Here’s my afternoon: starting seeds with Ezra in the basement; coming upstairs to find Len and Chi home from the grocery store and provisioned with a tasty new beer (well, Len, anyway); dancing with both babies to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Her song “Bonus 2,” which is essentially First Corinthians brought to extraordinary life, always reaches out to me — but today, as I held my small fevered Ezra in my arms and danced, it was transcendent. To sing those ancient words of love to my son, through Lauryn’s music, to feel the rhythm move through the bones of this old white Colonial, well, I was shaken. I was lifted up.
I don’t often write about spirituality, or at least not as such. It’s partly because I feel those are kind of private issues, and also because I’m uncomfortable with the ways articulations of our own faith can end up looking or feeling like advocacy or pushiness to others. I confess, I’m also tired of the self-congratulatory tone of lots of the writing out there on religion. And also, let’s face it: I’m a seeker who was raised Quaker (more in the secular humanist end of that spectrum) in a kind of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do sort of way. So I have no sense of authority, only a heart full of questions and gratitude. I tend, then to use the language of mindfulness or grace, since the former is more of a practice and the latter more of an acceptance of what seems an obvious and widely accepted truth. For me, there are lots of interchangeable words that describe what I have faith in: love, beauty, the sacred, harmony, nature, the universe, grace, providence, serendipity, the Way, the Light, truth, hope, and of course the many permutations of god. It is clear to me that music is sacred, as are the gifts of all artists and growers and makers and seekers — all creatures, and especially those who offer up something of beauty, who uncover or create or otherwise act with generosity in this sad and broken world.
I’ve been trying to read Margaret Wheatley’s So Far From Home, though it’s hard, because its premise is that we cannot change the world; we can only accept our powerlessness and do our best to live whole and beautiful lives by doing the right work because it is work that needs to be done. That living, that standing in contrast to the crazy and the broken, is itself transformative. I buy this, mostly, because it seems smart and truer than anything else I know, but I’m not wise enough or whole enough to live within it. I’m trying. Most days, I’m still seeking, perhaps too anxiously, for that “right work,” unable to accept that where I am is enough. But on a day like today, that truth rings out: of course it’s enough. Perhaps not forever, but I don’t live in forever. I live right here, right now, right in the middle of all this beauty, surrounded on all sides by grace.
Great thoughts – I loved the last line: “but I don’t live in forever. I live right here, right now, right in the middle of all this beauty, surrounded on all sides by grace.” SO good. I love the idea of grace and beauty, and how so many people (me included) forget about that because we’re so preoccupied with work and getting projects finished. Thanks for the great read.
Thank YOU, Anthony, for finding your way to my work and for your kind words on it! I’m looking forward to checking our your writing, too!
I completely agree with your statement “I’m uncomfortable with the ways articulations of our own faith can end up looking or feeling like advocacy or pushiness to others.” That’s something I struggle with greatly, as well, although I do believe that sharing the process of searching, as you’re doing here, comes off as anything but pushiness or advocacy. It creates a great sense of companionship, in fact, to know that we’re seeking together.