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Updating our understanding

Posted on November 20, 2014 by Sunny South News

For a few years, I subbed for small town United Church of Canada ministers who went on holiday or ventured away for study leave.

I was only asked a few times a year but I very much enjoyed it because writing the meditation/sermon gave me the chance to update my thoughts about why we are here and what we are called to be and do.

My mother grew up in a strict Methodist home and her father, a rancher, was also a part-time preacher.

My father’s family was involved in the United Church. Every Sunday, my parents and my four sisters and I would go to church in Montreal. I remember sitting in Sunday school singing “God Sees the Little Sparrow Fall.”

Around that time in my childhood, the neighbour’s cat would occasionally kill sparrows and my friends and I would make little cardboard coffins and bury the unfortunate birds in our garden. In Sunday school, I would think, “So God sees the little sparrow fall, but what does He do about it?”

Perhaps, this was the beginning of a lifelong interest in a supreme spirit that supposedly watched over us all.

Was this spirit benign or active in our lives? I became aware of people who had no belief in a higher power and did not judge them but I have always thought religion is just a part of the human psyche and will never go away. We like to think there are rules to follow and a purpose for everything going on in the world.

Judaism, for example, has been around for a long time. Indigenous beliefs birthed by a close relationship to the Creator of nature are probably older. Christianity, has only been around 2,000 years but seems a good stretch of time to me and I always figured there must be something to it for it to last this long.

There is something to our feeling we aren’t alone in the universe.

Human beings around the world developed a sort of cultural religion to go along with their world views — in other words, what worked for them at that time and place in history.

Now that the modern world has changed so much, as have the various cultures, it seems wise to update our sense or our imaginings of what a superior, creative spirit might be. I’ve often thought it would be a useful thing for all people in the world to suddenly go through a spell of religious amnesia and perhaps all sacred books would vanish. Church leaders would no longer have pat answers about life issues. 

We’d all have to examine our source of life for ourselves. We’d all have to start our search for “God” from scratch. It would be hard for some people. Even my own mother, when she was 80 years old, said she wished she believed what she believed when she was 16. It was so simple to let other people tell you what to think about God and life.

I like to think we would become more tolerant, generous, and benevolent. Or as modern mystics might say, we’d vibrate at a higher level — a place of purer love. Forgiveness would be instantaneous. We would learn from an early age our spirit, housed in this mortal body, was bent on being the very kindest, most loving soul possible. You might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

“In our dreams we have seen another world, an honest world, a world decidedly more fair than the one in which we now live. We saw that in this world there was no need for armies; peace, justice and liberty were so common that no one talked about them as far-off concepts, but as things such as bread, birds, air, water, like book and voice.” —Subcomandante Marcos.

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