I find myself in strange new places.
We have changed homes, jobs, schools, city, state, etc… So many new experiences, both good and bad. There are still only a few familiar faces that I run into at the store. I’m home, but not home. Some days feel like I spend all my time paving the way for the next experience. But that isn’t wasted work, I’m always thankful later for a new familiar path.
This advent season, I’m in a strange land.
I’ve been stripped of so many once strongly held beliefs. The way I talk, the ears I listen with, the way I see things. All seem to be paving the way for Act Two of life.
Today as I worked in the kitchen, I listened to a podcast on Story Corps. This is one of my favorite podcasts. It always features a new person and new story. Always short but always vulnerable. Somehow, every single time I listen, I feel a little different from I had before I listened. Something has shifted somewhere. I’ve been changed. All this, just from someone’s story.
This morning’s podcast, Lessons in Love, focused on people’s experiences during the early years of the AIDS epidemic. There were three stories- a son, a caregiver and a pastor. All people whose lives changed in one way or another from those years.
A son who lost his parents. A woman who found herself caring for AIDS patients that no one wanted to touch. A pastor who was transformed by watching parents love their gay son and his community.
I felt a shift.
Not a new shift, just a little shift. Just like always.
But this is the thing when you hear someone’s story, God is not in the words.
He is not in the theology or the belief. He is not in the denomination or the conference. He is not in the way we phrase what we think. He cannot be contained by these things.
He’s in the people. He is in the act of love.
God IS in the child who loves his gay parents.
God IS in the hands of the woman who cares for the people dying of AIDS, rejected by their families and community.
God IS in the parents who walked with their son through the valley of the shadow of death.
God IS in the heart of the pastor who opened his life to people who other pastors wouldn’t accept.
It had nothing to do with what they said or which belief they held.
It was all about the doing, being, experiencing, opening, loving, loving, loving.
It was in the living.
I may no longer have words to describe where I am spiritually, but I can tell you one thing-
I’m alive (phew) and God is near.