I met with the Greek Orthodox painter who I’ve been learning from. I walked into his chaotic office past the paint splattered easels with a stack of books as if I were still a student, and I made a quip about how it was my first time in the visual arts building - it fell flat. We were meant to discuss the first two books he assigned to me and the first thing he did was read one of the stories from a book about the desert fathers. One of the desert fathers, Abba Poemen was questioned about the specifics of religion and theology and he had no answer, but when it came to discussing the passions of the soul, to that he had much to say.
My general tendency is to believe that emotions are unreliable; they are too affected and thus must be separated from our understanding of what’s real in this world. My mind can stand up to the chaos of the noise of many books, it keeps me from being swayed by the winds of experience. Because I never change my mind, I never look back and realize I was fooled or that I completely misunderstood, it’s so clear that the mind doesn’t sway…?
I have had three different people ask me recently about what I have experienced of God. We would be talking about the academics of religion and they would sneak that question in to hear a different aspect of my learnings, to find out where my heart was. Philosophy and theology aside they would ask what I have felt and learned from God that has made me believe. On all three occasions I discounted the questions that came from thoughtful friends who know me very well. I figured it was irrelevant to what I’m dealing with, and the answer is no I haven’t witnessed a miracle, I’m just trying to figure out faith.
I forget to recognize that I am an entire being, body mind and soul and my emotions are part of being a fully integrated self, my experience and emotions are valuable. Often times emotions are the first way we encounter life, the entrance point to understanding.
And anyway, haven’t I witnessed a miracle? I have walked into counseling sessions when I’m in way over my head and said the right thing and I don’t know how. I have felt peace in situations that should have been overwhelming. I have seen people’s life’s change dramatically because of faith. People have loved me unconditionally because of our mutual goals. I have felt other’s grief like it was my own and begged with all the belief that God intervenes. I have seen a sunset over the Pacific Ocean. I have breathed every day for 29 years.
I could maybe explain those all away. With a mind over heart, I could wait until my big brain knows exactly who God is before accepting experiences of Him. I could go on ranting about how I don’t want to just make God into something that makes me comfortable and would rather decide on what my mind objectively thinks first. I could limp around life dragging along my unused limb that is emotions, and probably make it to my destination.
But why? Why wouldn’t I just use all of me?