A Rose By Any Name

For some time now, I have felt like spewing secular humanism and psychology out because they are neither hot nor cold, rather lukewarm. As a child, my grandmother chided me, saying, “if you are ashamed of God, God is ashamed of you”. At the time, that felt like a guilt trip, but I’m wondering if she had a point. The time came for me to polish tarnished words of my Bible to a new sheen. Like my hero, psychologist Carl Jung, who found his father’s legalistic approach to religion a straightjacket, I needed a new song to sing. The language needed attention. I had tried: finding my bliss, meditation, synchronicity, but kept their spiritual counterparts: salvation, prayer and grace at arm’s length. I wish I could say this was prompted by humility, like Jewish rabbis avoiding saying God’s Holy name. But, my unwillingness to speak religious words resulted from the over-abstraction and contamination by unhealthy preachers/teachers. The words had lost their meanings. Unlike an Inuit inventing yet another word for snow (Unitarians?), I could still call a rose a rose, but needed new definitions for threadbare words so that they made sense to me and perhaps to others. While not of the caliper of a prophet of the Old Testament, I became at least a modern day alchemist using primary material to discover the gold within. Or perhaps I was a physician extracting the venom from the fire and brimstone sermons I had heard over the last 13 years as a Baptist. At times I felt like a paramedic resuscitating the very heart of it all.
Perhaps the most astonishing surprise has been my encounter with the Holy Spirit, the softer side of the spirit, believed by some theologians to be feminine. Many of the rich psychic elements that I had discovered in psychology and secular humanism spoke of her. The miracles that I’d witnessed sitting hour after hour with people in my office as a counselor was the Holy Spirit in action. I would be too dumbfounded to speak at times and, out of the blue, something foreign and good would “occur to me”. While I did not name this at the time, my colleagues called it “psychic phenomenon” or some such. I had been the mouthpiece of mystery. Some called this “channeling”. Now, after a few years with the old hardy Bible words so carefully taught me by my spiritual mentors recycled, the words ‘Holy Spirit’ float off my tongue quite comfortably.