January 13, 2007

I am realizing that really, the most important thing that I can do at Pannai is to love the kids and to make sure they know that I love them.  I think this is what is missing most from their lives: love.  They do not have anyone holding them on their laps and telling them they’re beautiful or wonderful or smart or simply that they love them.  I wonder how many times these kids have heard those words, “I love you.”  They are powerful words and words that I know are so meaningful every time I say them and hear them.  My life is so full of love.  So full of people I love and by whom I am  loved.  I like how my name says this.  It’s funny to think how well it seems to suit me.  I am so loved, and I can never forget it.  Right, so loving people is something, the most important something, that I can do at Pannai.  Perhaps it is the most important thing that any of us can do for another person.  I think that’s why it was so important for me to tell you that I love you this summer and just in general.  I have been telling it to my parents and closest friends a lot since I’ve been here in India.  It is SO important.

Sometimes I am good at loving myself and other times not so good.  Sometimes I let myself be and other times I try to control or mold myself in ways that aren’t really helpful.  Both are here.  I do both here in India.

On a different note, I am  notice myself react to other people’s ideas of Christianity.   I have had conversations with folks who talk about “believers” and “the kingdom.”  A young girl in my church community was talking about Hinduism versus Christianity and how she thinks Hinduism is silly because it is simply people worshipping not even many gods but just statues.  She explained how she thinks it’s silly to worship statues that can’t do anything.  In Christianity, people worship the “Living God,”  she explained.  Her articulateness reminded me of how I imagine myself to have been when I was little (maybe not as little as her, but anyway).  But at the same time, I found myself saddened by her narrow view of the world and God. She also told me that “Christianity is the best religion.”  I didn’t know what to say.  I don’t agree, but I’m not sure what her mum would think of me if I was like, “Well, actually, Hindus’ Gods are real, too.  They are just as “living” as the Christian God.  Furthermore, Christianity is not the Best religion but simply A religion.  Arguably a very exclusive and judgmental one.  Even a violent one.  In any case, I didn’t say anything to agree or disagree with her.  But it still made me kind of sad.

It’s 1:00 am.  way past my bedtime.  Smile.  This makes it feel like a holiday.  Oh, you want to know something exciting….  I’m going to visit Tanya Koch,  one of my best friends from Pomona in Thailand in six weeks.  I’m really excited to see her and to be away and everything.  I’m looking forward to the ocean.  I do love the ocean.  I see God very much in the ocean.  Very much.  It is so very vast, there is so much life within it, and then there is salty water in our own lives – in our tears, in the sweat of our hard work, in our blood, coursing through our bodies.  I like the idea of God and the ocean as one.

I’ve started reading a book about Experiencing God that someone gave me recently, and I’m really having trouble with it.  It wants me to see Jesus as my “Lord and Savior.”  I have no problem seeing him as a brother, a teacher, a guide, a friend, a mentor, a role model.  But as Lord and Savior?  As God?  That’s just not what I believe.  The book is making me wonder if I can be Christian.  Maybe I just can’t be the book’s kind of Christian.  I don’t know.  Sometimes I feel like I am being called to Christian ministry.  Did I tell you that my dad asked me if I would be going to seminary after getting back to the U.S.?  Kind of funny.  Other times I feel like there is no way in the world I could ever be a Christian minister, much less a Christian. I don’t know.  I feel God’s presence in and around and through me and throughout all the world.  That is so much a part of who I am and what I do and my ability to carry on.  My faith tells me that it is my responsibility to live as I do and even more lovingly than I do.  That I am called to love the world and all that is in it and not just to live for myself and my own pleasure.  I believe that I should “sacrifice” some things so that others may have more.  But I do not believe that Jesus was God. I do not believe that he died and therefore my sins are forgiven.  I do not believe he was raised from the dead.  I do not believe Christianity is better than any other religion.  I do not believe that God is a being or a person in any sense of either of these words.  I don’t believe God can DO or even THINK anything.  I believe God is.  This is SO powerful for me. Maybe I am blaspheming.  I don’t know, and i don’t really care.

Anyway, these are my musings.  I feel like you’ve heard some of this already, but it’s in my mind and  heart right now.  Thanks for being shared with.

I am with you.

About Thandiwe

Hopeful cynic, creative, seriously silly, lover of people and places, hypocrite, third-culture kid, queer, life-long learner, white woman, Christ follower, outdoor enthusiast: I am a seeker of justice and truth who has re-found my spiritual home in progressive Christianity. I serve as the Associate Pastor at a small Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregation near the mountains of Colorado where I live with my beloved.
This entry was posted in India, Tamil Nadu, Tamil Nadu, India, Theological Reflection and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Musings

  1. thandiweg says:

    I am going to aim to get a post up each Monday evening/Tuesday morning and again on Friday evening/Saturday morning. So keep a lookout!

  2. Thanks for that, T. It’s beautiful to watch you grappling with the same questions about God or gods, about faith and the nature of religion, about Christianity, and about spirituality in the world more than three years later, as a divinity student. Seems to me the questions aren’t there to be answered so much as to coax you along your path–your fascinating, questing, paradoxical path. May you continue to be nourished as you walk it!

    • thandiweg says:

      Ah, the questions. I reckon I will be grappling with these same questions fifty years from now, if I am still living and breathing. Smile. Thanks for the nourishment you provide me as I walk this path.

  3. thandiwe says:

    How things have changed! Here I am today, several years later, working full time in a Christian Church. I continue to believe that God is vast enough to be revealed through other faiths as well as my own Christian faith. I feel much more comfortable and confident claiming my own Christianity. I strive to be a follower of Jesus, a man who opened himself fully to God, who was a vessel of God’s love and grace and also God’s call to radical love. I have come to say confidently that I believe in the incarnation, that God was in Christ. I believe in God’s incarnation in all humanity, indeed in all of creation. This, I think is what is most powerful about the Genesis story of creation, the idea that we are made in God’s image: we can see part of God when we open ourselves up to one another, when we open ourselves up to the world around us. The theologian Paul Tillich speaks of God as “the Ground of all Being” and I find this language helpful. It helps me to imagine and articulate God interwoven in and through all that is, indeed enlivening the very matter of the universe. For Tillich, Jesus was transparent to the Ground of Being, Jesus pointed beyond himself to God, Jesus revealed God to us. It is interesting the ways in which so much has changed for me since I wrote this email almost 5 years ago and in other ways, so much remains constant.
    I feel so blessed to be in a faith community where my sense of God’s presence and power can be articulated and can be part of our journey of faith together.

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