A Time Without Schisms
AND THE "SCHISMS" CONTINUE… on and on, perhaps as long as the spirit is housed in a human body, or leaves hang on the limbs of a tree, but for sure, as long as the ego is in control of man's soul.
My family came to what is now the United States in the middle 1700's. Family oral tradition passed on stories of priest within my mother's family that broke with the Catholic church over the requirement of celibacy, but also over the political control that had replaced sincere spiritual matters. They settled outside of Philadelphia (in Reading, Pa.) and organized the first Lutheran church and later other Lutheran churches in North Carolina and Tennessee. As former priest, they were educated and wanted an education for their children in the new world, so they went in search in their new communities, for good teachers, as well as building new churches. However, when two brothers moved south and married two Methodist sister (who were teachers), the family faith would have their own schisms. Again like the Eastern and Western Catholic church they would split. Those in the North remained true to the original Lutheran believes and the two moving to the South gave way toward the Methodist faith. Of course like myself these Methodist children would marry and the schisms of faith would continue, some believing one must have his head and body dipped under the water and other believing just a few symbolic sprinkles for cleaning was enough to show the world you had made a commitment of faith to God.
Being highly developed in my right hemisphere I was not one to follow the minister or my parents when told "to do as I say for I know best." If they all believed in the same God, how could they all be right, I questioned. I loved my family and all the extended families. However, I could not understand all of the many religious family members who each disliked the other - for sure they had the "one and one only" path to finding God.
Nevertheless, they all agreed on one point. "All Catholics were going to hell! Had not our ancestors risk their lives to come to a new unknown land to flee the evil Catholic Church? I wasn't allowed to play with Catholics at school or date them in college. I even dated a Muslim a few times and while my family did not like the idea they were sure if I brought him to church with me he could be converted. But they were equally sure that a Catholic was set in his ways and could not be changed, and thus, he was doomed to hell.
Well, I did date a Catholic even one that was studying to become a priest. (We kept his faith a secret and I did not take him home.) I learned, actually the two of us believed almost the same things. He did not "buy into" his faith 100's anymore than I did mine. What I knew foremost, was this guy had a soul of so much love and compassion for mankind that he could love my family even though they could never love him. Thus, I knew too, the part about all Catholics going to hell was not right.
Of course the "celebrate priest" rule put limits on our relationship, but the schisms were put aside for a wonderful friendship where we both saw the honoring of Love for God, self, and mankind as equal duty, and if love always came first who need all the other "stuff." We both felt Jesus himself, and perhaps even the Buddha had came to tell mankind we had our focus too much on the ego and it's need for power and not enough on Love, Compassion and Forgiveness.
Knowing my friend's heart to serve mankind I can see why he may have chosen the path of priest as a career path, but for me that same heart chose a path as a professional student studying psychology, philosophy and religions around the world to help find a reason for all the schisms and a way to live in peace with one another without the schisms.
I have been enrolled in two classes in the History of the Christian faith this semester. The local class has many elder students like myself seeking answers to "why." I wonder about my Catholic friend, the priest. Has he studied the whole history behind his church as given in these last lessons, or does he have to remain blind to it to remain Catholic. I am finding to remain Christian harder and harder after my studies in Christian History, but then again, I have studied most world religions and could not adopted them either.
In the study of religion the leaves of faith come in so many colors. As a child most of the leaves seemed to be green. As an elder facing the fall season of my life cycle I am finding myself less and less religious but more and more spiritual. Perhaps when the wind comes to snatch me away from the tree and gravity finds me on the ground looking up at the big tree I will finally begin to see it was never about the leaves or me but about the big picture - THE TREE. In fact, as a creative dreamer I could see this almost as a child, but it often appears religious people know more about facts, rules and power than creative imagination that might allow them to see the whole tree before that final snip of the wind that takes them to look from below the tree and see the whole picture.
There is a legend that the American Indian came to know God through the voice of Mother Nature but he allowed the coming of the big white sails (thought to be birds at first) with white men aboard to trick his vision and he gave way to their ways. However, it is predicted that a time will come when the native American Indian will remember the ways of his Father and he will teach the white man to return to listen to the voice of Mother Earth and Father Universe.
Nothing is possible if mankind cannot dream of it first… Cars instead of buggies, electric lights, phones, computers etc. If this legend should have any truth within it then I choose to dream of time without schisms….. PEACE.
Rev. L. Francis
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