A “Wild God” and the disruptive presence of the Spirit

Sometimes a wild god comes to the table.
He is awkward and does not know the ways
Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.
His voice makes vinegar from wine.

When the wild god arrives at the door,
You will probably fear him.
He reminds you of something dark
That you might have dreamt,
Or the secret you do not wish to be shared.

– Excerpt from Sometimes A Wild God by Tom Hirons

This particular poem reminds me so much of Rumi’s The Guest House, which I love.

When trying to describe the disruptive nature of the Holy Spirit, I think Hirons has caught a particular intensity that we don’t often see. The Spirit is still small voice but it is also the thing driving Jesus into the desert to encounter depths of himself he hadn’t yet explored (Mark 1:12).

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So, too, the Spirit invites us to delve into ourselves to do the hard work of healing, encountering the bitter and tasting parts of ourselves. We, too, are wild things, created by a wild God who imparted that sacred image to us. Hiron honours the unpleasant, creepy crawly parts of the world in his work, but also shows God as the unkept wild thing. It is less a poem about overcoming the ugly parts of ourselves and more about the maturing act of encountering that part of ourselves. It is a call to cast off denial and avoidance, and instead to sit at table with a God who is not shy around the messy parts of ourselves.

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Persistent Voices // You are Loved, You are Loved, You are not Alone

As I write this post I am at home resting after an unpleasant Stress Reaction I experienced at my work. And, it occurs to me, after the tragic death of Robin Williams a few weeks ago, that so many of us in North America experience depression, stress, and anxiety. It seems so commonplace, so very sad but not surprising.

Since I was very young there has been a small morbid voice in the back of my head that has persistently told me there is an easy way of escaping all of my pain. Normally I would chalk it all up to my over-active imagination which has always been rich like that of Edgar Allen Poe’s, but as I have matured I am very aware that though often quiet this voice becomes infuriatingly loud when I am at my weakest.

The loudest it has ever screamed was when my mother was ill and after her death, and when I lost my job the beginning of this year. It would come all hours of the day, at the most obscure moments, beckoning me, assailing me, and hammering my heart in what I will describe as pure betrayal. Betrayal because it was self-hatred bred out of loneliness and exhaustion–the greatest reflections of my stress and anxiety.

The world is a difficult place to live, especially when you are feeling alone. My anxiety’s favourite game is to tell me I am all alone, and that nothing I do is ever enough. It’s difficult to talk about because it is embarrassing, yet in the past two years I have met so many people who have a similar voice–all of them know how exhausting it can be trying to quiet the scream that says: there is an easier way.

All that to say, there is a series of voices I have been fortunate enough to hear, and these are the voices that work to drown out my depression, stress, and anxiety. I often worry that one day I won’t be strong enough to resist the dark persistent voice, but it is the voices of people who love me that engulf me when it all seems like too much. They scream: you are loved, you are loved, you are not alone.

My husband recently returned from the CLAY (Canadian Lutheran and Anglican Youth) 2014 gathering in Kamloops, the theme of which was “Worth It”. Since his return, it seems that the phrase has become the motto for our household. This is the epicenter of those voices that scream: you are loved. When they say “you are loved” they are saying “you are worth loving, you are worth knowing, you are valued and valuable.” They satisfy the persistent voice of betrayal by insisting you are not worth betraying.

Today that little persistent voice said to me: you are failing, you are falling. And, it caused me to do just that, it caused me to break down into a blob of stress. But, after driving me home, in all my dizziness and anxiety, my husband said to me: you are worth it.

I am worth loving, and knowing, and working with, and waiting for.

I am not stuck or lost or failing or falling.

I am struggling, pursuing and gaining ground every day.

It is okay that I feel exhausted, that I need to take a break and remember to breathe because I am one little human working hard at her life. One little human wading through all of her anxieties, hang-ups, problems and issues.

Today wasn’t great but I am, in a very exhausted way, happy to say that the most persistent voice I heard was a voice telling me: you are loved, you are loved, you are not alone. That is the voice of the Divine, heard through my husband’s low grumbly tone. A voice telling us we were, and we are, worth every moment–a voice we heard in the stories of ancestors in faith–the voice of a pursuer, of a persistence, of a jealous and vibrant God saying: you are loved, you are loved, you are not alone.