DAY 2: A Big God Wink

I want to share this story because it was a major epiphany in my life. One day I was at Christmas Eve Mass with my mother-in-law and husband when then priest talked about how much he loved Christmas. He described himself as being like a child at this time of year, like a little kid, excited about all the decorations and gifts and fun. He even giggled.

But then the priest went on to talk about how he was not just a child, but a child of God. I don’t recall exactly what he said, but it touched me deeply to think about the idea that I, too, was a child of God. To know that I had unconditional love. That I had a loving brother after all! That I could be loved for who I am, just as I am.

My dysfunctional family of origin is probably a typical dysfunctional family. They did their best. They meant well. But I never felt that I was loved for who I am. Again, probably like many people, I was longing to know what love meant.

My epiphany of faith happened in a flash! It wasn’t that I reflected deeply or spent hours coming to this conclusion. I knew — I just knew — that I was a child of God and what that meant for me. God became real to me that day. God became Love.

Thanks be to God. And thanks be that I have a family of choice that also loves me unconditionally.

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8 thoughts on “DAY 2: A Big God Wink

  1. Though I hadn’t heard the “God winks” term before today, I have experienced many in my life.
    And when I mentioned the book to my husband just now, he said that book was in his car. He is a hospice chaplain and the volunteer coordinator had just lent it to him. Wow! I sometimes sense that God is chuckling about something…not so much at me as with me (once I catch on anyway!).

  2. I’m not sure if this is the right place to post this, because I chose Option 1 … in any case, the reflection is, “Have you ever had a time when a sudden flash of insight came to you?” In pondering this, I’m reminded of a time, maybe a year ago, maybe more, when I was driving up Seven Star Road in Groveland, probably on my way to pick up my daughter from school. I have always been much confused by the concept of “sin.” Is sin anything “bad” that we do for which we’ll be punished, as our conservative Christian brothers and sisters believe? Or is it something else? Having once been a more conservative-minded Christian, but in a place now in my life where that strictness and narrow definition of theology doesn’t make sense to me, I was having trouble with the whole “sin” concept. What is it? And if God is all-powerful and all-everything, why did he have to send Jesus to die for us and Sin? Why couldn’t he just say, “All right, sins are forgiven, come on in to heaven?” But as I was driving up the road that day, a feeling of peace and “aha!” came over me, because it occurred to me that we place far too much value in worrying about just “what” sin is. That this is one of those instances where, as a beloved pastor friend and mentor used to say to me, “Let go and let God.” Sin, as I realized that day, wasn’t a “crime” or some act for which we would be punished. It was anything we did that brought us away from God — not something that made God move away from us, but which brought US away from God. As I pondered this deeper, I realized that, viewed in this context, the whole concept of “sending Jesus to us to save us for our sins” made perfect sense, but in a far different way from which I, with my more conservative roots, had believed. Jesus came here, and all paths lead through him to God. It isn’t about our petty crimes of an unflattering thought about someone or snapping at a loved one. It’s about closeness to God. I have since forgotten the full revelation of that beautiful moment, but I have not forgotten the moment itself, and the peace and sudden understanding it brought me, and I remain grateful for it.

  3. This is the perfect place to share these thoughts. Like you, I’ve had a difficult time recently defining what “sin” is. I’ve been doing a daily program of Ignatian exercises and for several days the questions were around sin. Just like you, I couldn’t buy into the idea that everything I did “wrong” was a sin. I love your explanation and share most of your views.

    I continue to explore a Theology of the Cross that views Christ’s death as the last, worst type of scapegoating. S. Mark Heim’s book “Saved from Sacrifice” is a complex, and often too deep for me, explanation of his theory and several others. ( Yes there are several Antonement theologies!). I was fortunate to hear Dr. Heim’s lectures. Here’s an article he wrote that talks about several theologies of “atonement.” I’ll see if I can find the second section of this article tomorrow. http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=2138

    This “sin” question would be a great question to submit to our “Big Box Questions” at St. James. (We’ll be reintroducing and explaining that program again soon.) We’re hoping people will write some of their Big Questions and submit them in the box at the church. We hope to address the questions during worship and formation experiences — notice I didn’t say “answer the questions.” Just like Mark Heim’s ideas, there are different viewpoints to explore. Wow! (examples: what the deal with the trinity? Is God up in heaven? Is Christianity the ONLY way to God?). I believe that Christianity is always evolving — Christianities vs. Christianity.

    Thank you for sharing your story an incredible epiphany on your spiritual journey! Thank you for sharing it with us. Julia

    • Just on my way to bed, Julia (as you should be, too, LOL! it’s after 1AM! ) but wanted to say thank *you* for sharing your thoughts, too. I will submit my question to the “Big Box” … really liking this retreat idea; thank you so much for pulling it together! [[[hugs]]] Too tired tonight to respond in any more depth than this; so sorry! — Danelle

      • Hi Again: I just found a copy of a homily written by an old friend a few years ago at Easter that addresses “atonement.” The homily also describes some differing theologies over the centuries for why Jesus died on the cross. Johanna, my friend, is really gifted. I will send it along to anyone who requests it. This homily is much, much easier to read and understand than that long thing I posted the other day from Dr. Heim. Johanna was able to describe what I meant by “scapegoating.” Very interesting.

        Also, an fyi, Dr. Heim wasn’t the first person to posture the idea that Jesus’ death was the last and worst scapegoating. This has been an evolving theology for centuries.

        • Thank you, Julia — I received it last night, and when I can find a quiet moment today (they were in short supply yesterday), I look forward to reading, and pondering it. Hugs!!
          — Danelle

          • Danelle: You are not alone in your desire to be more disciplined about your spiritual life. I need to be much more intentional about the time I spend with God. My spiritual director helped me understand (just a week ago!) that what I CAN do is to really “float in the ocean” of God’s love, right then and there when I finally am awake enough to notice God. When I read your post today, I took the time to really be with God about what you said. For now, this noticing- and slowing-down-kind of discipline is do-able for me! Really enjoying my Grace the Poodle when she’s silly — the cardinal I saw this morning — the calling to ministry in a friend. Yes, I still need to be better disciplined to set aside time to specifically be with God, AND I will take the time to relish the warmth I feel — it’s really physical — in the moment.

            Maybe this is what Deb McParland meant when she posted earlier in the week about Practicing Peace and being good to ourself!

            Thanks for sharing about your journey.

  4. I am re-posting a blog entry from Debbie McParland because it was posted on the Welcome Letter page, and I wanted everyone to have a chance to read this wonderful post:

    Debbie | January 29, 2013 at 3:33 am (Edit)

    Practicing Peace: A Devotional through the Quaker Tradition: “It is somehow easier, at least for me, to accept that others are the daughter and sons of God than that I am. When others are unkind, foolish or downright bad we can make excuses for them-they were worried, ill-informed, had unhappy childhood, were under strain etc. Where we ourselves are concerned, however, we are all too aware of the trivial thoughts, the dubious motives, the laziness, vanity ,greed and so on. How can we believe in that God in ourselves? What shred of evidence have we? Adam Curle, 1981
    My Epiphany: I am kinder to others than to myself. If I am a child of God then I need to forgive myself, love myself as Jesus would have done for me.

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