Wednesday, August 4, 2010

unsaying the word "God"

my friends are divided about in half, between those who personally and/or professionally (mostly professionally) talk about God sometimes or often, and those who never do. most of the latter tense up remarkably when they hear the word. i have been reading Barbara Brown Taylor's When God is Silent slowly this summer, when i've not been feeling much like talking about God or hearing anyone else do so. it's comforting, and it strikes me that spiritual effort, a relationship with G-d, does not have much to do with talking about G-d. at least, you can say a lot with no spiritual weight, or you could say nothing and it could be deep prayer. i think it's about effort.

when i was little i was always very flexible. i was always stretching, since i started ballet when i was 4 or 5. i was never very strong. these days i'm stronger and a lot less flexible. i've noticed that in any given season i seem to be either strong or flexible but not both.

when i was younger i had a very rich inner life. i drew pictures and wrote poems and letters to the flower fairies in my yard, i loved Holy Week church services for the way their drama affected me, and i was always imagining how to change the things i saw. these days i am so occupied with my tangible work and the people around me that some days i worry my imagination might be wilting. i like that i now more often have the ability to change things the way i imagine, but i also have such a thicker skin that i'm rarely drawn into awe and wonder. is it true that i'm either imaginative or effective but not both?

last week i took a break from my very thick-skinned, getting-things-done job and went to a meditation retreat with my dad. i meditated very little, but that's not exactly the point of this post. what i want to reflect on here is that as i've become more skilled and effective and focused in my work, i see God less. i hope to heck that is not a direct result.

we humans are complicated and noisy systems, so who knows. like strength and flexibility, this spiritual dry season is a pendulum swing, and when i take time off this fall i can meditate and journal my butt off. but wouldn't it be nice to have both?

i'm not going to start talking about God all the time. but i pray i make some effort, to be flexible as well as strong, to sit in silence and wait for awe to meet me, to come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses.