You need a busload of faith to get by…
"Busload of Faith" by Lou Reed
Last blog I talked about being calm even as my money drew down to the point where I had promised myself that I would shelve my principles and look for a job. That calm was the result of faith. Faith not so much in myself, but in my connection to the Creator. And that sense of connection and the idea that things would work out was the direct result of my difficulties.
I’d lost my job, spent my 401 (k) and refinanced my house. I’d split with my agent, put down two dying cats and broke up with the woman I’d been dating.
"Freedom," sang Janis Joplin in "Me and Bobby McGee," "is just another word for nothin’ left to lose."
What I found was that losing so much and feeling that what little I had left was threatened sharpened my appetite for what was safe, secure and enduring. And having run the table of possibilites – denial, escapism, drugs, alcohol, women, etc. – the only thing left was God.
But not just any God. Not the white-robed God with the flowing white beard of Michealangelo. Not the wrathful God of the Old Testament, nor a puppeteer God.
But rather a being of unimaginable form who created this free-will zone where we have the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them with the idea of becoming genuine adults rather than children in oversized clothing.
I found help in this regard in the Urantia Book (see Tools) which has not only a detailed (and very challenging) explanation of God, but also an exceptional account of the life and teachings of Jesus.
The Jesus of the Bible is too vague and insubstantial for my taste. The Jesus of the Urantia Book is beyond remarkable, not because of what he did, but also because of what he did not do.
I cannot do him justice here, but one of the great pleasures was learning that he was a man’s man. A man who was cheerful as well as devout. Who loved people, and turned no one away. Who was so robust and wise and admirable, as the book notes, that "the rugged fishermen of Galilee called him Master."
This was a man I could relate to. Not because he was divine and magical, atlhough there’s no denying its appeal, but because he lived as a man and made the best of his circumstances without asking for special consideration.
It was this Jesus I spoke to several months after being laid off. I had two issues percolating at the time. One, what was going to become of me? And, two, where would the money come from?
I was exceedingly anxious, given to sudden spasms of fear that would cause me to slam my fist against my thigh and exclaim, "God! I’ve got to make money!"
I could see no way out of my circumstances. I could not go back and do the kind of work I’d been doing without killing my spirit, and yet I lacked the power to bring my dreams to reality. The lingering suspicion was that I really was as screwed up and useless as I felt.
That fear came boiling to the surface one night as I slept. I awoke suddenly, sat bolt upright and said, "Jesus, I’m scared."
This was not an exclamation, as in "Damn, I burned the Pop Tart!" I was talking to that personalized Jesus, who in my mind was every bit as real and available as he was 2000 years ago.
In seconds I was enveloped in what felt like a cloud of warmth and love and reassurance. My fears vanished. I sank back onto the pillow and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Since then I’ve talked often to Jesus – more talking than listening, I’m afraid – and I’ve felt that warmth often during meditation. My state of mind is calmer now, but my faith is fragile.
Just two weeks ago, I got caught in a line at a gas station when the ripples from Hurricane Katrina reached Atlanta. I could feel the anger of the other motorists, as well as their fear and frustration, and a barely suppressed violence.
I knew exactly what was happening, and still I let that panic leak into my bloodstream. It was time came for a busload of faith (a cool song, by the way, pessimism notwithstanding) and I couldn’t even muster a carload.
So I’m grateful I’ve made it this far, but it’s also clear there’s more work to be done
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