Eternal Spirit, Living God,
In whom we live and move and have our being,
All that we are, have been and shall be is known to you,
To the very secret of our hearts
And all that rises to trouble us.
Living flame, burn into us,
Cleansing wind, blow through us,
Fountain of water, well up within us,
That we may love and praise in deed and in truth.
I talk about God a lot. I find myself talking about Jesus and Christianity and religion. I intellectualise and hypothesise, and I have theories about life and religion and social justice. I like the acts of Jesus, and I like the character and stories and shapes of Jesus. Yet I have begun to feel a loss. An ever-present, increasingly paralysing silence in my soul.
Someone once said to me that it was strange that I shy away from personally addressing the hard, existential questions, given that I usually love to dive head first in to analyses of life. It is true. Where I used to have all the answers, where I used to feel so safe and secure in a black and white world where God was salvation and love was divine; I now feel confused and unsure and cynical. So I hide. If I curl up tight enough, if I laugh loud enough, if I stay in bed long enough, surely these uncertainties will go away? Surely, one day, I will again feel as righteous and holy and proud of my God as that teenage, love-starved girl was?
I read the words that girl wrote down back then, and I disagree with them. She is exclusive, unattainable, exhausting. There is a vulgarity in her worship – is her adoration and reverence for a God she truly knows, or is she bowing to a pressure too heavy for those tenuous shoulders?
I am moved by nature; by the azure blanket covering the horizon of Island Bay, the golden sandstone cliffs staggering along the coastline, crumbling at a glacial pace. I feel full of joy when I am lost in music; my heart pulses gently with each beat that vibrates through these tired muscles, hips sway unconsciously. I am safe in the warm arms of my love; I feel trusting and whole and worthy. Where does my worship lie? In this violent, tempestuous world? In the sweet, doomed beauty of earth? In the microcosms of love that travel from one hand to another in a stolen moment? Does God reside in each of these places?
Does God care about the tui singing her praises to spring, while thousands of lives wither and die each day? Does God bless me with prosperity while billions live in poverty and hunger? Does God care about Republicans who campaign against women’s reproductive rights, or about evangelicals who beat their children, or about people who kill in the name of Allah? Does God care about totalitarianism, racism in the feminist movement, sexism in the Athiest movement, climate change? Does God care if I recycle? Does God care if New Zealand becomes a republic, or if te Tiriti o Waitangi is finally recognised as a vehicle of liberation for Māori, rather than a tool of oppression? Does God care about sexual violence, child poverty, homelessness? Does God care about these lives that are both microcosmic in relation to the colossal history of Earth, and all-encompassing, pain- and joy-filled lived experiences?
I do not know how I am to respond to the agonies that burrow into the very sinew of my heart. I do not know what is expected of me. I do not know how to worship a God that I am not entirely sure exists. I want God to exist. I want her to embrace me and sooth me and gently gather together the pieces of my soul all to one place. I want to have a purpose outside of my immediate person. But I do not know how to do this. So I stumble onwards, keeping my eyes low. You would never guess that within this body, the strong, scarred body, my heart soars in the skies, searching.
I yearn for another way of being; another way of knowing.
Across the difficult terrain of our existence we have attempted to build a highway and in doing so have lost out footpath.
God lead me to my path:
Lead me where in simplicity I may feel the earth’s love beneath my feet.
Lead me there where I may feel the movement of creation in my heart.
Lead us where, side-by-side, we may feel the embrace of the common soul.
Nothing can be loved at speed: lead me to the slow path,
To another way if knowing, another way of being.