Sometimes, aspiring to a spiritual consciousness in today's world feels akin to finding the Holy Grail...and not in a slapstick, satirical, Monty Python-esque way. In a very real, totally impossible, I'm-way-too-human sort of way.
And don't even get me started on attempting "enlightenment."
Even if you don’t subscribe to some slick, one-dimensional New Age idiom, love-light-and-bliss can still seem like the thing you’re “supposed” to aspire to, that “You Can’t Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought,” and that The Secret is still all that.
These spiritual precepts have been such a pivotal part of our cultural landscape for the last twenty plus years, it can be difficult to ignore their influence, even if you previously cancelled your subscription.
So what’s a human to do?
In the words of poet Mary Oliver:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
I know a place where being human is our greatest asset. Where it’s okay to be good, or not-so-good, or anything in between; where it’s more than okay to not be okay.
A venue where it’s completely appropriate to give voice to the parts of you that you might not even want to acknowledge as your own, and where you’re absolutely safe to do so.
A place where you are free to express yourself without having to clean anything up, hide anything, pretend, or imagine yourself to be anything other than what and who you are in any given moment… and where emotional nakedness is actually a sign of strength, rather than some indiscriminate display of human weakness.
That place is with God in prayer. In His lap or at His feet, depending on my mood or need, I’ve found it doesn’t matter if I’m screaming, swearing, or singing… God hears it all as a glorious noise of faith, longing, and sacred humanity.
We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah…
—“Better Than a Hallelujah” by Amy Grant
Our humanness is the channel through which we most deeply connect with God; in our weakness, He can be the strongest for and through us.
The light only contains the light. Once you’re there, you’re there… there’s nowhere else to go, no movement, no potential for growth. But in the darkness lies true power—a compulsion to reach out for God; the desire for something different, something better; and the clear direction for healing.
Our divine nature, like the universe, demands expansion; darkness lends the spiritual philosophies of any Age substance, and provides the foundation from which we can expand into our divinity.
In bringing our human truth to God, in all its homeliness and drama and despair, we in turn are gifted with love, inspiration, and the opportunity for miracles.
You don’t have to be good for God. You just have to be real. And as Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.”