I’ve recently rediscovered a part of myself that’s been with me throughout my whole life’s journey, but for many reasons has remained sort of a silent partner. Before and early into my marriage, I was what I call a Flower Fairy Hippie Feral Child. I was all about life lived authentically, wanting to live in the country growing my own food and medicines, wildcrafting plants for food, medicines and other life necessities, diving deep into yoga, intuition and other spiritual development pursuits. I wanted to (and did) make most of my food from scratch, staying as far away from processed convenience stuff as possible. I read tons of spiritual and alternative lifestyle books, kept few posessions (my then-husband and I referred to our frequent bouts of material unloading as “catharting”) and tried to live as lightly as possible. We took the Native American saying about living for the seventh generation quite seriously. We lived simply and were mostly happy. But we weren’t satisfied with our way of life, thus the part about mostly being happy. We were vegetarian, but not committed to that way of life. I had a serious problem committing firmly to anything if it seemed it might be challenged by someone else’s being uncomfortable with my choices. Huston had a problem alright; the worst part is she didn’t know it. Her problem: she didn’t realize she wasn’t Huston. Then along came Christianity.
Hoo boy! I could go on for days about this, but I won’t. The short story about me and Christianity? We are a very poor fit. I gave it my very bestest shot. I really did. I was the driving force behind getting the family up and out to church on time every week. I had a regular prayer rule. In the Orthodox Church, there is a thing about the home being a domestic chapel and I was on a mission to make sure my home was as chapel-like as possible. The icon corner was huge and the focal point of my living space, with smaller icon corners throughout the house. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I had developed quite the meditation practice and was an avid bellydancer when I entered the church. At the spiritual direction of our priest/pastor, I dropped all of it, every spiritual practice I ever had – POOF! Why? Because I was told (with no small amount of distaste) that “We don’t do that.” In the process of learning and avidly trying to adopt the things “we” did do, among them was a typical middle class American lifestyle. The one lived out in suburbia in big houses. The one where you have a car instead of walking, biking and taking the bus everywhere like we did prior to joining the church. The one where you ate lots of meat and dairy products at every meal and bought everything in sight, embodying that distasteful label of “consumer” that businesses are so fond of using and has seemlessly slipped into common usage without so much as a whiff of dissent. We aren’t people or clients, we’re consumers, mindless devourers. We ditched everything we held dear because our priest told us our lives were “too simple” and we needed to complicate it a little more. Really? Too simple? Wtf does that even mean?!? Apparently it meant we needed to get with the modern American program of devour-everything-in-sight, get a bunch of debt and make yourself miserable chasing some elusive dream of life in suburbia and “getting ahead” because that’s exactly where we were steered with a quickness. And since this was how we grew up, it made a twisted kind of sense. We didn’t question it. We dove right in. I drowned.
The last twenty-ish years since that time have been a bit rough, with me doing my best to join in the circus called typical modernity. The thing is, I was never able to break from my inner calling to a deeper spiritual life. However, whenever I brought this up with those who were meant to be my spiritual guides, I was always cautioned against following my inclinations because I was “a married woman living in the world”. To be honest, there were plenty of times I suspected my always-male advisors of being concerned that my husband wouldn’t get laid anymore. NOT ONE advised me to follow my deeper longings. Not. One. It was this longing of mine coupled with the decidedly male focus of Christianity that lead to my leaving not once but three times. Three times is the charm, yeah? I don’t expect to be returning to the Christians within this lifetime. Still, I didn’t return to myself. I kept trying to be the good modern American woman. I shopped, I bought more than I could ever use, I clung to stuff so hard and so long I’d forgotten what I was clinging to. And then came divorce.