From Bogner's "Catholicism, holiness and spirituality: "What is it in our lives that keeps us from getting closer to God? What's in that space between us and God? There are all sorts of theological answers, I suppose, but theology is not the answer here. The answer lies within each of us – is it fear, or is it laziness? Is it our self-loathing, or is it mistrust? Maybe it is doubt and cynicism born from the failures of the past. Or maybe we're just tired of making the effort. I think that distance is unique to each of us, ..." --------------------------------- Yesterday was the 30-year anniversary of Jonestown, today just another day. Not much is changed. Folks live in community in El Dorado in an idyllic self-sufficient community of like-minded people supporting each other. Or maybe El Dorado is an oppressive confinement where spiritual leaders command allegiance, demand obedience, and young girls are given to men who pretend it's not rape ... Certainly some at El Dorado grow fat and happy of spirit while others are there for pure hedonism and others are trapped in voicelessness ... just like the rest of the world. No doubt more than a few at Jonestown believed to the end that Jones was their savior, the only one who understood or cared, the only one who ever tried to help ... nothing much has changed.
What creates such distance from god is "us." Distance keeps us a part from and shrouded in secrecy so we have a place to hide just in case. What if we go to god no one is there? What we did and didn't do, the things they said we did, the things we failed to do .... for all these reasons, when i go looking maybe god won't be there.
Some might say it's not a matter of god being "there" and that god is always "here" or "with us." I know i'm not good enough, god knows i'm nowhere near good enough, so he is not here with me. Dare I put forth the effort searching for that closeness we (I think all) hunger for on some level but which i know is not mine to receive? How do I know it is not for me to have close relationship with god? God eludes me because i'm not good enough. You told me all my life i'm not good enough; i believed you. Why wouldn't i? You said you were my friend, that you wanted what's best for me, that you were in my corner. You said i should trust you. You said you wouldn't hurt me, that you would take care of me. You said you loved me (not really, i just wanted to be loved). But you bit and hit and kicked and slapped. You burned and raped and raged and threatened. You beat us up, then put us down. You dared us to tell, cause no one would believe us -- this was a family that went to church and had the priests and nuns to dinner on sunday. You taught me i was a liar, sneak and thief -- i pretended to be happy and so proved you right. You passed us round when you were done ... burning and shamed we stayed quiet, we closed our eyes hard to keep from seeing but there was nowhere to hide. Every day we went to church, the priest said god was watching. Every day we went to school, the nuns said god was watching. When we were young enough to think, to hope, someone might care, just enough to help, the nuns and priests they called us liar, assigned our penance and said we're going to hell. When they told you what we said blows rained down and hell could be no worse. We were made an example by those nuns and priests who we knew were full of only god's love; then everyone knew our badness and fun was made. It is not okay to be a bad girl. It is not okay to be afraid of parents who go to church and invite priests and nuns to dinner. It is not okay to ask for help if you are a liar. You are lucky to be alive and have parents who love you so much when you are as ungrateful as me. You are not worthy -- of life, of love, of god -- if you are me.
We have plenty of space ... too much space. The brain says what they taught us isn't true but there's nothing to replace it. We look and ask and listen and wait because we think maybe they might have been wrong, even though we still believe we are who and what they said. Parents, classmates, teachers, nuns and priests ... of course we still believe everything they said. We know they were right, but now we only believe all of them some of the time, but all of the time we believe some of it. We've made some small room for other possibility but we believed the other for so long ... and so we are empty, the space between us and god.
A child's warped and innocent belief, an ignorant confusion of words and deeds, unseeing of god ... both the problem and the answer ... to reconcile what was beaten into those tiny young brains with what we want to believe now: "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the lord than to trust in princes." - Psalm 118: 8-9
I don't trust god and that's an empty space. I fear god; god knows everything we say and did and am. God sees and knows and judges and all i am is not enough. So of course i am afraid.