This is a guest post by Hannah. In her own words: “I am a final semester graduate student working on a thesis for double Masters in theology/philosophy. While my mind is academic, my concerns are first and foremost with the life of the soul, as I understand the world in light of my love for Jesus. Ever since I was a child, relating with Jesus through writing, and as I matured relationships, was very central to my faith and spiritual practice. While I never quite live up to the holiness I know lives in my in His Spirit, that is my aim and desire. Most frequently, I work out the messiness of this questing in my blogging. “Spiritually anorexic” seemed an apt way to characterize my life with God: obsessive, compulsive, desiring twisted senses of holiness found in starvation and purging, always recovering nourishment from the lips of my Savior. Each new development of life brings to light another conversation to be had with my Jesus, in context of my family, fiance, and faith community“.

The other day I recounted a part of a spiritual journey I have been walking down, realizing the connections and separations of different paths, especially of those individuals with whom I am closest, and how it influences my walk with God. In the past four years, I would say I have come to a much deeper valuing of communal-centered faith-sharing… which can be as simple as sharing a ritual together, to as deep as the kinds of one-on-one conversations which challenge and stir our souls. It was after the conversation i recounted in my last post with my significant other as well as one with a Dominican brother that brought recollections and remembrances to the foremost.

Personal revelations, encountered through our walks and experiences are so often the most profound…realizing ourselves to be alone in certain ways, ways that will never fully blend into a sameness with others… we are always challenged to take up that individuality and work with it towards a deeper unity. I have begun realizing how my understandings of God, usually even moreso of Jesus, lie in trajectories of radical individuality… where Jesus and I stand separated from all others who do or do not also have personal relationships with God. Let me define my understanding of that before I begin, as I encountered in that last conversation I processes here an ambiguity in the terms “personal relationship” with God or Jesus:

what I mean by these ideas of a personal relationship is not to suggest something potentially schizophrenic… I have never heard a voice audibly, I have come close to imagining that I might have in certain profound moments, but there has never been a kind of actual tangibility in this relationship. I searched for the origins of this relationship in my memory and found it to be a combination of my own readings and prayers involving scripture, as well as how I was taught to regard Jesus as a central dialog partner of my life. The kind of relating that actually occurs usually had more to do with me dialogging and a learned kind of sensitivity towards experiencing responses to my questions or concerns in the relationships I share with others. I believe that people are the image of God and very connected to the presence and movement of God in the world, and this would also be true of those who relate with Jesus– since Jesus explicitly says that those who are in relationship with Him are His body. The relationship I have with Jesus is not dependent on ritual performance, or even communal engagement, though it is furthered by these things.

In the end, I think my perception of relationship with Jesus looks like something any other thoughtful, introspective person who approaches the world with a human-oriented moral structure would share… except the paradigm of relationship with a person, and a person in both a specific, individual sense, as well as a universal sense for all who participate in the same individualized relationship. Existentially, it is one of many similar paradigms, but distinct in its vocabulary, way of being in relationship, and orientation towards both a world-based and other-worldly based centers of relationship. And it is these things that fundamentally separates those who have and do not have relationship with Jesus into different worlds.

But these are parallel worlds and I would like to explore their inter-relations more.

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