As a Druid I am a lover of mystery. I have had the good fortune of being amongst others in my life who share the same passion for mystery that I do. My grove is bigger than my fellow Druids and even my fellow pagans. I feel kinship with all of those who immerse themselves in the mystery of Being. I have noticed through the years that the Druids and pagans that I connect with the most also have a passion for community. There is a strong recognition of the sacred act of sitting together over a pint and just shooting the breeze. As a younger pagan I focused on mystery to the point of obsession. Along with that laser focus I admit to a certain contempt for other people who I distanced myself from with the de-humanizing word of “society”. Frequent phrases from me included things like, “Society today just doesn’t care”, or “Society could care less”. I realize now that these phrases held power and perspective.
What I was really saying is, “I fear others”.
Mystery is meant to serve, inform, and keep community honest. Without community mystery becomes a hollow exercise that actually distances me from others and gives my life a feeling of increased isolation. Community is one area where Christianity really gets it. I, like many pagans, work around Christians who have a very active church life. When I talk to them about their church life I admit to some envy. Christians have a community of support in difficult times and most church communities perform some form of community service.
I say all of this partly because of Teo Bishop’s recent calling back to Christianity. I have always enjoyed Teo’s intelligence, and sincerity. Plus, he’s just sexy yah know? I had the good fortune of having a nice long chat with him at a Denver Pagan Pride Day a couple of years ago; glad I got in just under the pagan wire! Wherever Teo ends up I am sure of two things, whatever path he takes it will be *his*, and that I will always condsider him a spiritual brother. But I will defintely miss his pagan centered writing. Our community will be a little poorer without him.
I remember a similar angst running through the pagan community when Deo of the “Deo’s Shadow” podcast gave up paganism and became a devoted atheist. I was dissapointed to see such a great show end and to no longer hear such thoughtful commentary on pagan issues. But life goes on and people take the road they need.
I wonder now if Teo may be feeling called to Christianity because of the lack of community in the pagan world? Like Teo I am a fan of Nadia Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran pastrix in Denver. Founder of the “House for All Sinners and Saints” Nadia has a very refreshing approach to her Christianity that really speaks to people of many different backgrounds. But the thing that impressed me the most about her was something she said in an interview on Krista Tippet’s excellent show “On Being“:
We’re anti-excellence and pro-participation. We don’t do anything extremely well we just do it together.
What I admired about being “anti-excellence and pro-participation” is that it takes a lot of the possibilities for witch wars and ego trips out of the picture. When we are forced to really engage with “the other”, face to face, heart to heart, we challange our basic assumptions about motivation.
Further in the podcast Nadia talks about her church’s commitment to “welcoming the stranger”. Her experiences of this center largely around her church growing from a smaller group of mostly social outcasts to include “bankers wearing dockers”. Ready to fight to keep her church “pure” Nadia called a fellow pastor who leveled with her:
You all are really good at welcoming the stranger when they’re a 16 year old transgender kid, but sometimes the stranger looks just like your Mom and Dad.
When it comes to “welcoming the stranger” the Druid in me perked up. Hospitality is a conerstone virtue in celtic culture and Druidry. In ancient times turning away a stranger at your door could literally mean death. Unfortunately, because some pagans today feel ostrasized by our larger culture, pagan and Druid groups can be very unwelcoming. This is unfortuate, if understandable, as it limits our ability to hear other perspectives and learn from the experiences of others. Could it be that Teo and other pagans like him who have gone down the Christian (or other) path (whether they stay or not) may have felt that there was no pagan community to support them?
Teo, I wish you the absolute best in your journeys and I hope that you will continue to bolg, tweet, and give us your insights as you go. Hope I am not out of line here but I suspect you will always have the heart of a Druid.