Tuesday, May 15, 2007

On Suffering

I'm sorry I haven't blogged in a while. I've been ailing and have recovered enough to set these words down onto the keyboard.

It has been my nature to suffer throughout my life and I try to accept the Buddhist tenet that without suffering there is no growth. I've always been a questioning soul. But I've drifted more towards Christianity during my illness.

I've decided to help build up a new church. We only meet once a month now, which isn't really the way I'd like it to be. I need more, but I'm willing to be patient. I feel that God has tested me--tested my patience, because as I like to say, patience is a virtue and I don't have it.

I feel that my energy is best spent building anew. The roots of the church are Methodist, but the general spirit could be described as progressive and post-Christian, particularly with its emphasis that church ought to be about evolution of purpose rather than stagnation.

I've visited a lot of churches in the past several months and I have witnessed several that are dying from within. Without a strong youth and young adult program, churches are withering away. Whether they recognize it or not is a matter of debate.

UUs have "Mind the Gap" in place to remedy this situation, but I really question whether it's working. Church membership all over the place is shrinking and it seems as though this society has evolved to the point that people only return to church when they are experiencing some crisis in their lives, or they're trying to fill this void within themselves. This is not to say that such motivations are bad, but I really regret that we have drifted away from this idea that the church was for life and not for need. Various people have addressed that concept in a variety of ways.

Need is not a bad reason to belong, but it shouldn't be the end all, be all. The worst relationships I've been in, interpersonally, have been when I've been trying to plug the gap in someone else. When I've been privy to someone else's ulterior motive, I've never felt satisfied. I suppose I'm just looking for a loving community of people who will step outside their hyper-individualistic selves long enough to love and have compassion for their fellow being.

I've never found that in UU circles. Instead I've found a bunch of fellow seekers, who've felt out of sorts and end up belonging together because they feel as though they don't fit in anywhere else. The emphasis was on the I, not on the we. Some months ago I went through a financial crunch in my life and solicited the current minister for some work to make ends meet--not a handout. His immediate impulse was to think I was some slick panhandler. We don't do that here were the first words out of his mouth.

I can tolerate and expect that from the rest of the world, but I don't need it in my church community.