Dialoguing with God? When I was growing up, no one had conversations with God and if they did, it was an in-the-closet experience.
I grew up Lutheran and when I desired a connection to the source, my parents sent me to the church pastor. Back then, if anyone wished to have a word with God, they had to know how to pray correctly and visit a God expert like a church minister or pastor.
But I didn’t like church much. The songs bored my ears especially when sung off-key by well-meaning congregation members. I felt jealous years later of those children raised Baptist with foot-stomping, rafter-raising gospel choirs, but I digress. I couldn’t sit still through confirmation class and I would have rather washed dishes than memorize Bible passages. What did I care what ancient people did in the deserts of the Middle East? I’d stare out the window and watch the natural world come alive around me, not realizing at the time that God exists in all things and the conversation with God never ends.
My dad had it right. For many years, he refused to go to church, claiming that he talked to God in the forests where he hiked and photographed. Blasphemy at that time. Then years later, some new age authors, teachers and movie makers shook up the status quo. The 1977 Carl Reiner Oh God! starring a cigar-smoking George Burns as God and John Denver as the seeker showed up on movie screens. While the movie was viewed as cute, clever and amusing, something began stirring in those folks who watched the movie, even those viewers who scoffed at it.
In 1995, Neale Donald Walsch took a chance and published his first book in a series, Conversations with God, despite his fear of public ridicule. Oddly, at that time, publishing a book on God that wasn’t written by a God expert or authority was seen as risky. Who was the average person to channel God? I mean, we’re not talking channeling angels or beloved saints (which is also seen as flaky to some), but God. Walsch lacked religious authority and at that time was a man down on his luck and desperate enough to write a letter to God, which ended in one of those most fascinating on-going conversations with a Supreme Being.
When I read the book, I felt its innocence and truth melting the walls around my heart. Similar to singer-songwriter Tori Amos who composed a scathing song “God” (1994) and the English band XTC’s song “Dear God,” another scathing letter that appeared on the band’s otherwise perky album, Skylarking, I too felt on shaky ground with my personal Deity. But after reading the Conversations with God series, I started to reconsider my connection to the Divine. Maybe I wasn’t dealing with an abusive authority figure after all. Maybe, I thought, God actually loves me. Today, I think nothing of evoking God and asking personal questions.
Today, we bypass religious authorities and speak our hearts and minds to God through prayer, journal writing, and even through the arts. We stand on the shoulders of courageous authors and musicians who challenged the status quo and dogma of our times. While I’m not telling anyone to toss out religious authorities, I believe that we heal our relationship to the Divine by reaching out in our own way. Perhaps this is my overactive Uranus in my astrology chart talking or the archival voice of my dad telling me that God exists in the woods somewhere. It could even go back as far as my pagan ancestors who practiced shamanism and who found God in nature.
Want to heal your relationship with God? Do you want to believe in an unconditional loving Mother-Father? There are numerous ways to forge this connection.
- Read Conversations with God series
- Watch Carl Reiner’s 1977 movie
- Write letters in a journal and listen for a response as you write
- Spend time in the natural world
- Practice sacred chants
- Listen to sacred music
- Join a spiritual community
- Take spiritual workshops
As you make this connection, you’ll expose wounds, even deep wounds that come up for healing. Work with an energy healer, astrologer or other type of therapists. What we expose to the light becomes the light and that which we leave in darkness causes deeper wounding.
I’m not here to convince existentialists to believe in God. But I write these words for wounded believers on a quest to dialogue with God in the privacy of their home where no one expects confessions of guilt and shame.