For many adults, midlife, perimenopause and menopause put everything into question. We question our vocations, our place in the world, our relationships, our family of origin, our past, our present and our future. It is also during midlife that many question their beliefs – who or what do we believe in and why? Today, I share with you an essay I wrote during one of those times of questioning. This essay came out of a period of study in which I was deep in the midst of Indian and Buddhist philosophy, and quite frankly, tired of being told that the path to enlightenment was to sit down, shut up, quiet the mind and silence my passions.
Another Existential Crisis
I don’t know about you, but trying to attain enlightenment or striving for some sort of spiritual perfection only leaves me feeling anxious and assured of failure. After beating my head bloody against the enlightenment door, I threw my hands up in surrender, sat down hard on my ass, with the cold steel door of enlightenment against my back, and quit. In surrendering, in quitting, in ceasing to strive after enlightenment, I finally found peace. Liberation came to me on that day when I realized that I am already Divine and that the reason I am here, the whole point of the human experience is just this – TO BE HUMAN!
So, if I’m here to be human (and maybe you are also here for this reason), why should I deny my passions, set aside my desires, sit down, shut up, quiet my mind? Why do I have to be perfect, sinless, emotionless, bulletproof, impervious to pain? Instead, why not harness the creative energy God gave me? Why not give voice to the words God wants the world to hear through me? Why not dance, scream, shout out my anger, rage, wrath, sorrow, pain, despair, worry, depression, anxiety, panic and fear? Why not poke the sleeping giant and set fire to a sleeping world?
God is the only God there is….why do we think we have to be him/her/it? Can’t we just be the human beings God/dess made us to be and be happy with that????? And where is the theology that allows us to be human? Frankly, all I see in the world religions is a whole lot of teachers telling us we have to learn to be like God. I’m all for practices that help us to find inner peace, to cultivate empathy and compassion and which empower us to work for the betterment of the world. And, if we came from God and are going back to God, aren’t we here to be something other than God? And if we are here to be something other than God, then perhaps there is a place for our anger, impatience, passion, desire, lust, restlessness, etc. etc. etc. So that being said…….
Where is the theology that doesn’t reject the way God/dess made us – unique expressions of the ever-living and ever-creating God, seeking to be known in the world? Where is the theology that doesn’t ask us to deny, repress, suppress or transcend all of what makes us human? Where is the theology that acknowledges that creation and growth come out of chaos, tension and pain? Where is the theology that gives honor to the pains of birth instead of condemning them as a curse or as punishment for some mythological ancestor’s sin? Where is the theology that honors as sacred the fecund, fetid, putrid, bloody, oozing condition of the human experience? Where is the theology that sees passion and desire as God’s longing to be known and to be made known? Where is the theology that allows us to be human in all the ways God wishes to experience the gift of being human? Where is the theology that doesn’t expect us to be God or that doesn’t set the drive for enlightenment as the supreme and ultimate task of our existence? Where is the theology that acknowledges all that is good and holy and sacred in the human condition? Where is the theology that recognizes that our origin is divinity and that we are here to simply be human?
Lauri Lumby mentors men and women in their journey of living as their true and most human self. To schedule a one-on-one, phone or Skype session, call (920) 230-1313 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.