At the Power of Story retreat at Mepkin Abbey, we had lots of opportunities for discussion. I was interested in how many people talked about how their lives turned around after they gave up on their own plans, only to discover that God had a more interesting/wonderful/perfect plan.
I thought about this vision of God who patiently waits for us to abandon what we want and give in to what He wants--and it was always a male-gendered God with a plan for us (let me also point out how grateful I was that our retreat leader carefully avoided gendered pronouns when referring to God).
I said that I didn't really believe in an omniscient, omnipotent God who had the one perfect plan for us. I said that I wasn't even sure that I believed in a God that had complete control, because then how do we account for evil in the world--I said that I knew that statement opened up a theological road we probably didn't want to travel this week-end. I said that I thought our lives were more like a choose-your-own-adventure book where no matter what we chose, God would nod and say, "Yes, I can use your talents here." God is like a weaver, where if we're a bunch of blue thread, God can work us into the tapestry, or if we're gold strands, God would figure out a different design.
It's what I truly do believe, and I understand why my view of God isn't as comforting as the idea of God who has a divine plan and all we have to do is submit. I also worry a bit that I'm succumbing to heresy, with my belief in a not-all-powerful God.
But the monk who is in charge of the retreat center stopped me after that discussion to tell me how glad he was that me and my friends were there, and how we offered a different dimension to the retreat.
As I've thought about it, I've realized what an unusual assembly of folks we were. One of my friends was the only African-American woman there, and my other friend has a daughter who has severe mental disabilities, which gives her a very different outlook than most of us. I enjoyed meeting some of the women in their late 70's who have lived wonderful lives and continue to do so. I could tell that some of us had very conservative religious beliefs; one woman covered her head with a lace scarf whenever we were in the chapel. A fairly large group of us are at midlife, later midlife likely, thinking about roads we didn't take, wondering about what to do next.
I doubt that any of us changed each other's minds about our views of God and God's plans. But that's fine. I am at a point where I no longer think about right or wrong viewpoints. I envision God listening to us all and saying, "Well, you understand a piece of how I'm operating. But I have such a larger vision--if only you could take it all in."
feeling the feelings…
5 months ago