I was driving back from Wakefield to Altrincham yesterday, listening to music incredibly loudly, tears rolling down my cheeks, when I suddenly, spontaneously began shouting out loud “I’m alive”. This lasted for a couple of minutes. Do not worry I was paying attention to what I was doing, as I drove through the Derbyshire hills, in the pouring rain. I felt so amazing, so grateful to be alive, to be at peace with life and to be at ease with who I am in life. Put simply I felt happy. At this moment the line “And everyone just keeps moving on, you turn around and find there all gone. The lights go out one by one, the prodigal son is not coming home “ was blaring out of my stereo. (The song was “Tales of the Road” by Justin Sullivan)
I had spent the day with many different people I have known over the years. Some I had only met once or twice, but others I had shared a lot with. I had gone over because an old mate Nick and his wife had brought their son up north for family and friends to meet. It was a fantastic day to play a small part in. Nick was the prodigal son coming home and we shared a bounteous feast. We talked about old times and the music we use to play together travelling round the north of England in that white van. There were many tales of the road shared.
I don’t remember a lot of what went on over the years, or I thought I didn’t. I kept being reminded of old adventures and things that we got up during those days. To protect the innocent I will not divulge that here. I honestly could not remember a lot of what went on but then the way I lived my life back in those days, it is hardly surprising.
Memory is a funny thing.
I use to look back with a great deal regret about a lot of my life. Today this is no longer the case. I have made peace with myself and my life. Today I can look back with gratitude and actually a whole lot of joy. I have known some incredible people in my life, I’m just grateful that I today I appreciate these wonderful gifts.
It really is all about altering your attitude (another meaning of AA).
The men of the Altrincham congregation created worship this morning. It was based around a new Unitarian pamphlet “Unitarian Views of God” I was asked to reflect on one of the contributions in the pamphlet.
Here’s what I came up with.
I chose Jimmy Timiney’s view to converse with for several reasons. The first being the most obvious, it speaks most closely to my understanding and perhaps more importantly to my experience. This is key by the way; in our tradition authority lays within our personal experience and our honest reflection upon them. Authority is not external, but within the individuals conscience.
I will begin with the end of Jimmy’s piece, which probably seems like an odd place to start, but hey.
“But does it really matter what I believe about God or the nature of God? If God exists then he/she exists regardless of my reckoning. To try and answer the question is for me to say that I only can tell you how I feel and language limits me in my quests.”
For me humility must always be a starting point, it is beyond me to truly know. I am happy with this as a starting point, as it throws open my experience beyond the confines of my limited imagination.
I am going to get personal now and tell you what I believe and how I got to where I am today.
I was an agnostically inclined atheist for most of my life and was happy being this. I was not anti-religious, it just did not interest me at all. Things though began to change as I headed into a steep emotional and mental decline, this went on for quite a few years. I felt alone, I felt empty and most of all I felt afraid. I basically lost the will to live. In desperation I reached out, right at my lowest, darkest moment. From that very moment things began to change.
Jimmy talks of being aware of something more going on within him, more than his physical being. He doesn’t know what to call this something and neither do I really, like him I believe the words like Soul and God seem too limiting. Although I am much happier using such language today, as I have come to understand these words in my own way. Like Jimmy I don’t see God as some external supernatural being separate from life itself, but I do believe that I experience an eternal spirit that is in all life that can offer strength and guidance if I can be open to it and not lost within myself. I cannot deny that reality today, to me that would be irrational and a denial of my reality.
I have often talked of synchronicity, of life speaking to me at times, this seems to happen the more I am in harmony with life itself and not lost in my own small minded worries and concerns. I experience it in nature, in art, in beautiful conversation I feel it in prayer and meditation and of course when I am singing.
I am much more comfortable with God language today. That said when I say God I am not talking about a being in the way that we are, or a force that controls all that happens in the universe. I believe that life is given free will at the minute level and that God is perhaps not at the beginning of time but is instead drawing life towards that loving reality...For me God is the “Divine Lure of Love” drawing us on beyond the limits of ourselves...
That said I cannot prove any of this to you, this is just what my honest rational reflection on my own personal life experiences teach me, but I could well be wrong.
I will reserve the final word to my old favourite, Forrest Church. This is what he says about God.
“God is not God’s name. God is our name for that power that is Greater than all and yet present in each”
That will do for me.