Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Seven Year Itch

Every seven years or so I go through a spiritual crisis. It’s happening again. I mean it’s not like I'll suddenly stop believing in God. I’m keenly aware of Him. Even when I don’t want to be – which is usually when I’m being an asshole.

I don’t doubt the existence of God but I start to question all the “universal truths” that get foisted upon me daily. It has somewhat to do with my denominational choice but not overwhelmingly so. I’m Catholic because the core elements of Catholicism work for me, they resonate in a good way, in the depths of my soul. Depths that I'd basically wouldn't feel at all if there wasn't some healthy resonating going on. The political dreck on the surface of Catholicism is what I tend to skim off. I mean I have opinions about the political dreck (women priests, homosexuality, abortion, yada, yada, yada…) but I don’t assume that church politics = my politics = God’s politics. In fact I’m 99.999% God is entirely apolitical.

So while the politics might be feeding my mood it’s definitely not causing it. My crisis is one of conversation. How do I communicate with God? My prayer skills are weak. I’ve never been able to sense my own sincerity in “Dear God, please forgive me for…” or “Now I lay me down to sleep…”

During my last spiritual crisis it was the same. It was a little over seven years ago. I was unemployed. Living in Los Angeles. No relationship at the time. My first apartment on my own. Still trying to quiet the raging bitterness of a dead relationship that I had no business in in the first place. I read “The Artist Way.” It was really helpful, over-simplified but liberating. I wrote some really pissed off letters to God. He took it all very well. I read “St. George, the Dragon & the Quest for The Holy Grail” it really helped me look at God in new and different ways. I started watching the stars. I became convinced that the planet Venus (which looks like a star and could be seen from my bedroom window at night) was a special gift from God to me… a nightly reminder that He was there. I always felt like He was LISTENING when I looked at the night sky.

Sometimes I’d put on meditative Native American or African drum music, light incense and dance by candlelight…Seriously, don’t laugh, I did that. It was relaxing; I called it my prayer dance. (It was all very new agey. But I'm sure would have been burned at the stake for it 400 years ago.) And sometimes I just sat in hot bubble-bath and drank wine. I’d go hiking in the mountains, drive up to the Serra Retreat in Malibu or further up to El Pescador beach and watch the ocean. I explored the entire length of Mulholland Drive from Hollywood to the sea, just driving and experiencing it. Everything was about talking to God and listening to what He had to say through the world around me. It was cool. I felt connected and strong.

And then something changed. I got a job. Then it got worse. I got into another relationship I had no business being in. The world started talking to me on it’s own without God’s input and…. Oh that’s a lie… lets’ be honest. I basically dropped God like a hot potato for a regular paycheck and some hot sticky sex.

Well here I am with a different job and in a relationship that is good for me and it’s not enough. I keep trying to strike up a conversation again. But I can’t. I’m pretty sure He’s listening. I’m taking it on faith that God’s above petty attitudes that us mere humans have in such cases. He’s not blowing me off, cause I blew him off. I just don’t know what to say, how to say it or how to listen to any answer.

I’ve been reading the books again. But I can’t stay focused. I’ve got about 6-10 “spirituality” books including the Bible crammed into my nightstand. Oh and one cookbook. The god-books all make perfect sense except that they don’t agree. And I feel like I'm being talked down to. I feel like I'm being sold something. I feel like I'm being distracted from something more important, something special. My mother-in-law sends me daily Christian missives by email. I try to read them but they just seam to shut my soul down. I just want to run away. Maybe to the woods, to listen to God. But I can’t because my life is too busy. It's not fair. I shouldn't have to be lonely and broke to make the connection again. No wonder all the biblical prophets were broke-ass nomads with no woman.

If you told me that I had to spend the rest of my life on a deserted island and I could only take 2 items from my nightstand. At this point I’d take my tweezers and the cookbook, because I think I’d rather God find his own way of communicating with me - sans the babble of his interpreters, because a good meal will be the key to long life and happiness if He decides not to talk to me, and because bushy eyebrows on my face are the most ungodly sight imaginable.


Dex2177 said...

Ohhh... you don't want to talk to me on this one, lol...

gone said...

This is a great post, filled with meaning and depth, and ending with a comic-relief, one-two punch. It reminds me of a sonnet, but in prose form.

I find that I see God when i look behind me. Perhaps it's that "hindsight is always 20/20," but I see the evidence that he works in ways I don't always understand that are visible when I reflect. Meeting my wife, my successful marriage, the birth of my child, and my job were all signs of his grace, and that he cares and is involved in my life.

When you want to see God, look back.

And don't let the church's backwards politics taint your relationship with God. You may be right about him being apolitical, but it helps me to think of him as a progressive and the founder of a counterculture. Whatever works, right?

The Unseen One said...

When I get to the point where earthly things are taking too much attention away from my spiritual life, I try to remind myself that everything I am doing here in this life is similar to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

If you want to chat further on this, feel free to e-mail me at Just remember to remove the spams. ;)

Girl With An Alibi said...

Graham, I'm sure you have lots to say about it. :-D

Untrustworthy, that's a good point that I do tend to forget. I can definitely see God's hand when I look back. I guess I'm too demanding though. I don't want to wait until a year from now to realize He's sitting next to trying to get my attention right now.

Invisible One, I like the "Deck Chairs on the Titanic" concept. I'll try to keep that in mind.

I'll probably be posting more on this topic in the upcoming days as it's been on my mind alot.

Shayne said...

Fabulous post! No intelligent person can go more than 8 or so years without some existential angst. Remember "the unexamined life is not worth living." --Aristotle, I think.

Sara said...

I feel the same itch but it comes to me more often. Like at least once a year. I'm always trying to re-examine my feelings about God and how I'm living and what I'm doing that might be pissing Him off. I try to keep an open mind about Him.
I think anyone, unless they are totally fanatical or some kind of clergy, has dropped God at least once in their lives. I would guess that the average believer does it often. I think God understands. I hope so anyway.

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