I don’t often write publicly about my spirituality for the same reason a new mother doesn’t take her infant out to a Metallica concert; it’s growing and sensitive, it doesn’t need exposure to angry forces, and I feel like protecting it from the world during this formative time. Unfortunately no stranger to spiritual abuse and manipulation, I am more cautious with that aspect of myself now that I’ve been around that block a few times. Why people feel the need to bully others about their spiritual journey I’ll never know.
Yet it is a big part of me, as much as my physical and emotional life. Sometimes I feel a void on my blog, that in my attempt to protect myself from religious vitriol, I limit this space. And that’s a shame. For that reason, I’m using a musical lens to let you in on a subject about which it’s difficult for me to be vulnerable.
For me, the intersection between spirituality and art is constant. When I set about creating something, I feel closest to God. While in the presence of great beauty, which includes art, I experience God, too. That’s why I am such a cheerleader for the arts in general. I believe they feed our souls in ways that are undervalued in contemporary society.
Take music, for instance. Certain songs have guided me through the dark times of my life, providing comfort and clarity. I’ve rewound and replayed them over and over sometimes, these companions that kept my spirit alive when the world seemed intent on crushing it. Or when I was crushing it.
“Even In The Quietest Moments” – Supertramp
The searching. I think that’s what a lot of spirituality is about. Searching: searching for meaning, searching for God, searching for a safe place. We never get definitive answers, and that’s where faith develops.
And even when you showed me
My heart was out of tune
For there’s a shadow of doubt that’s not letting me find you too soon
The music that you gave me
The language of my soul
Oh Lord, I want to be with you.
Won’t you let me come in from the cold?
“Closer to Fine” – The Indigo Girls
We look for answers in many places. We think we’ve found them, only to be shown we’re wrong. I am always open to being wrong now.
I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain
There’s more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.
“Both Sides Now” – Joni Mitchell
Faith to me means looking at life from a different perspective, to question general religious tenets that don’t make sense to me. I’m not sure when I first read Plato’s Apology, but Socrates’ assertion that wisdom comes from knowing you don’t know everything has kept me from self-destruction in my quest for truth. I won’t have the answers to everything, and that’s okay. Once I stopped needing to be right all the time, releasing control of the outcome, I felt a weight lift from my soul.
Well something’s lost but something’s gained
In living every day
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all
“Let That Be Enough” – Switchfoot
Simplicity. Stop making faith so complicated, Natalie. Nothing on earth will ever complete me, but there’s nothing wrong with needing to simply be cradled in love’s embrace. Ultimately, that’s my God. Love. (New American Standard Bible, 1 John 4:16).
And all I see
It could never make me happy
And all my sand castles
Spend their time collapsing
Let me know that You hear me
Let me know Your touch
Let me know that You love me
And let that be enough
“Be Yourself” – Graham Nash
Since having a spiritual awakening, as they say `round the halls in AA, I have learned the value of being myself. Through the real me, God can act. Having spent so many years repressing myself because I was “too much” or “not enough” according to religious standards, I couldn’t see the suffering of others. I was too busy keeping up the charade of being who I thought I needed to be to earn the label “good Christian.” Whatever that is.
We needed a tutor
So built a computer
And we programmed ourselves not to see
The truth and the lying
The dead and the dying
A silent majority […]
Then you can be yourself
“In the Garden” – Charles A. Miles (perf. Alan Jackson)
I come from a Christian background, both culturally and religiously, as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now. Certain hymns are as much a part of my history as they are my spirituality. Take this hymn, for example. Not only are the words a rich expression of my faith, but this was the hymn sung at my grandmother’s memorial service. I get teary-eyed every time I hear or sing it.
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
– – –
With that, I’ve let you in my personal space a little more. It’s hard to expose yourself to judgment and/or ridicule, especially when your intimate spiritual goings-on have been harshly critiqued in the past. I hope that by getting to know me the last year on this blog, you know me. In truth, I am still learning, ever learning.
Oh yeah, and the pictures from my trip to France are the most beautiful expressions of my faith I have in photographs, so I’ve included them just for fun.