I read once of a sailor in the merchant marine during WWII who in the course of convoy duty on the Atlantic had ships torpedoed out from under him half a dozen times - and lived to tell the tale. An incredible story, but true. In a spiritual way, I can identify with that.
Leaving aside the tedious story of my long and checkered religious experience, of no interest to anyone but me, I find myself now in a strangely isolated position. A state of just simply being, rather than trying to be. Of simply believing, rather than trying to believe, of knowing, not trying to know. Hard to explain. I've not exactly rejected my Christian faith; I've simply put it on hold, set it right over here, on this shelf, see? Within easy reach at any moment, but not right in front of me, or draped around me. As when one hangs a jacket on a nearby chair, for comfort's sake, close at hand in case of need. And I'm just fine with that, and I believe God is just fine with that too.
Because of course if there's anything to God, He must be eminently practical - not to mention supremely courteous. Does it feel stuffy in here? Are you too warm? Let me take your jacket.
So here I sit, and it's a place I didn't expect to be at this point in life. Strange; but not disturbing. Oh, how can I say what I mean? It's much too late at night here to get all philosophical and stuff, so I can describe only the sensation: rather like, after paddling your tiny boat for an interminable time only to see the far-off haven no closer than when you started, you finally stop paddling altogether, rest your oars, and simply drift where the current takes you. Too tired anymore to care whether it takes you where you wanted to go; and yet somehow trusting that the current will take you where you are supposed to be.
Simply trusting in the Wisdom that informs sea and earth and sky; rather than opposing your tiny will and wisdom to the greatness around you. Adrift, but not at all lost.
Well perhaps that makes little sense, but it would be unprofitable to elaborate further tonight, tired as I am - and very comfortably sated with some excellent salmon etouffee prepared by the roommate. Instead, I will let these words of Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun, speak for me; perhaps they will speak to you too:
It has not always been easy—I went through a terrible period as a young sister—to the point that I thought I would have to leave the religious life because I doubted the divinity of Jesus. Only when I realized that I did believe deeply and profoundly in God could I come to peace with the fact that faith in God would have to be enough. It was a dark, empty time. It threw me back on the barest of beliefs but the deepest of beliefs. I hung on in hope like a spider on a thread. But the thread was enough for me. As a result, my faith actually deepened over the years. The humanity of Jesus gave promise to my own. Jesus ceased to be distant and ethereal and “perfect.” Jesus let no system, no matter how revered, keep him from a relationship with God. And that union with God, I came to understand, was divine. Then I also understood that questions are of the essence in a mature faith.(Honk to Andrew Sullivan)
I don’t fear the questions any more. I know that they are all part of the process of coming to union with God and refusing to make an idol of anything less. The point is that during that difficult time I didn’t try to force anything. I simply lived in the desert believing that whatever life I found there was life enough for me. I believed that God was in the darkness. It is all part of the purification process and should be revered. It takes away from us our paltry little definitions of God and brings us face-to-face with the Transcendent. It is not to be feared. It is simply to be experienced. Then, God begins to live in us without benefit of recipes and rituals, laws, and “answers”—of which there are, in the final analysis, none at all.