Friday, November 20, 2009

An immature faith?

This image was taken on the beach at LaPush during last summer's excursion with my daughter to Forks, Washington, so of course -- given the current media frenzy over New Moon -- it was the first thing that jumped out at me this morning.

I may have confessed this here before, but I'll do it again -- I read all four Twilight books. I couldn't put them down. I don't agree it was good writing; I'm not even sure I liked the plot all that much -- and I have no more intention of going to this Twilight movie than I did to the last one, particularly since I found this, the second book in the series, to be a very disturbing read.

I'm even worried about my daughter going to see the movie: the whole idea of spending two hours watching a girl for whom life has lost all meaning because her boyfriend has gone... what sort of mood will that leave you in, even if he does come back in the end?

But then, there are LOTS of movies and TV shows I refuse to watch because of their potential to leave behind emotional residue. Perhaps it's because I'm a visual person, but such things definitely leave their mark, and it takes work and time to shed that mark. Perhaps I'm barking up the wrong tree, but it seems to me I'm already carrying enough sadness and shadows, and I'd rather spend my time and energy dealing with the shadows I already carry, unraveling THEM, learning what I need to learn and letting THEM go, rather than wasting time trying to shed stuff that isn't even mine.

Which brings me to this morning's readings -- which was not really where I wanted to go when I started this post, but... oh, well. I'm at the "Pain is Part of Life" chapter in the Richo book, and I'm finding it very hard to read. Not just because it talks about the inevitability -- and growth potential -- of pain, though that's difficult enough to read. But what I find even more challenging is Richo's essentially Buddhist perspective.

I'm not struggling so much with the part about the First Noble Truth that Life is Suffering. I'm struggling with his -- very Buddhist -- contention that "It is said of pain that we will never be given more than we can bear. An adult has accepted the given that no one is up there making sure of this... When God is seen as a rescuer or parent in the sky, we may depend on him for protection and lose our faith if he does not come through. When we give up the childhood version of life, we stand on our own... with no "parent" on the lookout, we notice that we sometimes have to bear more than we can handle."

This paragraph definitely touches a nerve for me, as it has a way of making me feel that my particular brand of faith is very immature. Call me a child, but I DON'T accept it as given that no one is up there making sure of this. Because I DO believe we are not given more than we can bear, and though God is within and around me as well as "in the sky" my particular experience has been one of love and grace, both in difficult times and in the smooth parts of life. This sense of God as a loving parent is very much a part of what keeps me aware that when push comes to shove I am not Buddhist but Christian, and lots of emotional responses emerge when that belief is challenged -- not least of which is fear: I want to believe, and seem to NEED to believe -- and it's certainly been my experience so far -- that I won't be given more than can be handled, if not by me, than by some combination of me and my community, co-workers, friends and family.

And yet Richo says that, too -- you can see it in this quote I posted from his book last Sunday:

"As of now, I affirm that I am able to handle whatever may happen for the rest of my life. I have handled so much so far, I know I will be able to face whatever is left. And if I need reinforcements, I will find them. Nothing will turn my life so upside down that I will collapse under it."

So why IS it I was so drawn to the Twilight books, if I find it so hard to imagine a pain-filled world with no God to save it? And why is it that so many people will have lined up at midnight to see the latest Twilight movie? Is it because they have no pain of their own and need to experience someone else's? Or could it be because they need to believe they are not alone in their pain, and that somewhere, someone gets a chance to triumph over pain and evil, and that gives them hope?

I guess for me that someone was Jesus. And yes, however foolish it may be, that still seems to give me hope. And if that marks me as immature, well -- so be it. Maybe that explains why I read those silly books: I just haven't quite managed to grow up yet!

PS: as you can see, with all the rain we had an even higher tide this morning. So does that mean that I can choose to live here because I have faith? Is living in this place an ACT of faith? Or is it because I live here that I so desperately need to trust that there is a parent God?



Maureen said...

I think it's very difficult for many, if not most, people to reconcile their idea of a loving God with the idea that God gives us only what we can bear, when what we are called upon to bear often is so deeply painful and seemingly unbearable. Yet we do get through.

I've learned to stop asking "why?" There is no good answer. So, what am I left with then when life is full of pain? Faith. Faith that I'll make it through that pain. Trust that I'll get through it. Gratitude when I do. And Hope. Because to have Hope is to believe.

Anonymous said...

I think that it's human nature to be drawn to the supernatural. I just finished the first book, and am excited to keep reading. Would there be pleasure without pain? You know what they gain. Great picture of Forks.