what do you do when….?
There are some days where I want nothing more than to pour myself out in devotion to my Gods via poetry, via powerful words woven in such a way as to summon the experience of being in Their presence, of the fear and trembling, the awe, the overwhelming ecstasy (in the religious sense) of being in the presence of a God. There are some days when I just want to pour myself out on my knees before my shrines, or find that place in prayer where the walls between me and my Gods come crashing down and I am eaten up by Their presence. Some days I sit down to write and I’m such a tangled mess that nothing will come out and then I just want to scream and pound the keyboard with my fists. Some days when I pray, my mind is too jangled for me to open up properly and I just want to break things and cuss. I don’t do either of those things of course, but there are times the frustration is almost overwhelming. The last few days have been like that.
They’ve actually been very good days. I have friends visiting from Australia (they return home tomorrow and we’ve had a lovely two week visit). I recently got invited to sign a contract for a year’s representation of my art at a gallery in Chelsea in NYC. I just finished a residency where I painted some pieces that even I am happy with, and I’m rarely happy with my art. I’m teaching an awesome class on Greek and Roman epic writers and having a blast. Still, I’ve been unsettled and jagged of late and pretty damned irritable to my colleagues. Part of it, I finally figured out, is that my relationship with my Gods is changing, evolving, deepening and that is all to the good. It’s not yet, however, come into whatever new structure it will soon be, and yet it is no longer what it was and I’m left hanging in the middle in a liminal place wondering where the fuck I’m going. Even knowing that most likely in a month or so I’ll be settled and working renewed and restored, invigorated with whatever new shape my devotional life is in the process of taking does little to help me now with the disorientation of having the ground – ground to which I’ve grown stubbornly accustomed—shifting quickly and inexorably under my feet.
Thank the Gods though. The last thing I would ever want is for my devotional life to stay the same. If it stays the same, I’m doing something wrong. If it does not evolve and deepen and challenge me to my core then I’m doing something wrong. If I am not feeling overwhelmed at times then I am definitely doing something wrong. Religion isn’t supposed to make us complaisant. I don’t think we’re ever supposed to rest on our laurels. Oh, we can possibly get away with doing just that for a time, but we pay for it in the end and what we sacrifice by doing that isn’t worth the paltry shallowness of the comfort gained.
Sometimes our practices change. Sometimes that can happen all at once, but more often it creeps up, seeps into one’s personal veneration, bowls us over when we least expect it. One day what used to work in opening us up to the glory of the great good Gods, just doesn’t anymore. I know what has worked for me. What about the rest of you? What do you guys do when you’re in this situation? What works for you? What is the bridge that sees you through?