Friday, June 10, 2011


"it sounds good on paper. me and the earth. me and the animals. me and the sun and the moon and stars. but when I am in a bad mood, pantheism feels more like unrequited love, the dreary task of whipping up both sides of a relationship. the truth is I often feel lonely. I am talking to myself and no one answers. yada-yada-yada. blah-blah-blah. the same stuff I have heard all my life. I am so tired of this voice. I am so bored. it may sound strange, but I don't want to be alone in my body and mind. I want someone with me.

"this is an ontological loneliness that my husband can not redress, although I love him and he loves me. my children distracted me from this feeling for a long time, 22 years, and then they grew up and went away. (which was, of course, the right thing to do. still, you can't help but feel--ungrateful wretches.) now I am no longer distracted. I have more time to talk to myself. yada-yada-yada. blah-blah-blah. now this loneliness seems unending and almost unbearable.

"it is the loss of the personal god. in some ways, I think I would have done better in another religion [than quakerism]. without doubt, I would believe in god or gods or goddesses if I could. I would like someone to pray to. someone to note my fall and care about my scraped knee. I would like that shoulder, that chest, that arm. it is less a matter of won't than can't. did I believe in these things once? maybe, as a child. but even that belief felt more pretend than real.

"sometimes I feel envious of other faiths. then I remember the story of abraham and isaac. my first response is that I want a god to speak to me. my second is that it depends on what he has to say."

--from standing in the light: my life as a pantheist by sharman apt russell

if I understand what russell is saying here, then I have to take exception. I no more find the prospect of our being alone in existence any more lonely than the experience that only dogs and cats and plants and music made by humans are in this house with me now is lonely. this isn't simply some idyllic being-at-one with nature or the universe, it's a cold-eyed recognition of the connections between me, shale, the roadkill on I-94, the syrians being killed by their own government, the dust being plowed up by a meteorite on some nameless hunk of rock orbiting saturn, the woodtick on my dog beans, the carpenter ants at work in the barn, the guys widening the road a half mile away, and so on. in fact, if anything, when I was younger and believed in the easter bunny and santa and fairies and unicorns and ghosts and a whitebearded god in flowing robes I was lonelier. there would always be some part of existence to which I knew, even then, I would forever be denied--no one I knew had ever communed with any of them beyond his own wishful thinking. far from feeling lonely, the idea that there is nothing outside us and what we experience makes me feel more--what's the opposite of lonely? secure? surrounded? loved? maybe the term I'm looking for is "at peace."

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