Tuesday, October 18, 2016

First Word 10/9/2016

delivered to West Hills Friends on 10/9/2016

When I began attending West Hills four years ago, I was taught two things about open worship. First, to speak in open worship, a person should feel compelled to speak by a higher power. Second, the message should not only be something a person needs to say, but should also be words that are likely to be meaningful or useful to others who are present. Because I believe in rules and form, I've been faithfully silent in open worship. I'm hoping this will be the last time I feel like I have to share with you from up here.

What I want to talk about are feelings. Namely, that I don't like them. When I was in high school, I felt things strongly almost all the time. I wrote sappy poetry, made mix tapes, all variety of emotive things. Mid-college my personality changed quite a bit, and most of my life experience since then has been in my head, presenting as an interest in facts and things that can be quantified. Feelings didn't show up much anymore, and as a result, I lost my ability to deal with them on the rare occasions they do show up.

Earlier this year I finally listened to my intuitions, and left social media. Since that time, the world, and my place within it feel much smaller. I can't be invited to anything my group message, and I can't communicate to hundreds of people at once. All incoming and outgoing communications are direct and personal, and as a result, all my interactions have become more meaningful.

With the world being smaller and quieter, I've started to feel things a lot more often. I feel regular emotions like gratitude and embarrassment stronger than I have in awhile, but I'm also feeling bigger things like heartbreak and anxiety. These feelings present like a Kraken springing out of water, and I'm powerless over them.

One of the feelings that's new to me is what some might call the presence of God. In my youth, God was a series of answers and equations. God was a fact, a wrapped package of truth to be accepted and shared. What I feel isn't those things. It's not concrete enough for me to be sure what it is. But it's close enough to what I would want God to feel like that I've become willing to use the word.

Last week Peg spoke to us about hope, asking what our hopes are. This question produced a bit of a crisis for me, because I have an answer, and it scares me. I used to believe in a God who knew everything, could do anything, and who knew everything about me. And believing in those traits, I talked to God all the time. I haven't believed in, or talked to, that God in a long time. But as I've begun to feel a presence I can't explain, an experience that some might call God, I've realized that even if I become sure that God is what I'm feeling, I have no idea what to say to it. My hope is that it is God, and that someday I find the words to re-introduce myself.