Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sacred Ambivalence

I’ve had a lot of eccentric spiritual experience. Lots of people have. It’s not crazy just something that’s hard to talk about, hard to nail down and validate. God has spoken to me from within many times. God uses questions, short sentences and even one word comments.

Recently God interrupted my obsessive mental monologue: What if my memoir is just another achievement for my ego? And God-in-me said, So? One little word-question stopped me cold, silenced my fear and shame, and told me the truth: So what if it’s an achievement, can’t I also give it to you as a gift?

You might think that these kinds of “voices” have brought me clarity, a stronger religious faith, some surety.

But that is not the case.

Thank God, for if it were, what would there be for me to question, nag God about, write fierce words about, preach on, teach, fuss, obsess, lament and wrestle about for the rest of my days?

Oh, I have given and will keep giving answers to open-ended questions, because I love to do that; I just don’t have answers of the kind people long for, answers laced with certitude.

And I have told and will keep telling of resolutions to struggles, and try to nail peace down because I love happy endings that are true—and not.

I’m not disappointed by this ambiguity. Ambivalence seems to me to be the only sane stance in life, because when I move too far to one side (zealotry) or the other (atheism) of religious expression I end up not liking myself much, and I’m one of the wisest agnostics I know.

I call my ambivalence sacred, because it tempers my drive toward omniscience; it keeps me balanced; it helps me maintain a spirituality that is both intellectual and compassionate; and it reminds me of the one thing about which I’m not ambivalent: the first “eucharist” at which I was “ordained” to preside under the dining room table as a “priest” with Ritz crackers and a tiny invisible congregation who listened to my words and received the sacrament.

Under the table I found my vocation, my hopeful soul as a child, and enough power to keep me going until I could come out from under the table as a woman and priest.

Under the table I fell in love with a God who who wasn’t afraid of authority or cocktail hours, a God within me whose love never dies even when I betray it, a God who gave my my vision for the Church and maybe for all humanity.

To be both political and mystical as the Church in all its expressions should be we will find a table big enough for everyone to crawl under and sit, either to chat or be in silence.

As it is now we spend too much time on top of the small table fighting for position and power.

Will it happen? Probably not, but there’s nothing wrong with asking.


Ardis said...

Another thought about gifts offered to God. Often what I call a gift is actually a trade. When I give a gift I want some kind of acknowledgment, a thank you perhaps, or at least I want to see it being used/appreciated by the donee. I wonder how God feels about my'trade gifts'. I think of the spirit of a little child who makes a gift of a drawing. At what age does it become imperative that that drawing be posted on the refrigerator? I think it may be the responses of parents (or lack of) that quickly conditions us to look for the 'trade response'. But there is an age when the creation (perhaps oatmeal mooshed across a tray) is offered with surrender and joy marked by a preverbal expression saying "see what I made!" Is this what Jesus meant by saying 'except we be as little children.....'?

Ardis said...

My first comment didn't seem to get published. Aaugh!! I guess my emotions are telling me that those comments were perhaps a trade instead of a gift. They were so profound too about my opnion that sacred ambivalence does not an agnostic make. I offfered them but the blog god did not publish it. I'm pissed.

Lyn G. Brakeman said...

Ardis, don't be issued at the blog god. she published both your comments. The agnostic in me is also sacred, simply the one who is able to admit, occasionally, that she knows very little. For someone who can be a know-it-all like I can to say I don't know is reverent and maybe humble. I take all your comments as a gift and thank you.