By Rev. Jim Innes
In each human soul there exists a divine element, a kind of inner eye capable of glimpsing something of God, for there exists a deep relationship, an affinity between human and divine nature (Gregory of Nyssa c. 335–c. 394).
As a child, I watched the local church bus driving around the community. It was a short yellow school bus with the name of the church printed on its side. It felt ‘weird.’
For some reason, I have not forgotten the ‘strange’ feeling of watching it scuttle about picking up whomever. It was repelling. And all I can surmise is that I had no knowledge or experience of a religious community. So, I didn’t trust it.
The yellow bus actually scared me a bit. We fear what we don’t know. And there was a suspicion that the bus represented life-altering intentions. Which has me wondering what it is like for those, as unwitting as my younger self, noticing me driving by sporting the license plate REVD JIM (a gift from my kids). Especially while I am also wearing my clergy collar.
I came into my religious awareness in my early 20’s. It was the result of experiences at Huron Church Camp. A place that I began working, not as someone in the know about God, but as someone who wanted a job. Interestingly (perhaps to me only), one of my jobs (over the following years) was driving the small school bus.
My spiritual growth occurred cautiously. I was drawn slowly and often painstakingly into spiritual truths and religious appreciations. I usually began in some manner of confusion or anxiety, or outright fear. Sometimes I became more assured, more confident, less frightened, and overwhelmed. Other times, I remained just as confused-- but the issue felt less critical. This latter result is what I am most often experiencing during these ‘senior’ years.
Whatever our spiritual awareness, we are attracted to all things Holy. Whether we accept them as Holy, view them as ‘interesting,’ or challenge them as untrustworthy, we are, nonetheless, drawn to them.
One day this past summer, while out on my boat, I had an incredibly uplifting day. On my way back to the marina, the sun lowered into a warm, increasingly brilliant, orange horizon. I sent some pics of it (and a big fish I caught) to a friend. His response was, “you’re having a blessed day, Jim.”
I had not thought of that day in those terms. But, I was indeed having a blessed day! And with my friend’s reminder, I was able to ‘breathe in’ the moment a little deeper. I am left to ask why this was not something I would naturally define in this manner.
It seems to me, our inner eye, as described in the above quote by Gregory of Nyssa, is not just an innate function of our God-created natures but also a learned function. A process that accounts for, and lets go of, many distractions.
Our ability to see God in all things, even a few things, challenges us, not in faith, but in trust. It is an exciting mystical journey that I have found myself stumbling with all my life.
Rev. Jim Innes is the rector of the Regional Ministry of South Huron.