I think I was born spiritually deaf.
I have a complete inability to sense or feel the Divine. Of course, I don’t know if I truly believe in a divine entity of any kind.
And that’s the problem, isn’t it? Doubt. But I was born with doubt too. I’ve never taken anything at face value and I relentlessly question everything. I’m completely uncomfortable with following anything whole-heartedly–patriotism, religion, ideas, the words of other people. I can’t trust anything or anyone. And when I see people utterly devoted to any idea or person, I feel all goofy in the pit of my stomach. Because I can’t believe in anything or anyone as whole-heartedly. Worship makes me embarrassed and antsy.
Probably because I don’t get it.
Oh, but I’ve tried. Tried and tried and tried. I grew up Catholic, but I’ve been on every spiritual quest you can think of from Druidic paganism to Wicca to Buddhism to revisiting Christianity in other denominations. I can get really into the philosophy and all the ideas, and I will study it like mad for weeks, occasionally connecting with a word or two that feels true to my soul and even inspires my classic reaction to anything beautiful to me–goosebumps. But in the end, I never completely connect with what I’m trying to get to. Which is a connection to higher version of myself and to the Divine.
I’m not sure if it is my inability to connect with the Divine or the fact that I am unable to accept unanswerable questions as the answer–that thing people call faith–which makes me overtly skeptical. Is it my deafness that makes me deaf? Or am I deaf because I cannot just follow an ideology to its conclusion because you have to let go of doubt in order to get there? Am I too smart for blind faith? Or any faith at all?
I want spiritual enlightenment. I honestly do. Sometimes I even think I want spiritual enlightenment even if it isn’t real. I’ve even gone so far as wishing to close my eyes and pretend I believe. But faith doesn’t work that way, does it? And spiritual enlightenment will not descend upon one who isn’t open to it.
I burn inside. I know I’m missing something. Even if something is a lie, I’d like to believe I have a higher purpose. I’d like to think my husband’s life had meaning. I’d like to think the lives of all my grandparents had meaning. And I don’t mean in just how they affected me personally. I want a higher meaning. Because I’m scared.
I’m scared to love. I’m scared to trust. I’m scared of dying tomorrow. I want assurance. I want to know that something of me burns on even if life should leave this empty shell of a body. Because I’m afraid to live right now because I’m afraid of dying. The circle turns inward on itself and spins forever. Like a dog chasing its tail.
I wish I wasn’t spiritually deaf. I wish I’d been born a little less skeptical. I wouldn’t mind if I could be more like those who have faith–the ones I mock for not questioning enough. I may not see them as questioning enough, but at least they feel good and confident about their lives even if it turns out it’s not true at all. At least they don’t think it’s not true. Ignorance is truly bliss.
I didn’t mean to imply that those who are religious are ignorant. I have lots of intelligent spiritual friends. And some whose philosophies I whole-heartedly agree with in some sense. I completely envy people who have faith. They can hear the song of the Divine. They can see signs of the Divine in all the things where all I see is reality. It must be nice.
Every once in awhile, I think I connect with the Divine. For split seconds. It’s usually while listening to someone else speak of their faith. A U2 song in which Bono so eloquently paints a picture of his struggles with faith. I think I’m there. But it’s gone when the song is over.
Sometimes I experience faith while witnessing the great divine beauty of the planet. Atop a mountain, at the shores of a great lake, stars in my telescope eyepiece, the sun sinking below the horizon in glowing red and orange. My heart and mind is filled with such joy at these moments and I’ve felt myself connected to something greater. I tried to express this to my husband once, but I don’t think he understood where I was coming from. In ways, he was more atheist than I was at the time.
Mostly, though, life is like it is from the seat of my bicycle: a constant struggle for perpetual motion. Every stroke is work, every climb takes the wind from your lungs. If you don’t pedal fast enough, you’ll fall sideways with your feet stuck in the pedals. Watch out for dogs and deer and motorists–hazards could be painful or even fatal.
I live between highs, entertaining myself with constant motion and action. Skiing, cycling, running around the world like mad. I fill my social calendar with activities as I try and try to fill the empty hole in my being. The hole that grew bigger when my husband died suddenly on a Saturday morning in April.
Nothing stays constant. Friends and lovers come and go. Betrayal and heartbreak. I think I could deal with it all if I had some faith. If things had meaning to me. Right now, I just feel like I’m trying to get everything done before my own unknown timer expires. And I worry that no one will give a damn when I’m gone. Oh, sure, they’ll remember me for a few years once I’m gone. But as they did with Mike, I will become a painful memory thrown into the back of the minds of the ones I love. And when someone brings me up, others will criticize because they don’t want to think of the pain. So it’s sad to me when people say that we are all immortal because we live in the thoughts of those of us who remember us. I really want to be immortal–to believe I have an immortal soul, that Mike also had an immortal soul.
But I can’t believe any of that.
Because I’m spiritually deaf. And I hear not the call of the Divine.
Which leads me to believe it’s not there at all.