I sorta believe in God; i.e., more than not believing in God. It seems reasonable to me that God does wacky Godlike things, even maybe becoming Jesus, whom I follow while doubting like a Thomas who has never gotten the icky part of putting my dirty fisherman’s paws into a still-fresh wound. Aiee! Good thing Jesus didn’t stick around too long, eh?
But for all I know it’s the Flying Spaghetti Monster all along. Whatever. My point here is that I’m not nailed down (pun intended) to any particular brand of spirituality. I know that Zen monk Cheri Huber’s There is Nothing Wrong with You moved me to hysterical tears, and I no longer have a copy because I gave it away, and have bought others for very special people.
Now, here’s the cruel irony: I style-edit self-help and spiritual books. After a while. they all sound the same, with some more readable than others. It seems to my jaundiced eye that enlightenment is saved for those wealthy enough to travel the country–the world!–kneeling at one or the other pair of sandaled feet. Where, I ask, is the ultimate truth revealed while washing dishes, while caring for children? What sorts of visions of angels are received while bagging groceries at Shaw’s? (At Whole Foods, maybe.) The great teachers gave what they had for food, clothing, and shelter that would make 21st century homo sap shudder. What’s up with all this “I started my own business healing and directing souls?”
According to many of these self-proclaimed sages, we are on the cusp of a Great Awakening. Where have we heard this before? I don’t feel any perkier than I did when the Mayans came through town.
Fear not; I keep my personal beliefs to myself unless some random scrap from my personal life will reassure and make somebody bigger, instead of smaller. Because they are all beginning writers, and in a way they are kneeling before my sandals. This makes me profoundly uncomfortable, but I muddle through. I find something to praise, even if it’s only “Congratulations on your enlightenment!” and I polish with a light hand, making it sound as if paying attention to commas and sentence fragments was dirty work to be laid upon that maid-of-all-work, the proofreader/copy editor, and not part of the writing craft at all. I feel bad about that part, but it’s the only way to keep people writing. Remember that teacher? The one who didn’t get it and whose scars you still bear? The one who couldn’t see past the lumpiness to the embryo writer? I don’t ever want to be that teacher.
After all, for all we know, we are stuck down here forever, and polishing one’s craft is something to do to pass the time.