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Posts Tagged ‘Dylan Morrison’

Burn-Out & God

Burn-Out & God

I guess that God knows all about burn-out, having seen so many of us succumb to that particular psycho-spiritual pitfall. The trouble is, most of us recovering religious junkies found God at a young age when we hadn’t yet discovered who we really are, and perhaps more importantly, what God is really looking for in our mutual friendship. Is it any wonder that so many of us ditch the religion and God of our youth to be ‘normal’, and sleep in on Sunday mornings.

I reckon the whole concept of discipleship is partly to blame. To be a follower of the Nazarene is to self deny and take up our cross ad nauseam. Boy, what a life to sign up to. Thousands of church services over our three score years and ten, months spent in intercessory, battling prayer and of course, last but not least the endless voluntary work, known as ministry expected from all good disciples. It all sounds so holy and sacrificial, and if we know anything the Divine is really into sacrifice, especially that of His beloved Son. Some New Testament scholars believe Christianity to be an updated version of Greek Stoicism, and I can see why. Virtue as the highest form of happiness sounds all too familiar to my religious junkie mindset of old. Yes, God is a quality controller who expects from us the high standards of the Nazarene, especially on Sundays.

So where is the flaw in all of this. What exactly is discipleship and is its end result always burn-out. Well, may I humbly suggest that we have lost the Middle Eastern meaning of discipleship. All Jewish Rabbis, at least those of note and a good reputation had their disciples; generally a band of men, who modelled themselves on their master’s lifestyle and teaching. Of course like all discipleship models it had its drawbacks, with rivalry and power struggles always a possibility. Yet, at its essence it was all about following. Yeshua, bar Josef was no different. He asked his motley crew of men and women, to follow him, but was it a journey into dour sacrificialsm? I believe not.

The Nazarene claimed that his yoke was easy and his burden, light. These rabbinical buzz words had a special meaning. Yoke and Burden referred to the general life teaching of a spiritual master. In other words, Yeshua was saying that what he asked of his followers was quite simple and easy to fulfil, in comparison to many of the other yokes and burdens kicking around the Judaism of his day. Peter, James and John and gang were simply to love God and their neighbours in the same way the Galilean did. Just an imitation of sorts, yet not one to be squeezed out of stoical human effort, but one to be channeled from Divine Source, a reflex action of the Love that touches all. The taking up of the cross wasn’t a call to suffering but a call to liberation from the dictates of ego. Such a radical following of the Nazarene, would release the tortured will into the Divine destiny. A letting go to trump all lettings go.

‘I have come to bring life and life more abundantly’ now begins to make sense. A life of realignment and connection with Source, the Love that flows to all, if only we will ditch our old sacrificial thinking. To follow the Nazarene is not to crucify Self, but detach from ego and its incessant, fear fuelled demands. Self is made to flourish and create in the divine economy, not hang on a religious cross and pride itself on its suffering.

So where does that leave all of us religious burn-outs. Well, I reckon that somewhere along the line we have been presented with a form of Christianity whose yoke is far from easy and its burden, heavier than lead. We attempted to slave our way to holiness in the guise of sacrificial love and it back-fired. Our bodies, psyches and spirits had enough and declared so in quite dramatic fashion. ‘Stop’ they cried and so we did, often unwillingly, for the death loving virus within religion is a hard one to shift. Lying in a faithless heap we wondered if we’d ever again feel the Presence that started it all. And of course, in time the call comes, not to stoicism and religious hoop jumping, but to stillness and touch, the compassionate embrace of the Divine Samaritan. The Master has returned.

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Non-Leader Leaders

Non-Leader Leaders

 

In the previous posts in this wee series, I’ve looked at the pitfalls of being, or pretending to be, a leader within religious or spiritual groups. Both office-based and charisma-based shepherd roles tend to eventually morph into masks for our insecure egos, our fearful wounded psyches afraid to come into the Light of Divine acceptance. Of course our original motives may initially be well-intentioned but the outward and inward pressures of having ‘responsibility’ for a flock tend to take their toll.

Inside every leader lies a prisoner waiting to make a break for it. Yet, such is the ego strength of the religious or spiritual role that one can’t really make it on their own. Thankfully Divine Love has an appointment with all leaders whether they wish to keep it or not! Divine hijackings are a regular occurrence within the sacred world of the leadership tribe. One way or another Divine Love will get our attention and knock us off our leadership role. For many it’s ill health, for some an unexpected divorce, for others a nervous breakdown – all signs that our running on the hamster wheel of leadership expectations isn’t the Divine Will at all.

Once we’ve gone through our own valley of disillusionment and ego dethronement we are, at last, able to be ourselves, warts and all, without fear of what folk think. We can let all the fragmentation of our psyche-soul hang out in the Presence of Unconditional Love, the one that ultimately asks nothing of us but honesty. Healing and realignment that can follow our leadership cold turkey experience as we have our religious paradigm turned upside down. Our role as ‘God’s little helper’ is well and truly ditched as we realise that we are as broken and dysfunctional as those we once tended with our sacred medical bag of tricks.

So is that it? Is the leadership game now over for good? Well, yes and no.

Certainly our days of wearing the sheriff’s badge of  official God representation has gone for good. Divine Love was never looking for our spiritual sharpshooting skills as we patrolled the Kingdom sects of men. No, the lawgiver and law enforcer role has been decommissioned by the gracious act of Divine intervention. ‘Enough is enough’ it proclaims as it blocks our progress up the ladder of hierarchical leadership imaginings.

When ego has let go of every vestige of religious or spiritual ambition, and we have found a restored level of humanity and vulnerability, Divine Love may come calling. It’s call is one of realignment and Spirit flow. No longer the projection of strength and a Charles Atlas spiritual muscle programme, but an honest acceptance of frailty floating on the Ocean of Spirit Source. No, the days of doing and goals are over. Now we are only asked to be. Out of such a being we will soon perceive the flow of Divine Life. Here and there others will be touched by a look, a smile, a thought or an arm around the shoulder. A new channel of Divine Flow has opened up in the affairs of man. We are a walking conduit of compassion and a Presence beyond our understanding. In letting go of our leadership we have become feeders, water carriers for the hungry and thirsty among whom we dwell.

In realigning with Spirit Source, outside the Alice in Wonderland world of religious leadership, mission and belief, we’ve become transmitters of  a Divine Magnetism, one that draws the broken into wholeness. Such a flux of mimetic attraction bypasses the old ego settings, now passing through our reintegrated psyche, that which makes us truly us. We have become wounded healers as the late Henri Nouwen so aptly described our new non role. This function in the Divine Love vortex, isn’t one upon which to re-establish the kingdom of ego. Rather it is one that produces a deep contentment, a knowing that we can’t fix anyone, that Source is All in All.

So, ‘Feed my sheep’ isn’t a Divine call to action. Rather, it is a call to being. Out of such a place of rest and inner acceptance we will channel the Source from which we sprang, feeding the hungry with the multiplied loves of our broken humanity. We are all feeders of Divine Love. Give It half a chance and It will satisfy the longings of those who come our way. Non-leader leaders, non-leader feeders – sounds like Heaven on Earth to me.

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Heading back

Heading Back

Well, it’s nearly upon me. My unavoidable return to my home town of Ballybrigg that is, after having lived in the relative psycho-spiritual freedom of Lincoln, England for the last 5 years. After escaping the religion-political tribal mix that permeates my old homeland, I’m heading back to attend my wee sister’s wedding, an amazing tale in itself that I’ll share with you all some time.

I guess it’s a bit like a ex-combatant returning to the battlefield that scared him for life. The wounds are healed to a large extent but the memories still remain. At times my previous life in Northern Ireland seems like a dream, at other times it appears in nightmare form, though thankfully these nocturnal replays are now few and far between. I’ll meet up with a few safe friends and relatives, eat, drink and be merry at the wedding and observe how my body feels in the somewhat claustrophobic environs of Ballybrigg, the town where nothing seems to change as the locals happily sleep walk through life.

My wee son Ben is buried there in a municipal graveyard on the outskirts of town. I guess I will go pay him a visit and shed a tear for a life shortened by the mystery of cot-death. Standing on the wind-swept hillside of the Irish burial ground will bring back many memories. My prayer over his little white coffin as I committed him to the God of my 1984 belief system. The handful of Irish dirt that I through on his lowered coffin, reminding me of the fickleness and transience of this space-time existence.

Of course in hindsight I see that Ben’s short life and unexpected death proved to be the painful catalyst for my escape from my sect of choice. Without the tragic events of that cold, January afternoon, I wouldn’t be sitting today in this English coffee shop and writing about my impending return to my homeland; like many inhabitants of Ballybrigg, I would never have left the cultural whirlpool of evangelical religious belief and political smugness.

I’ll be visiting my old family home that has been rented out to a lovely lady called Janet. Apparently the garage is crammed full of my old furniture and stuff that men tend to accumulate over the years. The ping-pong table where my son Zac and I spent many hours, honing his skills for competitive tournament play. The tables and chairs that were the focal point of our dining room, where we regularly worked our way through the pain of religious burn out over Zan’s beautiful home-cooked meals. The memories will come flooding in but the time has come in the Divine plan, for me to return and face my old haunts.

Life is so full of circles. Perhaps, as my Eastern friends suggest, existence itself is one big circle. Anyway, most of us usually have to return to the place of previous joys and pain in order to recognise how much we’ve changed and to what extent we’ve been healed and grown closer to the Light.

So, if you are the praying type I’d deeply appreciate your prayers for a ‘successful’ trip. For those of you who’re into healing energies, please send as much as possible. My short time in Ballybrigg ought to be interesting. Hopefully, I’ll spot one like the Son Of Man walking with me in my psycho-spiritual, Irish version of the ‘Fiery Furnace’.

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