Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Book vs The Soul, Part 3

I loved Bible study.  I already knew a lot, sometimes more than most in my class, simply because I'd been exposed to so much scripture study in my early life. Still I found new things to learn, new interpretations, social-cultural studies, differences in languages making for differences in meaning, etc. I worked hard at studying, sometimes spending whole days searching the web for things related to what I was studying. We spent over a year studying Genesis chapter by chapter and I ended up with two 3-inch 3-ring binders of articles and the like from the web on Genesis and the stories in it. I took a class in the social-cultural world of the Bible and wished so much I'd found that years earlier. We had to write a paper for that class and present a 5-10 minute talk on it. My paper was 26 pages and I could have gone on longer. The rest of the class did 3-5 pages. But I was hooked on study.

Then the world caved in. I was told in a Bible study class something the priest had said several times in private. I did my homework and that encouraged others not to -- they would wait for me to give an answer and then they could discuss that rather than offering their own answers. I tried to continue. I took knitting to class to keep me present and focused but also with hands busy so I would have to stop and think about speaking before I said anything. I always waited for someone else to start the conversation but it wasn't enough.  I was still too... whatever you want to call it. I was sort of un-invited, unofficially. I tried to keep other commitments to the church I'd made: as a lector, as a server at any service I was asked to do, as a vestry person, a liaison to the worship committee, doing the weekly bulletins, Altar Guild, but I was gradually shut out from those too. There really felt like there was no answer but to leave.

I found EfM. I'd heard of it and had asked our priest if we could hold a class at our parish since there was a certified mentor in our congregation. The answer was, "You can get a much better education from one of my Bible studies than from that class." Luckily, and to make a long story short, I found EfM. I could study as much as I liked and, with it being online, I could interact with people from all over who wanted to study too. I could offer what I'd learned and receive what others had gained in their own experience. I found new things about the Bible I hadn't known, even with all the study I'd done. I found church history, something i'd only really come across very peripherally in required history classes in school and college, and I found theology, a subject I'd been interested in for at least 8 years before I even found Bible study and then EfM.

One things still bothers me, though. Even though I've been Christian more or less all my life, and even though I pursue my studies with almost as much passion as I did several other times in my life, there's still something not there. The Book is there but the soul?  Where is it? What is its passion? What does it believe or not believe?  For what does it wish? For what does it need healing and for what does it need to offer healing to others? 

After years of being Christian, I don't know it all. I could go back to confirmation class right now and probably learn a lot, maybe about the church, maybe about living the baptismal covenant, maybe just about myself. I could go back to Bible studies and probably learn a lot more both about it and about me.

I may have a lot of book knowledge but the soul, and the heart --- it's never enough.

So why am I writing this?  Perhaps it's just time to put it on paper (or on electrons) and look at it for what it is, the story of a journey that has more than its share of failure in so many ways and areas but which isn't over yet. It's still a search for the answers -- and for the God I worship inside but don't really know or understand.

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