February 26th, 2016

Spiritual Meme Question Twenty

20--What steps do you take to make your LJ (Facebook, etc, but I am mostly interested in LJ) into a place you want it to be, which of them work, and do any of them happen to trap you in the image of yourself you have already created here and impede you expressing everything of yourself here?

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Writing prompts: only ones that would be hard for you to answer please! {FULL!} - the eclectic ecstasy of an ecphorizing eccentric

Spiritual Meme Question Twenty-One

21--literature and relics: what sources (like spiritual tomes) did you consult or study for increased knowledge and guidance in each phase, if any? what, if any, physical objects have held spiritual significance for you over your journey? if you transitioned to another belief system, did you keep those objects despite the change? did you re-purpose them? get rid of them? give them away? how did individual objects become charged with meaning? was it instantaneous, or did it happen gradually, over time?

I was taken or sent to Sunday School and Bible School as far back as i can remember.  I knew all the stories that Christian children are usually; i had read the Holy Bible by age eleven.  I'm sure this must have affected me at some levels but i have no  conscious recollection of any of it.  I had read it again by age 15.  This time parts of  it stuck, particularly The Gospel according to Saint Matthew.  By this time, i was preparing to become a Methodist Lay Preacher and must have reading a lot for it.  I have no conscious recollection of anything sticking with me.

At fifteen, i checked out an anthology of Christian devotional writing and read "mystical" writing for the first time.  Catherine of Siena and Catherine of Genoa were most impressive.  I had no idea that  they were "Catholics."  One of these Catherines had written that whether she went to hell or heaven had no interest for her, only love for God mattered.  I never forgot that.

By age 25, i had completed Theology School and had pastored churhes for about a year..  I was a "sermon on the mount Christian." I cared only about ethical action and had no interest in theology, faith, or the "inner life."  I became a social scientist and looked at religion and other institutions as much as possible as an "outside observer."   What were these people doing and why (really!) were they doing it?

But i had also married a devout Roman Catholic and found myself following her.  I particularly remember a workshop on John of the Cross, and another on Native American Spirituality, which included by Jose Hobday (an Oneida/Seneca elder and Fransiscan nun) which i have played over and over and practically memorized.  Had it been in writing it would be my favorite book.

At 43, i read the Tao Te Ching (Gai-fu Feng/Jane English version), this was mind blowing and life changing and i have read from it regularly for nearly 40 years. (The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao.....darkness within darkness, mystery within mystery)

Then came Twelve Steps in Al-Anon, The Cloud of Unknowing, the Dhammapada, and A New Earth-- all of which i could read in the brilliant light of the Tao Te Ching.

Lately i have (re?)discoved the Sufi poets; the closest thing to a "tome" being the Masnavi of Rumi.

As to relics, i am not much into them.  But as i  look around me, i see a few that lighten my life--pictures of mountains and Canyons taken from old calanders, a mysterious looking rattle (probably some art student's class project), some bowls and pottery that look American Southwest, a Russian stone carving of a Siberian Shaman, a touristy Chinese "God of Happiness), a photo of an icon of St Siluan of Athos (a gift from Bob W.), and a cheap Roman Catholic Rosary hanging off the bookcase..  In another room are some Tibetan ritual objects including a bell and a prayer stick.  I have used the prayer stick in meditation but cannot say  that holding it made the experience any different.

Books have been very important, relics, not.  Except for the Tao Te Ching and the Bible, all books were acquired and read because i chose to read them.  The relics were either gifts or thrift store purchases.

Writing prompts: only ones that would be hard for you to answer please! {FULL!} - the eclectic ecstasy of an ecphorizing eccentric