CAVEAT: Warning! These letters have not been edited by Carla. Expect errors.
Wish us a happy anniversary. We just celebrated two days ago. We didn’t quite make it out to dinner, but we had a nice time here. I am not supposed to be doing anything yet so this is my actual foray into a chance to communicate since some time in April I suppose when I got knocked flat with ill health.
It is my perception that your path to the face of God, your walk with Christ, is that of the rough places you climb and the mountains brought low. You have the sure and straight path. You are an inerrant Fundamentalist Christian. You believe whole heartedly and without reservation at every point, which the Bible makes, and with that simple, straight forward, absolute faith, you have a clear path to love and service and eternity. I would be like you if I could. I would embrace an absolute faith if I could.
When I was about fourteen, I came face-to-face with the realization that I could not continue in the absolute faith of my childhood. What had stumped me more than anything else was the question of the virgin birth as I had discovered how birth works. I realized that a virgin birth was humanly impossible and I saw no reason why this should be literally true or that I should believe it. I was so troubled over my lack of faith that I was concerned lest I should perhaps leave the church because of my almost compulsive honesty. I have never been able to be a hypocrite except, of course, in those social situations where you tell little white lies to make little old ladies or whatever feel better. In any reasonable sense concerning myself, I’ve always been honest, whatever the cost.
I talked to Bishop M about this and he said the most surprising thing to me. He said that he had always had trouble with the virgin birth too. My mouth dropped open, of course, in absolute astonishment and I said, “How do you say the creed?”
He said, “In hope.” And then he shook his finger at me and said, “Don’t ever leave the church because you doubt. The church is full of doubters that comfort each other, and help each other to follow their walk with Christ. You’ll never find the people to talk to about what is happening outside the church.”
I never forgot that lesson and I never left the church. I am very fortunate in the Episcopal Church’s doctrine. We are required by the Episcopal Church to believe that God is good and has created a good and beautiful world. The rest of it is sort of up for grabs in the Episcopal Church and one’s doubting and worshiping is essentially private. Further, I have been extremely fortunate in my spiritual counselors in that they have engaged with me in hearing what has happened to me in my life. I have always had someone, now it is Father S who doesn’t just listen to what I say about what has happened to me since I began to discern spirit, but reads the output and values it for questionable content. So far, Father S, as others before him, has continued very supportive of what I have accepted as a lay ministry to those who are unchurched and whose ears are closed to people like the fundamentalist Christian.
Actually I see myself, not as a New Age person at all. New Age is a loose term which covers an enormous area. All of it is a fringe area, and much of it is quite tacky, I guess would be the word I would use. It is an embarrassing field to be in because so many of my colleagues have a good channel at first, but they ruin it by not tuning and not hoping for the highest and best ideal, rather going for something that will get them money like prophesying about the doom to come. Or telling people what to do in situations and using such a gift as the discernment of spirits for nothing more than fortune telling.
I don’t consult an astrologer. I basically accept the fact that my congregation, as it were, is New Age people who are floundering and really don’t have material because of the fact that they are unable. Perhaps they have thought too much. Perhaps they have become angry at the church for its judgment or they have been made to feel guilty and ashamed of the church. So they are angry because of that, and the church is not available to them. Their American spiritual heritage is closed and where do they go now?
It is the spiritual version of street people and I certainly never wanted to have the gift of the discernment of spirit. When I received it, I vowed to use it to the glory of God and to the best of my ability to seek the highest channel that I could. I think perhaps if you look at so-called New Age stuff and then look at my work, you might see a significant difference.
However, I would not recommend that you do that because you already have your path and it is not necessary at all for you to understand me or think I am right or anything like that.
I see myself as a prodigal daughter. It is a sad thing that I was unable to hold onto my childhood faith, my absolute faith. However, I am not a hypocrite and I have needed continually to keep noticing and perceiving how I felt and what I believe. Consequently, my path is complex, rough, stony, round-about. Yet it is a path to the same end and I know that along with the least of all Christians that I have a long ways to learn. That I am enormously blessed that Christ’s hand is in mine and that with Jesus I will walk all the way. I will run the straight race and I’ll get there. Not in any way I understand, but only by faith.
It is my perception that the gift of discerning spirit was given to me in order that I might be of service in a situation in which one would think one could not be of service. I think that my service is two-fold and I think probably the first and most important part of that service has to do with my illness.
Some illnesses are given so that in the healing of them, God is in His glory. I have long hoped and will continue to hope that God may be glorified in me by my healing. However, meanwhile day-by-day and moment-by-moment, I am fully aware that God is glorified in me by my cheerful suffering. I make no bones about suffering. There is no question about that any more. It has been too long and I acknowledge years of being in pain all of the time. But I know that Jesus walks beside me. He suffered more and He loves to the end and I am able to walk because my hand is in Jesus.’ I always have the strength and glory, which is given by the joy and the peace in my faith.
That joy, and that peace, and that smile are gifts of the spirit. My happy heart is evidence that there is holy ground indwelling within my spirit within where I meet Christ. That is probably the most important part of my ministry right there is my witnessing to Christ consciousness of Love in the face of whatever, whatever the world thinks. The other part of what I have to offer people just seems so blessed to me. Here I am. I can’t use my hands right now. My shoulders, and my hands, and my spine are still unhealed from the difficulties that I experienced earlier this spring. There are lots of things wrong with me right now. I can’t even sit up longer than for Jim to do my hair or something without a lot of pain. Yet, I am aware that I am conscious enough to tune myself to the highest and best that I know to move into an area of prayerfulness in which the highest inspiration that I may discern may come from me. And because of that, even though I could not go anywhere or stand up or anything, yet still I can be of some service.
I see the perfect pattern of service showing me that the opportunity is always there to serve and I am most grateful that I suffer to experience Christ’s joy and that I can offer the gift of discernment of spirits to perhaps offer inspiration and the beginning of that prodigal journey back through my ministry.
Were I to deny this gift, I would be a hypocrite. You can count on me not to be a hypocrite. I do not mean to ask you to believe or to credit any of this. I understand your enormous fear that I have somehow become involved with evil. There really is nothing I can do about that except as always to apologize for my being a stumbling block before you. Sons grow up and it is a very distressing thing for a child to see the relatives’ feet of clay. In my case, it is not feet of clay. I have your basic mud body suit and my feet of clay stand somewhere north of my ears. I am just a bozo doing the best she can and this must be a terrific disappointment for you.
I think the healing words to say here are to drop the concern and release me into the power of spirit, into the arms of the Infinite Father, into the Love of Jesus Christ.
You are the son who stayed home. You are the father and everything a father has is yours. I am afraid the father is going to have to kill the fatted calf for me when I finally foot-sore and weary, and rejoicing come home. As Paul said, “I truly believe. I truly believe I am the least of all Christians.” But I would die before denying Christ. This is the great passion of my life to be with Christ and I shall never while I live turn aside from the walk with Christ which I experience.
Rejoice in each other and encourage each other of your brothers and sisters in Christ in your fellowship. Love each other, serve each other, praise and rejoice in God with each other. Stir each other up continually to good deeds. Follow the path that you are on because it is yours. It is the one that works for you. It is beautiful and simply try to avoid that which in any way of living could be perhaps seen as an excess of enthusiasm.
You see, people who believe absolutely run into a danger. The danger has been expressed in wars, the Crusades, in terrible repression, the Inquisition, the Star Chambers, and even now in the Middle East. Most disturbingly from an essence of revelation, do we see threats and threats again of a holy war. There is a linkage between absolute faith and violence.
It is at this point that I invoke the meek and humble Christ whose kingdom was not of this world. And I encourage you to see that Christian excess is possible and undesirable.
I want you to know that I do not feel that my position, if you want to call it that, is defensible. I would like very much to have that absolute faith. That has not been given me. What has been given me is a different set of stuff. My faith is that each of us is given our unique qualities to serve to the glory of one God in Christ and we all serve differently. Love your prodigal sister all you can and know that I truly do not want to be a stumbling block between you. If there was any way in this world I could in honesty satisfy you, I would. I would have a long time ago. I would prefer it. It just hasn’t been given me.
I think that is sort of it because the last thing I want to do is shake your confidence in yourself. I don’t expect you to accept me. My only hope is that I can steer you to the best of my own judgment in the direction of contemplating the possibility of an excess of enthusiasm. If that does not register as being true with you, don’t take it in. Just drop it. Don’t take in any part of this letter that disturbs you. Just throw it away. It is not for you. And hold onto one thing and that is, how proud I am of you. How much I rejoice in the beautiful vision you have.
(Carla speaks of her several months of illness because of the gall bladder operation, the remaining stone and her back problems.)
For the most part, I haven’t even been able to read yet or to write or even to answer the telephone because of my back problems. But I have enjoyed myself and Jim is as supportive as anyone could be, and we have had a lot of fun, and share a lot of good times, and a lot of laughter and just having a ball regardless of my difficulties. This has never become a sickroom atmosphere here. Jim comes and goes, and does his thing and he is out in the garden. He is growing a great big garden this year so that we can take even more to church than we did before. Last summer we were always carrying at least one big grocery bag full of produce and I think this year it will probably be two bags a week instead of one because he has laid out like three dozen cabbage plants and 3 dozen broccoli and 60 tomato. We are really going to be able to feed the homeless this summer and it is a really good feeling that he is doing that.
He is doing wonderful things in the yard. He created another raised garden with stone, two stone tiers. One wall and then a smaller stone wall on top of the dirt there so that the garden will have two levels both above ground. He is getting ready to build a trellis kind of arbor thing and then make paths around to the various little garden areas in the backyard. I think if we stay here long enough that we will not have a backyard. We will have a garden in a European sense and I just can’t tell you how beautiful it all is. Just wonderful.
I am not able to go out into the sunlight and soak up the sun as I want to do. But I can lie in the hammock and listen to the buzz of the bees, and the clink of the fountain, and Jim’s hoe or whatever is off in the distance, and the smell of the flowers and everything. It is just lovely. So I’m having a good time, although pretty well flat on my back.
We were saving up to buy a refrigerator, and then the refrigerator that we had healed itself of leaking into the box somehow. So Jim decided that we would put that money on a vacation and we found a place at Polly’s Island that was considerably less money than we had previously paid. It is a smaller place, but I think that it doesn’t matter as long as it is at Polly’s Island. I can go and jump the waves there and be pretty blissful, if I can get there. So he did that. He reserved a week at Polly’s Island in August and hopefully by August, I will be able to make the trip. Right now I can’t get past Webb’s Mill without having to turn around and come home.
That is what happened at our anniversary. We had reservations at Hasenours but I couldn’t make it. I just couldn’t make it so I have that to look forward to and slowly getting back into doing just a little bit along the lines of working with the people that I work with and just maybe.
I don’t know really how to put this because I am concerned that it would feed into your fears for my Christianity, but I find myself in a position to listen to people who have lost their center, lost themselves in a way, and they are all searching and sort of strung out. I find that as I listen, that things come to me that I would not previously be able to say. It will come to me as if I had thought about all that I was hearing for a long time and I had come up with something, but it will happen instantaneously. That is what channeling is all about and it is just a matter of putting yourself in the highest way of relating to Christ that you can, and then trusting that tuning enables me to challenge in the name of Jesus Christ, you see.
And once I put myself in this place and challenge, then the things come to me and I am able to say certain things that I would not be able to think of. They just come to me and then that person has some resources, has some tools to use, which have been given, and the person can then work on her or himself.
We have a week of that kind of teaching schedule in July and a fellow from California is coming, a lady from West Virginia, a lady from Atlanta and a lady from Long Island so far. I just hope to heaven that Jim lets me do it. He is trying to take care of me and may feel that it is too much for me and you know that I do believe in obeying so Jim has shut me down for the month of May and I was upset about that, but I just had to accept it. And you know, he was probably wise, but I’ve always been one to be kind of gung-ho and make a maximum effort, but it has been a nice vacation I will have to admit in that I have had a lot pain to deal with and it would have taken a lot more strenuous tuning to really put myself in a proper state to do the work.
Whereas I am more uncomfortable now than in extreme pain, I would say substantial, but not extreme. So that is what is shaping here, just our normal day-to-day life and my hoping to get back to church some time in the next couple of months. I don’t know when and hoping in the eventual resolving of this extra gall stone problem so that I can start from wherever I have to start from, from scratch or whatever percentage of strength I will have remaining, and get back to the exercising, which is really the key to my being able to go to church and to sing sacred music. And to carry on my correspondence etc. that I feel is what I am able to do, given the handicap that I have had in life.
I attempted to figure out what I could do to support Daddy more than I have, which is to stop in after church and have breakfast with Daddy. You see, Daddy is such a giver. If we tried to get him to come over for dinner one night a week, he would be uninterested because he really doesn’t want to be pampered. He is not used to it, Whereas, if I stop in and let him fix me breakfast, it is like I am being nice to him because he is so generous and oriented towards helping other people that he sees that as being great fun and comforting, whereas if we just wanted to feed him once a week, go out and eat or something like that, he wouldn’t see that as being much fun at all.
So Jim and I have it figured out now that as soon as I get back on my feet, that after church we’ll just make it a habit of stopping in. That means that Daddy is alone in the house and that at least once a week he’ll need some family around him and that won’t be in association with church. I think that way, he is really much loved at Calvary and people really appreciate him there. And so it will be the most support that I can offer and Jim sat down with me and we talked it over until we came to a solution and I am grateful to Jim for his enormous practicality because I couldn’t think of a solution until he came up with it. I was a little too blind, a little wanting to serve Him by being nice to Him and insisting that he accept something from me. Whereas, Jim pointed out that Daddy’s’ idea of fun is when he helps somebody else and they have a chip in that. That is the way things are.
Daddy is thriving insofar as his mental attitude is concerned. He is full of good works, always volunteering to do this or that, and does an enormous amount of volunteer work. He has a very busy life and he is just mellower, and mellower and sweeter, and sweeter. He is just a real sweetie these days, always has been really, but of course, you know the bark and no bite, but lots of bark. And I perceive in his relationship with me that there is less and less of the bark. He truly is changing.
He also is getting tired physically. You can see it. His emphysema continues to bother him and he simply looks tired and a bit drawn, and I realize that he is 70 years old and I just give great thanks for each time that I see him that he still is here and I hope for many more years, but I am really valuing him. I think more than I used to as I perceive that he is in that area of life when people do leave, and nobody loves you like your parents. And I will feel their loss, both Mom and Dad tremendously, because I think it is true beyond a shadow of a doubt that both Mom and Dad have experienced their greatest love towards their children and that I will truly feel much orphaned when they leave and it will be a very lonely feeling because I know that no one else can possibly love you just that way.
It is the parental love that is a special breed of love, a great gift from God. So that is the folks.
I guess that is about it for the news so I will bid you adieu and just repeat at the end, that I hope that I can be less and less of a stumbling block to you. That you can release me in my sin, in my sad state, and now that I am a prodigal daughter and that I am firmly and with all dedication walking my walk with Jesus the best I can, I beg you to look towards not letting me be that stumbling block towards releasing yourself from this burden. That your joy in Christ may be complete and not sullied by this concern. I wish you that.
God bless and I’ll see you soon. I do love you very, very much. Cheerio. Until I see you, bye-bye.