Friday, July 24, 2009

The Cloud Of Unknowing

It is often reported in the news that church attendance is way down and most churches are rapidly losing membership. I blame a lot of this on the churches themselves. Although there are many good priests and other ministers doing many good things, there is also an abundance of scandalous behavior going on with churches and their leaders. The current news coming out of Ireland is simply horrendous. At this time in my life some would probably consider me a lost sheep. I admit that my relationship with institutional religion is strained. However, I still believe in God. Why? Well, I would rather live with my doubts about God than with the certainty that there is no God. I want to believe in something so I choose to believe in God. Admittedly I struggle with many of my beliefs and the spiritual practices that used to support them. In the mystical tradition of my church there is a famous spiritual treatise called "The Cloud of Unknowing". I think I live in that cloud. Even though it is a dark place, it is not scary. It is also a silent place so more often than not any interaction I have with God is quiet. There are signs in the monastery that say "Silence is spoken here". It is in silence and in the darkness of the Cloud of Unknowing that I am touched by God. I don't mean all of this to sound esoteric or cosmic. I'm not having extraordinary experiences. It would be accurate to say that I am not sensing any experience at all. In the silence and the darkness there is generally a lack of sensation other than occasional feelings of peacefulness. Just as likely as feelings of peacefulness are feelings of anxiety or restlessness. Still, I am drawn to such moments. I approach them with no expectations and I try to never judge them. In such moments, if God is being God, I am being Michael. In such moments we become one even if I don't feel it and the unity is not readily apparent.

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