Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Irenaeus, 2nd Century Bishop

It amazes me that so early in the formation of a religion, someone wrote this. Christ has only been gone one hundred years. And yet someone understood, keenly, the type of God that Jesus had told others about. It is a loving God. It is a personal God, one who keeps close to your side and has intimate relations with you.

"It is not you who shapes God,
it is God who shapes you.
If then you are the work of God,
await the hand of the artist
Who does all things in due season.
Offer God your heart,
soft and tractable,
And keep the form
in which the artist has fashioned you.
Let your clay be moist,
Lest your grow hard
and lose the imprint of God's fingers."

-Irenaeus, Second Century Bishop

My therapist said that when I use the words like "should have" and "could have" and "would have" to describe the life I might have if I were not mentally ill then my clay grows hard.

I'm less afraid of what God might do to me than the violence that I am capable of doing against myself. I am my worst enemy. Nobody hates me like I hate myself. Nobody rejects me like I reject myself. My therapist can't envision a loving God, I suppose he's heard too many horror stories but I think in my heart I can envision a loving God. The term my therapist likes to use is a "challenging" God. I think God loves, and then he weeps. Maybe I've got my religion wrong. Maybe God never weeps. Maybe it is only the soul of Christ that can weep, him having been a man himself. I'm still learning a lot about religion. I wish I had started learning younger.

The funny thing about modern society, and this quote, is that Freud would have said that we make God in our own images, that he is a merely a projection of our unconscious mind. Then you have someone like Marx who said that "religion is the opiate of the masses". So much of modern human thought has God being invented by humans. God being shaped by humans, not the other way round. But I like the idea of an outside force shaping me. Partly this is because I trust that the shaping is in the direction of a better, more improved form.

Last Sunday the whole Congregation was offered to pick a paper star out of a basket. The stars were on colored construction paper and they all had one word printed on them. The stars were arranged in the baskets face down, so when you picked your star you did not know what word you would get printed on them. The minister said that we weren't prophesying. But she challenged us to reflect upon the word that we chose, and to let it guide us during the coming year. I whispered to my husband, a Wiccan and practitioner of Tarot, that this was the same as reading tarot. He agreed.

I picked the word "humor". My husband picked the word "motivation". Funny thing is, if our words had been reversed, they would have been inappropriate as challenges. My husband is largely humorous, telling jokes, smiling and laughing. He does not need more humor in his life. And I, on the other hand, am certainly motivated, tightly wound, trying to do the utmost with what little skill I have been granted in this life. I am always planning, and worrying about the future. If humor should come into my life, how it would ease my mind! What a relief it would offer me, and how it would balance me! While on the other hand, while my husband is not lazy, neither is he particularly motivated. He has a long "to do" list that rarely gets done. I have to prod him. But in a more fundamental sense, he is content to just ease through life. The word motivation was a mild horror to him I think. At least, it gave him pause. In our relationship I provide all the provocation, and most of the motivation. We each got a star that pulled us in a new and surprising direction. We both pinned our stars to the kitchen refrigerator with magnets.

I am at a lost as how to bring more humor into my life. Read funny books? Try to think of one humorous incident a day? Yesterday it would have been the mess I made on the kitchen counter. I poured water into the coffee making machine and it spilled. Then I spread crumbly cheese on crackers. The cheese and the water sat on the counter for the whole day before I got the gumption to take a paper towel and wipe the mess clean. I guess my mess was funny. What was funny too was that I had planned to eat something low calorie for dinner (written here in my blog) and my husband on his way home stopped at the grocery store and bought me a chocolate fudge sundae! And not one, but two! And he saved from work half a meat grinder! Now I could not resist. I ate nothing nutritious. I ate it all. I failed my diet. And I suppose that this is either sad or funny. Can I see such a failing as funny? I don't know. Female weakness when it comes to chocolate and food with much flavor.

My husband is not my co-conspirator in my diet. I have to hit him over the head to get him to try and help me. He likes to make me happy, and he thinks sweet food will delight me. Which it does, until the guilt settles in the next day. And oh, that sweater I bought yesterday with the pink and red stripes? He thinks "it will look a little better once I've lost some weight" which darn well means I'm not going to wear it in public until I've lost some weight.

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