As many have said before, out here in the desert, it’s easy to get classified as “too much” for one group and “not enough” for another. We are often asked about confining questions such as “what are you?” or “what do you believe?”
Because typical people of faith have an idea of what would happen if you change your beliefs, they sometimes misinterpret or project onto others what they fear in their own imaginations. If you believe that someone will go to hell or backslide or experience cursing when they change their beliefs or alter from a specific religious experience, then you will assume whatever you were programmed to assume.
“They surely must be..”
I can warn you not to make assumptions about other people’s lives, but it seems to be a natural response to the things we don’t understand all that well. I hope, without beginning defensive, I can share a status report of our life in the desert.
1. The Open Approach to Learning
It feels like we are learning new things every day. There is no creed or belief system to confine us, so we are free to explore everything. When we listen to people on our podcast, we hear their different stories about wrestling with different beliefs and we learn from all of them. We no longer go to a specific place each week and have one person tell us the story. We get to listen to at least two different stories every week and sometimes they are vastly different.
We have decided to pursue transforming instead of conforming. “Renewing our mind” is certainly a reality for us. We have moved on from indoctrination to discovery and adventure. This open posture helps hear all sides and weigh the evidence better.
2. The Value of Going Inside
We have interviewed over 200 guests on the Desert Sanctuary Podcast. One of the strongest threads that runs through our guests stories is the idea of going inside. The people we meet out here in the desert that are thriving and continuing to grow have the common characteristic that they “went inside” and ” learned to trust themselves.”
Organized religion stressed that we couldn’t trust ourselves and the answer was out there.
As we move away from the idea of a “sky God,” we began to realize and understand that the connection we are hardwired for is actually inside us. The kingdom of God is where Jesus described said it was–within us. There we find truth through our own intuition, healing in our connection to self, and evolution of our being by becoming what we always were.
3. The Value of Listening
I only learned the value of listening recently in my journey. Don’t get me wrong, I have preached about listening and thought I understood it. But once I started my deconstruction, some Benedictine sisters taught me to truly listen with empathy and compassion for others.
They called themselves “companions.”
When we are doing the podcast, we realized the only way to facilitate a healthy discussion is for us to be deeply listening and hearing what the person is saying. It builds an intimacy, and we feel like we are almost instantly closer to the people we interview.
With that said, I feel like it was still hard for the two of us to communicate as a couple. When we healed some of our shadow issues, we were able to talk honestly about how we were still NOT communicating well. Last week, I was able (for the first time) to hear Laura better than I ever had before.
For most of our lives, the chief concern was conforming to someone else’s idea of how we should live our lives. We have found more freedom, more healing, and more growth in the past few years than in all our previous years combined.
For us, part of the equation was to separate from organized religion. The pattern there has remained somewhat fixed for about 1700 years, and although it promises freedom and growth and healing, it rarely delivers.
In our book, Our Into The Desert, we don’t insist that people leave organized religion. But we do encourage everyone inside and outside of religion to take an honest evaluation of it in the 21st century to see if it is viable and see if it is living up to its promises.
As we move forward, I think it is important to stress that we are not developing a new religion, creed, or belief system. But, in an informal way, we are forming community. We think this primarily happens when we really hear each other stories without judgment. When we are present and authentic with each other, we find wisdom and peace.
Be where you are,
Be who you are,
Be at peace!