Friday, December 11, 2009

A Spiritual Journey - Part One

In my previous post I had a really good discussion with Anette Acker, a Christian blogger that responded to my challenge. During the course of our conversation said asked me an excellent question: "If you're on a spiritual journey, why not ask God to lead you to his truth and see where that takes you? As you said, there can only be one truth, and any deity worth his salt should care about you finding it, right?"


Enthused about Anette's question, I composed a fairly lengthy response and posted it. Or so I thought. It disappeared into cyberspace. Within my response I described what have been my most spiritual experiences, including asking God the precise question stated above by Anette, and what I felt God's response was. Perhaps losing my post was a good thing, as I had used some real names, including those of my daughters. So, I decided I would make it the subject of this, my next topic, and rewrite my response to Anette in a more generic manner.

Since my daughters are included here, let me give you a little background. I have identical twin daughters from my first marriage, 17 years old, that are the absolute joy of my life. I'll call them Sharon and Susan (as a tribute to the identical twins in the movie "A Parent Trap" from 1961 and what we considered naming them).

Early in the pregnancy, Sharon was diagnosed with "velamentous cord insertion" which means her umbilical cord did not enter directly into the placenta. Instead, it attached to the walls of the amniotic sack and then veins traveled along the amniotic membrane until they reached the placenta. The symptoms of VCI vary widely, but in Sharon's case she simply received less of a blood supply that Susan. Because the veins are not protected and can be compressed by the stresses of birth, VCI babies are almost always delivered by caesarian section. Their mother went into labor at only 28 weeks, but this was brought under control by drugs for a month or so and they were born "only" 7 weeks early. Sharon was 16 inches long and weighed 3.5 pounds, 2 inches shorter than Susan at 18 inches long and weighing 5 pounds even. Both had typical symptoms of being born prematurely, such as apnea, but were sent home after only a month stay in the hospital. Except for Sharon being diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta a couple years ago (corrected by stent surgery) both are vibrant and healthy.

Because Sharon suffered somewhat while in the womb, her neonatologist told us that she would have a stronger personality, and that has proven to be true. Sharon is a very complex individual, has very strong opinions, and does not put up with any crap. She is intolerant sometimes, especially when it comes to ethical matters and she is perhaps the most honest person I have ever known. Susan, on the other hand is sweet, eager to please, and being 3 inches taller and stunningly beautiful, has more friends, including 4 boyfriends so far to Sharon's none. Yet I worry more about Susan, as she may lack the fortitude that Sharon has to stay out of trouble.

I recall strongly an event shortly after they were born when I was holding Sharon and we stared at each other, right in the eyes. Babies have not yet learned that it is impolite to stare, so it can be fun to see how long they will lock your gaze. In this case after a minute or so of staring I had this sudden and overwhelming feeling I was staring directly into the eyes of God. It was a spiritual experience unlike anything I have had before or since. I love them both equally and more than I ever thought I could love anyone, but I have this unique soft spot in my heart for Sharon that puts a lump in my throat and makes my heart well up with a combination of love, joy, sadness, pride, and awe when I even think about her, as I am experiencing now as I write this. To this day I cannot look her in the eyes for more than a second or two without these spiritual feelings returning.

Perhaps, unaware to me at the time, this was the beginning of my spiritual journey away from Christianity.

- To be continued -


Anette Acker said...

That's a very nice story about your daughter, Dave. It's obvious that you love both of your children a lot.

I haven't heard the rest of your story, but one thought occurred to me while reading that part. You described yourself as a "casual" Christian before your "deconversion," and much of what you've told me indicates that it was never real to you (but correct me if I'm wrong). Then after "Sharon" was born you had what you describe as a spiritual experience looking into her eyes.

I think that the love parents feel for their children is the closest we come in the natural realm to God's "agape" love, because it is unselfish and wants the best for the children regardless of their behavior.

While it is true that some parents use their kids for ego gratification by pressuring them to achieve, you indicate that you feel a special bond to the daughter who is not the paradigm of teenage girl perfection. And this started shortly after she was born, when you knew that she had "suffered" in the womb in ways that might affect her later in life.

I wonder if you had a more real experience of the true nature of God (who is love) during that time than you had during all those years of going through the motions in church. I will be the first to admit that there is much fluff in a lot of churches (with a speck of Gospel mixed into it). And now that the hymns are largely gone we have very little connection to classical, apostolic Christianity.

But that's just a thought. I haven't heard the rest of your story, so I don't know your reasons.

Anette Acker said...

When is the sequel coming out? Are you just going to leave us at this cliffhanger forever?

Dave B said...

Sorry Annette. Still haven't re-written it. Quick summary: I have a big argument with old best friend and co-worker about my deconversion. He accuses me of being under the influence of Satan. I tell him (while poking at his heart)that God lives inside each and everyone of us and is not defined by the Bible. I still believe that, but in in a pantheist way, not a paranormal one. By the way, that was about 5 years ago. We keep in touch, but are no longer close friends.