Sundays are Spirituality Day here at Taking it to the Streets
Saturday I had lunch with my new friend Kathleen again. I wrote about our last lunch together here. I’m so enjoying this new friendship as she always makes me think. Today, among a million topics, we discussed how certain years or decades are more challenging than others. We both agreed that 42/43 is a challenging time in life. That led us to different decades. I told Kathleen that I had advised my nephew James that the purpose of one’s twenties was to find oneself and one’s tribe – NOT work or a marital partner, etc. She said “well, that’s funny, I don’t hang out with ANYONE I knew in my 20s – for me it was about finding God.”
For me that came much later – in my 40s actually. I was both a very religious and very spiritual child, but in adolescence the religion of my youth ceased to make any sense to me, and I think I thought mistakenly that God and religion were inextricably connected. It wasn’t until 2 years after I got sober and found a way of life that has sustained me that God came back into my life in a more explicitly acknowledged way.
Because I don’t think She/He/It ever left – it’s just that I didn’t know Her many disguises and costumes. And I thought She pretty much hung out in church and I wasn’t there, so I wasn’t aware of how much our paths were crossing.
I’m rereading “A Moveable Feast” by Ernest Hemingway – written when he was in his 60s about his youth – Paris in the 20’s when he was in his twenties. I first read the book when I was in MY twenties, and rereading it is bringing back the visceral sense of youth. He writes clearly about what Jackson Browne calls “that crazy longing that time can never heal.”
Tonight I’ve been reflecting on what Kathleen said. And remembering my own 20s – a decade that still seems so visceral, vivid and near, though it’s so many decades behind me. What it LOOKED LIKE I was chasing was wine, women and song – well, in my case, oceans of beer and women and music. What it FELT LIKE I was seeking was art, beauty, truth and lots of poetry. But what I think was really going on was what Kathleen said – SEEKING GOD.
When I read Rumi’s rapturous poetry (or, just as delightful, but less well-known, Hafiz) or Mary Oliver’s poetry or Walt Whitman’s ecstatic paeans to our embodied selves, I can see that both the ecstasies (and there were so many) and angst (plenty of that as well) of being in my twenties all now feels of a piece. Actually, I think both Kathleen and I were right. In finding my Self as well as myself, and in finding my tribe, in all senses of that word, of course I found God. It just took slow learner me another 20 years to get that what I sought had been there all along.
How about you? What do you think the purpose of one’s 20’s is? How about 30’s (I agree with the Hindus on that – 30s and 40s are “the householder years’ – I think it’s about building a life).
And also – when did you feel an awakening to your Spiritual Self? What did that look like?
As always – I really want to know!