So much of what I read crosses paths with God. The God of my childhood. The God of my children’s Catholic school educations. The God that can put up barriers as soon as his or her or their name is spoken.
But still I seek out what I am reading. Because I tell you I can seek out an evening of chanting led by a Buddhist and suddenly that Buddhist is talking about God. There is no getting away from this guy. This guy who my kids ask me if I believe in. This guy that could be a girl or could be no person at all. This God that could be this universal benefactor that isn’t in human form but is a spirit (or a sprite). It’s why God is three people in the Catholic church. The problem is this God is still male, or two of the three of them are (God, his son and the holy ghost). That’s what I smack my head against when I try to pray the Hail Mary. That and the fact that we are all sinners.
Sinners. That’s what my latest reading grapples with. People that other people think are sinners. Judgment. Judging our neighbor because it’s so second nature and we think it helps elevate us.
But I’m not being succinct. What am I trying to say? God is love. That’s where it all leads. The breath that clears out your body is a breath that loves your body. Years ago, I learned how to meditate from my co-author and friend Dr. Astrid Pujari. She talked about centering ourselves, connecting to our strong centers and connecting that strong center to the love out there in the universe. The God out there in the universe, that some people think of as a life force. The healing spirit out there that connects with the healing spirit inside of you.
God, that idea we can’t get away from. Which always makes me think of Astrid, how she talked about meeting a Jesuit priest at a retreat when she was studying to become a doctor. How being in the presence of this priest made her cry. How she found her courage and asked to take a walk with this priest. How she asked him how he became so peaceful and why she felt such love in his presence. It’s her story to translate really, and I’m only saying what I recall. Yet I remember her saying he told her to pick a practice, that what she felt was God, was love, was what he had cultivated through daily prayer. Astrid picked meditation.
I repeat this story all the time because it took me years of knowing Astrid before I heard this story. Years where I thought her peaceful nature and her success had something to do with her lucky life, being born to parents who loved her exceedingly well or being born to wealthy parents or being brilliant and following the right path that led to a successful life. But that wasn’t the case. Astrid told me we all have a birthright, that we are all born to experience joy, to be bathed in unconditional love. And we could find that love inside of ourselves and outside of ourselves. That if I picked a practice and listened to myself and let the bright sun in our good universe channel a path to my heart, I’d find some unconditional love.
Ah, that God. That love. The love I have for my girls that I learned about after giving birth to my first born. That pure love that reaches from me to my daughters and back to me again. That love that knows my daughters are perfect no matter what they do. That I will hold that love for them always. Folks, let me reach here and say that’s why you’re all so stoked about Oprah’s speech. She is fantastic at holding out love and hope. Hurt people: Oprah loves you. Hurt people: take that hope and build yourself a new reality.
This blog: it’s all over the place. But it’s what I’m thinking about lately. About how when I am hurt and tired and sad, it’s so easy to be mean. How it takes many, many deep breathes and restoration to find my love and beam that accepting love out onto others. How I’ve been a parent for almost 16 years and it took maybe a decade to learn to rely on love as the center of my relationships with my girls. That if I love them fully no matter their actions, they can rest in my love. And resting in love is what we all need to feel whole. That’s why people like this God, be God man or woman or universal life force. God is love. Love is god. Love on, folks. It’s the hardest work you’ll ever do. But it’ll feel loving, I bet. Or, as Oprah say, what I know for sure is love is always the (#God-damned) answer.