Made-Up Conversation that’s Real

Three quotes have engaged me in dialogue today. At first glance they may seem disjointed, but I don’t believe in such. I think that everything is about everything…that there is constant banter going on in my life – between events, emotions, even the things I repress and shove down. It all connects. It all matters. And it’s all one big, fat, beautiful conversation that’s talking to and with me all the time – if only I will listen.

The three quotes:

You must wait and listen for the sound of the genuine that is within you. When you hear it, that will be your voice and the Voice of God.
Howard Thurman)

I say that religion isn’t about believing things. It’s ethical alchemy. It’s about behaving in a way that changes you, that gives you intimations of holiness and sacredness.
(Karen Armstrong)

barn’s burnt down…now i can see the moon.

Here’s what this conversation sounds like in my brain, my heart, my life:

To understand my genuine voice as the voice of God has taken me a long, long time. It’s been fraught with leavings (my marriage, the church, my youthful – and cherished understandings of religion and God). But those leavings have led to profound findings (passion, feminist theology, amazing relationships, an out-loud voice, truth-telling, new ways of experiencing “god”). And those very leavings are what have enabled me to find (and hold on to) my genuine voice…thereby knowing and experiencing God, others, and self in far more profound ways.

I needed the damn barn to burn down. I needed to be standing in the ashes, waiting for the smoke to clear. Once that barn was gone then yes, I could see the moon. That luminous, gorgeous orb (which might even be God and/or my genuine voice) shed light on what was most true, what was most genuine, what mattered: alchemy, change, holiness and sacredness. I needed “religion” and belief to be replaced by behavior that was compelled not by rules or dogma, but by my passions, hopes, and desires; behavior that was then LIVED in the real, day-to-day aspects of my life.

Howard Thurman, Karen Armstrong, and Masahide have never had an actual conversation, but that doesn’t make it any less real. In my brain, heart, and life their dialogue is profound, vibrant, provocative, and ongoing. Their discussion, their “intertextuality,” helps me make sense of the voices that speak incessantly in my own head.

My life is talking to me all the time. My body is talking to me all the time. My heart is talking to me all the time. Others talk, as well. And I get to engage them in conversation. I get to enter in. I get to be curious about how they are speaking to one another. And I get to listen…if only I will.

Conversation matters – even (and maybe especially) when it’s within.  Yes, it’s imagined and made-up, but that doesn’t make it any less real.

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    { 9 comments… read them below or add one }

    Deb Owen December 7, 2009 at

    Being a preacher’s kid, I can so relate. At times, when I look back, I wish all the judgment and teaching that I needed to be something other than I was had been replaced with being taught how to listen to that quiet voice within and trust it entirely.

    I’ve also found this happens for me in stages. Something happens, a leaving happens, and I see a bit more each time. I’ve come a long way, but am still learning at the same time.

    Of course, right now, the smoke is clearing and I’m looking for the moon. ;-)

    All the best!
    .-= Deb Owen´s last blog ..quiet mode =-.


    Ronna Detrick December 7, 2009 at

    The barn’s definitely been burnt, Deb. And the moon is out. You’ll see it. I’m sure of it. Leavings and findings. They are the stuff of life…along with these amazing conversations!


    Martha Hopler December 8, 2009 at

    As always when I take the time to listen to what you have written I fine more of my own soul. The quotes and your thoughts spoke directly to my soul today and I thank you.


    Ronna Detrick December 8, 2009 at

    Mmmm. I’m grateful this is true, Martha – and I’m grateful for your words/heart saying so. Thank you.


    Melanie April 9, 2010 at

    Dear Ronna,

    I lit my barn on fire this morning, finally, I have been holding the lighter for years. I was driving to work arguing with God about how I know how much I can handle and that I am super-human in ways that are un-earthly. The next moment while sipping my coffee the cup lid gave way and I was soaked. I suddenly realized that I can see a glimmer of sky and that the barn is beginning to burn. I googled the line…..and found your site. Thanks for being a renegade and for writing this post, it helped me today.


    Ronna Detrick April 9, 2010 at

    Sorry about the coffee, but Love, Love, Love that you found me, that your barn is burning, and that hope glimmers in the midst. That’s all SO good, Melanie!


    J. M. Clarys April 20, 2010 at

    I was wondering if you would please tell me the source of the Howard Thurman quote on your website (it’s above where I am typeing right now)?

    I am doing some research, and though I have several of his books, I can’t find it.

    Thank you so much!!!

    In Peace,
    J. M. Clarys, Student
    The Ecumenical Institute for Theology
    Baltimore, MD


    sera March 8, 2012 at

    Do you know how I ended up here, 3 years later? Googling the Masahide quote. The one I saw on the fridge at the Zen Center two weeks ago, mere hours after the barn burnt down.

    And there you were…. Ronna, knock it off! ;)
    sera recently posted..Word Reiki: Chakra Writing


    Ronna Detrick March 9, 2012 at

    Wow, Sera. How wild is that?!? And LOVE that it is so. Also…thanks for reminding me of this quote. It’s got me thinking…again. xoxo


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