By Debbie Ogunjobi
A spiritual journey is an adventure of sorts and it is where experiences and real life events can shape anyoneâ€™s perception of the divine. In the course of oneâ€™s life, God will become real at some point in time and the quest for more meaning is moulded by manner/religion.
I cannot speak for anyone else or any other religion; I am barely competent to speak for mine but I think spirituality is not religion; itâ€™s a relationship that cuts across every aspect of life.
I believe spirituality can make us all fundamentalists; we start believing in something and make choices that demand that we make a stand for what is right to us; my only grouse is that fundamentalism should be kept personal and not imposed on anyone else.
Spirituality is a constantly changing phenomenon, no knowledge is irrefutable though the truths of good and bad are constant and basic commandments donâ€™t have appendages, the rest we have to navigate on our own with our conscience being the beeper that goes off when we get lost. Knowledge can come from different places and I recently came across one that has left me humbled by a new dimension to Godâ€™s love and heart and it literarily came out of the mouth of babes
Navigating life is precarious at best given that we have to do it around the sensibilities and sensitivities of others. Very many years ago, I made a choice to spend my quality time with those I had fundamentals in common with and while I donâ€™t avoid those of different beliefs (one of my closest friends is an atheist; yes I mean you Prof!!) it is less energy consuming to juggle activities with those who are doing the same things as you at the same places.
Lately I have found myself craving time alone, spending time meditating, listening to music and just abiding in Godâ€™s presence. I find that I feel safer and fulfilled there. I have a little space that was created exactly for that purpose; itâ€™s very comfortable, big sofas and painted shades of green and itâ€™s where we all gather to pray nightly.
I met an interesting individual on a flight back into the country a while back and he had asked me what my favourite thing was and I had replied that it was being in the presence of God. We had gone on to discuss the miracles of grace and I remember he had left me with aÂ thought that made me determine that heaven was going to be more fun for more than most.
He had mentioned a lady who had a spiritual awakening where the Holy Spirit had asked her why she wanted to go to heaven. It seems a silly question when you consider heaven to be the reward for a good life but in the awakening, the Holy Spirit had said to the lady â€œheaven is a place where you spend eternity in my presence; if you canâ€™t spend 30 minutes of a day with me (God) why would you want to come to heaven?â€
That question was the backbone of many streams of thought and it got me thinking that if we are made in Godâ€™s image; we must have some of the same needs. I have a need to feel loved, shielded and adored; I feel that way when I am ensconced in Godâ€™s presence.
The few times I feel bereft and empty are times when I find myself out in the cold and it is not because God evicted me; itâ€™s because Iâ€™ve done somethingÂ bad and shame has sent me running for cover. I deny myself the forgiveness and grace that love so readily offers and punish both myself and God by denying a communion that was the sole reason for my creation.
So back to the knowledge that came from the mouth of babes!! A teacher had said a particular brand of pencils and sharpeners would really be helpful in handwriting for the kids and I had bought quite a few pieces at a cost that I didnâ€™t find funny.
I had not been amused to find that pencils and sharpeners were being used on a disposable daily basis and while I had not implemented the tool of spanking; I had tongue lashed them into remorse. For me the incident had been as good as forgotten and you can imagine my hurt and surprise when I noticed their withdrawal and avoidance a day after.Â When I had queried them; I was shocked to find that they both felt ashamed and even scared and so decided to avoid me rather than face me after a sharpener and another pencil had been misplaced!
Well, another stern warning and a lot of hugs and sorrys later, I was comforted and joyfully reconciled with the loving communion of my children.
Why is it that shame causes us to hurt those we love even more when we run from the grace their love so readily offers? I had a light bulb moment and thought of Adam and Eve, how their shame had caused them to run from the grace of God when they sinned! I actually felt as if I understood how hurt God must have been to be alienated and avoided by those he fellowshipped with regularly.
I am not in any way condoning sin or giving a license for bad behaviour but I have taken a decision to move closer when I err and seek forgiveness, restoration and reconciliation to man and God especially. While man may not always be as forgiving, I can count on Godâ€™s love to be merciful, to be graceful and to ensconce me into the embrace and communion that completes me!