“Sophistication is difficult. You put me at a distance. You want to run your own life and then you wonder at its emptiness. Allow me to come close to you. Let me harbor your heart… When you wake up, I am there. My hands are ready to hold your day. Place your worries in my care. There is nothing too large or too small for me. I am ready to hold it all. I am waiting for you. I am patient.”
(Answered Prayers, Julia Cameron)
Last we talked, I was dipping a tentative toe into abandoned waters. The books I read this month were enjoyable in and of themselves, but they also touched on the spiritual uncertainty I’ve been plagued with. I read Harold Kushner’s Conquering Fear (one of my goals from last time!), Julia Cameron’s Answered Prayers, and C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. While I’m generally a person of high spirits, I do get anxious, about matters of spirituality and other areas of my life. Conquering Fear, while slightly repetitive, was also more grounded than I expected, and I appreciated Kushner’s peaceful, occasionally unexpected take on various passages from the Torah that I recognized from my childhood Bible readings. Most of all, I loved his simple, yet evocative, words about spirituality: “I believe that there has to be an emotional, nonrational dimension to life.”
After reading Conquering Fear, I did think of looking further into Judaism, as I was so taken with Harold Kushner’s perspective, but I gently pulled myself back from that. While I have nothing against organized religion, it holds little comfort for me. I will learn what I can from it, from Christianity and other world religions, but that is not my path.
I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when I was younger, and devoured the BBC TV series from the eighties, and the subsequent Disney movies. It wasn’t until just recently that I read the rest of the series, and oh! what a treat. While I admire the strength of C.S. Lewis’ faith, I struggle with his treatment of Susan, one of the older Pevensie siblings (as do many others, including J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman), especially how there is little thought given to what she faces on Earth after the train crash that claims the rest of her family. The rest of the Pevensies skip off to Aslan’s Country, mentioning Susan only once, and it doesn’t even occur to them that she will have to identify their bodies, plan funerals, and go on without them. It’s a stunning reminder to me that, no matter what spiritual path I follow, I want and need to remain grounded in the life that is here and now.
Julia Cameron’s Answered Prayers is a fascinating source for a spiritual seeker: it is a collection of responses she free writes to prayers she utters, and while this could come off as fake or even sacrilegious, it is comforting. She’s giving voice to her higher power in a way you can relate to. The quote at the beginning of this article struck a chord with my heart and made me cry. For once, it wasn’t tears of uncertainty or fear: it was a trickle of faith, of believing that there was something larger than me out there, watching over me and the world. I think it was while reading this book that I recognized that this larger-than-life sense feels feminine to me. Whether this harkens back to my passion for Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Avalon series or Nora Robert’s Three Sisters Island trilogy, or is something new, or a combination, I’m unsure.
I decided to experiment a little, though, and when I had moments of distress or gratitude this month, I addressed the listener of my thoughts as “Goddess.” It doesn’t feel familiar but it doesn’t feel wrong, either. I’d like to pursue the idea of a feminine God-like figure further in the months ahead.
My goals last time were simple, and I’m going to continue along that vein. This month, I’m going to:
1. Develop a reading list about the correlation between women, femininity and spirituality (I’m open to suggestions!).
2. Maintain connections with people who care enough to reach out to me. This is as simple as responding to an email that has been languishing in my inbox or writing a thank you note to my great-godmother.
3. Enjoy the outdoors, especially now that the dominion of winter has begun to lift– starting with a trek to a maple syrup farm!
One of the best things about this journey so far? It’s actually kind of fun. It is also a little scary and overwhelming, but for the most part I am enjoying myself, and I am proud that I listened to my heart when it told me this needed to change. Until next time!
“Don’t be afraid of being afraid. Our goal should never be the denial of fear but the mastery of fear, the refusal to let fear keep us from living fully and happily.”
This article is Part II in an ongoing series on re-discovering spirituality as a twenty-something by Victoria Fry. Read Part I here.