I attended a local Christmas Mass last night, I thought that my sense of disenfranchisement from, and general dissatisfaction with, religion may be due, in part, to my stubborn refusal to attend any gathering remotely smacking of religiosity. I decided to be open and follow my internal nagging. I was going to give Jesus another chance.
I was seeking a message. I was seeking a confirmation of my path, or an alternative view that could somehow supplement my present course or, at the very least, expand my vision beyond my irritating tendency toward the nihilistic.
So I prayed. I sang. I lit the candle. I greeted my neighbors in the pews. I smiled at the priest. So far so good…then the pastor rose to speak. I weighed his words carefully, sifting through them for deeper meaning, for a message tailored just to me.
Is it there? “No”, a small dark pressure pulsed behind my right ear urging me to wait. “Be still”. I shifted my weight and listened again. Is that it? “No”, the pressure came again. “Be still and now that I am God”. I cleared my mind and exhaled softly. I listened differently, allowing the words to enter my mind and drift about unmolested by pretense or logic.
Then it came. Softly at first, wound around a rather innocuous story, then ever more bold as the narrative unfolded…bursting forth in contrived flamboyance and a rising baritone falsetto…”individuals cannot receive messages from God. Messages from the Almighty God are only given to groups of believers, and only through an appointed shepherd. Beware” he continued “of any man claiming to receive such communications, for he is being deceived”. The congregation nodded. A few moments later, ushers passed the collection plates. I dropped in a twenty.
There is was. My message. A quick confirmation through my own, direct access to the creator left no doubt in my soul of the total, intentionally deceitful nature of the comment. Of course he would say those things. It’s just good business. Job security.
I sat awhile longer and observed the crowd, choir and assorted staff. I witnessed the nodding heads and the smiling, flat affects of the congregation in the sea around me. A peace descended on me. “Am I free to go now, has the message been given?” The warm pressure in my left temporal lobe assured me that it was time for me to go and that the affirmation had been delivered as intended.
I stood and left the building. As I walked back to my car along the snow packed sidewalk, I thanked my creator for the privilege of direct communication, and for the confirmation I had been given that my path was the correct one for me. I expressed thanks for a wink and a nod, a cosmic chuckle and a peaceful assurance that I would never be required to leave the course of my spiritual direction in the hands of another.
Again the warmth in my left temple, and Ganesh chuckled.