Where Faith Begins: Love ~ A wedding in the woods of San Mateo
I wonder if god needs our love as much as we need god’s love. I know it matters greatly who we call god, what we name god, how we understand god. For me that’s part of why I’m on the road. I want to know better, who, what, how is god? How can I do right by the greatest thing in the universe, the universe itself? I could spend some time asking about the name(s) of god—but that’s for another time.
What I do know is that there is a wave of love that comes over me sometimes, a sweep of relief that arrives when I feel like a waterballoon about to burst. That knowing and trust is for me, what I call god. It is more than me, but still me. I need that love.
Yesterday I went to a post-wedding BBQ in San Mateo for my friends Aaron and Jenny. They married a few weeks prior in a small gathering, and this was the big celebration to share their love and commitment with friends. The forest area where they shared vows, again, with a few fun changes, was a warm little alcove of the park. I thought I was in the wrong spot at first, since there were horses tied up near the long tables filled with food. But I was mistaken, and it turned out to be apropos, as the icon of a double headed rainbow unicorn was all over their schwag. I had planned my trip back through the Bay Area in part to get here. But as I drove up, I had a seed of fear in my gut that I’d feel uncomfortable or want to leave early.
It was about five years ago when I met Aaron at Wild Side West. We met through Kitta, my old roommate turned friend. Early in our friendship he left me a fake voicemail, pretending to be an insurance agent with important news for me. Once I figured out the joke, I knew we’d be friends for a long time. Since then, he has cracked me up, listened to my sob stories, and overall served as a great inspiration. He quit his teaching job two years ago to be a full time artist. As an illustrator, painter and designer in San Francisco, he sells work out of Goforaloop gallery, and on his own, he teaches young artists how to hone their craft. His girlfriend-now-wife Jenny was living out of town when we first met. But Jenny, I soon discovered, was just as quirky and fun as him. This was my dream. Art & Love.
Over the years, I have loved teaching, but not in the capacity I was working, not through grammar quizzes and thousands of lit analysis essays on Catcher in the Rye. When I was a little girl, I didn’t dream about wedding dresses, about being a teacher. I dreamt about being an artist, about belonging to a community of people changing the world with beauty with magic. And more so than ever, after coming back from Georgia and that writing workshop, I know that when I write poems, and to an extent, these blog posts, there is a discovery inherent that feels like prayer. Curriculum was fun, but it couldn’t uncork the ambrosia I knew lived inside me. At my Airbnb in Georgia, I sat over one poem for hours, and I felt like I was just at the verge of figuring out what I wanted to say. I felt like every other line had a soft promise of revision; it was like the computer game I played in the ‘80s, Chronos Quest. I love words, sometimes too much. But I wanted to be an artist to funnel and share the insights I felt so lucky to catch. I wanted art to be the record of the growth and love in my life. I’m still aiming for that.
But it’s a mess. No one person grows in a single direction. At one time a guilty pleasure of mine was watching the show Millionnaire Matchmaker. I loved how Patti Stanger had a short clear assessment for the issues of each client. She diagnosed people as Mr/s. Cuffington—a control freak who “cuffs” everything about their partner; Plumpty dumpty women who refused to work on health and body, and of course, Party boys who cared more about their male friends than any woman they could try to “buy.” But growth is multi-faceted, and no one has only one issue.
I have had more of a whack-a-mole experience with my problems; one goes away, and another crops up just as fast. I open up too quickly, I decide I don’t need a partner, I focus on one, I focus on three, I build communication and trust with the unavailable, I get intimidated with men who actually line up with my goals, I run circles around the powerful who are more concerned with work, and I get judgy of the unemployed dreamers who make me laugh. We are not cartoons, and our hearts don’t work in cartoon ways. This is why I’m so happy that Aaron an Jenny found one another.
Love is the hardest word in the English language to define. But it’s also the main thing that keeps us alive. I know I have been traveling for six weeks, and I’ve fallen a little in love with six men and at least one woman. That’s for another post. The point is that I have always dreamed making art would unify the disparate. I have put faith in the fact that sitting down and working through words would deliver me to someplace clear. I still believe it, and I thank you, dear reader, for bearing with me while I figure out what that clear thing is.
So, back to the original point, does god need our love as much as we need hers? At Aaron & Jenny’s wedding, I ambled through casual acquaintances, and spent a ton of time catching up with Kitta. But a couple hours into it I ended up talking to Teddy and Susana. Teddy is a writer and artist who told me early on that he was born into the Unification Church, or what he called the Moonies. This led us down a path weighing the actual search for faith against the mumbo-jumbo cults some people sell.
I hadn’t seen Susanna since New Year’s, when we sat in a circle at Aaron’s house and shared our resolutions & intentions. I already knew at the year’s dawn that I wanted to go to the desert, I just didn’t know how I’d make it happen. A week after we met, Susana texted me a photo of Sunset Magazine’s Joshua Tree issue, and the plan rolled into action.
But in the time since, I’ve changed so much. I sit now in a cheap-o dog-friendly hotel near Eugene. I dropped off my passport at the Egyptian Consulate last week to get my visa. I have begun blogging in this digital corner of the world. When I named my desire to share my story more, Teddy asked about the niche factor of my blog. I’m not in marketing, so I valued the question. And what tumbled out of my mouth was easy, and not exactly what I’ve been writing about: faith.
Already by last May, I had planned a trip to Egypt to study with an Egyptian Goddess priestess, and a trip to Istanbul to investigate how Islam and Christianity could continue swapping arms of power from the beginning. I had dreams of getting to India (and terror about the foods there), and Ancient Greece to visit their temples and learn about their faith and approaches to god. It wasn’t entirely clear, and still isn’t, but I seem to be called to the places where the first faiths were born. Maybe if I learn the ways to love the god, just maybe, something will unify. Maybe I will find a way to love myself better, or let myself be loved by one human being the way Aaron and Jenny have.