Eat, Pray, Love {Thoughts on God}

Saturday, September 4, 2010

It seems I'm not very good at blogging these days. Time is surging by and it often leaves me stunned in its wake. How is it already September? Where has 2010 gone? Am I the only one who feels this way?!

I'm hurrying to finish Eat, Pray, Love so I can start my Book Club book for this month (the third in the trilogy). Gilbert's search for spirituality is an interesting read for sure. I love her writing, and I love her honesty. I came across these words today, and they have really made me ponder. Perhaps they will make you ponder, too.

The Indians around here tell a cautionary fable about a great saint who was always surrounded... by loyal devotees. For hours a day, the saint and his followers would meditate on God. The only problem was that the saint had a young cat, an annoying creature, who used to walk through the temple meowing and purring and bothering everyone during meditation. So the saint, in all his practical wisdom, commanded that the cat be tied to a pole outside for a few hours a day, only during meditation, so as to not disturb anyone. This became a habit -- tying the cat to the pole and then meditating on God -- but as years passed, the habit hardened into religious ritual. Nobody could meditate unless the cat was tied to the pole first. Then one day the cat died. The saint's followers were panic-stricken. It was a major religious crisis -- how could they meditate now, without a cat to tie to a pole? How would they reach God?

"In their minds," Gilbert continues, "the cat had become the means." And she goes on to emphasize how we shouldn't get obsessed with repetitive religious ritual just for its own sake. A good word, I think.

A dear friend of mine mentioned that she thought about reading this book, but didn't because she knew it wouldn't contain truth about God. I have to say that I disagree. "Doesn't {it} make sense?" asks Elizabeth Gilbert. "That the infinite would be, indeed... infinite? That even the most holy among us would only be able to see scattered pieces of the eternal picture at any given time? And that maybe if we could collect those pieces and compare them, a story about God would begin to emerge that resembles and includes everyone? And isn't our individual longing for transcendence all just part of this larger human search for divinity? Don't we each have the right to not stop seeking until we get as close to the source of wonder as possible?"

"Even in the most unlikely and conservative of places," she writes, "you can find sometimes this glimmering idea that God might be bigger than our limited religious doctrines have taught us."

For all of our differences, Elizabeth Gilbert and I have a lot in common. I don't want to stop seeking. I want to be close to the wonder. And I believe God is so much bigger than my wildest dreams shape Him to be.


Jason Seville said...

Did you read Justin Taylor's post on the recent movie based on EPL? (His post is primarily a discussion of Ross Douthat's review.)

I thought it was an interesting review, especially this excerpt:

"If everything 'God' wants sounds suspiciously like what a willful, capricious, self-indulgent Western woman with too much time and money on her hands might want . . . well, then you’ve unlocked the theological message of the movie."

I have neither read the book nor seen the movie. Just read the review the other day and thought I'd share. :)

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