It was stunning for me to realize that I had no anxiety the entire time I was away at the Festival of Faith & Writing. The thought of returning home brought the familiar burning in my chest — so unwelcome. I do not want to accept its presence. And just for a minute I know that I must drill down and try to find the truth there, asking myself Can I figure out why I am afraid of coming home?
There was a small sense in which this place, this moment wasn’t real.
Just as I lament to myself (a regular foible of mine, to be sure) that I didn’t have any real relationships here at the festival, another part of me knows that it was quite wonderful to wander anonymously. Soaking in wisdom and not be expected to say anything. I didn’t have to be wise or special in any way. I could many times, for hours on end, not utter a single word to another human being; which I found was peaceful, even liberating. (Not speaking except perhaps to an infrequent stranger in a seminar, so that I wouldn’t come off a weirdo.)
But mostly, I was silent.
I wasn’t even writing this week. My head was going, of course. Especially my dreams which were full of thoughts, words, conjectures and I would wake every morning with all that magical and perplexing jumble. Words. Ideas. Inspiration came unbidden, naturally, because of all the incredible people and ideas surrounding. And then it would drift away as my mind became clear and the caffeine settled into my veins.
And then, we return home and there it is. The fear.
Here it is. I didn’t have the sense this week that God is disappointed in me. It was gone – that feeling that is always hovering in and around me that I’m not measuring up. The legacy of a childhood gone awry, the anger and disappointment of my human father killing joy.
Where did it go and why did it have to return? Drilling down, still further, to that little place where I feel God’s displeasure. I have a hunch this is not of God or from God at all.
I was having this amazing conversation at dinner with Tom. He expressed his belief that most American Christians have this lover relationship with God, I knew that I don’t. I have a disappointed-with-me-and-angry-at-me-parent type of relationship with God.
I think I know God. Fact is I hardly know God. If he is even knowable fully in a human lifetime, I sure doubt it. And God knows everything about me. And God is very much not disappointed with me. In fact he’s thrilled. He made me to be a creative, a thinker, a deeply passionate, mostly introverted whittler of words and pictures.
And God likes me – generally.
Of course I’m am still an ugly sinner. Deeply aware of my spiritual lack. Needing a Holy filling daily, even moment by moment. Needing a Holy shaping, a changing by the beautiful Potter who is creating something beautiful out of the pieces and parts of my little life.
No, he’s not disappointed and there it is, that’s the source of my anxiety. That’s the place that I must return to work on, over and over, and again, even as I perfect this craft of writing it is the being that matters most. I must always, and frequently, sit with him and allow the Holy One to perfect me.
It’s a homecoming I am unused to — this beautiful welcome he is offering. It is so good to know that I am home.