I'm really wary of those Facebook manufactured pictures of gauzy-lensed women and an inspirational mountain behind them, and in elaborate, swirly writing at the bottom "remember that God is always with you and together you can do anything." It's not the sentiment I dislike, because deep inside this cold heart of mine, I love the idea that I'm not alone, and truth be told, that notion has gotten me through a pile of not such fun days these last nearly two years. But anything too overtly holy I run away from.
|Truth is, I secretly love this. Don't tell anyone.|
I think sometimes when I'm sitting in my yoga class, surrounded by my Sikh friends wrapped in white, heads covered, beautiful faces brimming with beatitude, heavenly music filling the room and the lovely voice of Tej saying things like "Is that all right?" in the way she does, where the energy flows around in such a way that you come out light-headed, euphoric, utterly blasted to another planet, that if my friends could see me now, surrounded with all this white light and pure California-style out-there-ness, they'd think me utterly nuts. But I don't really care. One hour and a half of that once a week propels me like a rocket. I'll be very scientific for you: it jiggles with the chemicals in your brains, whizzes up all your cells, shoots the blood and the energy and the breath around the body, and you come out feeling completely discombobulated in the best way you can possibly imagine, and you walk down the street, down Sunset Blvd. smiling and radiating love like a lighthouse through a space in the middle of your forehead.
(Insert "To the Lighthouse" reference here.)
But when weeks go like this one, when thing after thing fall into place and there is goodness wherever you look, and the things you want to happen do happen, and happen even better and bigger than you imagined, and your confidence comes back, and it's summer, nearly summer, you don't feel so alone. So to what or who do I attribute that?
Most of the atheists I know don't like religion because the for them religion is fundamentalism. I would hazard to say that atheists are fundamentalists also. Because for them, there is no possibility of any other reality other than the one they see. Nothing is open to interpretation. It's as bad as those who take the Bible literally and don't allow that over thousands of years and translations from language to language, and with the way we use and nuance our language, things could, just possibly, change.
So back to the belief that you're not alone:
Does this in fact mean that you believe in God?
I don't know.
But I don't think so.
I'm very good at being hazy and taking a position that makes everybody happy. Believe me, I'm very good at that, but that is kinda where I sit on this issue of spirituality. It's something to do with aligning what's on the inside and what's on the outside so that the person people see and the person you think you are are closer to each other. It's about forgiveness, acceptance, being okay with having the crap beaten out of you and moving on with grace. It's about being nice to yourself and allowing for middle ground, and allowing for other opinions and turning the other cheek, not in a masochistic kind of way, but in a unflinching, unreactive way. It's about love. Look, this is the most embarrassingly simple and cliched truth: when it comes down to it, it's all about love. Everything.
So I don't know what I believe.
And I don't know what I don't believe.
But I do know that I am, without doubt, 100% not alone here on this beautiful planet.
I am grateful for many things today:
For Lucy who told it like it was and fights for me like a sister. And who makes roast pork and crackling like no other (and would KILL me if she wasn't number one on my list; she has the competitive spirit of a prize fighter).
For TB who props me up and believes in me. She's elegant and kind and sharp as a tack.
For Monica who is just constant and loving and funny.
For J who comes at 7 in the morning and totters on the hillside in high heels, who listens to me even at my most misery-filled, and makes feasts for my extended family.
For the amazing people that read this blog and respond and say that they feel same way or they understand why I write what I do. People I don't know who come forward. It's an abundance of riches.
For my Twitter friends -- many of whom I've never met in real life -- who read books at my suggestion and love them too. For laughing at my silly jokes. Oy. That's kindness.
For my sister and brother who are solid and funny and like sausages and dogs and trees and feasts and without whom this life would be dull.
For A, who is my alter-ego. Which one of us will spend the day in bed? Will our moods coincide? They did? Hurrah!
For T in Scotland with her chestnut red mare who makes it okay to be in love with nature, every single day, and who writes mini-poems to the world she sees about her.
For my children, who are together in NYC right now, strong, funny, handsome, brilliant people.
For Chris, who is the only person I can ignore for an hour, with a glass of wine, while both of us tap away on our iPhones in our own media-filled worlds, and then giggle about it.
For S, who doesn't know it, but allowed me to get through a first date unscathed and who made me realize that life is, in fact, rather an exciting adventure.
For horses and dogs who've been with me along the way. I think of each and every one of them every single night before I sleep.
To Mary Karr who gave me the revolutionary idea to pray. And for Mary Oliver who feels about the world as I do but articulates it better.
For my Foxy girls who made my life better when I might have fallen apart.
And for my mamma -- I wish everyone could have a mamma like mine. She is my little Norwegian rock.