Saturday, October 1, 2016

Faith & Religion?

108 Days
Where do I stand now with faith and religion? In what direction do I see myself heading?

In short, I have no idea.
In length I am a spiritual derivative of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. During the days I have aspirations to be a latter day saint, lay Franciscan, red-letter Christian and Bodhisattva leading a life that is a powerful legacy to Sharry full of love and ultimately reunite with her when my life comes to a close. At night I am often a ball of sadness, darkness and tears that longs for death to come. A pretty picture, I know.

To understand where I currently find myself and perhaps shed some light on where I’m going a little background might be helpful. Sharry and I both grew up learning about Jesus with wonderful Mormon families and were married in the St George, UT LDS temple with the promise of being together forever. Over the years Shar and I evolved both individually and together in our spirituality and for diverse difficult reasons have kind of drifted away from our childhood religion. I want to be very clear that does not mean that we were ever anti-mormon or anything of the sort. In fact we always considered ourselves LDS in many ways and talked of raising our children in the church if we could learn to live with the church not being the “perfect" fit.

Wedding day, December 28, 2006
We were seekers. I think we probably attended at least a dozen different faiths at least once and probably half a dozen multiple times. We found that we were especially attracted to Buddhism, Unitarian Universalism and the Episcopal faiths. We often read and listened to the Buddhist teachers Thich Nhat Hanh, The Dalai Lama, Gil Fronsdal, Tara Brach and Alan Watts among others. Together we would learn from Christian teachers like Rob Bell, Shane Claiborne, St Francis, Jim Wallis, Mother Teresa, C.S. Lewis and Pope Francis among many more. Hand in hand we beautifully soaked in light from the world’s great wisdom teachers and traditions. But now my partner on the quest for divine love and meaning is gone.

A Buddhist "temple stay" in South Korea
Where does this leave me? I am being drawn back to my LDS roots. Of course many of my concerns still exist but they are less critical than the ultimate question of Sharry’s existence and my hope for our eventual possible reunion. In fact I recently wrote a tearful letter to a leader in the LDS Church, and actually received a kind, loving and faithful response for which I am very grateful. Yet that does not change the fact that I have prayed, fasted, meditated and studied the last few months with greater sincerity, pleading and hope than ever before and I have not received an answer. At least not one I recognize.
Posing by a cross on a spring break service trip
I recently read the great Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis’ book on grief written after his own beloved wife died. My experience is not unique even to remarkable Christians. In A Grief Observed, he writes:

Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be—or so it feels—welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?
I tried to put some of these thoughts to C. this afternoon. He reminded me that the same thing seems to have happened to Christ: ‘Why hast thou forsaken me?’ I know. Does that make it easier to understand?

And later in the same book:

And so, perhaps, with God. I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted. Was it my own frantic need that slammed it in my face? The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can’t give it: you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.
On the other hand, ‘Knock and it shall be opened.’ But does knocking mean hammering and kicking the door like a maniac? And there’s also ‘To him that hath shall be given.’ After all, you must have a capacity to receive, or even omnipotence can’t give. Perhaps your own passion temporarily destroys the capacity.

Difficult soul aching stuff! In Lewis’ experience he gradually was able to feel God’s presence more in his life but it took time. I definitely am the drowning man clutching and grabbing for God and Sharry’s existence and presence in my life and not finding it. I do have hope and faith that this will not always be the case. At night I may sing a different tune but I know my nights will get better...they must, my current trajectory is entirely unsustainable.

For now my plan, at least while the sun is up, is to continue to be a seeker. As a latter day saint who attends church on a somewhat regular basis and prays with a broken heart to a Heavenly Father and Mother for peace, consolation and a forever family with Sharry and JJ. As an aspiring bodhisattva who meditates and has a daily ritual reciting the vow:
Countless sentient beings, I vow to help to cross the ocean of existence.
Eternal Sufferings, I vow to end.
Innumerable spiritual methods, I vow to study and comprehend.
The buddha's unsurpassable supreme dharma, I vow to realize.
As a lay Franciscan who seeks the divine in nature and the wilderness defending our common home. And finally as a red letter Christian work to make the world a more just and compassionate place and help bring the kingdom of heaven among us.

Wherever my spiritual path takes me I pray with all my heart and soul that Sharry exists and is my guardian angel who guides JJ and me to healing, to peace, back home to her, back home to the divine.

A page of wisdom from Shar's awesome journals
PS I am sincerely grateful for all the prayers, messages and well wishes that have been given for Sharry, JJ and me. I plead for continued faith, prayers and help for the BD3 because we desperately need it. For Sharry to be at peace and know how loved and wonderful she is. For JJ to be loved, to continue to grow strong, healthy and smart. And for me to overcome ignorance and to find peace, light, healing, faith and meaning. Thank you and a sincere namaste.


  1. Thank you for being vulnerable and real. You're helping people more than you likely know.

  2. Yes, thank you for your raw,real and heart felt messages. You do inspire and touch so many. You have such wonderful parents and family that will continue to be by your side. #livelikeShar

  3. I love reading your posts and hope you will find peace.

  4. We all receive answers in different ways. For me there have been many months in many different years that I'm going through the motions of what I've previously known but don't feel anymore: prayer, keeping the commandments, trying and I just keep "knocking " and then one day the heavens feel parted I feel the light and the confirmation comes. The answer that rings in my ears is -after the trial of your faith... I think that's why it's important to write, so we can look back and remember. As I've heard, doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.
    I am so very sorry for your loss, Sharry is very beautiful, her soul literally emits beauty, and the two of you have something special. I wish I had known her.
    For what it's worth, I do believe you will be with her again, I do believe she is. I believe you will be reunited, and that she is very much still here, she's just slipped into the next room.
    It's not my comfort zone to write a public comment but I've sat here appreciating your vulnerability and honesty, and relating to your pain, loss, and search for truth. I couldn't not respond. So I hope that I don't offend you with my hopes for encouragement. The truth will come. I would encourage you to power through, line upon line, until the truth shines clear with clarity for you again. I hope you get peace and confirmation sooner rather than later. Fan the flame of your faith- Elder Holland

    1. This is a beautiful message. Thank you for sharing, it touched me!

  5. Thank you.
    I have tried to put myself in your shoes but I must confess that I couldn't. What has resulted from this attempts is my renewed love for my wife, my desire to live with her every minute of every day and cherish her every waking moment.
    I do hope you find peace and eventually heal all wounds.

  6. I just finished reading Elder Uchdorf's talk from the April 2016 conference titled "He will place you on his shoulders and carry you home" and thought of you and those in my family I love. I hate to see anyone struggling and hurting and felt like it was something I needed to share with you. I hope this find you and JJ happy and healthy.

  7. I just finished reading Elder Uchdorf's talk from the April 2016 conference titled "He will place you on his shoulders and carry you home" and thought of you and those in my family I love. I hate to see anyone struggling and hurting and felt like it was something I needed to share with you. I hope this find you and JJ happy and healthy.

  8. The answer is God and God alone. For he is the one and only. If you could summon enough faith to turn from the other searches of religions and only seek Him I think you will find peace. He is a jealous God, with no one before him.
    I am so sorry for your loss, I know your pain is great and it can hurt to even breathe. I will pray for you. I will pray you have strength to lead JJ in the one and only direction of a personal Savior, Jesus Christ.

    1. Beautiful and so accurate. I'm praying the same thing.

  9. Thank you for being so raw and real. I pray you find your peace. I'm a Christian and I can't imagine going through such a traumatic event such as this without my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!! He is the one and only. Praying you are drawn to the realness in Him alone. Peace, love, joy, energy, kindness and hope.. praying for you and your beautiful sweetness, JJ. I love your blogs, know you aren't alone.

  10. Jared
    Sharry has not , through death become your or your sons "guardian angel". Angels were created by GOD just as humans were created by GOD. Angels were created for very specific reasons , one being we are each given a guardian angel the moment we are conceived to guide us ( only at our request , they never ever interfere with our will) through life until death and yes, we will be taken to heaven by them . As far as your question as to whether or not you will see her again. Live the Ten Commandments and obey them. Sharry will be waiting with your angel to escort you to eternity. I know this as my Mom and sisters and brother were in the room as my father passed. He literally was trying to climb out of his bed . He asked us if we saw them "who, we asked" ? He said , "my mother is here so is John (his twin brother who died 13 yrs prior" He also saw the Blessed Mother ( he had great devotion to the rosary all his life ) but the one that really got me was this..He kept saying " look at all the children , can you see them"? He prayed his rosary for the millions of aborted babies in the world . So to answer your question Jared , I have no doubt whatsoever that Sharry will be waiting for you. Look online at you tube and see how many people have had near death experiences and what they say. It's truly astonishing. I'm praying for your peace of mind Jared. Both you and Sharry we exemplary individuals and God will reward you for that. God Bless , Montana

  11. Montana's post stirred a memory of a close friends similar experience. This story is true and the wife was absolutely shocked when this happened. My friends grandparents were home and his grandmother was making eggs. They were in their late 70s-early 80s. The grandfather (husband) walked into the kitchen and said to his wife (the grandmother) "Grab another plate and make some eggs for mom." She looked at him and said "What do you mean?" (both their mothers had been dead for years) and he said "Mom's here, didn't you see her? She just walked in." He then walked over to the table, sat down, and collapsed and died.

  12. Thank you for your blogs. I have been binge reading. Sharing your experience during your journey... is god-whatever he may be you-speaking through you, as a gift to people like me. Thank you.
    Kaylin Ascherl

  13. I listened to your story on the Strangers podcast...and came to your blog for a little looksee. I am amazed at the amount of love you and Sharry have. Yes, she still exists. I'm not always sure of much. But I am sure she still exists. We don't know each other...but when you ponder on all your questions, you can add my name to the column of believing that you will be with your MIA partner in the future. And for believing that she is looking over you and her son.

  14. People of the same community shared the same traditions, customs, sentiments and feelings and the worship of God. So some of the responsible people wanted to lead them on to one path and they named this path 'RELIGION.'guarantor