Greetings from Pastor Lee Barstow

July-August, 2021

Dear LCC Community,

The minister who performed Cynthia’s and my wedding ceremony said during his reflection that inside every human being there is a “God-shaped hole.” More than  anything, he said, we want the hole to be filled with the love of God. We can’t stand it being empty, and so when we can’t find God there, we fill the hole with whatever we can find that might compensate (for me this might be overeating or co-dependency or pride or any other of our natural human coping “skills”). The minister urged us to keep our eye on the prize… to keep looking for God in that hole within us, even when it feels hard and scary. 
 

Lately, I’ve been witnessing folks with a lot of sadness and anxiety and other emotional struggles. Most of them share about working hard to “get over” their feelings. But I don’t think that’s the answer. A different way to respond to our difficult feelings is to try and allow them… to accept them as part of who we are. When we judge ourselves for having them, or judge them as unacceptable, we are rejecting our own reality. We are in conflict with ourselves and with the God-given reality of who we are. 


When instead we allow our feelings rather than rejecting them, we give ourselves the chance to work with them. We give ourselves the chance to hold them and to listen for the voice of loving nurture that is always there (“Be still and know that I am God”). If we can be still with our feelings, we give ourselves the chance to sense God’s presence. We find the voice within us that is ready to soothe our feelings so they can merge with the loving awareness that lives there… the non-judgmental voice… the forgiving voice… the voice that will always love us no matter what… the voice of the One called “beloved” by the mystical poets of all traditions.
 

When we find ourselves painfully aware of the God-shaped hole within us, may we allow our feelings and ask for help. The help will come, and we will feel the hole inside us being filled by the love of God. 
Here are some verses I have found helpful in this work, from two separate poems by the Sufi mystic Jalāl ad-Dīn RumI:

 

God created the child, that is, your wanting,
so that it might cry out, so that milk might come.
Cry out! Don’t be stolid and silent 

with your pain. Lament! And let the milk

of loving flow into you.

[and]

The grief you cry out from

draws you toward union.

Your pure sadness

that wants help is the secret cup. [1]

 

Peace and blessings,

Lee

[1] Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, HarperCollins, pp. 155-157