Oak trees, oak pews.

The Christians of old had a habit of taking the old tradition and making it theirs. This made it easier to convince the natives that they were on the same page. Sometimes it is the other way around. The natives will acquiesce to the Christians, but secretly keep their old faith.

Look at the Celtic cross. It is a cross superimposed on a circle. The trouble is that the symbol was perfectly fine before the extra lines got added. Originally it was two equal armed lines inside a circle. Think of a plus sign, limited by a circle. The Christians came along and said “Hey, look, we agree!” And they added lines past the circle to make a crucifix.

Trouble is, the symbol means more without the extra lines. The symbol means that we are all connected. It symbolizes the intersection of the divine and the mundane. It symbolizes where spirit meets flesh.

The cross says the same thing, but the cross only appears when Christians have appeared and put it there. The circle cross, or equal armed crosses, appear all over the world and all mean the same thing.

They mean that the divine is with us. This is a holy place. This is a place where God is.

The fact that these different cultures have the same symbol meaning the same thing – that there is something larger than this perceived reality – is pretty amazing. It is even more amazing when you realize that these cultures had no contact with each other. To me this is proof that God exists.

Then there are the Druids. Christians took the oak groves they worshipped in and tore them down. They took the trees and turned them into pews. Instead of a faith that celebrates the Creator in the midst of creation, people were made to sit passively on the very trees that had sheltered them.

Rosary beads are another example. The pre-Christian people used beads for protection. They used amethyst as a ward against drunkenness. They used rock crystal for purity. They used red coral and garnet for similar purposes. Then the Christians came along and said that they are worshipping the stones themselves so they made that a sin. Then when they started using rosaries as a way to measure their prayers, guess what stones were used?

This is no more evident in the Haitian beliefs of Voodoo. They took their gods and folded them into the Catholic saints. They are still worshipping their gods. They just have different names now when the priest comes around.

The old faith gets transformed into the new faith. It gets recycled, reused, repurposed. The old never left, it just changed its face.

Dream of Fields

I had a dream the other night that didn’t mean anything at the time but now feels relevant.

I was driving on a freeway and got off. I parked in a field, newly sown with seeds. There were hundreds of thousands of seeds. The land soupy, even bog-like, with them. I laboriously slogged through the field. The excess of seeds kept slowing me down.

After I had gone far enough from my car that I couldn’t see it because of the trees in the field and a bend in the land, I noticed that the field had an end. I saw a guardrail and the freeway again. It wasn’t an endless field.

I turned around to get back to my car. When I came back to it I saw that there were other people who had followed my un-beaten path and had also parked in the field. They had followed me, but they weren’t doing what I was doing. They weren’t walking in the furrows or studying the unusual amounts of seeds. They were taking pictures of the field, like it was a tourist attraction or a historical landmark.

I was a bit disgusted with them. They didn’t get anything about the field.

And how is this not different from my path?

I’ve left the road of church as usual. I’ve gotten off the path and found a field of green seeds. There is so much life and growth and vibrancy here that I am getting bogged down by it all. There are so many ideas for posts to write that I get overwhelmed at times with where to start.

I hope that my posts are helpful. I hope that they have spoken to fellow travelers. I hope that they have provided encouragement or enlightenment. I hope that they have shown a way out or a way in.

The last thing I would want is for anybody to follow me off the road and then treat it like it is a game or a show. It isn’t. It is hard work. It is like growing your own food or building your own house. There are some books offering suggestions but they can’t really show you exactly what to do.

By definition, they can’t.

Nobody can give you a blueprint for your life. It is your life and yours alone and they can’t really know what you need to make it work. They can offer advice from the sidelines, but they can’t play the game for you. They have a different perspective from seeing things from the side, but they can’t see it the way you are seeing it.

So I want people to read my words and get them, sure. I feel that I have useful things to say. I feel that they can help people get out of ruts or avoid falling into them in the first place. But I don’t want to be followed or iconized.

I want people to pull off their own roads and find their own fields and wander around them for a while. I want them to be inspired by my journey to take their own. I want them to question everything. I want them to be awake and conscious and intentional about life.

It all goes to fast to spend it in someone else’s field.