Today something unexpected and wonderful happened to me and it got me to thinking.
Most of you know that once upon a time I was part of a cult. We once bragged that we were the fastest growing cult in the World, and it was true. But that's another story. Today I'm going to talk about something that we all learned while in the cult, but I'm going to call it by it's name, The Way.
Like any other organization or sport the Way had it's own jargon and we as participants learned the jargon well so that we could fit in and fully enjoy the benefits of the organization. Because of the nature of the Way many of the jargon words had something to do with God and God's family, namely the members of the Way. Again none of this is unusual or cultish in behaviour.
It is here years later and years removed from the Way that I look back upon those times and words and cringe, not because either were horrible but because they remind me of something that was horrible (for those that have read A Return to Sanity you know of what I speak). So it is with words like, 'bless you' or even 'God bless' or references to the 'Family of God' or even the word 'hope', that my cringe nerve activates. Because of this aversion I have distanced myself from other former members of the Way... for the most part, not because I hold no love for those with whom I shared so much but because their presence brings up the bad as well as the good and I'm not fully healed from the bad as yet.
Still, I am at times contacted by people that I once knew and sometimes by people that I never knew. Such was the case this past week and today. A gentleman who once spent time with some of the Board of Trustees and was a major contributer to the Auditorium (to protect his identity I am not giving any more clues) called me and wanted something that I had collected some years ago. I was more than happy to share this item with him and he in turn shared some of his collection with me.
During our conversations many of those key words spun into the Way jargon were continually thrown down and each time I cringed inside. But at the end of today's conversation I ended our conversation by saying, 'bless you'. In fact I told him several times during our converstion that I was happy that I had been able to send him something that 'blessed his life' and that he had 'blessed' mine as well.
So what brought on this sudden change in me? Was it a sudden catharsis of my soul, was it simply a falling into a familiar pattern or was I just being a parrot? I think that it was a realization that although it was, once upon a time, someone from the Way that hurt me, not everyone is that person. It seems simple to say such a thing but to believe it is far different a task. I was hurt, it made me afraid and so I ran and in running I never faced the boogy man. Instead I gave the boogie man everone's face. It was in realizing that this man who called me his sister was not the man or men that had hurt me. He was simply an honest man that shared some of the same past as me. His motivation was simple, he wanted to bless me because I was his sister, he had no other desire.
Now I sit here wondering how much I have pushed away because I was running from fear. A thousand questions run through my mind. First on the list is 'was it real'? We called ourselves the children of God and referred to each other as our sisters and brothers, but was it real? We studied the Bible and believed every word that we deemed 'understood', but was it real? We believed in an all knowing, infallible, omnipotent, loving God who was more a Father figure than a dictatorial God, but is he real? I ran through these thoughts and many more throughout the night while I worked and I came to only one conclusion, yes it was real because we believed it was real. As long as we believed it, really believed it all of it was so real that it filled our lives with meaning and joy and yes even blessing. It was when we began to have doubts that our mental utopia became tarnished and our beliefs unravelled and I'm beginning to think that it was at this time when we began to hurt each other. It was when our perfectly woven world began to develop holes that we the sisters and brothers began to lash out at each other in fear.
But now so many years removed from the fear and the darkness we can lift our heads once again to the sun and rejoice in what we knew and realize that it was real and can be again. But this time we must rely upon what we already know and build from there. This is true for everyone who has ever been disillusioned (which is everyone). As you grow older you will understand how to sift through all of those things that you once believed and those things that you once vaulted above all else and you can choose what is right and real for you today. Because we are ever changing and growing it is our responsibility to continually take stock or our own standard belief system, not just our faith system but those things also that we simply believe in and we need to make sure that they are still real for us. But the one thing that you can never do, or should never do is run from fear. For fear, like your past will always catch you and it is not always pleasant when it does.
Those were my thoughts to start the day.
Be good to each other.