Spirituality

Thimble Theology vs. Cosmic Conviction

Hey ya’ll? I’ve been here in my dreams…

By: JANA GREENE

Hi, my wonderful Reader.

Who else is straight trippin’ over the images from the James Webb telescope released this week? Because I’m in AWE, with a capital “A.” I have to tell you that that my Spirit is even more impressed with them than my brain, which is amazed. And it has renewed by faith on a cosmic scale.

For a couple of decades, I have occasionally had a recurring dream that I am flying through outer space, and as I’m soaring, I am awash in an incredible feeling of warmth and belonging. Floating and gliding at peace in a place of unimaginably bright-colored celestial bodies against a black sky that was somehow NOT dark… endless planetary bodies around me, and they are both a million miles away and a part of my own body, simultaneously. It’s my favorite dream. I wish I had it more often.

Ever have those “this is so realistic; I must be dead and in Heaven” dreams? Even in my dream-state, I’m cognizant of fact that the sheer vastness and twinkling stars and planets should (by measurement of my earthly anxiety) make me afraid. But I’ve left the earthly plane and don’t give two hoots about the utter INFINITENESS. It isn’t scary. I am home.

Can I better describe this dream venue for you? I can. By showing you the pictures of our Universe that were captured by the telescope. As I told my therapist whilst recounting seeing the images for the first time, “I’ve BEEN to there!”

I used to be able to hold my theology in a thimble. It was laid out to me by my ancestors, and their ancestors – a set of beliefs that were true because I was told they were, and I’m a people pleaser above all else. I didn’t know it was in a thimble – I thought it was quite encompassing. There were rules and doctrines and to question them was a sin, so I didn’t question. But the evangelical world and its gospel of exclusion started to gnaw on my soul. It didn’t sit well, but OH WELL. WHAT CAN YOU DO? God was loving but stern, bound by his own doctrine and narrow in his thinking. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t exit the spacecraft.

But love doesn’t operate that way. God doesn’t operate that way.

You cannot define his love within the bounds of a dogma, or a book, or a patriarchal gospel. I know this to be true because when my thimble spilled the contents of its conviction, the enormity of his love pummeled me. I started basking in nature – Creation – and really SEEING it. I’ve even hugged a tree or two. I stopped taking everyone else’s inventory. I stopped inquiring if people who were not like me were “worthy.”

What is the point is a Creator who keeps expanding the Universe, but not our minds and hearts?

So today I soar.

The deconstructing of my birthright faith was brutal, I’m not going to lie. I took apart everything I’d learned piece by piece, in order to learn for myself what was true. I had to get to the root of what MY heart truly believed, which – if I’m honest – was fear-based. Imagine my delight when Jesus met me right where I was, gathered me under his divine wings, and comforted me with truth.

My God isn’t bound by 2,000 years of human dogma. He isn’t bound by cannon and law. His law is the law of the whole Universe – the one I’ve soared through in my dreams. The one who keeps expanding holy territory around us and IN us. There is nothing narrow about his vast love for you. The same hand that keeps spinning the cosmos is living in YOU.

I think that’s pretty far-out.

Acceptance · Addiction · alcoholism · blogging · Brokenness · Serenity · Spiritual · writing

From Beggar to Mystic – a Blog Reimagined

For all who have followed me on this 10-year writing journey, thank you.

By: JANA GREENE

I was supposed to be a Super Christian.

In my mind, I mean. I tried.

I taught Bible studies, and taught Vacation Bible School. I helped launch a couple of Christian-based recovery groups in the city. I was on the Prayer Team, the Greeting Team, the Hospitality team.

Ten years ago, I started this blog – TheBeggarsBakery.com – with stars in my eyes and a mission on my heart. I was truly so serious about it; so sure that it was my “ministry.” It was BEFORE.

Before pain was the order of the day, every day.

Before the novelty of thinking I was a recovery expert wore off like Novocain after a root canal.

Before I realized I am not in control (at ALL.)

Before I knew there were so many shades of gray.

Before my grown children gave me gray hair.

And before churches tried to cast demons out of me, for being SICK.

I haven’t been comfortable with the blog’s name for a few years now. I don’t want people to think they have to be broken and begging for Divine Love. Although I wanted to tell others that my soul found “bread” in God, it sounded more and more dualistic and exclusive. As I learned I’m not a fundamentally flawed person desperate for approval – divine or otherwise – I didn’t want my writing to impress upon anyone else that THEY must be broken too.

My intentions were altruistic, I promise. There was a fire in my belly. And there is still. It was a controlled burn for many years, now it’s a brushfire – raging with the expectation that new growth, all green and fresh, will come up underneath. I’m counting on living to witness a full forest come up from underneath this burnt ground.

The Beggars Bakery fit me ten years ago. I felt like a beggar, frankly. My life was feeling like I was a mistake that just squeaked by. I was striving, striving, striving for approval – God’s, my husband’s, my family’s, my friends’. If I could JUST be a successful “ministry,” and maybe make a living at writing?

Alas, neither really panned out as I’d hoped. Especially not the “make a living” part. But with renewed strength, I can see my focus was wrong. I zigged when I should have zagged. I proselytized when I should have just loved.

I am already enough. So are you.

And I retained a love of Jesus but developed a disdain for the evangelical church. And once you see the Universal Christ, you cannot “unsee” him; it really screwed with my oh-so-sure faith walk but opened up something in me I denied for decades.

Don’t get me wrong: I will not start all over here. Because it’s like a spiritual time capsule, and each stage had merit. I don’t want to forget where I came from – there was much JOY! But I want to get to where I’m going, and that requires a little reinvention.

As a follower of Christ, as an empowered female in a new world, and as a mystic.

My very favorite song is Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic.” Every single word and note hits me RIGHT in the feels. The MYSTIC. When did we decide – as followers of Christ – to give our Mysticism away? When I was striving to earn God’s approval, I’d skip the word “mystic” when singing it aloud. WHAT? Was my faith so fragile as to offend God with a lyric? Oh my GOD, the LEGALITY.

It was the mere connotation that something mystical could be afoot in my staid, steady, the-Bible-is-literal manner that made the song scandalous. I sing “Into the Mystic” out loud now, and I know God is okay with it.

Just like yoga,

And some Eastern beliefs I was taught to fear.

Just like accepting other humans – fallible and seeking – for their truest selves.

Just like being okay with people just the way they are,

And giving up my staunch nationalistic views for one that assumes ALL are loved and valued by our Creator…

And being authentic, even when it means making a fool of myself.

It’s okay to do so. It’s imperative to growth, especially when the world is on fire.

I’m not sure what direction this blog will go.

I plan on writing about my faith reconstruction journey – all of it. The Fall. The burn. The sweet, fragrant undergrowth of new life shooting forth.

I will still write about recovery from alcoholism – it’s part and parcel of who I am.

I will probably vent frustrations about my worries and keep a safe place to express my anxiety.

So, if you’ve stuck by me all these years and faithfully read all of my work – I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please consider staying with me. I’ve come to appreciate each of you so much.

I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old,

With stars in my eyes and love in my heart,

Without a superhero cape, but with arms wide open,

And together we will fold
Into the mystic.

MusingsOfaGypsySoul

Poetry · Spiritual

Ballad of a Mid-Life Mama

By: JANA GREENE

What does the REAL me want in life?

I’d never thought to ask.

I forgot all about myself

While busy with the tasks

Of raising daughters

And leading daughters

As they were growing strong.

Did I stop to ask myself

For what my own heart longed?

No, I did the right thing

At the time…

I fixated on their wellness.

I hovered and fussed,

I tried to hand them over

To God in trust,

And somewhere in those precious years

I had a little inner-strife,

Because I couldn’t tell you

What I want for my own life.

But ladies?

Ah, now is the time,

To meet this a super Amazing Queen.

The one who looks you in the mirror,

The holder of your dreams,

And take the time to

Ask her plenty

What makes HER heart soar?

Hover and fuss over her some,

Then fuss over her some more.

My mid-life mamas everywhere,

Step into your new dreams,

And be who you were born to be –

A super, amazing Queen.

Spiritual

People are “Problematic” (love them anyway)

Photo by THIS IS ZUN on Pexels.com

By: Jana Greene

I realize that times like these are where the rubber hits the road, faith-wise. I just wish I wasn’t working with bald tires and jacked up pattern of traffic cones to navigate life.

Metaphorically, of course.
We all are burning rubber, and not getting very far. We are all weary and wrung-out, exhausted, divided, and furious.

Think of all the ways we have been divided over the past few years coinciding with Covid.

Think of your friends individually, and all the ways you differ in opinion to the detriment of your relationship… ways you had no idea were so different to yours. Maybe on things that are so close to your heart, you cannot BELIEVE a friend you formerly thought you had a lot in common with feels one way or another. How COULD they?? Ya think you know a person, right?

My daughter and I were having a conversation not long after the Super Bowl half-time show last winter. She was saying that she respected Eminem taking a knee at the performance. “But,” she said. “I have mixed feelings about Eminem. He’s problematic.”

“Everyone is problematic,” I said, because it’s true.

Now, my daughter and I do not agree on many, many issues. BIG ones. But we try to respect the other’s feelings, which is the most any of us can do, I think.

She was referring to the rapper’s controversial lyrics. But it occurred to me –

We really are ALL problematic.

Like… I KNOW I’m problematic. There is probably that one time I said something I didn’t think through before saying it; actually, probably hundreds of times. Or the view I held ten years ago that today makes me cringe. Or the way I handled those situations in the past that are not me, anymore.

What too often happens is that we throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. We end up discounting the whole person for their flaws or differences, but only the ones we ourselves have never struggled with. Because our own problematic ways may not be problematic to US, and therefore, we consider them unproblematic in sum.

The human brain just loves to categorize and label, and the human ego loves to judge others. It just jacks up our righteous-o-meters. It’s how we make sense of the world. It’s how we make sense of each other.

It tells us not to appreciate one aspect of a person, because they are “problematic.”

Nobody is asking “What would Jesus do?” anymore because we know good and damn well what he would do. We just don’t want to do it.

People over policy.

Relationship vs. religion.
Friends over ideology.
Love one another, for that is the greatest commandment.

Not one of us was designed to live in this environment – 24-hour news cycles, being bombarded with hostility, being micro-managed by the government. Not one of us was born to intake what we intake all day every day. Fodder for turning us against each other. It didn’t start at the beginning of Covid. It’s been brewing for years. Dualism has been around since the dawn of time.

My old beliefs aren’t ME, anymore. I’m a different person than I was three years ago. Or yesterday, for that matter.

Every day I’m learning, and I think that’s all we can expect from mere mortals – that we keep growing. Even when it contradicts what you’ve said and done most of your life. Growth is not linear. Keep reaching and forgive your mistakes, but also forgive the mistakes others have made _or are CURRENTLY making – on this road. We are all on the same route.

Differences we may have that divide us:

Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life.

Supporting the LGBTQ+ community vs. Discriminating against them.

Vaxxed vs. Un-vaxxed.

Dems vs. Pubs.

Blue States vs. Red States.

Depp vs. Heard (just making sure your’e paying attention, haha.)

Things we have in common:

We have an unbelievable capacity to love.

We are all experiencing the human condition in many ways that truly sucks.

We are all human.

I won’t finish this off with platitudes and a rousing round of kumbaya, but I will say we can do better. We MUST do better. We must share the road.

We must not pass the stranded in our race to be #1. This is a call for kindness, which I will try to heed myself, even in the midst of Problemville.

Growing is loving beyond differences, I guess.

Love to each of you today, and God bless.