I am no scientist but I do like reading the odd article. One which I found fascinating today is in a magazine called The Plain Truth. The article Approaching the light is about the Super Collider in Geneva which appears to be on the verge of exciting new discoveries. The article says that quite often religious people will attack or dismiss new scientific advances when they seem to threaten their beliefs. Dr Keith Baker who is interviewed for the article has no problem with reconciling the experiment at Geneva with his belief in God. Do follow the link to find out about this as the article explains it all far better than I can!
Sometimes we see with our eyes closed. We search for God but he is there all along. We seem to lose him but he hasn’t lost us. He is reaching out and always has been because he sought us first.
The Apostles had a personal encounter with Jesus on the mountain, heard God’s voice and fell on their faces, terrified*. There are many reasons we may seem to lose the presence of God such as doubt, guilt, feeling unworthy or perhaps we actually try to hard to find him. We put up barriers instead. I know I do and still do but God seeks us out, then when that brief stir comes, that sudden comfort, that’s God sneaking through the barriers giving us a hand, a glimpse, a “look I’m here; have always been.” How far we take the barriers down is up to us. God could take them down but he doesn’t, he waits, perhaps gives us a nudge, maybe even through someone else. His hand is ever there. Do we have the courage to not only take his hand but to fully embrace him?
* Matthew 17:1-8
Last year I received a free book in support of biblefresh entitled Getting the Best from the Bible. I shelved it for another day. Earlier last week I decided to read it because I was feeling the need to go back to basics, back to the Bible. As I read the introduction I realised the ‘study’ should begin on a Sunday so finally today I settled down for some in depth study. I read through the first page and….that was it for the first day! I was wanting more. I was disappointed. Was that really it for the first day of Bible Study?
I sat thinking about the page I had read through. What had I learnt? Suddenly I realised that actually there was quite a lot in that brief couple of minutes of reading. I was learning to memorize a Bible verse and had written it down in the book. I remembered the sentence about trying to keep the Sabbath a day of rest as far as possible and to reflect on God. What else? Well, it made me want to write in my Journal for the first time in four months. Not bad for two minutes reading!
Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
A believer perceives his misdeeds as a rock that is about to crush him whereas a wicked person dismisses his sins like shooing a fly away.
These words are from Daily Wisdom – Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. I bought this book recently when I was at the British Museum to see the exhibition Hajj : journey to the heart of Islam. Situated inside the Reading Room of the museum this exhibition follows Muslims on their pilgrimage to Mecca, a requirement that Muslims should perform once in their lifetime, and one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Pilgrims dress in simple white clothes. Here everyone is equal. During the six days Muslims circumambule around the Ka’aba seven times, run seven times between two hills, recalling the plight of Hagar and her son Ishmael – after they were cast out by Abraham they were saved from death by a spring which God caused to gush from the sands of the desert. Pilgrims draw water from this well called zamzam before going out of Mecca to Mount Arafat where they stand from midday to sunset in meditation before God. The following day pilgrims enter Mina to throw pebbles (gathered at Mazdalifa the night before) at three stone pillars which represent Abraham’s resistance to the temptation of the devil. Afterwards a ritual sacrifice takes place. Pilgrims buy tokens to purchase a sheep for the Festival of Sacrifice and meat is distributed to the poor.
The exhibition was well laid out with fine objects, fabrics that had once covered the Ka’aba, photos of pilgrims setting off from various parts of the world through the ages (travel has certainly become more comfortable and less life-threatening over the years), maps of routes, videos, artwork inspired by the pilgrimage and books. The main video filmed parts of the six day pilgrimage showing all the stages mentioned above. I was most fascinated by the compasses used by the faithful to enable them to pray in the right direction and the right time from various parts of the world. I also loved the Arabic script, seeing it evolve over the ages.
While I was at the museum I also had time to view the Islamic World room which again had fascinating objects, vibrantly coloured plates and bowls and exquisite writing sets and more artwork inspired by the act of pilgrimage.
I have a little weakness for gift shops so as well as the book I bought some prayer beads (which I was told by a Muslim that you could buy them in her country for £2 – these, the cheapest were around £10, but the money goes to a workshop which supports the disabled women in Riyadh who make them). I also bought a CD of Sufi music (Sufi’s are the mystics of Islam). I like the music very much.
The exhibition is due to finish in the next few days. If you have a chance to go it is well worth seeing and is a wonderful insight to the Islamic faith and what it means to pilgrims.
I haven’t posted here in a long time. I needed to think about what I was saying and for a long time I had no desire to write. I felt I had nothing to say and I lost my direction.
Then at Christmas (my favourite time of year) I read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Why, oh why did I choose to read it then? He confused me and put me in an awful mood with raging doubts. Dawkins does write well and a lot of his arguments have been going around in my head for a long time and he is convincing. I wish I had a faith that was a strong as some people I know. The unshakeable kind! So, I suffered my doubts and have been in a sort of wilderness. But God doesn’t seem to want to let me go.
Despite my doubts I have continued to attend church, even though sometimes it felt like going through the motions. When I did miss a week I felt there was something missing. I find it hard to describe how I feel at times and why I am so drawn to churches and spiritual matters. However much I try to ignore them they work themselves into me and to be honest I cannot imagine my life without a faith. It is too deep within me.
Easter is a time of new life, spring brings hope. Creation is wonderful isn’t it?