Monday, July 17, 2006

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

(apologies to Glenda the good witch)

I'm reading a new book. Simple Wicca. I think it was the girlie bright pink cover that made me buy this book. Or maybe it was the line on page three that says,

Growing up, whenever my family went to church (a sporadic event at best), I remember sitting in the pew and feeling the most tremendous case of displacement, almost of despair, wondering what in the world was wrong with me. I love churches themselves, their structure and ambiance, the softly glowing windows, the candlelight, the hush of reverence. But as I got older the strange sadness grew, and I realized it wasn't that something was wrong-something was missing.

Wicca helped me name that something. It wasn't enough for me to sit and listen to someone else tell me about God. I wanted to know God personally, to feel and sing and celebrate with Him, to speak my words and, most important, to experience the answer.

I don't know anything about Wicca, but I can definitely understand a personal spiritual journey. After all, I'm on one. When I read lines in books like this and find myself nodding my head in agreement, I KNOW that this person has something I might be interested in reading. Something speaks to me. Is it God? Does God exist in those moments?

Yes, I have an obsession with God. After losing two babies, who wouldn't?

I went to a couple of interesting seminars at the conference this past weekend. They were all neatly labeled...Good Grief/Bad Grief...Anger...I'm So Mad at God...Pregnancy and Infant Loss...Wisdom of Words: Writing to Heal the Spirit. But there was something that led me to pick and choose those workshops and pull bits and pieces from each, meld them together, and come away with an understanding of myself that I didn't have before. Or maybe I did have it, but it was hidden away somewhere inside all the grief and sadness. Was God there in those moments? Helping me to choose what classes would help? Helping me hear the things I needed to hear to feel...dare I say it...better?

In the God workshop, the presenter talked about the five God constructs that seem most prevalent in society. A Creator God. A Pre-Ordaining God. An Intervening God. A Disinterested God. A Powerless God. A Punishing God. A Non-Existent God. But I found God in this sentence...

You don't deserve what you get.

Good and bad. Happy and sad. Life and death. We don't DESERVE any of it. Where the sense of entitlement came from, I have no idea.

You don't DESERVE what you get.

There is God in that sentence somewhere...for me.

I'm still processing this, but I think it is definitely a sort of offshoot of the theory of randomness versus control. No matter what you get in this don't DESERVE it. And you can hold onto your social constructs of God all you like...try to squeeze him into these neat little categories. But the fact is that God, whoever and wherever S/He is, is bigger than all of them.

And it is important that people around me (blog readers included) understand that this is MY journey, not theirs. What holds their faith (and their fate) may not hold mine. I can not talk someone into my belief system and they will not be able to talk me into theirs. I need to walk my own path. And there is no harm in not seeing eye to eye...not worshipping the exact same image of God. Nothing will happen if you believe in a Pre-Ordaining God and I believe in a Powerless God. Nothing. That's what belief and faith are about...believing in the unseen. And because it's unseen there is no "right" answer.

The freedom to explore is mine.

And I have come to understand myself in this. I DO believe my children are in a "better place." I have to. I can't believe it all just ends. Previously I would have said, "I can't believe they deserved that." But now I know they didn't deserve anything. Life or death. I didn't deserve anything. Happy or sad.

I DO NOT believe in a grand plan. I DO NOT believe in cosmic justice. At least not here in this world. Maybe some other time...there will be cosmic justice. Maybe not. I'm not meant to understand. For now it is enough to KNOW that I do not deserve anything.

But that is MY understanding...and I had to come to it IN MY OWN time. It is offensive for someone else to try to force that belief on me. And that is why so many things are classified as "those stupid things people say to the grieving." We want to share our own peace...even if it's never been tested. Even if we throw it out from a place where we really have no understanding. Like standing on the shore...tossing in a life preserver...never having to venture into the water. The person really wants to help you from the shore and they just don't know that there is a riptide pulling you in so strongly that the life preserver isn't going to be strong enough. You know if you grab that life preserver you will most likely drown. So you search and search for another way out, all the while not having the energy to explain your actions while the person on the shore keeps yelling at you to just grab their life preserver. They can't understand...why won't you take the easy way out? They yell and yell and yell at you. But they don't realize that their way isn't easy and that it means certain death to you. That you have to find your own way.

Another something that was said at the God workshop was this, "If there is something about what I believe about God that drives me crazy...I just change it." She asked us of God, "What do you expect? Maybe it's not God that's the problem. Maybe your expectations of God are wrong." Maybe. Maybe things are random on this planet. Maybe God set us up here to see how we would handle it. How we would grow and learn and love and hate and live and die. Maybe THAT is the lesson...that we don't DESERVE anything.

I don't know. I certainly don't have it all figured out. But I feel like something has lifted from me. This feeling that I have to fit God into someone else's construct. That there is a "right" and a "wrong" answer. That I have to choose between any of those types of Gods that seem so wrong TO ME. I can change my expectations of God. I can learn and explore and believe what I can believe and toss out the rest. It's ok.

And I think I'm going to be ok too.


MB said...

This is crazy, but i started reading "If You Could See What I See" by Sylvia Browne for the same reason. Nothing makes sense anymore and I'm grasping for something that I can understand...

Kathy McC said...

After reading the bit in the book you're reading, I can say that that's exactly how I feel in church. Like there's something just missing. Unfortunatley I haven't gotten far enough to figure out what that something is.

I do like the theory of not "deserving" anything. It really does explain some things.

R said...

This post made me cry. I'm still sniffling. I see so much of myself in what you write. By the way, I sent your package today. Finally. Did I take long enough?

I am so insanely jealous that you 3 got together. 3 of my favorite bloggers. Not fair.

K. said...

I've lurked for a long time on your blog. I have to come to the surface now and thank you for this post. It really resonates with me and has given me a lot of food for thought. Thank you so much for sharing it.

kate said...

It's interesting, and not very 'Catholic', but Father Paul told me exactly the same thing once. "You don't deserve the bad stuff, but you don't deserve the good stuff either." This actually brought me a lot of comfort, but i thought i was just a wacko.

It is easier for me to apply it to myself than to our babies though. For me, i can 'accept' that i got 'cheated' out of one of my children -- i was not really cheated, because that would imply that i deserved him. But i still do feel like HE got cheated out of HIS life...

Jaye said...

Excellent, Catherine, excellent post. Thank you.