Please forgive my blogging vacation. I am finally writing a book and making reasonable progress, so I have approached a few of my favorite writer friends to be my guests. This one is from my favorite writer/friend and my precious big brother, Bob. He asked if it was “too personal”, but to me, a quest for God is never too personal, although it is what makes us each as different as snowflakes from the next soul. It is, in my opinion, the only thing in life that matters, and if we can’t be sometimes painfully honest in our journey, if we can’t say, “God, where are you?” then we have stopped searching and have settled for recliner religion.
So here it is. Thanks Bob, and your little sister will continue to pray, will love to pray, for you to know God’s perfect will, and of course, to meet Jesus face to face.
When both of your parents die – if you have been lucky enough to have relatively sane and loving ones – you lose more than those dear souls who have seen you from cradle to who you are now. You lose the only sources of unconditional love you have on this planet.
Your mother and father, though they may judge, will never stop loving you no matter what mistakes you make, no matter what you’ve done, what level of depravity you’ve sunk to, who you’ve hurt, how much damage you’ve done to yourself and others.
My mother is still living though she ceased to know who I am some years ago. When she was cognitive there were doubts about her sanity and even about the extent of her unconditional love for her children. Her famous line – that she had trotted out many times for at least my sister and myself – was:
“I don’t even like you.”
Those words, though, were belied by her tears and worry when we were in trouble. I felt, underneath it all, unconditional love. I felt it from my father too though his fear often caused him to cover it with anger.
My father died in 1980 of esophageal cancer. My mother suffered several strokes in the last ten years, which has left her as a little child with no understanding of her own children or their lives. Good thing I haven’t needed unconditional love in the past ten years, except…I do right now.
I also needed it thirty years ago – though I didn’t know it at the time. I was sick and depleted from drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels a day. Every day I could somehow get by, working as a pantry cook and drinking myself into unconsciousness at night, but I was sleeping on the floor of my brother’s abandoned apartment and I was thirty-three years old. That is the point that my mother came to visit and told me she could not bear to lose me and that I must either get myself to AA or she would commit me to a hospital.
Love. The bonds of love are all we have. I believe I was put here with the sole purpose of creating and maintaining those bonds. Strange, but at the time my mother expressed her unconditional love and the good people of Alcoholics Anonymous expressed their kindness and support, I became open to another source of boundless affection and caring. It was at once like a distant memory and an old friend.
I have heard many times from friends, from TV, from articles on the web that the only people who believe in God are those that are raised – ‘brainwashed’ – in a religion or those who have suffered such a crisis that they believe God is the only solution – a ‘crutch’ for the lame.
The crutch theory makes perfect sense to me. Only those that need God, see God. My atheist friends mean the term to point at a sort of hallucination of necessity but it fits me well. I only seek God – see God – when I am desperate.
I am desperate now. It has been awhile since I talked to God. My voice is hesitant and unsure, “Excuse me…Are you there?” and my prayers are pathetic “God, I need you to love me”.
I am almost 64 years old. I wear jeans to work, my co-workers are young and hip and my office is in the heart of ‘Silicon Alley’. I can almost forget that I’m well…old. The church pews of the cathedrals on Fifth Avenue are spotted with the dim forms of the elderly, the ones long missing their earthly sources of unconditional love. Who is there to love them now? And this is what I think, who is there to love me now?
My dear sister says God will love me, has always loved me. She has offered me up in a prayer but though deeply moved I imagine the answer is something like “You, beloved Robin are doing my will…your brother, well…”
I can almost see the path I was meant to take over these last five years; it is barely visible trail plotted with bright points: do not put drugs into your body, turn your attention to those you love, learn to be a worker among workers, keep your life an open book so that those bound to you may read it. There it is, steady and straight beside the one I took, the path of secrets, fear, and arrogance.
The prayer I make in the full confidence of desperation – they call it the ‘gift of desperation’ in AA – the one I ask right now on the train to Katonah is simply: “What?” The answer is: “You are beloved; you are on my path.”
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 ESV