|Wednesday, March 4||
Singing Skies and Dancing Waters
“If my faith should falter and I should forsake you,
and find myself turning away, will you still be there…”
“I’ll be there in singing skies and dancing eaters, laughing children, growing old,
and in the heart and in the spirit, and in the truth when it is told…”
— John Denver, I Want to Live, 1977
God and church have never been easy for me. My spiritual background includes non-denominational evangelicalism, Southern Baptist, and four years on a Bible college campus during middle school. My relationship to spirituality has been more cerebral than emotional. I asked difficult questions, I was interested in the mechanics of salvation, and I held lengthy debates with friends about how old a kid has to be before they’re responsible for their own beliefs (yes, I cringe about that now). Despite that, I never felt it. People would talk about how they felt like Jesus spoke to them personally, and that never made sense to me.
What I could feel was more difficult to articulate. Driving across the western half of the North American continent in the summer of 2004 when I had a shiny, new driver’s license, I was in awe of the mountains I’d never seen in person before, and I felt a connection to God that I’d never experienced in the walls of a church. The drive through the mountains was accompanied by a solid soundtrack of John Denver, whose music always seemed spiritual to me.
When I realized I couldn’t relate with the church (and I was out of high school), I stopped going. I just didn’t resonate with the God the pastors of my church expounded upon as they claimed a monopoly on truth. However, I still wrestled with how I related to God. I was never anti-God, but it always seemed that rejecting the structural church was synonymous with rejecting the deity it claimed – and that seemed to be the message I got from friends who were worried about my eternal soul.
There were more drives through the mountains of Colorado, Arizona, Montana, and British Columbia, often accompanied by John Denver. When I heard “Singing Skies and Dancing Waters”, it seemed like a conversation between a person and God. In the verses, the narrator asks, “…are you still with me?” and the response from the person the narrator is talking to is (in much more eloquent words) that they can be found anywhere. In the years when my beliefs didn’t resemble those of my friends or family, it was a reminder that God was always there, everywhere. My relationship to God didn’t have to look like anyone else’s, and that’s okay. God can be found in mountains and oceans, in love between people, in a less-than-a-day-old infant gripping my finger, or in a purring cat. Or, yes, even in churches.
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