Jul 23, 2004

I'm tired!

Not tired from a day well used, but exhausted from an overworked spirit. Did I pray enough? Did I sin too much? Did I deal with my anger? Was I envious? What about my persistent sins? Did I eat too much? Why didn't I go to my 12-step meeting? Because sometimes I feel like, this is as good as it gets. I mean, why bother? Why read another book? Why do another inventory? Why go to another meeting or date another guy? Because I think next time is going to different?

That was the big lie of the yuppie culture of my twenties: Things will get better if … You go to church enough. Pray. Go to this seminar; do this inner healing conference, read that book on discovering the will of God. We're the eve of a revival! The Prophets are Coming, the Prophets are Coming! get ready! Do all these things and some place in your immediate future, you will find the fountain of Spiritual Health. Whatever.

Know what? You will never find those kind of promises in the Bible. There is a promise of peace, but not the absence of suffering. Or ever arriving either. Look at God's hall of Fame: Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Elijah. They were all screw ups. Abraham tried to pass his wife off as his sister to save his ass. Jacob finagled his birthright out of his brother. Moses killed a guy and was sent to the backside of the desert for forty years. The day after Elijah called down fire on the prophets of Baal, he went into a tailspin depression. "I wanna die." Talk about a crash and burn. And let's not forget Jesus; penniless, social outcast, died on a horrific death at age 33.

No, the Bible never promised me happiness. Why did I not see this before? Well I did. But why didn't I accept it? Maybe it's a relief to accept that it is what it is. If you accept the fact that life is hard, that not all of your longings will be completely fulfilled, this side of heaven, it kind of takes the pressure off (that is if you believe there is something afterward. Otherwise you're screwed)

This blind pursuit of spiritual heaven on earth is everywhere. Today I was at Whole Foods Market: the latest temple to the worship of Self, disguised as "health." I’m in the check out line, buying some internal cleanser/blood purifier/metallic remover, and there is Sting on the cover of Yoga Journal: talking about being rich, spiritually enlightened, and better than us. What a tool. Another article features a yoga retreat center where you can get intestinally and karma cleansed for a thousand bucks a week.

So what if yoga relaxes you? So does a coma. So what if I feel better in an AA meeting or in Bikram Yoga or at church. What happens when I leave the meeting/church/sweat lodge? I'm still me. Where is the life in between? I can't live my life stuck in child pose.

God, is this what my faith is supposed to be about: this exhaustion I feel at the end of the day? God, are you ever going to be OK with me not being OK? Or is it me that needs to learn how to be OK with not being OK? or, is that giving up. Oh god, I'm tired already.

Maybe my ancestors had it better off. They spent their entire waking hours consumed with washing and cooking and canning and feeding the baby and changing diapers and getting the potatoes in before the frost and burying the dead. They didn't have any time to self-obsess.

My spiritual quest hasn't been completely bankrupt. I did benefit a lot from things. Things did get better. I worked through issues with my dad, got recovery from various addictions, but I'm talking about microevolution, not mutation. I wasn't a lizard that suddenly sprouted a wing. I just shaved off a few scales.

I was with a group of friends the other night, talking about this very issue: this rude awakening that all those things we thought we were gonna get by pursuing God and trying to be holy, was a crock. And mostly because of our attitude of spiritual entitlement and self-service. We are sleepwalking through life here. People all around the world suffer and are killed for their faith. Or for no reason at all. Suddenly I felt ashamed of myself. For being so shallow.

I went to the bathroom in the middle of the conversation, knelt onto the Restoration Hardware rug and stuck my my face to the ground … kind of like the Muslims we are so afraid of. I whispered that old Benedictine chant: " 'Jesus Christ, Son of the living God. Have mercy on me a sinner. ' Have mercy on me for my shallowness, short sightedness. And anyway, enough about me." For a brief moment I had my eyes off of self and onto God. Not answers, not nirvana. Just freedom from having to have them. And you know what? I felt peace and rest rather than exhaustion.

Have mercy on me a sinner.