My last post had the title of "My Sin", which, at the time, I thought I titled ironically. I've been mulling this over since I wrote it. I was raised in a evangelical fundamentalist household and church community in which sin was emphasised as something evil that must be overcome and which was clearly defined. Things were either "Godly" or "of Satan", good or bad, right or wrong (pass or fail).
Years ago, I rejected the god of my youth, the one I was taught to fear and adore in equal measures, and with him, my concept of sin. Several years later I found God, quietly but most assuredly within me, and around that same time I read a description of sin as an archaic archery term meaning to fall short of one's target. That definition resonated with me and defined for me the idea of not "living up to my Light"-not listening to my intuition/to that of God in me.
About a year ago, in the last Quakerism class, reading the book Silence and Witness by Michael Birkel, I was very uncomfortable with the descriptions of being cleansed of sin-split open by God and transformed.
From the book: "Early Friends' experience of the Inward Light was not as a cosy fire but rather a relentless search beam that showed them their sinfulness. The Light at first exposed their capacity for evil but then led to the victory of good over evil within them. A sense of inward peace followed-often after a lengthy internal conflict-and a deep sense of community with other Friends who had been through the same harrowing experience. This sense of victory energized them to labour to transform the social order into a godly society."
Margaret Fell said this, "Let the Eternal Light search you, and try you for the good of your souls...It will rip you up and lie you open, and make all manifest which lodgeth in you...Therefore all to this come and by this be searched and judged and led and guided."
I couldn't get past the ideas of sin I'd been taught as being judgemental and black/white. I was uncomfortable with the word "sin" until I had the intuition to put the word "ego" in place of sin and then the passages spoke very loudly to me.
Sin equals ego.
But, in pondering my most recent post I have come a step further to understand sin as being anything that I allow to come between me and God. My ego does cause me to allow temporal things to become overly important, but needs can take on more weight than they should, if I allow them to: Relationships with other people, for instance. And resentments or hurts I harbor rather than letting go of and forgiving. Anything that keeps me from living up to the light God is giving me is a sin.
I don't know how to lay myself open to this Holy Searchlight. I don't know how to let the "Eternal Light" try me. I can only keep praying that I remain open to God's will for me. If God wants to search me, I pray that I can have the strength to allow myself to be opened.