The Darkest Hour
December 9, 2005|Posted in: Uncategorized
Faith, hope, love, these three abide, but the greatest of these is love. Really.
What do I believe in now? Not sure. But I know that I believe. In something.
I have written here how I lost my spiritual faith in the loss of my marriage (collateral damage, I guess), and how I have spent the past few years fumbling in the darkness toward — something or nothing, never quite sure what. I was pretty sure that it would never return because what is faith but a crock of shit anyway? Like believing in aliens or crop circles, like believing in fairies and dragons, something for children to play with, or the ignorant peasantry, but not smart people. Not me.
I lost my faith when I lost everything else I believed in: my marriage, my future, my children, my home, my neighbors, my community, my extended family. Lost it. All of it. I’m not kidding.
For some people, that’s when the desire to pray comes back, when you have lost it all. The only thing you have left is to believe, or else let go and die. For me, dying seemed preferable. I spent weeks, months, driving back and forth between my temporary home and my dreadful job, rudderless and hopeless, thinking of the cold plunge of icy water, and how even if I changed my mind on the way down, it would be too late and the world well rid of me. Bridges, so many in the Bay Area, they haunted my waking hours. At the time I didn’t think I would ever get my kids back, I didn’t have the support of family or friends, just one temporary companion who got me up, fed me, shoved me out the door, fed me again at nightfall and watched TV with me till we slept. Not much of a life, without hope, is it?
This went on for a couple of years, though over time I left the job and started the Alameda Sun, and kept careful notes and eventually got my kids back. Too late, too bad, so sad, no faith, why the hell should I believe? Fool me twice, shame on me. I already went down that path once, for a man who pulled off the greatest scam in history against me: you no like me? You really like men? Oh, wait a minute, I thought you meant it. Thought this was real. Oh, well, guess I was wrong — about everything.
No more the pious bended knee. No more candle-lighting in the scented gloom of the church. No more prayers inside my head, lying to myself, because no one listens and it’s all a (say it with me) big crock of shit.
Fast-forward a few years, as I say, and go back and read the previous blog entry, about the man I love. Here is a man who, despite the travails he’s been through, and believe me, they are legion, still has faith. Still believes. There are many things in which he does not believe (the aforementioned aliens, fairies, chiropractors, self-important jackasses and palmreaders come to mind), but he still believes in G-d — though not “church” or organized religion.
A couple of months ago I went on a women’s relationship weekend, which involved taking a look at a lot of issues that I had held onto for a long time. I had a chance to really grieve the loss of my marriage, and be angry at how it ended, and look at other aspects of my life, including the state of my commitment with my man. I learned a lot about self-esteem and baggage and history and crap that I carry around, and that a lot of what I have believed in about myself for a long time has been self-inflicted. In other words, I was believing in fairies, in a sense — the fairies of nonsense I believed true about me. And, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, I was finally able to see the good things that I already have on my plate, right in front of me.
The weekend takes many hours to complete; part of it lasts all night, and I actually became rather ill from dehydration and exhaustion (mentioned in blog entry a couple of months ago) from staying up so long, not eating, etc. Somewhere deep into the wee hours of Sunday night into Monday morning, I had a revelation that everything I had believed about myself was false. And I realized what was true that was invisible to the eye but there nonetheless, about the good things in my life, my kids, my friends, and the love of my life, this terrific man who absolutely adores me and is fully commited to me and my kids. Although I have protested many, many times that I believe in nothing, that I couldn’t believe in the lie of some higher power, somehow that night, I made the conscious decision to believe. I just sat there and said, “I don’t know what it means, and I don’t know what, but — I believe.”
And that is that.
Faith is a journey, we all know that. It’s like a marriage — you sometimes have to work very hard on it, for when the passion lies fallow and you can’t see beyond your own personal misery. Before the weekend, I figured if I could believe in the great relationship, the amazing wonderful love that came along two years ago, then maybe someday I could believe in something bigger. Then I realized over that weekend that it was up to me to make that leap of faith.
So I did.
Where that takes me, I’m not quite sure. But the evening of spiritual readings two weeks ago was my first real foray into expressing it. Maybe that was my own personal credo. Not sure. We’ll see. I’ll let you know as it goes, and grows.
Advice to Aspiring Writers: Water the seed and see what happens.
Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of six books: three novels, one poetry collection, and two women's history. She was the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California, in 2014-17. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. She has a BA in journalism from San Francisco State University, and MA in Early 20th C. British Literature from Cal State Hayward. Julia's articles have appeared on Salon, Thrillist, Paste, Scary Mommy, Narratively, Yahoo News, Your Tango, and Sweatpants & Coffee. Her articles have also run in Redbook, Woman's Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, Town & Country, the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Magazine, Quill, and MadeLocal. She was the founding editor of weekly Alameda Sun and literary zine Red Hills Review. Her poetry has been in The East Bay Literary review, Postcard Poems, Americus Review, Cicada, Tiferet Review, and many others. Julia has been recognized several times by the San Francisco, East Bay and Peninsula Press Clubs as well as the California Newspaper Association for her blogging since 2003.