To continue. I saw a picture:
I saw people paddling in a vast ocean.
The whole ocean appeared to be about a foot in depth.
The people were happy. They were safe and the water felt good.
The ocean floor was steady, flat and could be relied on at all times.
The people wandered in the ocean, happy to experience it, and shared the experience together.
But then the ocean floor shook.
Holes appeared in it.
And then it gave way entirely and vanished.
The people discovered that the ocean was not a foot in depth.
The people began to sink.
Panic ensued. People did not know what to do.
They discovered the ocean floor was not the true ocean floor.
Their safety had gone.
Would could they do? Splash around. And drown.
The people experienced hopelessness.
But then they discovered something wonderful.
They discovered another ocean floor.
Now they stood in the ocean, almost submerged.
The water covered their whole bodies and they could even duck and cover their heads.
It had felt wonderful on their ankles.
It now felt more wonderful on their bodies, more than they could have imagined.
And then, the people, who previously could only walk,
They learned to swim.
That's it. That's what I saw. At the time I was sitting in a church, towards the end of the service. The congregation were singing a song as a response to the sermon - though it didn't seem any different to the songs before the sermon. It was noisy. I couldn't sing - not with integrity, not with honesty to myself. So I sat. In as much quiet as I could manage. And I took up the mantra from earlier that morning. And then saw that picture.
The people are the mass of humanity.
The ocean is the life of the spirit, the real, being, truth, wholeness, the beyond - whatever name you care to give it.
The shallow ocean floor, solid, safe, is theism - a belief in that one God in the sky in control of everything.
In my life that ocean floor has pretty much given way and I've been sinking, panicking, feeling like I will drown. It's a scary thing to lose sight of the God who has been your only hope.
But I feel another ocean floor is coming into view and that there is so much more to experience in this "spirit" life, growing into the potential of a human being. I feel that my God was in the ocean, part of the ocean. But that my God obscured the greater ocean behind concepts, stone doctrines, and an exclusiveness that saw the greater ocean as non-existent or evil.
In many ways our society is going through the same process - from security, to panic, to confidence, a greater enlightenment and a greater human dignity. That's scary too - it can be a mess as we explore and make mistakes in our exploration. But it's hopeful.
We have choices when we lose theism. Do we lose everything and live in despair - as many existentialists have been tempted to do? Or do we look beyond into a greater reality, and learn to swim?
Of course, my picture and interpretation may be entirely wrong.
It could be that the one God is real, that He is Lord, Judge, Saviour, the only Hope, that rejecting him leads to an eternal punishment in fire.
I could be wrong.
In which case we're not going to swim.
We're all going to drown.
I don't think so. But I'm not the one God. I've been wrong before. And this blog post isn't a holy Scripture which must be believed. It's just an idea put forward to be considered.