Our friend George Dunn joined us for the Free Store conversation on Thursday morning a number of weeks ago and told us that "help is not a four letter word." He said it was not like some of the words he had used (like jerk) on his drive to the store this morning which made us laugh. George said that the reason we don't get help is because we don't ask for help. He said that we all need help at some point because we can't always do it on our own. George said that one of the things he loved about the bible is that it tells us that God is there to help us.
George told us that religion is often performance based but that spirituality is about connection with God. He said that God is our father whether we are good kids or not. He told us that he and his wife have adopted children but that you wouldn't know it from the color or their skin or their behavior. At this someone said, "I have learned a couple things over the years. One is that there are no perfect people. And the other is that there are no worthless people. The distinctions people make are mostly bullshit." This seemed to encourage the group and George Hunt added, "You can also beat your own self up." He told us that he used to feel bad about himself for "being shy" but he was finding that he liked to talk with people more and more. He went on to say "I'm coming out" which made us laugh.
At this point George Dunn told us about a conversation he had earlier in the morning with a very religious young man that had been to seminary and was interested in ministry. The young man said, "I've come to the conclusion that life is really about being loved and loving others. The rest just isn't important." George then asked the question, "How can you be loving if you don't feel loved?" He said that you can't really fake something that imporant. He went on to say that life is not really about keeping the rules or even about what we believe. We laughed when he suggested that maybe every time we keep the rules we should get a smily face sticker on the forehead and every time we break the rules we should get a frowny face. Someone said that our group might have a lot of frowny stickers which made us laugh.
We talked a bit about how religion will often use fear as a mechanism of control. Someone brought up how ironic it is that we can be so afraid of things that don't even exist. He said that the movie Creature From the Black Lagoon had frightened him as a child and made it hard for him to swim in the river. Someone else mentioned the fear activated when he watched the movie Night of the Living Dead. George Dunn told us about his vivid fears as a child of being fried in a pan like a piece of bacon in eternal hell. We laughed as George demonstrated what a human piece of bacon would look like in a divine skillet. He said that the teaching about eternal hell is very frightening and most likely not even true. At this our friend Janice told us something that she remembers her mom saying to her father one time. She said that her dad said something negative about somebody and her mom replied, "Who are you to judge? You don't have a heaven or hell to put them in" which made us laugh.
As our conversation moved toward a close our friend Donald jumped in and said, "Dave used to talk to me when I came to the free store and ask me why I was wearin hot clothes. He taught me a lesson. I miss him." Although we weren't exactly sure how this fit in we all agreed with Donald that Big Dave had touched our lives and we missed him as well. Our new friend Curtis said, "I came over to pray at 24/7 this morning but they weren't open. It's been a rough morning for me. I was feelin bad. I cried and cried and cried. I spoke with my family in VA and felt even worse." He said that sometimes "you can be so bundled up you just can't let it out."