Monday, May 12, 2008

Finding My Way Home

For most of my life I considered myself either an atheist or agnostic. I viewed religion more of an odd nuisance, and God something that I understood as anti-science and anti-reason. My experience with the Bible rated no higher than Greek Mythology: absurd, often cruel and certainly contradictory. Yet in hindsight, I was tied to God always. And no matter how I tried to lift that veil, it would not budge.

In fact, most of my life has been lived in faith, though the word God passed my lips only in debate or passive conversation. I depended on faith. I lived by it and in it.

I was baptized an Episcopalian at about six months old. That tie to God through Christ, that binding to the faith of my fathers and mothers, I now realize as breathtaking and meaningful. It is unbreakable. That the Holy Spirit has guided and helped me is indisputable.

But these terms, 10 years ago, were not part of my vocabulary. I thought that how I lived was the total human experience--how everyone lived--and that when in peril, it was just dumb luck that helped me (and others) through.

In 1978, I had an experience that showed me, beyond a doubt, that God existed. I was different the next moment. It was a life changing moment and what felt like a life in cruise control suddenly became much more complicated.

I didn't know how to think of God, let alone the Trinity, but I knew it was real. I didn't run off to church seeking understanding. I really didn't know WHAT to do. What I did do was listen. I listened to my heart, I listened in the Quiet, I meditated (I really didn't know how to pray) looking for the voice, and I listened carefully to others when they spoke of God, though I rarely, if ever, said anything in response.

I really couldn't find my way home... home to God. And I really didn't have the time to feel free in finding my way. I was just out of college, in the middle of a recession, broke and working as the first (and hated, I might add!) woman for a drywall company, then as a waitress turned bartender (again the first there), I cleaned houses and libraries... anything to pay my rent.

If anywhere God didn't seem to be, it was in a bar.

Or so I thought. I am frequently wrong.

Two years later, while working in a bar as a waitress/cocktail waitress, a band came in to play on a Friday night. About half way through the night, there was a head-twisting tune sung by the drummer which was just capturing in beauty and lyric. I had never heard the song before. During the band's break, I asked who had penned the song. The drummer (later to be my husband of almost 20 years) was its creator.

Some weeks later, I was given a cassette of his songs which I went to sleep by for months. The crude recording (reminiscent of Springsteen's Nebraska) was airy and in places ghostly and mysterious while it invited you into itself. The lyrics soared and danced then crashed around around me. In places the lyrics were bitter and rough followed by aching, delicate and heartbreaking tenderness. It seemed like a portrait of this man's conflicted soul.

It was this man who later reintroduced me to God in an unconventional and understated way that I retain to this day.

I feel that God put this person in my path--a patently immovable man as pleasant to the eye as to the heart. And though we are no longer together, and have not been for years, we remain close and my love for him immutable. He was a teacher for me in need of his own teacher. He remains a mystery, ending as he begun.