|The research vessel, Calypso|
It was the first warm Spring day early last week. The first day one could open a few windows to let fresh air flow through the house. The first and only day so far that the kitchen window was open while I cooked and washed dishes.
The music coming from the CD player on that morning was one of the "Best of John Denver" albums. The CD which is sold in Cracker Barrel stores. I was thoroughly enjoying the warm breeze, the scent of the suds in the sink (7th Generation Lavender Mint dish soap), and the music flowing through the kitchen.
Long time readers know that John Denver's music has a place of honor on the itty bitty iPod I use when walking. Take Me Back Country Roads causes me to think of the beauty of the land and the mountains, Sunshine on My Shoulders speaks to my love of the outdoors and the trails I once hiked, Annie's Song most likely brings all of us the sense of the magic (Narnia magic) of nature, and I have been know to replay Back Home Again over and over on my walks.
But on that particular morning, it was Calypso which began and I had to stop what I was doing and sing along. Fortunately, I was alone with just the kitty in the house. There are loved ones in my family who sing like angels. I am not one of them. But I digress...
The song, Calypso, always causes me a twinge of delight mixed with guilt. Delight because I love the story of the boat used by Captain Cousteau in his environmental studies. In my younger years, I would have loved to take a trip with the crew as they traversed the seas for scientific exploration. It sparked my land locked imagination.
Guilt because of the response my love for John Denver's music has brought from some Christians throughout the year. Especially Calypso as it is the well known ship of the Cousteau Society. I mean, really... they are (shudder)... environmentalists.
I've always felt at least a little different than many people I've met in the church. Sometimes a whole lot different. I guess I'm a lot like my mother, who marched to the beat of a different drummer. Her sister, my aunt, was the good Bible toting Christian of the family. The one who kept all the rules and reminded everyone what they were.
Mom... was not. So at age fifteen, she eloped and left it all behind her. She was widowed with seven kids in her 30s and then married my dad in middle age. I was born when they were in their 40s. A long time from that day she eloped as a teenager.
Which explains how I came to be raised in a non-churched family. Until Jesus sought me and bought me with His Redeeming Love... in the Jesus Movement where so many of us who were running away from Him were chased until His love captured our attention and our hearts.
Don't get me wrong, I believe in salvation through Jesus. I believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God. I believe Jesus lived and died and rose again to become the sacrificial Lamb for our sins. I believe in the Trinity. I talk to God! Sometimes He talks back. I believe in a relationship with Him.
It's just how we go about living all of that in which we can differ.
All the experiences of my life have brought about a Christian who didn't always fit the look and feel and expectations of the churches they attended. Not all for there were churches where I felt I belonged but for many... I didn't.
For since the beginning I have been more Calypso than Calvin. While my politics are very conservative, I love health foods and unschooling and PBS nature shows and Enya and when I was healthier... finding God in nature. Like John Muir, nature to me was a cathedral.
The challenges come when you don't fit quite anywhere on this planet. You are way too conservative for the average health food store but far from the average church lady. You have a lot in common with the New Age Environmentists type but you love Jesus and cannot understand why someone would not... especially when one worships the creation instead of the Creator.
Like the toys on the Island of Misfit Toys, many of us are just a little different.
How often are people judged for their music, or their clothes, or the fact they are a guy who wears earrings, or their tattoo, or their past sins, or that they have a hard time sitting in the pews, or their family background, or any hundreds of things that make them... different.
The things is... Jesus didn't fit. He was crucified because He didn't fit.
As for you and me, the enemy of our souls uses judging and condemnation to keep the church from uniting against him. If possible (and I think it is), he will make every Christian feel like he or she does not fit in the church. Not to mention every single second of every day he uses the whole "you will never fit" thing with the sinner longing for salvation.
I always... I mean always... feel better when I go back to the Bible and read what Jesus said and what Jesus did and how Jesus treated those around him. Jesus was not a church lady. Nope, Jesus was a master (the Master) of making the outcast feel they have an invitation to the party.
So what am I saying here as I ramble about music and ships and church ladies and how do we bring it all together? Be Jesus to the people around you. Don't care so much about their clothes, or the fact they don't look like you, or that they like their music a little louder than you like yours, or that some of their heroes are not part of the church.
And if you... like me... can relate a little more to Calypso than Calvin... it is okay. Really. You are not going to the Dark Side or anything. You may hug a few trees in your life but then again, you also stop to smell the roses. You're just a little... different.
The Wesleyan church I attended when we lived in Michigan had a quote attributed to Augustine in their bulletin each week...
“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity."
Couldn't have said it better, myself.