I read the book Blue Like Jazz by Don Miller. I read it after in the space of about three weeks I had about 12 different people say something about it. Working in a bookstore I notice that it sells rather well, but it was my friend Dana who is studying for some high-falootin math or science degree (with a minor in literature) at University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska that finally got me to read the book. I'm glad I did. I read it quickly, probably too quickly, matter of fact I know I read it too quickly (I'm going to go back and reread it with a highlighter in hand).
There were many things in the book that I really related to. One of the things that he kept talking about was,as I like to call it "quantifying God." You may not believe this, particularly if you read this blog with any regularity, but I tend to think too much. I have done that since I was a teenager. I can remember lying in bed at night as I tried to go to sleep and think about thinks such as "what's on the other side of space," or "how can God be?" and "what does eternity really mean?" I was, I suppose, a very rookie (neo-phyte-esque) wanna-be philosopher. I had an image in my head of a big billboard like sign at the end of the Universe that said "The end of space, beware, angels fear to tread."
I often wondered if I was "normal" in my thought processes as I tried to wrap my brain around the whole God-thing. It was around this time that my faith started to slip. I was, and I think I've written about this elsewhere, what I term a "stand up, sit down Christian." I knew when to stand up, I knew when to sit down, I knew when to sing and I knew when to say "amen." I was, in short, a "rote" Christian, who happened to know the liturgy frontwards and backwards. Basically I was saying the words, but there wasn't much behing them.
Fast forward a couple years and remove me from Maryland and plop me down in (the great state of) Texas. Suddenly I find myself in a very Lutheran environment. I got "drafted" by my RA Dana to interview to be a camp counselor at Camp Lone Star. That is where I started to get some of my doubts and questions answered. I didn't so much go out and ask these questions as just kind of hung back and waited for answers.
I know the exact moment that I finally got the "God-thing."
I was blessed to work at Camp Lone Star for four summers, 1996,1997, 1998, and 1999. For two or three of those summers I was employed as a lifeguard. One of the duties I had to perfom was to 'guard the lake. I never particularly liked 'guarding the lake because I never quite felt a hundred percent comfortable down there watching the kids swim and bob around. I found myself taking headcounts every five minutes, I was always more nervous about the lake, the pool wasn't so nerve racking, the pool was much smaller than the lake. I may not have liked 'guarding the lake, but I relished the downtime at the lake.
I am a bit of a loner by nature. I usually find my company much more enjoyable than the company of others. One day I was at the lake by myself and nothing was happening. I was waiting for a group or something. It wasn't one of those hot, sticky, "I-hate-Texas-weather" kind of days. It was beautiful and there was a slight breaze in the air. The sky was a perfect blue, not a cloud in the sky. It was, to be quite honest, a sublime day. I knew in my hear that that was going to be the most beautiful day I would experience, probably ever in my lifetime. I remember sitting on the dock just diggin on the scene, breathing deeply and kind of meditating. I remember saying outloud "this would be an absolutely perfect scene if there was a hawk floating over those trees..." I don't know if God heard me, or if it was just a coincidence, but shortly there after a hawk flew around the tree tops, its wings wide, it floated on the thermals, circling. I have pictures of it somewhere.
That was the day that God and I really got down on the same page, if you will. I really felt his presence-- I had a silent communion with Him and His creation.
As I read Blue Like Jazz, I could really relate to many of the things he had to say, but there seemed to be an underlying theme of "I have to do something to earn this..." and that caused me some consternation (well, that and the fact that book was a bit unevenly written, and could be quite choppy at times).
I'm sure I'll have more to say about this in later entries.
I think the next book I shall read is Mere Christianity.