A stumbling block.

A casual walk down Anystreet, USA will take you past many churches. They’re everywhere. The perspectives represented are numerous, all attempting to do what they are led to do. They may be Christian, they may not be … but when the word “church” is used, it is quite often associated with the former. Harkening back to the notion that a word is merely a symbol, this particular one carries a powerful impact for many. It represents something … far more than architecture.

It’s a curious thing, the impact of a word. It strikes a chord … the letters coming together to form a symbol that may stir a fiery passion, even intense hatred, or arise as a calming hand upon our shoulder. It is surely a fascinating thing. A hint. A tap on the shoulder … that perhaps this trigger tripped is encouraging a look beyond the symbol … to search the shadows for some understanding of “why” it is as it is. Indeed, we don’t have to follow the lead. There’s certainly no one saying we have to … and most often, we don’t. We simply say, “it’s just the way I am” and continue on our merry (or not-so-merry) way.

Then again, there are many who seem to know why “the word” impacts them as it does. They may be able to point to the precise moment they were blessed … or offended. And perhaps there were more moments, each one falling into another … until, in the final analysis, we could get the impression we’ve always felt this way.

But no matter the case, there’s a reason … a root to the blossoming emotion.

I bring this to the fore because of the separation words can initiate. In fact, the separation can be visible. A word is spoken and the hearer steps back … an eyebrow raises … or the two folks never speak again. A word can become a stumbling block in our path. I’m not here to say what is “right or wrong.” I’m here simply because I believe they are present for a reason … and not intended to remain there. Reaching beyond them, following the root, can allow us to know them … to uproot them if need be or, in the least, come to peace with them. Easy? Of course not. Doable? You’re damn right.

If we take the initial word mentioned, “church,” and step a bit deeper, we will most often find another word that sparks an even more profound response. Jesus. I’ve shared some about myself here, that I wasn’t brought up in the church, but at 25 I did enter in. About 15 years later, for the most part, I left … but a few years later after that departure, I found myself standing once again squarely before Jesus. From my perspective, I had picked up the Golden Thread … and it led me to and through some rather intriguing folks and teachings … winding my way back to see this figure in a different light.

During this journey, I have been confounded with the reality of “spiritually minded” folks being so strongly impacted by the mere mention of his name. I’m quite certain there have been some who have distanced themselves from me because I can and do talk of him … and believe he has an important message for us. Early on, after leaving the church and resurfacing on my path of exploration apart from the exoteric church, at times I would share an epiphany which I tied back into some of Jesus’ teaching … and the reaction was palpable. There were moments, with certain individuals, I was actually surprised. I suppose I was, and am, a bit naive … believing that “we” are not meant to be a “them” and “us” … but that we’re all simply trying to figure this out together.

Then again, I’m quite aware there are Christians who keep their distance because I’m not fully in sync with what they believe a Christian to be. I have thought more than once how a mere word or phrase could trigger something within a visitor to this site … prompting them to linger or exit after only a glance. It can be as simple as that. In a mere moment, the messenger can be embraced or disregarded. And the message? What message?

Am I surprised? Not at all … but it’s helped me to pay better attention to when i do it, because I know I have …

In the scripture, there are numerous references to “stumbling block” … for the most part, all tethered to the person of Jesus, the Christ. But whether or not they are indeed referencing him, he is.

We’ve all been wounded. This is not a “woe is me” statement. Nor is it intended to release anyone from their responsibility to walk the path before them. The shadows hold wounds that we may be cognizant of … or perhaps they’re from moments buried in our past. Whatever the case, I do believe “life” will guide us to the situations and people we need to bring things back into balance. That which is in the shadows will eventually be brought to the light. And yes, I speak as though I know … when I can’t prove a thing to you. I suppose it’s, once again, just what I’ve gathered from the journey thus far.

A reminder here … that the messenger plays a role in carrying the message … but in and of him/herself, is not the message.

And so … we can choose to allow our knee jerk emotions … and/or our thoughts to rule us. It is surely our choice. But if there’s something that needs to be confronted, it will be … one way or another … in this moment or another. Perhaps I should be frightened. Afterall, I’m well aware I’ve got my stuff … but I guess I heard that commercial one too many times, before it found a resting place in my psyche. You can pay me now, or pay me later.

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