Sunday, June 9, 2013

Talk more and in greater depth

Today I watched Oprah interview Karen Armstrong, a former nun, who lost her faith in the convent and found God years later.  Like Oprah is so wont to do, she focused on Armstrong's convent experience at 17, the silence, the dark hours of crying as a novice, the hours of stitchwork, the periods of nausea and fainting.  Thirty-seven minutes of the hard stuff, and then, for the last five minute segment, several of Karen's best selling books, including The History of God. 

The frigging History of God.  I would have liked to have heard more about that, wouldn't you? Or, instead of losing faith, I would have liked Oprah to talk more and in greater depth about the glimpses of faith Karen experienced.  Karen was ripe for it, kept hinting at it, but Oprah stayed in the recollection of victimization, the hurt. 

I just looked up the various Hebrew words for faith. 

Chessed, to carry
Chasah, a wolf chasing a rabbit - to seek shelter
Qaway, a rope that can't be broken
Yachal, to trust when you are hurting
Batach, to trust with all your heart
Aman, to believe, to lean on 

Oprah, who has - perhaps - the largest platform in the world, chose to stay in the story of the hurt. It made me think, tonight, about how I use this blog too frequently as a stiff bed of complaint and worry.  That I am still too much and too readily influenced by the things that have hurt me in the past. All yachal, no batach. 

For that, forgive me.  I'd like to say I will tell more stories of goodness and grace, but I know that sadness and joy calibrate the heart to its equilibrium.  At least for me. 

Tonight, I cut my own hair.  Even though Laura gave me a cut ten days ago, it just did not seem convincing enough.  I thought back to Miami University, meeting Mark Shump, him telling me that I had "fast hair."  This last cut seemed like a 20 mph cut, an old man in a big Lincoln cut.  So I took to the bathroom, grabbed the scissors and tried to imitate what I have watched Laura do for the last 10 years.  There is, without a doubt, a big clump of unevenness above my right ear, but, that's okay.  I feel better.  My head feels just right.  

Why these two stories in one blog?  Because Karen Armstrong found her way home.  And my head found its way to happiness.

Too often, it will be convenient to distract ourselves with the past, the pain, the wrong-doing and the undone.  I will tell you again, I am sure, about the Big Hurt and the Want to Drive into a Tree periods of my life.   I will do that until I do not need to do that anymore.  

But I want you to know - no, I want me to know - that we can fix anything.  We are designed to conquer.  To grow.  To change.  To seek happiness.  To prune the things that are holding us back, even if it is only a big hunk of floppy bangs. 

Karen Armstrong, if you are out there, I wish you would come to my house.  Sit on the front porch and get an hourlong Jean Reinhold interview.  I'd ask you about those glimpses of faith you see.  I would ask you how you know God now.  How you use studying as prayer.  How you would bridge the gaps of ignorance between cultures arguing over religions.  What it feels like, now, to not have a wolf chasing you.  What it feels like to hold the strong rope of God.  I would ask you about your history of God, and I know, after you commented on my stylish new haircut, you would ask me about mine.  I could tell that about you, even if Oprah couldn't. 

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