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August 27, 2015

The Laughing Jesus & Unlearning Religion.

smiling jesus

Deep down, I have always felt a deep connection to Jesus, but it wasn’t through learning about him in church.

Lord knows, I never listened in church.

Something in me just never felt connected with all the different perceptions or stories of this man, even when the people were really trying to get me to understand. Maybe I am a little hard headed. If I ask 10 different people about one person, I will get 10 different answers. Some fear based answers, some loving answers—it’s all based around the state of mind each of us is in.

But who was this man? Something in me wanted to know.

I have seen pictures of the laughing Jesus, who seems so relatable! Why would Jesus Christ not be happy? I have also seen pictures of a serious Jesus who looks unapproachable. Miserable, really.

I would go to church on Sundays and I loved the people, but something in me always wondered: why are we here, all dressed up? Continuing to learn stories about the past? Probably because we all want to know him, and feel the love he must have represented. We want to feel connection to other brothers and sisters who know there is something more.

Over the course of four years, I travelled to different countries teaching and practicing yoga and I noticed something: religion was never brought up because it is not a religious practice, but my heart was feeling more deeply rested. I began feeling carried. The world began to look different.

A verse came to me at some point that said, “Be still and know that I am God.” I also read a Buddhist quote that said, “The way is not in the sky, the way is of the heart.” They both felt true, deep in my soul. The more I embraced stillness, peace flooded over me. The more I embraced people as a whole community, not a specific group, or what they called themselves, the more connection I felt. It wasn’t from learning more about religion and dogma, it was actually the opposite. Unlearning. My whole heart wanted to be shown and to know the truth.

From this place of grace came a knowing of who Jesus is.

I can’t quote Bible stories, because in truth I didn’t pay attention in church. Where I feel connection with the living Jesus is when I give up trying to figure things out. When I finally get still and quiet in meditation and rest there. Answers come, guidance comes. Words are useless to describe it. And amazingly, the verses of the Bible I do know have just come into my awareness the moment I needed them. They are the loving ones.

Do I call myself a Christian? No. Because that feels like an automatic separation. If the person next to me calls himself Athiest, and on the other side is someone who calls him self Jewish, it seems like a disconnect instead of connection. It feels like fear instead of love for all.

What feels true for me is to rest in the presence of a place inside that Jesus Christ referred to as, “The kingdom of Heaven” where answers lie for all. When we rest there, beneath the thinking mind, a knowing comes on our own individual paths of where love (God) will take us next. I call myself a follower of the path of Jesus. And my religion? What am I dedicated to? Love. What Jesus Christ embodied and it seems was dedicated to also.

Does the world always look loving from this perspective? Sometimes on the surface with my human eyes it looks far from it. But then I rest and trust God and all that God is. Underneath all judgement and resistance, God is. Unconditional love is. The truth of us is.

In the Gospel of Thomas, which was left out of the Bible, Jesus said: “Cleave a (piece of) wood; I am there. Raise up a stone, and you will find me there.”

He didn’t say you have to ask for me, he said, “I am there.” If Jesus is a representation of God, God is in and around and through all. Jesus, is in, around and through all. This feels true in my heart. He is not the only, he exists as and in all of us if we choose to see with loving eyes, no matter the circumstance.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” ~ John 14:12

So as I rest beneath my own thoughts and wants of the mind, seeing comes.

As soon as my mind thinks it knows anything, I block it, trusting the moment to unveil itself. The wordless prayer (if I had to put words to it) becomes for me: Let me rest in your presence, God, in each moment and trust all things unfolding into your one light.

No wonder something in me couldn’t take my eyes off the laughing Jesus. Love can’t help but laugh!

“I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.” ~ Jesus Christ

 

Relephant:

How To Be Religious.

 

Author: Lauren Lewey

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photos: Cheryl Johnson/Flickr

 

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