Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name. Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.
All of us are driven by a philosophy concerning life. It could be derived from any number of prolific authors, leaders, and statesmen. Quite often our personal life philosophy is a result of theological teachings. The beliefs which I inherited from my forefathers went unchallenged in my younger years because the community in which I lived all abided by the principles of those beliefs. Christianity ruled.
And that would have been just fine if I had not ventured into the world beyond my community and experienced different cultures, different creeds, and different lifestyles. Tribalism was not at the forefront of conversations as it is today, but in retrospect, it was alive and well. Unwittingly, we all were suspicious of those who spoke, looked, thought, and worshipped differently.
Even more devastating to the growth of a young man finding his way in a life apart from the community of his upbringing was the concept of his forefathers’ God. There were numerous new ideas and experiences outside that sheltered life of boyhood and teenaged years. Most of them felt exhilarating and exciting, needed to be embraced and explored.
But, in the recesses of my mind, one dinosaur of theology always tempered the thrills of newly found freedoms.
“If it feels good, it is probably a sin.”
Thankfully, the alcoholism which controlled my life for so many years also brought me to a reckoning with the man I had become. 1) admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable 2) came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity 3) made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to a God of our understanding.
The key words in step 3 which changed my life dramatically were ‘God of my understanding.” I finally realized that God had given to me at birth a sense of reason and inner understanding with which I was designed to understand this ‘God-thing’. Nobody else could do this for me. It was a personal spiritual journey which became a lifetime endeavor. And finally I was able to embrace a life of wonderful experiences without the sin factor hanging over my head. Today, in my world, the word sin is a negative connotation used by others to control and intimidate when, in my reality, it simply means a temporary state of separation from the God of my understanding.
St. Bonaventure, an Italian medieval Franciscan, scholastic theologian and philosopher was born in 1221 Giovani di Fidanza and died in 1274. He entered the Franciscan order in 1243 and studied at the University of Paris. Marked by an attempt to completely integrate faith and reason, he thought of “Christ as the one true master who offers humans knowledge that begins in faith, is developed through rational understanding, and is perfected by mystical union with God.” St. Bonaventure
“Bonaventure pays little attention to fire and brimstone, sin, merit, justification, or atonement. His vision is positive, mystic, cosmic, intimately relational, and largely concerned with cleaning the lens of our perception and our intention so we can see and enjoy fully!” cac.org
I think I would have enjoyed life as a Franciscan living and studying with Giovani di Fidanza. Hmmmm, maybe I did and simply have not yet realized that previous life. 🙏