeton cosmologist Joseph Taylor won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1998 or so. He is a member of Princeton Friends Meeting. I would love to learn more about his theology some day!

On this level, I’m affectionate toward God but really have a lot to learn.

STRENGTH (Physical Activity and also Experiential Learning):
I have a felt sense of God’s grace at work in my life. Despite being a miserable sinner, imperfect and everything!

In addition, my experiences of synchronicity, gaining a physical sense of centeredness through worship and prayer and meditation, and being given stamina to accomplish what are clearly “right tasks” all seem like manifestations in the physical world of God’s presence.

On the physical side, I used to be a long-distance runner, and achieved something more than endorphins a few times through a sense of the unity of creation while running.

I am no longer treating my body much like a temple. For seven years I walked to work every day and never owned a car until a week before my 35th birthday! But for the last five years I’ve been driving more and more and exercising less. With children in the home, we don’t cook homemade vegetarian food/Indian cuisine nearly as often (ever!), and we eat a lot of mac & cheese, pizza, sandwich meat, cheese, bread, and more cheese.

So on this one, I’m doing okay on the experiential side, but I need improvement on the physical, "body-temple" side.

SOUL (Spiritual):
When I open my soul to God, amazing things happen. Given my overly complicated office worker life, small children whose lives I maintain a strong connection with, and a wife to whom I want to stay married and with whom I share our household chores and childcare, there ain’t nearly as much time for this as I’d like.

Anyway… I've had dream experiences that point to God… experiencing a mystical union with the One in several dreams, akin to many people’s descriptions of near-death experience… One dream involved seeing the Inner Christ in a 25-year veteran of San Francisco’s affordable housing struggles who is not Christian nor overtly religious or spiritual. It was very powerful.

When I read the Bible at least a little bit every day, when I open my heart in prayer to God, when I take time for centering and reflecting, when I write in my journal openly about what’s on my mind or heart… then my life just functions better, internally and externally. Quakerism helps me stick with this practice better.

1 comment:

Liz Opp said...

Wow. Very rich and chewy. Delicious. Thanks for offering this of yourself.

Liz, The Good Raised Up