Do you remember who I am? Maybe you forgot about this little blog.
A few weeks ago, a friend said, “Why haven’t been writing on your blog? I’ve been checking but there are no new posts.” I said, “I know.”
In the words of Forrest Gump, that’s all I had to say about that.
How is it possible that, earlier this year, I had the most enriching faith experience of my life walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, yet, over the course of the summer, fell into a foggy state that I can only describe as faith amnesia?
I made big career moves this summer. I moved to a new apartment. And distracted by the worries, illusions and temptations of daily human life, I forgot what I really believe to be true about myself, this world and its Creator.
Do you ever do this, dear reader? Do you ever forget that you have bigger fish to fry when it comes to the meaning of your life, and instead split your time between work and re-watching Stranger Things on Netflix?
Seems like the longer you drift down the Lethe, the harder it is to remember.
To put it in the context of Christ’s parable of the farmer, for me, it was a hard and thorny summer for sowing seeds:
The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown. Mark 4:14 – 20
It’s Thanksgiving Day up here in Canada, and the fall always brings a sense of renewal. Here are some things that are helping me dispel the fog and remember my faith. If you’ve been living in a state of faith amnesia, maybe they can help you too.
If you live in Toronto (or another big city), maybe you’ve seen those subway ads with the red question mark asking if you’d like to explore life’s biggest questions. Those ads are for Alpha, an informal course that welcomes everyone to share ideas and ask questions about life, faith and God – even if you think the whole thing is a sham. Andrew and I started facilitating an Alpha course a few weeks ago and I am blown away by the quality of program, and inspired by the earnestness of the people at my table. Some people saw that question mark sign on the street and walked right into the church saying, “Yes, I do want answers to life’s biggest questions.” That’s inspiring stuff. If you want to hash ouwhether God exists or ponder the meaning of life, try Alpha. Find the local courses here.
Group prayer has been a remedy because it allows me to lean on others as I edge back into conversation with God. In September, Andrew and I spent a Saturday morning praying and talking about our faith with two friends of ours. After they left our house, we continued to do normal weekend stuff – cooking, reading, walking, whatever – but it wasn’t the same as before. It was filtered through the lens of our faith. This was the jump-start I needed to reset my priorities and prayer life.
At our apartment, we have a little walk-in closet that we’ve deemed the “prayer closet” (in addition to being our clothes closet… in small apartments, you have have to be multi-functional) where we keep a Bible, a flashlight and a cushion. I go in, close the door, and attempt to shut out the to-do list of my life by spending 20 minutes reading scripture and praying. If you’re the praying kind, pray for me as I work to build this habit.
Last week, I started reading this masterpiece by intellectual heavy-weight, C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia and Screwtape Letters (a favourite of mine). Mere Christianity is a Christian apology that articulates, in a way that I can’t, what I believe and why I believe it. Lewis takes something so complex and makes it so simple. And for all his profundity, he does this in a way that is conversational, funny, and easy to read. So far, here is one of my favourite quotes:
God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. Mere Christianity, Book II, Ch. 3
Happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful for the sense of renewal that the fall season brings, and the chance to reflect, pivot and grow in faith. More blog posts ahead – I promise – including an update on Andrew’s path to ordination!