(The title is taken from line three in The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.)
My best friend from Texas posted a picture on her Facebook page that caught my attention. It was gold and shimmery, which caused the initial reaction it desired: my attention. Then, I noticed that there were swords in the background. I was intrigued even further: my devoutly Christian friend was posting about swords? What sort of sorcery was this?! I had to sit there and look at it. I could not, in my life, imagine what the hell the picture was about. Can you guess what it was about without actually reading the thumb nail version of it on the side? You’re right. It was about her god. I was impressed with the simplicity of it since a lot of Christian pictures tend to be full of eye-popping sparkles or colors that make your eyes bleed. So, I was pretty thrilled that not only did my friend post a picture that was of interest to me, but that it also had baring on the thoughts I had been accumulating all morning to formulate this post. But, first, let me give you the quote so that you don’t have to click on my thumbnail link: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened. Do not be dismayed. For the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9.”
So, honestly, I bet someone somewhere is wondering if this is the start of my conversion. The answer is no. I had practiced very hard, as a child, to be accepted by a faith that I didn’t understand. I still don’t understand that faith and I’m almost positive I never will. I enjoy the love and flavor that good Christians can produce in their faith and I like to see that someone I love, my BFTX, has something that means so very much to her. I strive very much to keep this ringing phrase in my head, “The faith is not mine, but she has faith. And that’s all that matters.” (Keep this in your heads because this will be making an appearance in another post in the not too distant future.) So, while I am talking about my Christian friend and her belief and it was something about her faith that got my brain a-percolating, I am sorry to disappoint anyone who was hoping this was the beginning of a conversion. In point of fact, the only reason I brought up the picture was because it managed to solidify some thoughts that had been bouncing around in my head from earlier.
Let’s talk about earlier.
This morning, I went out to pick up a prescription that I need. I went to the drive through and asked to pick it up. The woman told me that my insurance had been cancelled and that my MassHealth was claiming I only had the basic of basic insurance coverage. I felt bad for the girl in the booth because I was pretty much on the verge of a meltdown (the sobbing kind) in front of her. I thanked her and left, fuming but in that I’m-going-to-cry-way. I had already woken up with a dark snatch of thoughts in my head: feeling taken advantage of, worrying about money, wanting to move but being unable to do so, worried about my plans for TS’s preschool, etc. So, this just seemed like an excessive weight on my shoulders that I couldn’t really feel well about handling. I ended up crying in the car because it’s easier to get things like that out of my system without TS around and because TH was asleep and I didn’t want to wake him up with my ugly-sobs. It was at this point that I began to feel like I was being tested by something or someone or whatever. I began to feel like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. I even tweeted about this, saying, “Whatever these ‘tests’ are for, please stop.” And I went on a binge-cleaning spree because when I’m feeling out of control in my life, this tends to take the pressure off.
Now, I’m at the point where an emotional hangover is manifesting. I’m at that numb, blank feeling that tends to come out after I go through an out-of-control phase.
The whole ‘tests’ thing really began to eat at my head as I began to clean the bathroom and kitchen. While I was scrubbing down the walls, removing dust from the ceiling vents and using elbow grease to get rid of the stubborn, stuck on soap scum (that’s been there since time immemorial and probably will not come off of the tub), I began to wonder just what kind of tests these were. Could I say that they were tests of faith? Not really. They’ve all been pretty mundane: job loss, being dirt poor, trying to make grown-up decisions without freaking out, losing my insurance at the drop of a hat, etc. None of these things really seem to show that this is a spiritual crisis that has something to do with my faith or my practice. And yet… I found that this whole thing began to niggle while I was trying my utmost best not to start screaming and crying about things being utterly unfair. What if the mundane pushing into my world and trying to get me to pay attention was some kind of test for my spiritual path?
To be honest, I could easily consult the cards on this one, but I doubt my ability there. I’ve more than once tried to ask the cards something and not really wanted the answer (as I feel this situation would end up being). I don’t have the ability to keep myself back enough from the card reading to read for myself, more often than not. But, that’s okay. I have the Sister’s Fairy Ring Oracle deck here. They’re always willing to lay it out for me. Having a bad time of things? Too bad, deal. You’re worried about your relationship? Oh, that’s sad. Get over it. Here’s why. Or, you want to know what type of school to send your son to? Oh, well, here’s how your spiritual life is going; stop asking us about your kid and man up. So, if I want to be slapped in the face with things, I could turn to the fairy cards that the Sister and I have shared over the years. But, I don’t have the mental agility or strength to contend with such a case. I don’t have the emotional strength, presently, to have anyone (whether it be cards or a god or a spirit or TH or anyone) smack me in the face with things. So, I leave it as it is.
I leave it with the words wondering if this is all a test.
And that brings me back to the BFTX and the picture she posted on her Facebook. Call it divine providence, if you will, that she posts a picture that has some form of say in what the hell it is that I’m thinking. It wasn’t really the whole thing about her Christian deity that got to me, of course. The beginning of it was pretty interesting, with a quick recap: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened. Do not be dismayed.” Those words are pretty important, no matter where they come from or who is saying them or what the context is. Those words bear some pretty important fruit, no matter the religious viewpoints of the person posting about them. In effect, they’re reminding me that I need no be scared and frightened of things that may or may not be coming my way. In effect, they’re saying that I have the faith and ability to stand up and say, “Fuck this shit. I’m not taking it anymore,” because I can be strong and courageous. And sure, the rest of it is all about her lord, her God and not mine. But that doesn’t diminish the message.
And to be perfectly frank, that doesn’t mean that I can’t utilize the same sentiments in regards to my religion either. To paraphrase with my gods sewn into the mix, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened. Do not be dismayed. For the god/dess you serve is with you wherever you go.” And isn’t that the truth? I choose to worship this divinity with everything that I can. I may fail her and I may not. I may think about her on a regular basis and I may not. I may turn to her in times of crisis and I may not. But, none of that really matters because I am courageous enough and strong enough to get through it. And I shouldn’t be worried or frightened or dismayed by what’s going on around me because she walks beside me. At this point, I’m distinctly reminded of that Footprints in the Sand poem that was all the rage a few years ago (and is currently be rewritten to include Sand People from Star Wars and the Fremen from Dune). That poem could just easily be related to my gods, as well. And isn’t it possible that when I do finally get to the breaking point and am ready to hide from it all that, maybe just maybe, Sekhmet will carry me when I need it most?
I have the faith that she will.