I grew up wanting to know how. I built flying foxes between trees, tried to build bridges across creeks, and survived fires and explosions, all to see how it would happen. My favourite uncle had a farm workshop like heaven; welders, lathes, drill presses, more nuts and bolts than I had ever seen.
From my mother's father I inherited the sense that you should always do things well; the best you can. So I didn't just ride a bike. I rode it faster, and further. I spent hours of table tennis developing deceptive loops and spin. Running was not for fitness; running was for going as long and as far as you could. Life was for living to the full, for living well, and for doing good. It made sense to want to understand it, and what it meant, and what it was for.
Christianity seemed to answer lots of these questions about meaning, when they became really pressing while I was a student. It provided as system to understand the world. It provided answers about death and other mysteries of life.
I was very naïve in the way I first understood the Christian tradition. I read too many things as though they were written in the technical language of my science studies, and far too few with eyes of a poet or an artist.
That changed. I was lucky to be influenced by people, and a denomination, who were convinced that Christianity is not just a system to make convenient and comfortable sense of the world. They didn't believe in avoiding questions, or evidence, which challenged their current ideas. They introduced me to a quest, a pilgrimage through life, which helps us grow to be the best we can. I could not help be attracted to that! It constantly stimulated my desire to keep working on being better at life, and knowing more, and seeing how.
The church alerted me to the significant life pathways that don't work for human health and well being; things like consumerism, extreme individuality, and suffocating conformism. It challenged me, and still does, with our human shortcomings such as greed, abuse of power, and selfishness. It invites me into pathways of transcendence through selflessness, compassion, and service.
It does not provide all the answers to life's problems and questions. The best of the Christian tradition is agnostic and skeptical, well able and willing to show why simplistic answers about pain and suffering, origins, and the purpose of things, do not work. It asks the same hard questions of itself ,that it asks of other traditions people use to inform their lives. It embraces the best wisdom from those traditions.
It's a good place to live. It provides good company and wisdom for life's journey. Its disciplines of prayer, study, and service orient me to the tasks of life. They constantly call me "back into training." It is a company of people unafraid of the unknown, unwilling to be satisfied by the mediocre, constantly seeking More.
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