every time i take up this book, i can’t help but think of the writer. i only visited his blog site a couple of times. so i was not familiar with his writing or who he was. after reading his book, i have a small idea of who he was and i feel a small connection.
the ideas and questions that he presents, in this book, have probably always been issues, played-out in different arenas with different people in different times. however, as we live our lives now, it is something that we deal with now. it is about each of us and our faith being lived, as we are living. not in the past or in the future, but as we live right now. living it as we are alone or as we are with others. in the chapter de jour, m. spencer brings up the subjects of “solitude and relationship” in our living in faith.
the beginning of this chapter coincides with our life now, as he talks about a thanksgiving day just as we are coming upon another thanksgiving day this week. he and his wife ate their dinner at a place called banquet table buffet, unhappy about not being with their families. they saw that many people were there having dinner alone. he remembered thinking that their faces seemed to be lined with pain and rejection.
after that, michael says that there are times that people like to be alone, and that it is good to have a certain amount of time alone. for some it can be a time that they have felt closest to God.
i agree that time alone is necessary and best when we can choose the when and the why. however, it can also produce more dependence on God when we are walking in a time of rejection from things and people that are in our lives. but, even in these hard times, it is such a gift to receive a little bit of encouragement from someone. and perhaps God sends us just enough encouragement, at the right time for His purposes.
i also figure that we get different support, at different times and from different people. since not everyone is the same, and each person, being unique, and knowing only certain parts of your life, can only support you in so many ways. so it’s no use being angry that a one person or group does not meet our needs, even though it can be really hurtful when we see them meeting other people’s needs.
as michael says in the book, some people are just not able to relate to things that you or i might be going through. he talked a bit about when his wife joined the roman catholic church, both of them with their ministry background in the southern baptist church. she in the new church was welcomed and doing well, while he was confused, with no support from anyone at the time, and even dealing with the feelings from awkward and even rude statements from people in his church. he felt alone. though, eventually there was one fellow that did speak words of support and comforting encouragement to him.
these kinds of experiences, when met in the arena of a church group causes all sorts of reactions in people. and usually ends up changing the way each person sees their faith.
michael then goes on to talk about individuality.
the sacred individuality of the chosen aloneness of solitude and finding one’s own spiritual path. it is part of our life, this time to realize that the base of our faith is our own choice of belief and our personal one on one with God.
i admit that groups can get carried away with the programs and expectations and power struggles, etc. we all know what we might do alone and what we might do in a group. there is good and bad to any situation. that…is what we should be looking out for…alone, in a group, anything, anytime, anywhere….realize that there is both the good and the bad.
michael has other things to say in this chapter. but, this post is getting quite lengthy.
all in all, our faith is a challenge to live. it is not just saying the words that we believe, but we must be aware that we engage our faith and belief from the inside out, using our heart, and becoming aware of the changes being made in our heart. we engage this faith and belief in every aspect of our life, with everyone, in every place, all of the time.
we can’t really compare groups, or being alone with being in a group, or certain types of people. because faith takes place in all of it. we do not get separated from our faith no matter who, what, when or how. but, i would suggest that it is good to keep that base, face to face with God going on, and to keep an open heart even when it hurts.