I really don't mean to judge. I've made my mistakes. I've made so many of them, it'll be a wonder I ever make it into the next life, I think some days. That being said, I understand the human element, the struggle with vanity, the search for light, the quest for knowledge, the inner toil we all have to do what is right.
But I am struggling to understand what the mission is here. Not "THE" mission, but his, the guy leading the class I inconsistently attend (I have to work in the evenings every other week.)
I mean, with everything I am and everything I have learned, in and outside of a classroom, a church, and all the ways I have learned (through many major and minor trials and errors), and all the people I've known, and all the perceptions I've ever had or shed, this particular situation saddens me particularly deeply.
Tonight, for the... (what is it, I'm trying to count now)... fifth time, give or take a week, tonight, our leader in this otherwise very spiritually profound assemblage has used the time allotted for fellowship, spiritual renewal and growth, as a means to lament the disregard for his point of view in his teachings/beliefs/position in the church, and as a spring board (or soap box) to convey external messages that are unrelated to the topic at hand.
Meaning that the topic at hand is spiritual growth and the steps toward the deepest, most fulfilled relationship with Our Lord; and the external messages being elements of supernatural goings-on that are still a subject of major debate within the Catholic Church itself. Belief in them or not is, sadly enough, unrelated to focusing on the most important goal of our being: being in union with God and our very personal relationship with Jesus, through his most Holy Spirit.
The signs we are given, both big and small (or monumentally profound and inexplicable!) are simply that: signs by a greater and more majestic God to show us He is still the One. However, there are billions of people the world over who, in their own journey, display a staggeringly wide range of agreeing with that or not--either by degree of their own faith within a faith (religion) or by not even subscribing to a faith or by subscribing to another faith or by denouncing it altogether. The differences in these states of being, no matter what we believe, do not give us the right, in our own perceptions and views, however, to condemn, criticize, punish, neglect, judge or otherwise avenge our ideas on any other single soul. Our freedom ends where another person's begins.
Those signs are still irrelevant to the context of a bible study class. In what I hope is a wider perception, it can be understood that the mysteries of the world and alleged apparitions of holy deities are no less important to those who believe in them. It's just that, without drawing lines and risking the injection of my own agenda, there must be understanding--or at least respect--on all sides that there is a time and place to discuss such things and that everyone believes in them at different rates, different times and we can no less speed another person's growth any more than we were allowed the time and space to grow ourselves. The point in this rant is that there has to be room for spiritual growth and out of understanding of our own journey, we should offer the same understanding for someone (anyone) else. The point is that this class was originally supposed to have been meant for giving us the tools and fellowship with like minds to grow instead of being a place to inject human, personal agenda. Which I felt has happened and which is difficult to digest.
I'm very torn by all of this.
For many reasons.
1. For those of us still hanging on to this Wednesday night routine and even for those who have dropped out, there was something urging us to be there. At least for one point in time. Something bigger than the lot of us. Something deeper. Something refuge-y.
2. There are only 3 of us left. Out of the original number of 15 or so, which leads me to wonder: what happened?
3. The leader wonders this, too, but takes it personally
4. The leader is trying to share what he believes with others, but is taking liberty with those beliefs and sharing them in a un-arranged manner, seemingly more concerned with teaching what he thinks is urgent, rather than encouraging what the class (as outlined by the author of one of the books we're reading) is trying to teach.
5. I can see many reasons that people could not/would not come which our leader is forgetting to see and is somehow taking personally.
- People work, people have lives, have schedules, have commitments; those things subject to change even within themselves
- The weather is getting colder, the season is getting darker, harder to come out
- Characteristics of a town where oral confirmations meet little follow-through
- Some people can tolerate injection of personal agenda far less than others; for many it's a huge turn-off
- Distance or commuting barriers i.e. driving in from a lake or surrounding community, driving on roads in the changing temps
6. I came to these sessions under the hope that I might finally be able to talk about what I believe with someone else without being judged. Instead, what I got and what I saw happen was a group of people extending far less understanding and compassion of the heart of the class, for one another, and the division to come from that.
7. I have tried to speak a more loving message, hoping to offer a morsel of other way of thinking, so that maybe there could be peaceable, more amicable resolve to this, speaking to all parties involved. Instead I am met with less than resistance: no acknowledgment of what thought might be in my words. (Not that I think I am so great, but that I'm sure that God's message of love ought to be the bigger picture, no?)
8. Said leader has felt the same: unacknowledged and unappreciated. While I am rather empathetic to his plight, I also would urge him to think about the reasons for why he is doing this class and has done others if only to get credit, acknowledgment, and numbers. He speaks of self-awareness, yet how self-aware is he? Referring to # 7: people accuse as they are.
9. I understand both sides of the coin: said leader for feeling dejected, said lay people bowing out of this class. Neither side is perfectly right or wrong. The people should feel the need to persevere, but the leader should not alienate his people.
10. I can see all of this, and yet, point it out to no one. And I don't know whose ears any statement would fall on. The point of it is that it's clearly not my place to point it out. Not necessarily because anyone around me would make such an obvious declaration to me, but more so because if the timing was right, I might know. And the other point is that there are ALL kinds of shades of gray in between. No one can know where another person is at in their mind or in their spirituality, even to say me in this rant of another. The understanding for this must be paramount if any of us are to grow in any way, shape, or form.
And finally, don't get me wrong. I am not saying that what he's saying is untrue or wrong as much as I am saying that whatever he is so steadfastly injecting is not really his place to be saying nor is it the setting. I have no hard feelings. There just needs to be compassion and understanding extended to the biggest level we can give, for perseverance is the virtue humanity is thirsty for.