Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dancing With the Divine

             A month or so ago, I said in a post that my novels are about people ‘wrestling with the divine’, and I went on to say that, in my opinion, ‘all of life is wrestling with the divine’. A couple of people asked for elaboration and clarification, and I shied away from it. I shied away because there are two things that are certain to alienate people: politics and religion. This post was never intended to address either one. But since that blog, I can’t seem to let go of the idea. My work requires me to drive a lot, which gives me time to think, and the divine/human interplay keeps teasing me to try to unfold little pieces of it. I can’t let go of it, or it can’t let go of me, which in my understanding are similar things, if not the same thing. So, I’m going to air a few of my thoughts about the divine. I have no objective, other than to put my thoughts down on virtual paper, which often helps me to clarify them in my own mind.
            I should make a couple of preliminary comments. First, I’m not a religious guy. Yes, I ponder the divine/human relationship, but I’m not religious in the traditional sense. Second, I’m not trying to sell anything here. I’m not advocating anything. I’m not evangelizing, proselytizing or any other sort of ‘izing’. I’m just sharing thoughts and observations. Third, I use the term, ‘the divine’, in order to avoid the names and titles we’re familiar with. I do that because ‘the divine’ seems to carry the least amount of baggage.
            So, having said all that, I’ll tell you that when my wife read the blog mentioned above, she took ‘wrestling with the divine’ to mean ‘struggling against’. And why not? We’re the products of our TVs, and ‘wrestling’ is two people in a ring, each trying to overwhelm the other. So when she made her comment, I was sure that others would have understood it the same way. While there are clearly times when we struggle against the divine, I would want to put equal emphasis on the element of the divine struggling together with us, struggling alongside us. So, I decided that I needed a new metaphor; I decided to change my metaphor from wrestling to dancing – dancing with the divine.
            When this metaphor came to mind, a memory popped up and wanted to be included. There was a country song popular not long ago that said, “life’s a dance you learn as you go. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.” While that makes for a catchy lyric, and while it’s true in certain instances (we lead our children, we follow our leaders), I don’t think it’s true of that broad, wide concept we call, ‘life’. In my opinion, all of life is informed by the divine/human interplay, the divine/human dance.
            And we can never lead in the divine/human dance. We must always follow.
            It has been my observation over the years that those who are most unfulfilled in their relationship with the divine are the ones who think they can lead the dance. It’s not wholly their fault. We seem to have a proclivity for ‘leading’, so we get in line to hear religious leaders telling us that we can ‘name it and claim it’. We get in line when we hear religiously unaffiliated people advising us that, if we know ‘the secret’, we can call the cosmos to do our bidding. Maybe I’m missing something here, but isn’t that calling the divine to do our bidding? Isn’t that leading?
            If that’s how you choose to believe, I sincerely wish the best for you, really. As I said above, I’m not here to change your point of view, only to express mine. In my understanding, the human can never lead the divine. The human must always struggle to be attuned to the divine, to stay in step with the divine.
            But as we struggle to stay in step, the divine struggles alongside us.

            Next: why we try to lead the dance.

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