I was talking to an intriguing character on a ferry and he half-jokingly called me a pagan, and this threw me through a loop and I ended up stammering that I am a wandering non-denominational Christian today. I quickly had a sinking feeling about that description- I would have preferred wayfaring, journeying, or wondering. I think the wandering part is more honest most of the time, though, and that’s why it came out. I wander between denominations, but it made me seriously think how much I wander in other senses of the the word.
Well, like Gandalf wrote to Frodo: ‘not all those who wander are lost,’ but I do feel lost much of the time, or enjoying the beauty of God’s creation while wandering at the better times. I have a relationship with Jesus, and when I truly confess and praise it’s the best of times, but my prayer life is so very far off from Brother Lawrence’s example, for example. So, I’m glad that the unflattering description that came out of my mouth grated on me and frightened me about how much I go my own misguided way because it’s spurred me to be more committed, to be closer to the Lord so that if I wander I don’t feel lost. I know where and why I am. If there is an upside to the wandering it is that I have seen and paid attention to the Light in my travels in Catholic schools, and Reformed Christian schools, and liberal mainline churches. I have noticed the Light in every Christian denomination I have experienced. I don’t expect to change the non-denominational part, and I don’t necessarily want to change the wandering part- just my religious experience of it.
I hope I’m like the children in Kipling’s poem ‘The Way through the Woods,’ in that, though it looks like I’m wandering, I’m following the long lost way through the woods and Jesus is with me when I feel lost, because there is no road through the woods
The first time I was asked about my faith in public was on a bus back when I was in University. I replied that I didn’t know if I was ready to be a Christian, and-although I know that I need to give more of myself- I am getting closer and I can say honestly that I have a budding faith, so that this wandering period I described this second time I was asked could be part of a journey back to God after all.
That reminds me of a C.S. Lewis essay where he writes that the further along you are on your faith journey the harder God seems to be with you (with the prime example of Matthew 27 and Mark 15), which reminds me of making maple syrup this time of year: the sap is sweet until the buds appear, and that’s when the leaf starts taking in carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen. The conversion is sweet and for me it was intense relief and revitalization, but then God let’s you give as much as you possibly can and, while you are happy and blessed, it’s not always a nice wandering walk in the park.
*I’ve been trying to restrain my smartphone usage during Lent to be less distracted, and I felt impelled to write this on my smartphone- God’s foolishness is wiser than my wisdom!