Boats aren’t made for mooring; a metaphorical journey into the nature and heart of faith

https://www.kksblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/boat-on-stormy-ocean.jpg

Disclaimer: I don’t know exactly why I am using boat language to describe faith, so if I lose you along the way just let me know…

On the sea / In this life, there are many different types of boats / people; big boats, small boats, rowboats, sailboats, ocean liners, oil tankers, etc. All were designed / created for purposes, and their purposes vary boat to boat / person to person.

But the nature of boats / people and their purposes take them away from the docks / from comfort zones. Certainly they come to land / return to familiar places, but for a season because boats / people weren’t meant to be moored / contained for very long.
No boat / person serves out its life attached to the docks / tied to same thought process, the best years are served at sea / out in life and yet so often the waves and storms / problems of this life come in. Yes, seeking land / security is usually the knee-jerk go-to action. It’s safe, it’s comfortable, but it is just a smatter of the stuff character and identity is made of.

The thing is, waves / hardships have the capacity to show us what we’re made of and what we need to do to improve our situations on the sea / in this life. If we confine ourselves to the dock / our comfort zone what does that do to us? Well for starters, it gives us a warped sense of what life is about; we might think that things are primarily black and white, we might think our way is the only way and we might solidify our thoughts and concepts about anything and everything without weighing out that we might indeed be wrong.
The waves / hardships are inevitable, but it’s up to us to stick to our destinations through it all, because it’s only after going through them we’re able to assess what is worth salvaging and what’s worth discarding.

***
And when it comes to matters of faith and belief (human examples only in this scenario) I am a byproduct of all my experiences, all my encounters with the Divine, all my encounters with humanity. I very much have a “eat the meat, spit out the bones” mentality when it comes to matters of faith and belief.

When it comes to matters of faith and belief, I am evolving, and where I am at isn’t where I was 5 years ago or 10 years ago or even 20 years ago! And that’s the clincher; faith must develop, be weathered, be strained, be smacked about, be the shit and be the fan in order for it to grow!
A faith that doesn’t allow room for doubt, for challenging, for questioning, for microscoping and telescoping isn’t much of a faith at all. It becomes a locked down, dogmatic, black-and-white-no-room-for-grey kind of belief system. And that is something I rather abhor when it comes down to it.

So when the problems of life come your way, don’t be quick to make your way back to where you started off from. Take the time needed to be “lost at sea”, to reacquaint yourself with yourself and certainly your faith and your beliefs. Because in doing so you might be surprised as to where you end up, and I’m willing to venture you will never be the same after having gone through it all.

~Nathanael~

The interconnectedness of trees; we have more in common than not

Today I attended the Aurora Jewish Renewal Congregation, a collective of individuals whom I find to be very inclusive as well as progressive, who admit the diversity in their thinking as well as their theology. Unbeknownst to me until I arrived was that today is Tu B’Shevat in the Jewish calendar.
Tu B’Shevat is essentially New Years Day for trees; a time to come together to thank God for food grown on the vine or tree, but to also be mindful in ecological matters too. It was nice to not only break bread (Challah is becoming one of my favorites) but to also be mindful in the bounty God has given us in the form of dates, apricots, grapes, almonds, and walnuts.

This got me to thinking on my own as well, especially the nature of trees and more to the point, groves of trees and trees intentionally planted to block wind.

https://heritageoakwinery.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/img_0742b.jpg
These trees are placed together, their roots are interconnected, they stand together and they support the other…and what does this mean to me? It means to me that we have more in common than we don’t, we have a commingling of divinity and humanity rolled into one, and ultimately- when we stand together, our roots entwined, we are at our strongest when we work together as one.
This truth I have known for sometime, but it sometimes becomes even clearer than it normally is. It is a thing of beauty to have a-ha/eureka moments, it is good to be mindful and aware and thankful and grateful for the diversity and unity of interconnectedness of friends across the spectrum of life.

Thanks be to God!
~Nathanael~

transplant, but don’t cut, your roots; an open letter to new Christians

https://nathanaelvitkus.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/c79d5-10723910_909369172425404_934437676_n.jpg

Recently I found out about an event where some former Muslims turned Christians talked about their experiences and how they became followers of Christ/Isa Al-Masih. When they were asked questions about Islam they chose to focus on some of the negative aspects they found within Islam, they also perpetuated some fear based around Sharia law and Islamic fundamentalism especially in the area of it coming to the United States of America.

***

Fundamentalist ideals and views can be found all over, and not solely in religious forms. So to get worked up about the¬†minority¬†in Islam is rather foolish, because focusing on this may lead to fear, and fear is a horrible way to live out one’s life. Sure be proactive, but don’t be foolish.

Also there’s the nature of followers of Islam, they have dreams and ideals for their families and community at large, they have values that benefits all. I have some Muslim friends and I’ve been to the local mosque on more than one occasion and for a while last year I was learning about Islam 101 through the local mosque and I received nothing but love and hospitality. While some skeptics might say they were being nice to me because it was their intention to convert me to Islam, that this was the sole reason why they were being nice, I beg to differ; I used to bullshit others (for many reasons) and I can tell you this, you can’t bullshit a bullshitter (past or present) and the love and hospitality I received at the mosque was genuine.

***

So this message is primarily intended by new Christians, and here’s what I have to say. Transplant your roots if you do, but don’t hack away at them. The time you were oriented in another religious direction or even if you had no previous religious direction was not spent in vain. The process I kind of mentally go through in any new situation or direction is examining my past, learning from it, and essentially “eat the meat, spit out the bones”. One of my more recent favorite authors (Ian Morgan Cron) spoke at my church last year and I got the chance to talk to him privately about his book, and how I appreciated it but more to the point I could relate to it. He listened exceedingly well and responded in 3 words:
nothing is wastedin regards to where I’ve been in this life. It stuck deep and it is still something I dwell on, and I recognize this can be placed on pretty much any experience life throws our way. nothing is wasted, there’s always something to learn from and grow on when we transplant our roots.

***

So if you’re entering a new job, becoming part of a new religion, or anything else that matter, I hope you’re able to glean from where you’ve come from to become a better you where you’re at with what you’ve gone through and/or where you’ve come from.

~Nathanael~