Last Thursday I took the girls shopping for school clothes. Never mind that Beth is a cyber school student whose normal attire for a typical school day is grubby sweats or whatever she happened to sleep in the night before. She (due mainly to grave misbehavior and her screw you attitude) last year at back to school time hasn't gotten new "back to school" clothes for a couple of years. Em is a full time brick and mortar student, so she needed some new stuff. So off we went. I hate to shop...but I did get to spend about an hour hiding out in Borders while they looked around.
I found two really interesting books. The first...that really doesn't have anything to do with this post.... was entitled "Jesus Calling." It is a devotional book, one of those little chunky kind of books...probably designed to fit in a purse or briefcase. There is also a devotional journal designed to go with the book due out sometime in November, I think. Like I said...not related to this post ..... "just saying." The book is written as if Jesus was talking to us...first person. I really liked the devotional passages I read. I found a few excerpts from the book and an interview with its author on the CBN website.
The other book, which is related to this post, was called "Love Poems From God." Really neat book. You can find extensive excerpts from the book at a site called Poet Seers which is definitely worth a visit. I copied down a few of the poems during my school shopping reprieve at Borders. One of the poems (that I had scribbled on an index card) immediately came to mind when I read the following snippet from Keating's interview.
CB: That's a good point. Many people have an internalized image of a harsh, critical, judgmental, or even sadistic God. The whole point of centering prayer is to "rest in God," but if you assume that God is going to punish you, you're not going to be able to relax.
TK: Exactly. This is a problem for many pre-Vatican II Catholics and, I would think, for fundamentalists, given their teachings. Most mainline Christians have a pretty monstrous idea of God that involves hell and punishment. If you feel that God is a judge, then you are ready to bring down the verdict of guilty for your least fault. We didn't know how to teach children religion, so we gave them the Commandments instead of fostering the idea of God as a loving father and protector who is merciful and who loves us. That is the good news of the gospel. I'm afraid we got into the habit in many Christian denominations of teaching the bad news first.
And what does Keating suggest we do with this false image of God?
TK: Throw it in the wastebasket. Learn that it isn't God. One of the values of centering prayer is that you are not thinking about God during the time of centering prayer, so you are giving God a chance to manifest.
This is where the poem comes in....
An Image That Makes Them Sad
How long will grown men and women in this world
keep drawing in their coloring books
an image of God that makes them sad?
(pg 117 Love Poems From God)
Per Keating's suggestion..rip out the page and throw it in the wastebasket. By basking in his presence, learn to color a new picture. Don't try so hard to "stay in the lines" (of our preconceived images of God that we've picked up along the way) Scripture talks about "singing a new song"....well....color a new picture. Don't be afraid. He promises to lead us into "all truth." Still a bit leery?
CB: And if fear arises?
TK: Let it go, along with every other thing that arises. If one has an obsession or an emotionally charged thought that is diseased, not thinking is one of the best healing methods there is. In centering prayer there are moments of peace that give the psyche a chance to realize that God may not be so bad after all. Centering prayer gradually heals the emotional wound of thinking and feeling about God in a way that is unhealthy and certainly untrue. In the periods of centering prayer, people experience God in a new way. God has a chance to be Himself for a change.
More on Keating and this interview tomorrow.....