Tuesday, May 26, 2009

String Theory

I have no idea what real string theory is about. It’s been briefly explained to me. It went past. It’s on my list of things to “go read about and understand someday.” In the meantime I have my own that I’m wrestling with, and that’s quite enough, thanks. I’ve written here before about how I function on at least two levels when it comes to my theological-spiritual self. There is the educated, 21st century person who thinks and knows and apprehends in a fairly sane, mostly wise and reasonable manner. And then there is that younger, primitive part of me who was steeped in mysticism and myth mixed with strong, strong doses of pre-Vatican Catholicism. The God of those two selves is not the same God. The God of the first is the God of love expressed in the Gospels and manifested in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. This is the God of whom I am (on most good days) also beloved. This God has dreams for me within the context of my own (prodigious) free will. This is not the puppet God or the bubble gum machine God. When I pray to this God it is not for the dispensation of favors with the “pleaseohpleaseohplease” desperation of a two year old. All of these things are not true with the second God who lives in my head. The second version is all tied up in my own little string theory and is accompanied by the “String Song.”

A week or two ago, R was playing with my cat Spike. R was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and tantalizing Spike with the hood strings while singing him this goofy little song that went, “This is not your string, this is m-y-y-y string.” (It’s to the tune of the snake charmer’s dance if you’d like to sing along). Well of course we laughed and had a lovely time with the cat. But that silly little song has taken up residence in my head and it will not let me go for some reason that has, of course, nothing to do with cats.

I have been struggling with some strings….the knots and tangles of my ongoing and (forever?) unfinished relationship with XDO. There is still “stuff” in the house over which there has been some ummm….discussion. There have been issues about boundaries. There have been perceptions on both sides of “things said” in the community that have come back around. And what this has all triggered for me has been a painful spiritual backlash as I try to figure out how to “love” XDO when I am feeling hurt, frustrated, angry, and even on a bad day downright spiteful! It seems that wherever I go I am confronted by that Gospel passage, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” It keeps turning up over and over and over again. In the lectionary, at a clergy conference GBD, on a Nooma at Y church. As an opportunity for reflection? Or…in my own personal little God-is-pulling-my strings-here theory….a shaming reprimand! God….not the God who has a free and loving adult relationship with me…about whom I can respond with love and some measure of reason….but the GREAT JEHOVAH who keeps the notebook of my sins. The one who always judges me and finds me wanting is yanking my darn strings again! This God is playing me the same way that R played the cat while singing that song. In that scenario XDO is here to provide me with the opportunity to be a better Christian. And I am failing. Again. These Gospels keep turning up over and over as object lessons to remind me that I have many chances to learn the lessons of how to truly love. Am I ready now? Now? Now? And just what will it take? What will it take?

I have been advised to exegete Luke. Yes. A good idea. I already know what I will find. There is no puppet God pulling my string. XDO is not my object lesson. R said it so well. It’s challenging to learn to love those whom we struggle to like. And right now, I’m finding it kind of hard to like my ex. Not such an abnormal thing, I think. And I’d say, probably the feeling is pretty mutual. I don't think I'm high on XDO's like list right now either.

This all of course is very exhausting. The back and forthing of heart and mind and soul. The soothing of the wounded spirit self. On the one hand I know to the depths of my being that this whole string thing is plain out silly. This is the God of my ten year old self who really is no longer part of me….really. Except….well, maybe a little. Obviously.

So perhaps I need to put the string song back in the realm of cat play and try to recapture that blessed moment when our presiding Bishop had us simply sitting and remembering that each and every one of us is God’s beloved child. And really it is that simple. If we start there, maybe we really can love one another, just kind of sitting in God’s love. It seems to work better than anything else I’ve come up with so far. And there is one part of the string song that is right on point….it’s really not my string.


mid-life rookie said...

Give yourself a break. Love is not always how you feel - it can also be what you do. Loving and liking are not at all the same! M. Scott Peck defines love in The Road Less Traveled as "The will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth." It often involves denying and/or extending self at times, but does not necessarily mean having sappy or happy feelings for the other. Love is primarily desire for or actions toward the best for the other. I find I can desire the best for someone even when I'm mad at them - okay most of the time. Sometimes love means doing the hard thing the other hates, but you already know that in your head. Hugs and prayers from me as you work through this.

Magdalene6127 said...

Dear one, I feel sure that God is not playing with us/ you. That God is the One whose love is the only true sufficiency there is. Listen to mid-life rookie and give yourself a break, and recognize that it is still very, very soon in terms of a break-up. My X and I split 6 years ago, and learning last week that he is marrying the woman who helped break up the marriage (and, in full disclosure, I'm probably the other woman who helped break up the marriage!)... was still very, very hard. I'm still grieving... even though I am truly happy in my life and relationship, even though I am exactly where I'm supposed to be.

Sending lots of love, and also the hope that you can be gentle with yourself and simply hold XDO in prayer.