Where Did She Go?  A Slothful Seeking of the Divine by Cynthia Garrity-Bond


 A week ago today was my birthday.  I’m the same age as my mother when she died of a stroke some twenty-eight years ago.  This past year has been marked by the deaths of close friends and family; most recently my Uncle Jack who almost made it to his 93rd birthday. This latest passing, coupled with being the same age as my mother when she passed, has left me more than a bit reflective of life and vulnerability.   This internal examination has lead me to acknowledge another loss I have been ignoring for a few years—my love affair with the divine.

It didn’t happen all at once; instead it’s been a slow brew of indifference to the spiritual domain.  Like many who read or contribute to FAR, my spiritual compass was fined tuned to point north in all matters of my life, even at a very early age.  The Virgin Mary, Mass, the Sacraments of the Catholic Church and its rituals are what Andrew Greeley defines as The Catholic Imagination.  Taken together, these insist on a spirituality that sees the divine saturated in all of creation.  Grace, abundant grace, is never outside the reach of those who wish to experience it.   

As a young girl, my mother made these essentials of the church come alive in me.  I loved all of it; the tangible demonstrations of an inherited faith that sustained me no matter what chaos came my way.  But the faith that sustained me was based on some form of acknowledgment of a Love greater than myself, no matter how weak the attempt on my part was. I’ve wondered if my immersion in two theological degrees and an advanced degree in Religious Studies is the culprit of my malaise. For most of my academic training I set aside any hint of a confessional theology that intertwines a “faith seeking understanding” with spiritual emotionality.

But even with this stance I managed, in private, to find reassurance and conviction of Her presence in my life until I admitted to myself that She and all She embodies have lost their place in my life.  Did She locate to a new zip code or did I just stop caring?  My indifference is not due to a Dark Night of the Soul based on some event that has called into question the presence or love of God/ess. Instead I find myself shying away from any God-Talk that asks me to articulate something, anything of the nature of the God/ess I have loved.

Father Richard Rohr, a man of prophetic wisdom and love, captures my lazy relationship with the Divine when he writes,

In solitude, at last, we’re able to let God define us the way we are always supposed to be defined—by relationship: the I-thou relationship, in relation to a Presence that demands nothing of us but presence itself. Not performance but presence.

In other words, it is simply our presence or showing up that is needed in the I-Thou relationship.  And this is exactly what I have failed to do or be interested in doing.  Is this laziness or some other alchemy at work?  Is it a natural progression of letting all “religious” performance go, to be replaced by what the mystics called nothingness?

But these (mostly women) did show up as seekers.  I have simply lost interest, either because of laziness or something beyond my present understanding.

I have heard the opposite of love is not hate but indifference.  In this context the implications give me pause.  My sense is the ball is in my court, meaning at some point I’ll need to do the heavy lifting of showing up with no expectations, allowing the Presence to meet my presence.  While in the past my relationship with God/ess has been fruitful, I’m not sure I’m ready for a relationship with no-thing-ness. Empty before Her will take presence.  I hope I’m up to the challenge of making myself present.  I hope I’m up to the challenge.  I hope.

 

Cynthia Garrity-Bond, feminist theologian and social ethicist, is completing her doctorate from Claremont Graduate University in women studies in religion, with a secondary focus in theology, ethics and culture. Cynthia taught in the Department of Theological studies at Loyola Marymount University and the Religious Studies Department of Mount St. Mary’s College, Los Angeles Her research interest includes feminist sexual theology, historical theology with particular emphasis on religious movements of women, transnational feminism and ecofeminism.

Advertisements


Categories: Divine Feminine, General, Spiritual Journey, Spirituality, Women's Spirituality, Women's Voices

Tags: , , , ,

17 replies

  1. I don’t know if this is helpful, but I wonder if all of this is part of a process of giving up control and perhaps of accepting that no one, not even Goddess is in control. I too went through a time of indifference and for me also anger at the fact that so many things in my life were not going as I hoped they would. Somehow I was blaming both myself and Goddess for that. And then…I realized that She is with us but cannot make things happen for us. And then She was there again. It sounds like you have already reached that understanding intellectually, but could it be that your deep habits and patterns of feeling and belief have not caught up? Just a thought.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Carol,
      I understand what you are aiming at here, the lingering of my heart because of disappointment. I’m not sure that is it, but I’m going to sit with your wisdom. Does it take a discipline to make those deep connections? While I can see and feel Her in moments, my dependence has weakened-which colors my life.

      Thank you for your own experience of seeking–it matters.

      Cynthie

      Like

  2. Thank you for this. You have put into words what I have been struggling with as well. It is nice to know I am not alone and I, too, hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the word God/ess has tons of baggage attached to it. Not easy to sort through it all. Takes time. And even then, don’t think one ever “arrives,” that is, reaches a point where all is settled. Just my thoughts….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hmm, I’m sorry this is what you took away from my post. Rosemary Radford Ruether introduced me to the term God/ess while I was a student of her’s.

      Arrival–indeed, we never do, but the hope is to find Her presence and assurance in some aspect of our lives. It can never be “settled” since life constantly insists on change. Perhaps the “hope” is to develop and mature spiritually in the midst of life’s demands, including during the doldrums.

      Like

  4. Thank you for sharing this with us. I’m in a similar place just now, but I’m aware it is not the first time I’ve been here, and feel it is a processing thing. Like you my age, together with health challenges and the limitations they bring, have put me into an existential crisis of sorts. My meditation practice has floundered and I’m generally in a bad mood with all things spiritual. When I do ‘turn up’, and allow the bad mood to be there, I do find some spaciousness which in the past would have attracted more ‘turning up’, but still the bad mood persists. Writing this, I realise the answer for me may be just to persist, and perhaps more importantly, let go of my beliefs and expectations about what ‘turning up’ actually means.
    May we all arrive at that place of being and presence.

    Like

    • “I’m generally in a bad mood with all things spiritual.” I love this description! Thank you for engaging with my post in such a thoughtful manner. I think you are correct when you say we have to persist in our daily practices of meditation, even when the mind wanders and unrest is the best we can hope for.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I find that sometimes, when I feel like I’ve lost my religion, it’s because my I-Thou relationship in the Divine Mystery has gone deeper. I hope you find a small group of people in your locale to share your journey with, in ways that support your growth. I find the writings of Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, helpful.

    Like

    • Thank you Barbara. I think my concern is the absence of the Divine Mystery due to my own absence in a caring heart of all things spiritual. What has shapeshifted through the years is how I identify Mystery, but I have always believed in Her presence. Now, for reasons I’m still figuring out, the holy longing has stilled inside of me.

      I have read Elizabeth Johnson–I’ll revisit and see what new publications she has produced. Thank you!

      Like

  6. Thanks Cynthia for this wonderfully challenging, and evocative post.

    Regards the I-Thou relationship, we do live happily in a time of understanding what has been called eco-spirituality — and thus, nature and religion are no longer in conflict. We have a lot of love to give to each other, and to our environment too.

    Like

    • Thank you Sarah. This is still the one place I can grasp Her presence, nature. It’s an admixture of peace and sadness when you see the destruction of our planet. I wish I shared your optimism about the relationship between religion and nature. There is such disregard for a deeper theological responsibility of our command to care for the earth.

      Thank you for your thoughts.

      Like

  7. “I’m not sure I’m ready for a relationship with no-thing-ness. Empty before Her will take presence. I hope I’m up to the challenge of making myself present.”

    I know that I am not, and yet my life is permeated with “absence” a lot. I am never comfortable with nothing- ness and yet I just bought a simple Mexican tin Guadalupe. There is just a cloak with stars and rays… an archetypal shape without either face or body…Inside the cloak just a pair of hands clasped in prayer…

    Like

  8. If interested in the image, please go to my blog at sarawrightnature.wordpress.com to see an image …

    Like

    • Sara,
      I visited your blog and viewed the amazing photo of your recently purchased Guadalupe. She does inspire and calm. Thank you for sharing this powerful image and directing us to your blog. I feel like I have found a new friend in your writing.

      Like

      • Oh I am so glad… yes I write from the heart here instead of publishing what others determine to be “good” and I have all the freedom I want to make all the mistakes I want!!!!! Thank you!

        Like

  9. Thank you, Cynthia, for articulating what is presently part of my experience. You’ve given me courage to explore my lapsed relatioship with god/ess further. Karen

    Like

Please familiarize yourself with our Comment Policy before posting.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: