The great thing about Puget Sound and a community like Lighthouse is the intensive discussion and dialogue that takes place anywhere and everywhere and with everyone. I admit that I am having an exceptionally difficult time figuring out any one thing to write about because, honestly, lately there have been innumerable interesting and significant experiences and discussions I’ve recently had the privilege to witness.
First of all there was the spring break trip to Portland which was incredible in so many ways. It seemed more often than not, when shown an act of kindness by someone on the street, that I was the one who was reduced to tears out of gratitude; a thank you, a smile, a kiss on the hand, a request for prayer, advice, an offer of protection, and just the willingness to talk. Perhaps we also made the same sort of impact, I’m certain we’ll never know, but for me at least, it always seemed as though I were the one being shown the kindness and those encounters never failed to amaze me. Throughout the week during debrief times and just the spaces in between our group also had some wonderful encounters with one another. There was some debate on different topics of justice and the concept of hell, some instances of very honest and personal openness, not to mention all the jokes and laughter we shared throughout; all of which I hold dear in my memory.
Some of the discussions continued long after we went home such as the talk about Justice which became a four hour long conversation on the night of Unplugged. Even though my personal standings on Justice are still underdeveloped, I learned an incredible amount from that exchange and feel like I at least now have a starting place for constructing my own belief on the role of Justice in the individual, as well as on a global, and spiritual level. I cannot express just how much it means to me that Lighthouse is a place of intellectual growth where one can talk freely and openly about Justice for four hours. To be privileged to that kind of openness of heart and belief, I feel is an incredible gift and one I’ve learned a great amount from already and plan to continue learning from.
Thirdly, I had the opportunity recently to attend a lecture by Rob Bell in Seattle, accompanied by a few from Lighthouse. The talk was interesting, as was the resulting conversation. I admit that before said lecture, the most I knew about Rob Bell was centered on his reputation throughout the conservative church – which is not super stellar. But upon hearing the man speak, I came to a place where I could ignore my preconceptions and I found that I gained a respect for the man.
But at the end of the day, I go home and am left alone with a great mass of information in my head, most of which is still unprocessed. At the end of the day, I’m still sad and still reeling from my parent’s divorce and an array of other concerns. And as much as I love it, there are times when it’s so very hard to sort through that kind of information from an intellectual standpoint when life is so emotional. Those of us attending this school and anyone involved with Lighthouse are learning a great tool of conversing respectfully, as well as the intelligence not to accept things at surface level. Yet, there are times when I personally (and I’m sure others too) need a rock to stand on. Most especially when life is raging around us and in us. I desperately need something stable. And I’ve recently discovered how hard that is to find when you have a bad case of information overload. I want to continue to learn though; I want to be a part of this school, this community, and all that’s happening; so I want to continue to engage it. But frankly, I don’t have the mental energy. I know things aren’t what they seem, even aspects of faith and scripture. I’ve learned by now that there is a great well of information hidden in the context, and that’s something I want to uncover and get to the bottom of. But that takes incredible energy, and there’s a part of me that would just love more than anything to be dumb enough to accept all that I’m told and not have to think anymore. I’m tired. I’m so very tired of thinking.
How hard is it to get just one straight answer?
Something that won’t fall apart, won’t fail even when put to the test.
So what is the root of my faith? If EVERYTHING is called into question, what still stands?
Ironically though, it is likely I wouldn’t be able to find the roots of my faith if it wasn’t for the information overload itself. Through the questions, the whirlwind emotions, the shredded preconceptions, and the feeling lost; ironically that is what has enabled me to find a rock to stand on. Because when you boil it all down, there are a few simple things that stand. And they really are simple threads. The most basic form of my Christian faith:
God loves us.
We are meant to love all others.
That’s honestly it. The core of my faith, and the deep roots that all the other theology is based off of. At the end of the day, that’s what I have and I can rest in that when all else is up in the air. Amidst all the discussion, dialogue, information, intellect; that’s really it. Because for me, that’s what it all boils down to every time. That is my rock. And this is my child-like faith.
If you’d like to talk to Ashley about this or anything else you can join her in Diversions for her next Cafe Hour, April 16th, 3-4pm.