“There is really only one possible prayer.
Give me to do everything I do in the day with a sense of the sacredness of life.
Give me to be in your presence, God, even though I know it only as absence.”
“Sometimes the only prayer possible is a sigh”
“God, I offer myself to Thee, to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me from the bondage of self, so that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy power, Thy love and Thy way of life. May I do Thy will always.”
Guess which prayer I say every morning, on my knees.
I am embroiled in the God question. Not in an active way, the way of those who believe strongly and irrevocably in god and need to justify it, or those who desperately want to believe in something and are searching for it. My way is decidedly more passive, more pragmatic and more sarcastic, if that makes any sense. The three quotes I chose speak to me in those ways.
The passive is in the way that I am willing to just sit back and wait, not fight it, not look for it, just move ahead in my life and allow myself to stay in the flow. I’m not completely passive in life, but certainly am trying to be about god because what else would god accept? The god that I hear about is controlling and omniscent, and all that god would want from me is passivity anyway, so I am willing to give it. (The sarcasm). That passivity is also pragmatism…the fact is, the FACT is, that the only place we have to meet a god is in faith. Faith that god exists. Pragmatically, if god exists, depending on which god we choose, those qualities we ascribe to our god become our faith. They could be completely off-base, since there are so many different gods to choose from, but it doesn’t matter because whatever decision we make about god, there is our faith. That points to faith as a decision among choices, and if there are choices then there is no one right way or one right god or, necessarily even ANY god.
The need to consider this at all comes, for me, because of the fact that I am sober. If I look at it passively, I just got so bored of myself and my drinking I stopped…I was through. There was no other choice, the timing was right and that was it.
Pragmatically it gets a little deeper, since I have to say that, after drinking as many years as I have, to JUST stop is a little far-fetched. The flow worked for me, the stars aligned and a window of grace opened and I was able to recognize it. I actually believe that. Did someone or something or a god make that happen? There’s the rub. I don’t have the slightest fucking idea and am completely comfortable in not knowing. Maybe when I die all will be revealed. Maybe not. It happened; I’m happy, good. There have been many things that have happened in my life that I am not happy about and I am just as willing to not ascribe them to a god. If god doesn’t make the good happen, then he doesn’t make the bad happen.
The idea that I am living my life to get somewhere or something when I die is pathetic to me. That completely negates the experience of life. The idea that there is some supreme being manipulating our lives is beyond ludicrous and if it were true then how completely insane would that being be? (Seriously, how sick? All the shit going on in the world planned?) And what would be our reason to do, try, behave, love, decide…talk about going with the flow. If it’s all pre-ordained why would we do anything? And it’s all faith. I believe in faith….I have faith in my friends and loved ones. I have faith that things and people change. I have faith that the sun will come up in the morning, that tomorrow will happen. But I also know that friends and family betray you and that I can die in my sleep. That’s called life, and it’s what we’ve got. Life.
I can’t be an atheist though, I cannot. I feel like an atheist, I talk like an atheist, I judge others like an atheist, but I cannot let go of the one fact that I am willing to admit, and not just in this question, but in all questions. I DON’T KNOW. And I can’t know. That’s the mystery of life, the thing that makes it worth living to me. I have often thought about dying over the years. Teenage angst, career (or no-career) disaster, Tom, kid insanity..I know how to go to that place of “why am I doing this, let’s just end it”. But there is always another day, at least so far, and if I had died when I wanted to, look at what I would have missed. I have faith that my life will go on, in the flow, just as long as I want it to. And when I die I have not one inkling of an idea of what will happen, but I’m curious. And whatever it is, even if it is nothing, that’s what it is. My belief, your belief, makes not one iota of difference in the fact. And living my life in anticipation of some crazy brass ring when I die is not something I’m interested in doing.
Here’s what I want. I want to be open and honest and vulnerable. I want to do good and right in the world. I want to support my son and my friends and be woven into the fabric of their lives. I want to live with love and intention. I want to learn from all the amazing people living beside me. I want to be of service to a world that is so much bigger than myself, and I want to start small. Life is not turning out like I expected it too and I am not necessarily who I thought I was…I want to know who I truly am and why.
My sponsor has told me to kneel daily and pray that last prayer. It’s called the Third Step prayer. I don’t have to believe it, I just have to do it, and I do. And it helps me; it connects me and reminds me that I want to be connected. And I do believe that the willingness to just do it helps me stay sober. They are not the words I would choose, and when I am through I use my own words for each day. That god is not the god I would choose, I frankly wouldn’t choose any god. I don’t pray for specific things that I think I want, I pray to be changed in ways that I can’t imagine.
I know god as an absence, prayer as a sigh, and change as a promise.