Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I could've sworn I shared this story here, on my blog, before ... years ago, when it happened.  But, I can't find it.

Tonight, while attending Playback Theatre rehearsal (a form of improvisational story-telling theatre), I got to "tell a story" that was then re-enacted back to me, as a sacred offering.  Trust me, this may be THE most validating form of therapy one can experience (& I'm a veteran of therapeutic modalities!).

The story goes back several years ... when I was seriously studying, inquiring, investigating the reality of hell.  I was then a Christian, and had been for about 30 years ... and I then-believed that the bible was the "inspired and authoritative word of God."  I had believed, all that time, that hell is real ... that we are born separated from God, that we are depraved and in need of a savior to return to God, that the only savior is Jesus Christ, and that if we do not accept him "as Lord and Savior" that we will go to hell, for an eternity of torment.  IF we accept him "as Lord and Savior" then we go instead, to heaven.  This is what I was taught.  This is what I believed.

Until ... I *had* to question it.

Now, it's a damnable big deal to end up on the wrong side of THAT equation, if it's true.  I had to know, at all cost, what was true.  Years prior to this, when we were excommunicated from church because I had discovered that I am intended (by the Creator) to be a sexual human being, I had cried out for "truth at ALL cost" ... and I meant it.  And this, was part of that unraveling ... actually, the log-jam.

So, here I was, wanting (no, needing!) to know the truth about hell ... which was the truth about God ... which was the truth about life ... which was the truth about me... the truth about everything.

And I was scared shitless to explore ... but I did.  I had to.  I had to do what I couldn't not do.

I spent 18 months delving into this, using the bible, books that were pro-hell, and con-hell, and all manner of historical writings ... countless books, websites, discussion forums, articles, interviews.  I lost half my hair, lots of sleep, and most of my friends, over this.  I would lie in bed, night after night, begging God to not let me go into deception ... to be safe.  To know the truth...!

Finally, after so many signs, and so much evidence (including in the bible itself), I came to see, without question, that hell was a myth ... a metaphor, based on the mythologies of other cultures and religions.  I came to see that God was too vast, too good, too uncontainable, too undefinable, and too non-exclusively-male, to fit in that paradigm.  I fired that God.  I honestly don't even like the word, nor the baggage it brings.

I paid the price, though ... friends, associates, groups, ministries, all dropped me like a hot-potato.  I was "dangerous" ... "deceived" ... "deceptive" ... "off the deep end" ... "spawn of Satan" ... ha!  I even got called, "one of Santa's minions."  ;)  Yes, I am an elf...

I had to read an email one time, listing my many grievances, from a couple who had been very close to me.  It was brutal, reading about how evil they now believed I was.  I was en route to a dinner with other close friends, who strongly believed in the reality of hell - they had provided many of the "pro-hell" books for me to read.  I knew they were concerned for my "eternal salvation" and yet, I knew they loved me.  I had to pull myself  together, put on my best "happy dinner face" and sit down to eat.  As I got out of the car, I shot up a quick, "I need a sign that I'm on the right track!" message.  And I went in.

Dinner was progressing normally ... nothing unusual.  When suddenly, my friend looked startled, and said, "Oh, Dena!  God gave me a vision for you today, and I want to share it with you!"  I had a sinking feeling ... could this be my sign?

He took out a pen, and began to draw a U on a napkin.  "This is the edge of a cliff," he began.  (I'm thinking, "cliff ... this can't be good.")   He continued, "And in the middle here, is the abyss."  (Abyss!  That word!  An abyss canNOT be a good thing!")  "And here you are, going over to this edge, turning to the crowd behind you, and beckoning, 'Come here, come and see!', and they do."  (I'm thinking, "ohhhh great, I'm leading others astray ... this is a baaaaad sign!")  "And now, you're going to this side of the cliff," he said, pointing his pen to the middle, "and again, you call people to come look over the edge, and they do."  (I'm now grimacing, no more pretending to be grinning ...)  "And then, you go to the far side, and do the same thing - and the crowd follows you to go look."  (I'm bracing myself, preparing for the worst.)  He paused, looked at me, and said, "And up here, above it all, is God.  And God is saying something to you."  (I have shrunk down, preparing for the onslaught.)   "God is saying, 'That's my girl!'"

I blinked.  I sat tall.  What?  What did he just say God said?  About me?!?  Really?

I ask for a sign, and I get one from this man, who got his vision at the same time the former-friend was writing his email ... this man who was alarmed about what I now-believed, was used as the very instrument to give me the message I most needed to hear ...?


He then said, "Oh, I almost forgot.  You're not just walking on the edge of the cliff; you're dancing.  It's what you're born to do.  And, if you fall, angels will be there, to catch you."

He shook his head slightly, as if to "come to" and said, "may I have a bite of your fish?"

So, that's me ... the cliff-dweller.  She-Who-Dances-on-the-Edge-of-the-Cliff.

So be it.

[Post-Script:  For the record, I am no longer a Christian ... I could no longer swallow-whole the concept that we had *ever* been separated from (wait for it) the Only Source of All Life (what *else* had supposedly enlivened me?) ... therefore, without a separation-problem, there was no need for a savior-solution.  It got clear to me that the only thing I'd ever had to be saved-from was the concept that I ever had to be saved in the first place!  I Am in the (wait for it) All in All.  God, in us, AS us.  Plus, the notion of a god who had to kill god to appease god just no longer passed the straight-face test for me.  My concept of God includes ALL That Is ... The Divine ... Source ... Presence ... Spirit ... Brahman ... The Universe ... it matters not what it is called ... it is Love, just Love ... though, in our perception, often distorted ... but that's a whole 'nother blog post!]


Laurie Skelton said...

And yet His words to you were so profound!!! Loved this pst

Jeremy Duncan said...

Yes Dena! You are "God's" girl. NOW, don't ever spend another moment as something else.
You are AMAZING!