“For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” – Charles Bukowski
But what about if I occupy the space between? I do and I don’t believe in God. I want to and I don’t want to. I am drawn to and confused by the divine all at once.
I cannot forsake the legacy of faith that I inherited, but I have made that faith my own, and now it is unrecognizable. I hate street preachers and people that hand out tracts, but I could also live in the wilderness, barefoot, and talk about Jesus all day with locked hair, eating locusts and honey.
I feel like there is no space for a person who aches for justice and loves the prophets. There is no space for me as I love mystics and meditation. I wish that I had enough time in this life to learn Hebrew so that I could read the holy texts for myself. I could also study in Tibet under Buddhist monks, shave my head, and wear saffron robes. It feels right to stop what I am doing, abruptly set up my mat, and face Mecca to answer this global call to prayer. I worship the moon and the tides and protons and neutrons and quarks. I believe in science and evolution and germ theory and I believe that Ezekiel saw the wheel and that Jesus’ spit and mud were a healing salve. I believe in the holiness of blood as I watch a child born. I honor my visceral instinct to worship mothers and their sacred wombs. It makes me want to have a glass of wine and remember how this holy blood was also the life giving force that was shed for me. I feel God when I read about deoxyribonucleic acid copying and editing itself and when I think about how mitochondria were once living things outside of our cells. I feel fire in my bones when I sing counterpoint.
I know that I cannot go inside the walls of the church, the church that I dearly love and miss, and belt its hymns at the top of my lungs. I can speak the language and get by. I know all the right words to use and I nod my head politely. Eventually I betray myself. I can see that I am a heretic. I take my Torah up with me and leave. Yet I know I am not welcome in academia with my eucharist either. They eventually see that my gut reaction is lay my hands on everyone. I leave the Ivory tower, leading a small parade of the prophets behind me like ducklings.
I have grown comfortable with ambiguity and inhabiting the in between spaces because I have to. But it is lonely here. I am lonely here.
I have grown comfortable with my faith. But my faith and my body and my mind require community. And I don’t know where to find my people. I would love to belong somewhere.