God and I have come a long way from when my only prayers used to be “fuck you”.
One day, a few years ago, I found him sitting on the couch on my then-fiance’s apartment. He had still showed up after all the times I told him to leave me alone.
That day, maybe out of defeat, I told him he could stay, but not on my side of the couch, and he wasn’t allowed to talk.
He didn’t say anything and he stayed on the other side of the couch, just like I asked. He just sat there for a few months while I watched TV, or vacuumed, or read, or cooked, or washed dishes.
(Now that I think about it, I did the same thing when I was trying to make friends with a timber wolf a lady was walking in Eagle Creek. When I asked to pet it, she let it off the leash and it growled at me, big and deep and straight from the chest. So I turned my body sideways and pretended to look at my nails and the surrounding scenery until the wolf got curious enough to come up to me.)
A few months ago I was driving home from work, admiring the sunset and the sailboats on the reservoir. I had just bought my first tarot deck in a moment of desperation or intuition – I’m not sure which – and I was wondering if that would finally be the moment God rejected me.
That day, as he sometimes is, God was sitting in the passenger seat. (Now, when someone mentions the cheesy song “Jesus Take the Wheel” I picture God reaching over and jerking the steering wheel, cackling while I have a heart attack.)
Do you really think I would abandon you just because you made a wrong choice? I promised to stay with you – do you not believe me?
I thought about the years that had passed since he sat on my couch, waiting for me to stop being so scared of him. The nights when I finally talked to him because I didn’t think anyone else cared.
“No – I’m sorry – I don’t,” I told him. I at least owed him honesty at that point.
I gained a lot of gifts from my spiritual upbringing. But one of the most damning burdens was the idea that if I didn’t do religion right, God wouldn’t just punish me –
He’d abandon me.
This wasn’t an intentional transfer of knowledge. It creeped into my psyche from the subconscious fears of everyone around me, perhaps with a little help from the Accuser of the Brethren. (That guy is such a bitch.)
In Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey writes, “We are afraid of our questions, afraid of finding new answers, afraid of a new way of thinking about or living with or relating to God. What if it changes us? What if we go the wrong way? What if we find our way to the fabled slippery slope and tumble head long into the fall?”
I’ve been on that slippery slope for a while now, the one they warned me about when I was young. Church, theology, tarot, journaling, liturgy, books, scripture, this blog – they’re all an attempt at gaining some sort of foothold in the fall.
I have no idea if any of them are working.
I just keep following this strange Man from Galilee down these strange trails.
Where can I go to escape Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I go up to heaven, You are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there.
If I live at the eastern horizon
or settle at the western limits,
even there Your hand will lead me;
Your right hand will hold on to me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me,
and the light around me will be night” –
even the darkness is not dark to you.
The night shines like the day;
darkness and light are alike to You.
King David, the 139th Psalm.