Sunday, August 27, 2006

A little Odd

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I’m a little odd, and I know it.

My father certainly made that clear enough to me as I grew up.

He couldn’t understand that a guy would want to read, and think about God, and go for hikes by himself.

He used to joke about it with his friends:

“Kid can’t get a f-----in’ date. I think he’s a G-d damn queer.”

I didn’t know why I was different, but I didn’t try to defend myself. And I didn’t tell him that a good friend of mine was a homosexual. (I’m sorry Rick... I simply didn’t have the courage to stand up to him.)

I’m still a little odd.

Thirty years ago I was living in an ashram and had joined a yogic order, the Sons of Ramakrishna.

I was twenty and the echoes of a television show which romanticized eastern beliefs still echoed in my subconscious.

I would sit for hours before a flickering candle, and meditate on Jesus (my selected “avatar”).

I thought I could walk the line between the faith I had always held and the mysterious and exciting world of yogic life and astral studies which made me someone different, someone special (and freaked out my poor grandmother).

It wasn’t too long before I learned that there isn’t a fine line between what I want and what He wants. I learned that placing an image of Jesus behind the candle and stripping my senses of everything but the candle was not drawing me closer to God. Just the reverse.

Now, I find this chapter of my life difficult to talk about, and I am going to gloss over it. Let me just say that there was a price I had to pay for all that foolishness and it nearly cost me my life. I was saved, in every way I could be saved, and in turning my back on that life I find that a backward glance, even thirty years hence, chills me.

The reason I brought it up at all is because it illustrates an uncomfortable truth about myself. I’m a little odd.

I’m a mainstream guy, a teacher, and a taxpayer, and a homeowner, and a voter. But there is something about me that is still part monk.

I do not care for many things most guys do. I’m not into car races. I don’t like to party. I’m completely apathetic to sports. When such things come up, I smile, I nod, I pretend to understand, and then I find a reason to wander elsewhere.

Even many of you, those of you who regularly visit this little online journal, notice that I phrase my words in odd ways. I routinely have an inside joke I am telling myself, so when hints of it slip out into my speech, or my writing, it leaves my audience puzzled.

But all of that is OK. I am as He made me. Sometimes I embarrass myself, but that is OK also.

Today’s little soliloquy comes from a moment of embarassment, a thought I had during church this morning:

“I’m a little odd.”

It was during the middle of worship. I had my eyes shut, and my mind was focussed. When that happens I barely hear those around me. It is just me, thinking the words of the songs, internalizing those words, turning them into a prayer between just me and my creator.

I was on my feet, my hands were raised, I was picturing the creator of all things, my maker, and that intense point of glowing light and love was above me and I was offering up my heart, my adoration.

Suddenly I realized that I had stumbled in the words, that the words coming out of my mouth had drifted into a verse different than those around me, and I was no longer a part of corporate worship.

I allowed my eyes to flicker open so I could see the words on the screen. I found my place and shifted to the correct verse. And as I held my hands up high, six inches apart, as if holding a glowing image of love and light, I realized that in the peripheral view of that quick glance no one else had been standing. No one else had their hands raised. I was standing in the congregation, focussed on my prayer, my singing. I was standing alone.

And I thought...

“I’m so weird.”

I suddenly felt off balance, like I was tipping over, and I sat down quickly.

Now this has happened before. I usually ignore everyone else and let myself simply settle into my worship and permit myself to worship corporately with my voice, and individually with my mind and body. If they don’t wish to raise their hands, that is fine.

But this time I was thrown off.

“Could I be wrong? Should I be embarrassed? What are people thinking about me?”

But then I think: “forget them.”

And my mind races off:

I imagine such things as the period 10,000 years after creation when all the universe was a hot soup of dark plasma. I think about the formation of stars and how their young hot breath blew clear the gases and debris around their births , creating those beautiful nebulae, and how they swirled around each other, seeking a balance in that dance of energy and gravity that began when my creator made something new. I think about the cycles of spinning galaxies, those of the second generation, and how they dance a rhythm that my Lord clearly hears, and one I will one day come to appreciate when my life beats with the pace of eternity.

I think about the creation of angels. How the Lord God, a single entity, a single God, but a being of three facets touching our universe as a trinity, had desired a larger community and had created powerful beings to join in His song of eternity and love.

I think about the creation of the world, and the creation of men, when the Lord God did the amazing act of creating beings who could, who must, choose whether to hear His song of light and love, or to follow the whims of their own hearts.

And I think, how could they not raise their hands in humble adoration of such a being who makes the stars dance in groups of galaxies, to follow trails of patterns that even our most gifted minds barely discern.

I think about the carbon in my cells, the calcium in my bones, the potassium in my nerves, and how they were forged in the hearts of stars, and in the heart of my Lord.

For a moment I succumb to the arrogance of thinking they are wrong in sitting quietly in their chairs.

But then I remember... I’m a little odd.

And that’s OK.


Fred said...

I don't think you're odd at all. Maybe in the eyes of those who enjoy stereotyping others, but not to me.

I suppose I'm with you on many of your points. We went out with friends for dinner and a movie last night. The movie was Snakes on a Plane.

I mean, really, who the heck want to see that? So, we enjoyed a nice dinner with our frends, then split with them and went home for a quiet evening.

Other thought I was odd for not wanting to see the macho flick, but I'm pretty darned happy with myself, so I don't have to pretend to be anyone else.

You're not odd at all.

Ame said...

Okay ... I think this is funny!!!

I think we could all title a post, "A Little Odd," and have fun reading how odd each of us really are ~ when all the truth be told!!!

Ummmm ... uhhh.... stutter ... I think I'll just enjoy reading about others' oddities for awhile! hehehehehe

Ame said...

Absolutely NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ame said...

BUT ... I did open my eyes during worship once to find I was the only one standing.

It was during the Lord's Supper, or Communion. Our church presents Communion a little differently each time. This time they had the elements on tables. At your convenience you went to the table to pick up the elements and return to your seat ... then when you were ready, on your own time, you could eat and drink.

I had picked up my cracker and juice and were holding them, praying, while the congregation was also led in worship. Finally "ready," I ate and drank and opened my eyes to find myself standing all alone!!!

Oh, well ... either I had a LOT more stuff to "get right" than everyone else, or everyone else "lied." hehehehehe

jel said...

Hey CS,

your ok in my Book!

have a great week! :)

Jada's Gigi said...

I guess we're all just a bit odd...makes things more interesting don't you think? :) I used to become so entranced in worship, when we met in a traditional church setting, that I didn't know what was happening around me. Now that we meet with churches in homes, times are often designated to simply "get lost". Which is wonderfully incredible! I find it odd that some can't seem to do that....

David said...

Well yes you are a little odd but so is everyone else on this planet. It makes us human. And you oddness is a good thing too.

What a horrible thing for a father to say about his son.

SocietyVs said...

Nothing wrong with being different, it makes the world what it is on a daily basis. It's intolerance and disgust for difference that cause pain and division.

I really liked the story of pre-conversion days and the yogi thing, that was some good insight for the reader who knows little about you. Also it was a little testimonial-like and that always grabs my attention, personal stories.

I think be comfortable with who you are and I know we are slightly defined by our relationships with others...still we can't forsake integrity to please the crowd. Be different.

Vicki said...

Maybe it's good to lose one's self in worship, only focusing on Him. Too many of us are inhibited by what others may think. You've never struck me as odd, though. Maybe different, in good ways, and totally creative, expressive, and truthful--precious traits to be appreciated.

I enjoyed listening to your voice as I read along in your post. You know, that ashram & yogic history gives us all the more reason to rejoice for/with you today! I'm so happy He saved you...and those of us who, too, once walked in darkness.

Vicki said...

Just remembered this. The bible refers to us as a "peculiar people." I don't try so hard to blend in like I once did, although perhaps I still struggle to feel accepted for who I am.

Keep being exactly who you are, C.S. With the Lord as our Sanctifier, it's all good.

bjk said...

I think I may be a bit odd too....but the fingerprint of God is all over us right!!!

Julana said...

Everyone's unique. It makes life interesting. Some people get the big picture, some people get bogged down in the details. SOme do both, at different points in time. I think in worship, we aspire to the big picture. Maybe you were further along on that road than some of the others in the congregation, at that point in time.

YOur past is interesting. I'm glad you survived it.

Judas Hate said...

During his embodiment on this earth, some people labeled Jesus as "odd", but I'm pretty darned thankful for him too. And I feel he is thankful for you. If more of HIS children were "odd" like you, the world would be such a better place.

Love and respect.


Lucy Stern said...

Who wants an average Joe? I think we are all odd in one manner or another. I wouldn't worry about it.

If you are worried about disturbing your worship service by standing up and raising your hands, you could sit in the back and not have to worry about disturbing anyone. That's pretty simple.

curious servant said...

Ah... but you see I'm not worried about it.... too much.

In my mind, in my heart, I am following the Lord. I don't understand those who aren't enthusiastic about God.

Most of these people would be shouting and jumping up and down and cheering at the top of their voices at a football game.

I understand that they feel differently about church than a ball game. And it doesn't really bother me that they aren't mrore demonstrative. That is truly between them and Him.

But, once in a while, I am a little self-conscious. I feel a little out of place. But I think that where else should I feel more free than to worship? If some don't understand they are free to come talk to me about it. If it were a big problem (and I've been doing this for 14 years), I would expect one of the pastors or elders to come talk to me. In which case I would have to decide whether or not to tone it down, sit in the back, or go to another church.

The point of the post was to share an experience I had of momentary embarassment and reflect on my differences... or as some have pointed out, my uniqueness.

You should see how I worship when I am sure that there isn't anyone within a mile of me!

BJ Scoggins said...

Joe's Jottings "Wife" here, I just wanted to say,thank you for your sweet prayer for me and my health. May God Bless You.

Anonymous said...

beautiful post. I know I'm odd, so I appreciate that you realize your odd too.

Lillee said...

I really hate some of the things your father has said to you......

Did you speak in tongues?

You aren't odd..and that's from a former Baptist.

curious servant said...

Thanks, Lillee.

He said a lot of hurtful things to me... and I still love him greatly. I wish I could help him to find his way to the Lord before it is too late... This has been on my mind quite a bit of late.

As for speaking in tongues... no.

Thanks for the reassurance on your assessment of my oddometer reading.