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Divinejoy

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About Divinejoy

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  1. I'm trying to rediscover and re-claim my Christianity and just ordered a copy of Red Letter Revolution by Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne. I was raised Catholic, stopped attending mass in my late teens and have been practicing spiritual meditation wtih a inclusive, non-denomination wisdom/mystical path for the past 10 years with the belief that there is only one true God, but many paths. I have never denounced or discredited my Christian roots. I just have not been part of an Christian fellowship since my Catholic church days. I could explain that more, but that would probably be for another discussion thread. I recently started exploring participating in Christian worship again with a Protestant Evangelical Fellowship. Tony Campolo was a guest speaker/pastor at this morning's service and much of what he had to say about the essense of being and living as a Christian moved me and resonated with me. Has anyone read Red Letter Revolution or any of his other books and have thoughts to share?
  2. I know this is a very old post, but i am relatively new to this site and just read this today. Your music and tuning analogy resonates with me, particularly when you wrote "Too much static makes me withdraw." I too believe in experiencing God's love, love him in return, and be like him in loving others. And I am also struggling with finding a way to filter the parts of Christian worship that don't work for me. On my own, in my day to day life and work, I feel very much connected to and in relationship with God. I share the qualities of my "God relationship" with others and reflect on how to embody love, compassion, understanding and tolerance when i am faced with difficult decisions or interactions with others. I have not been part of an organized Christian congregation since I stopped going to Catholic mass in my late teens. Now in my late 40s, I have started considering what it might be like go be part of a regular Christian fellowship again. I took myself to a Christian worship service this morning and it was a surreal experience for me. Familiar, yet foreign. I felt some of the old "black and white" judgment and have a hard time with the aspects of worship that sound to me like I'm being told I am a thoughtless sinner. However I did enjoy aspects of the young minister's sermon about "thirst" (the scripture reading was John 19:16-18, 28-29). I also felt moved during the ritual prayer of thanks and sharing of communion. I'm still processing how or if I will or need to be part of a congregation. Reading your post today about how to filter or not feel the need to tune out/withdraw is giving me an interesting way to reflect on my experience and ongoing investigation of how I might be able to be part of a Christian fellowship again.
  3. Soma, thank you for your open sharing. It is really helpful for me to hear and reminds me to trust that when there is real love between two people, a path for them to be together will be open and God will guide them if it is for the higher good of both people. My boyfriend and I have been forced into a physical separation right now because of life circumstances. His life sudenly turned upside down this past month and he had to move to another state last week to care for his mother who is having health problems. We are not sure for how long. He is dealing with a lot of unknown variables that are spiralliing out of control and it is very stressful for him. Our relationship is only four months old and we both would like it to continue, but because of all that he has to focus on right now, we have decided to dial back the romantic level right now. We are still in contact and and communicating, but for the unforeseen future our communication will probably be sporadic as he gets through the transitional chaos of moving and figures out and settles into his new role as care manager and care giver. I do not want our relationship to be a source of any more stress in his life. Right now I feel the most loving, compassionate thing I can do for him right now is to understand that he still does care deeply about me, but accept that our relationship can not be a priority for him now. Instead i told him i will continue to love and support for him in whatever I can. I know it will be challenging for both of us, but the truth I know about myself, him and our relationship feels stronger to me than my fears and insecurities. Right now it scares me that I don't know when I will see him again. But, Soma, your sharing is reminding me that if we are indeed intended to be partnered for the long haul, then God will guide us and a path will present itself. Once again, i sm so grateful to have this online community to safely share. Regardless of what happens, my relationship with him has brought me nothing but happiness. Even as we begin what might seem on the surface like a difficult chapter, our relationship is still helping me learn and grow and deepen my relationship with myself, God and my Christianity.
  4. Soma, thank you for sharing about your marriage and about your personal practices with meditation and yoga. I think my "alternative" practices is definitely an area my boyfriend is trying to understand better. His sense of devotion and relationshio to God through Christ seems to be a more direct and focused way. Whereas my way seems to be a little more loose around the edges, so to speak. Having this forum to dialogue about all of this is helping me see and understand that. Perhaps a good way for me to express to him how I feel about my relationship with Christ is using my relationship with my mother as an analogy. I love my mom dearly and she is to me my one true mother. She raised me, guided me, cared for me and I love her dearly. She loves me unconditionally and trusts me and I have compete love and gratitude in my heart for everything she has done and continues to do for me. She did the absolute best to prepare me for the world and and encouraged me to live and have life experiences. Sometimes I would stumble, and she was always there to pick me up. Even when I stubbornly went against her better insights at times and made my own mistakes, she was always there to pick me up and help me learn from my errors without judgment. As I travelled through life I have developed many friendships with other wonderful mothers. A few of them have a strong presence in my life and have been and still are important guides and confidants in my life. While I recognize, experience and benefit from the true loving maternal qualities and guidance that they share with me, I would never choose to replace my own mother with any of them. My mother is aware if these other relationships in my life and even personally knows some of the other "mothers" in my life. She is not jealous or threatened by these relationships at all. instead she is grateful and has peace of mind knowing that i have so many wonderful, loving caring friends who can also help me and suport me on my journey. My relationship with Christ is this way. He is my first true teacher and path to God, and i can not replace that. I can experience truth and learn from other paths and traditions, but my relationship with Jesus and his teachings can not be replaced or downgraded.
  5. Thank you Paul and Soma for reading and responding. I appreciate your supportive words. Paul you thoughts and sharing about labels are in alignment with my thinking and feelings. And Soma, what you described succinctly sums up my feelings as well and expresses how I have been living and sharing God and my Christian experience. Part of what is inspiring me to explore how to be part of an outward Christian fellowship again is a wonderful relationship I have been in for the past four months. We talked about our spiritual paths early in our relationship and from my perspective i felt we have plenty of common ground to share faith and God. We decided that we would know this was an aspect of our relationship that we would continue to discuss and explore. We recently started having more dialogue about our spiritual perspectives because feelings are definitely deepening between and spiritual compatability and understanding is important to both of us. I've been comfortably flying solo with my inner spiritual world for the past decade or so and have just been living my beliefs and faith without needing a labeling or defining myself unless someone asked. But their curiosity usually only went a layer or two below my surface and I had my explanations ready like the one I mentioned in my post. I knew it was bigger than that to me, but usually struggled with how to succinctly and accurately define it. So I just experienced it and lived it, as Soma wrote in his post. But now that I'm in this relationship I feel it is important to be able to accurately and fully explain who and what I am so we can see if we can continue a shared path together. He is in no way asking me to not be who or what I am, he just wants to understand me better. He considers himself a PC and Christian worship and bible study is something he wants to be able to share with a partner in an authentic way. In the past year or so I had occasionally contemplated being part of some sort of Church experience again. My Sufi group is wonderfully supportive for me when it comes to my inner growth, but I noticed myself admiring people who were part of a faith based community that worshiped together....be it Jewish, Christian, Muslim, etc. But my judgments of conservative, fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity kept me from exploring in earnest. So that's were I find myself today. Trying to balance sharing deeply with someone I care for very much while being true to my understanding and relationship with God and Christianity to explore if and how we might be able to journey further as a couple.
  6. I'm a week old newbie to this site and am so grateful for the wonderfully supportive atmosphere that I see here. I have been struggling with being able to call myself a true Christian because I thought my path didn't look like the the mainstream versions of Christianity. I was raised Roman Catholic complete with 12 years of Catholic education. I came to know God through Christ in an experience that was dutiful and the importance of being morally right and good were stressed. The Bible would confuse me because it was sometimes taught as literal fact and other times presented simply as metaphor. I cant say i was traumatized by it. i have fond memories of attending folk guitar masses, taking part in community projects, and celebrating holidays with my family, etc. I have always felt a certainty and love of God and the teachings of Jesus, and have never denounced or discounted my beliefs. I just became disenchanted with being told there is a right or wrong way to worship or understand God. It felt incongruent with my understanding of what Christ taught....unconditional love, understanding, compassion, tolerance. I stopped attending mass during college but never gave up God or trying to live with Christ like qualities. I left the brick and mortar, but I never felt I left my faith. As I continued on in life i came in contact with more diversity and enjoyed experiencing and learning about other cultures and faiths. I went through a divorce in my early thirties and struggled with being on my own for the first time in my life. I still had a good support system of loving and caring friends and family, but I still felt lost in many ways and my self confidence was very fragile. During this time i received a lot of unsolicited advice from everyone about God and how to have or not have a relationship with him. All of this shut me down even more. I made some futile attempts to find an organized church, but it felt like I was just going back to a dutiful practice just in a different house. I was hanging on to my last shred of my relationship with God, when I found my way to a Universal Sufi group, a non-denominational spiritual perspective that recognizes one true God and respects the authentic truth found in all faiths and paths to God. It is not a religion, but a mystical path. For me it was a way to go within and begin to feel again. I found a place that did not require me to convert or reject my past and also allowed me to further experience and learn about other truths. I felt so free with God and faith for the first time. I was not required to sit in a pew every week. I did not have to read tons of scholarly literature or accept any new dogmas or Gods or Goddesses or statues. Instead, i started meditating with a small local group of Sufis and my experience and relationship with God grew in leaps and bounds. The meditation practices incorporate aspects, chants and prayers from all faiths. At first I felt I was being sacreligeous on some level by doing this. But I couldn't deny that I was feeling authentic experiences and continued on my way. All of Christs teachings were still in me and I was seeing and feeling them grow bigger in me because I was recognizing and experiencing Christian truths in other faiths and traditions. And vice versa. Because I recognize and even value some of the traditions and prayers of other faiths, I thought I was not entitled or allowed to outwardly call myself a legitimate Christian. Guess some of my old black or white Catholic dogma residue is still in me. However if someone asked if I were Hindu or Buddhist or Jewish or Muslim or Wiccan, etc I could easily say no. But I don't feel I could say no when asked if I were Christian. Instead I say something like "well I'm a recovering Catholic, but I am grateful for the teachings and consider christianity to be my foundation." I guess you can say i have been a solo, silent christian much of my adult life. I haven't been part of a Christian fellowship or congregation in more than 25 years and I've been considering what it would be like to be part of something like that again. The fears and hesitation I have are not that I am questioning my faith in God or Jesus, but more about the human judgment and not being accepted as a full or true Christian because of my Sufi path, which I do not want to denounce or give up. As I write this I am realizing I am in a similar place as I was when I found the Sufi perspective. I didn't want to turn my back on or denounce my Christianity. And now I feel the similar struggle about not wanting to turn my back on my Sufi experience. Most of the Christians I know I would consider open minded and progressive. But until a week ago, I didnt realize there was an organized progressive Christianity movement. I just thought I was lucky to stumble upon and know a few "cool" Christians. So I am now on path to integrate my experiences and perhaps find my place within a Christian fellowship again. I am so grateful for this safe, supportive and welcoming forum. It feels authentic to me. sharing here feels like an important part of how I can learn to continue to deepen my relationship with God and how to integrate my life experiences to have a more whole inner and outer spiritual life.
  7. Thank you so much Joseph for being in dialogue with me about this. My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude and i am so overjoyed to have found this website and message boards to help me further understand, articulate and live my beliefs. I have to admit i am not one to join on line chat sites or message boards, but I sense an authentic atmosphere of safety and comfort here in which I feel i can further expand and deepen. I feel like I have stumbled upon and am opening to yet another important piece of my ever progressing journey.
  8. Post script: I was just re reading my posts and want to clarify two things I wrote. When I wrote in the first post that I have been "following the teachings of Hazrat Inayat khan" I do not intend that to mean that I worship or pray to or through this teacher. Rather his work and writings help me know myself and my own spiritual beliefs and truths. In the last post I made reference to "being a Sufi" in regards to participating in christian fellowship. Something about using that label makes me feel i could be perceived as not being a true christian. The feelings of either/or, one or the other is coming up for me. perhaps my concerns are the residue of my catholic dogma. The Sufi path that I know and experience is not a religion. For me it is an outlook and a way to help deepen the qualities of my core faith. It is a mystical perspective that recognizes the truth and value in all faiths. So perhaps saying "from a Sufi perspective" is a more true expression of what I feel and believe. Again, I am so very grateful for this forum. Being able to reflect on these big questions and be able to express and be heard is wonderfully powerful and helpful for me.
  9. Thanks for you post Joseph. Perhaps I was to hasty in using the term or label "Christian Sufi." I think my curiosity is learning if there is anyone out there who consider themselves Christian who worship regularly with a fellowship but who may also learn from the teachings of Hazrat Inayat khan. I experience my Sufi path as non-denominational meditation practices which helps me connect to the wisdom of the one true God that I have always known and believed in. I experience and participate in prayers, chants and traditions from other faiths, including Christianity. However if one asked if I were Hindu, or Jewish, or Buddhist or Muslim I find it easy to say with certainty, "no I am not." I respect and appreciate aspects of those faiths, and can and have experienced authentic experiences with God through some of those traditions. But I do not feel I could or ever would fully align with those faiths. However when asked about being a Christian, my heart answers yes. i was introduced to God through Jesus and raised with Jesus' teachings and have never denied or felt i abandoned that. However i have struggled with aligning myself outwardly with that because of all the conservative, extremist, fundamentalist out there who in my opinion have twisted the teachings of Jesus in a negative way. I didnt want to be judged or labeled as something i was not. i have found it easier to live my beliefs, as opposed to explaining them. so i stayed away from stating i was christian. In fact i feel it is the Christian qualities of unconditional love, compassion, understanding and tolerance that i was raised with that have been the foundation of my sufi journey and the Sufi experience has helped me delve deep within into the essence and qualities of my Christian experience. I have never given much thought to what it would be like to rejoin or be part of a Christian congregation again, but the relationship I am in is inspiring me to consider this. Being part of regular Christian worship is important to him and something he wants to be able to share with his partner. And i too want to share God and faith in my relationship. He considers himself a progressive Christian, and I feel we have plenty of common ground to explore and find a way. As a Sufi I have no problem experiencing and being part of Christian worship and studying Jesus' teaching. As long as it feels like an authentic experience and that the bible is not thrown at me as literal all or nothing acceptance. In fact now that I have deprogrammed much if the catholic dogma that I was raised with, I am curious to see what it would be like to approach the teachings of Jesus with a fresh perspective and with the same curiosity and intrigue as I had when learning about Buddhism or Judaism or Islam, Hinduism, Wicca, etc. So as a Sufi, I see no problem worshiping as a Christian and being part of a Christian fellowship. However, I'm concerned that perhaps a Christian fellowship may not be able to tolerate me and view my beliefs and Sufi practice as sacrilegious. I do not wish to abandon or discount my sufi experience and practices but i also do not wish to insult or interfere with anyone's experience of God or beliefs in Jesus and the Bible. So I am curious to know if there are others who are on a Sufi path who also actively practice their Christian faith with a fellowship. Wondering what that experience is like for them and what struggles or obstacles they may encountered. I'm so very grateful to have found this website and forum!
  10. I know this is a very old thread, but am looking to dialogue with other universal Sufis who also consider themselves Christian. I have been on a Sufi path and following the teaching if Hazrat Inayat khan for the past 12 years. I was raised catholic (complete with 12 years if catholic school) and became disenchanted with the hypocrisy and "black and white" kind of thinking that i felt with the Church. I have joked about being a "recovering catholic" for years, however in my heart I have never denounced my faith in God and I acknowledge that my path to God came through Jesus. The humanistic teachings of Jesus (unconditional love, compassion, understanding, generous in spirit and deed,etc) have always been with me and I feel that the true essence of my catholic upbringing are and always have been the foundation of my relationship with God. I was drawn to the Sufi path because I was not required to convert or leave my beliefs behind. It became a way for me to deprogram the catholic rules that I was taught so I could be with and focus on experiencing the essence of what I what I was taught. Because the Sufi path recognizes the teachings of all faiths, I have come to learn about, enjoy and appreciate aspects of other faiths. And this path has inspired me to deepen and feel my own authentic experience with God. And I am also moved when I witness others from different backgrounds or faiths express and experience authentic connection to God. Aside from my Sufi meditation group and path, I have not been part of any organized faith based group since I left the Catholic Church. Ive been in a wonderful relationship for four months with someone who considers himself a progressive Christian and we have started more serious sharing and discussions about our faith and paths. Spiritual compatability and sharing faith in a relationship is a mutual priority for both of us. From my perspective, I feel like we have plenty of common of spiritual ground to continue deepening our reltionship. Being part of a church and partipatng in worship services and taking part in bible study are important things to him. And are things he would like to be able to share with a partner. I feel open to exploring how to do this with him and feel that we can find a way. I think he still has some uncertainty because he still doesn't quite understand the Sufi path I have been on. So I'm curious to hear form other Christian Sufis about their experiences and how they perhaps participate in Christian worship.
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