“There will come a time when you believe that everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” — Louis L’Amour
My personal viewpoint is that humans are all born with a sense of the sacred. Human history seems to bear this out, especially with non-stop records of us skin-clad beings worshiping, dancing, erecting altars, chanting, meditating, singing.
We like to celebrate a sense of Wonder, an awareness that there must be something greater, something bigger. It doesn’t matter if it’s Goddess, God, gods, ourselves, nature, aliens, or some strange flaw in some brain lobe that makes us feel spiritual whenever it gets twitched by too much voltage. We attribute that sense of Wonder to something, Someone(s), and we worship. We can’t seem to help it.
And when it comes to what we choose to worship, some things seem to feed the best in us and some things don’t. As a young teenager during my year in private school, my jaw fell open as I learned that humans had worshipped a god named Molech and sacrificed their firstborn children on his altar. I read and re-read the Molech chapter in James Michner’s The Source a few years later, imagining my own self there in that time, that place, that culture, and wondering what I would do.
Probably roll my kid right down into the fiery arms, that’s what.
Because we believe what we believe. We follow what we know to be true, even if it isn’t actually true. We follow it right to the death. Or to the death of others, as the case may be. Sometimes I think that common manifestations of popular religions are not so different from Molech. He was just more obvious. Today, they may not tell me to hand over my firstborn son, but they will tell me that my heart is wicked, that I can’t trust myself, that I am evil on the inside, that I must obey their authority and follow their interpretation of the magic book, not asking questions (unless they are the kinds of questions with a happy Sunday School answer).
There is a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis for soldiers returning from war. But there really ought to be a spiritual-kind of PTSD diagnosis for those who have had their innate spirituality tied onto the rack, pulled at with iron tongs, and slowly roasted over an open fire.
“Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus…” I can feel myself wanting to slip into that happy little trance just typing the words. I am transported back to soft church pews, to the sun coming in the window, to the sense of people who knew what was good and what was bad, to the feeling that, “all is right with the world, as long as I am here, as long as I am singing this song…”
But trust who? Usually the answer is the leaders in charge, who are, of course, in submission to the sacred book that speaks for God, which they happen to interpret.
Have we come all that far from the days of burning each other at the stake, like we did over transubstantiation?
“No, it isn’t the Body and Blood, and I’m in power so I will burn you alive!”
“Yes it is the Body and Blood and now I’m in power so I will burn you alive!”
It would be hilarious if it hadn’t actually happened. That is what Christ came for?
And in what ways is it happening today — only no physical Molech arms, no physical stake and no actual fiery torches — just sanctuaries full of people who are taught that they are evil on the inside, that the world outside is to be feared, that eternal torture is the fate of all who do not hop, skip and jump, that spirituality is a matter of believing a certain assortment of words.
It’s not circumcision, it’s castration. Cut off from the sense that we can trust the voice deep inside of ourselves. Cut off from the sense that our essence, our being, our core, is good and wonderful and holy. Cut off from the awareness that Love is what matters. We roll our own hearts down into the fire while we look at Molech in horror, we tie our own sparkling selves to the stake while we shake our heads at those crazy people “way back then,” we settle into the numbness that they call “spiritual maturity,” snuggling up to our pet doctrines when we go to sleep instead of curling up with Life.
Coming out of the fog of her spiritual PTSD, the woman raises her head. She listens. She breathes. She smiles. There is a lot of laughing now. Being happy is no longer suspect. Finding joy is no longer something she will save for heaven, someday. Joy is here. Right now. Joy because Louis L’Amour and Jesus are right. It is finished. There is much to be done, but it is all already done, and because of that, the doing itself is peace.
She does not have to perform. She does not have to do. She does not have to jump through hoops. She does not have to answer to the self-appointed authorities on spirituality. She stands in front of the open sky with her worshipful sense of Wonder, and she is spiritually alive.
And who is it that she is worshiping? Whoever it is that the worship belongs to. It doesn’t need a name. It is Love. And because it is Love, it is complete. Love has no beginning and has no end because it exists outside of time. Therefore it is finished. And it is just beginning.
This is a good life.
Speaking of a good life, I have had a wonderful time being a part of the Breakfast Reading team of writers. They are a fantastic group of people, authentically learning to live and love, using their gift of writing to help us all muse about things in new and provoking ways. I am also thankful for our delightful readers — those who comment and those who don’t (you silent ones know who you are!). So it is with fond memories that I say goodbye to writing for BR, moving on into a new chapter in my adventure. Thank you all so much for the opportunity to be a part of your life and for sharing yours with me. It has been an honor.
Image credit: flickr.com/photos/photoimage and flickr.com/photos/byabpryor