I have no faith today (and being as oppositional as I am I can’t ignore that, but want to pinch and pull at it and blog about it). It’s Sunday and I am reading the daily readings going “ho hum, so what”. I have never had a strong faith anyway as you know. I am angry at the lack of fairness in the world, the tenor of the sorts of people who label themselves with God’s name to perpetuate injustic and even violence. My nation wants to celebrate invasion this week, and just as I can’t wrap myself in an Australian flag and say “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” and celebrate colonialism, so the words from the lectionary won’t wrap around me today either.
I am spiritually naked (though probably not completely, if I looked from a different angle).
I have COVID. I have lost my faith but what is worse I have lost my sense of smell. Roses are as nothing to me. Soap still cleans but doesn’t delight me (even the nice one I was given for my birthday). I can’t bury my face in the clean linen to give myself hope. My coffee is bitter water (thankfully caffeine still works).
I have to get better so I can face work. I have to get better so I can keep participating in this messed up society accelerating itself over a cliff. I am finding it hard to motivate myself to do anything, to care about whether kids can read and write, to care whether I ever finish my thesis – this is unlike me. I tenttively shared my lack of motivation with someone who usually snaps me back into trying to do better, she’s often wise enough to get the impatience and understanding in the right balance so it works. This time all she said was something along the lines of “you are not well enough to read or think at the moment” and that was so unexpected but a relief.
Because it implies that the failure of this moment is not the failure of forever.
I talk to Godde, and usually I would feel that even though I don’t know whether Godde is real or not there’s some point to it. Right now I feel like a mad man ranting to a playing card. Perhaps I am just lonely. I was relieved when the paramedics came last night to stick things on my chest and measure my health (pretty good for someone with COVID apparently). I felt like I was in love with the woman who spoke to me. I just hadn’t seen an unmediated (ie real life) human face for a few days. Through her double layer of mask she was beautiful just because she was human. After 3 days- geez I am a weak one. Imagine being in solitary for a month. My inboxes are full of people’s care I am not so badly off- the paramedic was surprised and pleased at the level of care I said I was getting from a distance.
Which means not everyone gets it. Which is horrifying.
Watch how every time I try to talk about Godde I keep moving it back to humans. Today more than ever before I feel like Godde is a made up thing, a fiction. I love my church friends and I don’t want to let go of them. I try to be humble enough not to assume they are all wrong about Godde because the fact is I don’t know. Noone knows. But I feel very strongly that there is not.
The best thing about having a history of mental illness is knowing that feelings are not facts. That’s a double-edged sword of course. Feeling like there is no Godde is not a fact. Feeling in the past that Godde (or God) was real was also not a fact. I am left not actually knowing.
I prayed for a sign but being me I prayed for a very specific sign (the refugees suddenly, unaccountably being let free- which would be good for human rights AND the economy AND my faith). I put it to this theoretical “God” very rationally giving my reasons (eg that does not only affect me it also is a blessing on so many others so Godde would be showing love to many). As a back up plan I asked for a more personal and smaller sign that I am ashamed to share here. In the past I would have “heard” Godde saying “your children are safe, you are going to recover, stop pushing it” or something like that with laughter in her voice. Or even “what do you think I am the ATM?”.
Only mad people hear Godde and so right now I would expect to hear her more than ever.
Can it be that being utterly without hope and pushed down by chest-pain is the “sanest” I have ever been? If this is sanity then take it away from me. I can;t even entertain myself with stories inside my sterile, sterile head (my go-to when too sick to read). I have nothing, I am nothing.
My friends keep telling me they appreciate my words so there’s some sort of a dormant seed in there somewhere. I need more coffee. Instead of the body and blood of Christ today is the contagion of Christ. The phlegm and the droplets of cough. Bodies are dirty. The paramedics put on their “10 layers” (possibly an exaggeration but I was not going to call them out on it) and came to see me and reassured me I would not make them ill.
The full PPE of Christ.
Out of the depths of COVID I cry to you Godde,
please hear my voice and speak back
we’re pretty messed up as a species
but when I think that
I think of paramedics and their reassuring manner
and that is essentially human too.
My soul is waiting for literally anything to happen
I don’t know which words to believe
my chest is longing for health restored
more than watchman for daybreak
I want to believe there is something
good ahead, again.
I don’t know what to do with the last verse
I don’t know what to do with the last verse
unlike the psalmist
I am stuck in these depths
not of despair but of something colder
the failure to remember how hope feels
but I will reassess this
when I can breathe properly again
for Godde, are you not spirit and breath?
My wheezing is rich in oxygen (she said)
and my unfaith also may be healthier than it feels.