“It doesn’t interest me if there is one God or many gods.

I want to know if you belong — or feel abandoned:

If you know despair

Or can see it in others.

I want to know

If you are prepared to live in the world

With its harsh need to change you;

If you can look back with firm eyes

Saying “This is where I stand.”

I want to know if you know how to melt

Into that fierce heat of living

Falling toward the center of your longing.

I want to know if you are willing

To live day by day

With the consequence of love

And the bitter unwanted passion

Of your sure defeat.

I have been told

In that fierce embrace

Even the gods

Speak of God.”

–David Whyte, “Self Portrait” from Fire in the Earth

I love this poem for the fact that it goes deeper.  So often our religions and beliefs don’t even come close to the joy or pain of our actual experience.  So many people bear so much suffering, and when they come to religion, having been promised relief and acceptance, they end up with doctrine and hollow answers.  Rather than encountering the Divine, they get a rule book and an offering plate.  No wonder religion is in crisis.

Is God confined to church?  I don’t think so.  And neither is truth or love or hope.  I have discovered more of the Sacred since leaving the church than I ever did in fifteen years inside it.

Not trying to bang on anyone’s belief systems — just ask yourself “Is this it?”  It’s a simple question, but the answer can change how you see everything.


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