“Proved faithless, still I wait.”
Above I posted a link to an article by one of my favorite writers (Marya Hornbacher) about thriving in AA as a nonbeliever and just what it means to be both spiritual and atheist. I’m so grateful a professor of mine recommended her first memoir, Wasted, to me a few years ago. At the time, someone had suggested that maybe I should try to write in genres outside of creative nonfiction, because all of the great creative nonfiction I read was written by people over fifty. My professor had been lecturing me about my lack of confidence, telling me my insecurity hindered my performance. I couldn’t even fake the confidence, so I said, “I’m only twenty. Maybe I’m not mature enough to write in this genre.” Praise Zeus this woman was patient with me, because anyone else might have slapped me. She told me about how Hornbacher published Wasted at twenty-three, and it received all sorts of recognition and awards.
I bought it and devoured it instantly. I also lucked out because only a month after I read Wasted, her memoir Madness: A Bipolar Life came out. I discovered she was then 34, so I got to jump from her perspective at age twenty-three to thirty-four in just a short time. I felt like I got to skip the hard parts, and just gain all of the wisdom she shared about the struggles she experienced in between the two memoirs…That’s why I’m obsessed with memoirs, because I can learn from other people’s life experience. Their lessons-learned-the-hard-way add to my wisdom. I hope my mistakes can somehow provide wisdom for others too–if I ever finish my memoir.
Hornbacher’s latest book just came out this past May. It’s called Waiting: A Nonbeliever’s Higher Power. When I heard about her working on this, I felt ecstatic and slightly scared. I couldn’t wait to see her tackle spirituality after I’d read so much about her struggles with mental health. I also feared that there wouldn’t be room for me to reflect on mental health and spirituality after someone with her talent beat me to it. Her book only proved to excite me even more about my own project.
I’ve been reading all sorts of spiritual books here. Plus, I go to mass every day. I came in as a pretty confident nonbeliever, but the more I listen to religious individuals with an evolved, well-thought-out spirituality, the less anger I have toward religion. I used to think it was just an exclusive club. They all say anyone can join their religion, but if you don’t believe, what are you supposed to do? Force it? I love that Hornbacher addresses her attempts to find faith, because she thought she was missing something. It gives me hope that she realized the answers and wisdom already were inside of her. It blows my mind that I can be reading a Catholic nun (Joan Chittister) and Hornbacher and feel like I agree with both of them. I don’t really like religious language. Wise individuals like Chittister define “God” in a way that I can get behind. Yet, I’m still slightly uncomfortable with a word that stems from belief about an angry man in the sky.
This long entry was really just to say that all of the spiritual seeking I’m doing is pointing to nothing more than telling me to keep seeking. It’s about the humility of seeking something greater and waiting. Hornbacher and many other great spiritual writers, regardless of “technical belief labels,” agree on the importance of humility and a constant seeking. The quote from the poet, Franz Wright, is how he ends his book God’s Silence. There were points that the book got a little too Catholic for me. Wright has struggled with depression and alludes to suicide attempts throughout his work. Yet, I still started to disconnect because of his devout faith. Then, he ends the book with that line, “Proved faithless, still I wait.” Wow. What a punch to the gut. I love it.