The Pyres We Build for Ourselves

I know I’ve been silent for some time. I’ve left numerous messages unanswered, and I do apologize for that. To be quite honest though, I wasn’t in any shape to be answering others’ questions about my faith. A lot has happened since I last posted, and my time away was better spent answering to myself and to my god about certain situations that I found myself in, as a consequence of previous decisions.

I was guilty, and tired. I still am, to some extent.  Even now, I feel tongue-tied and like I have to scrape all these words from the back of my throat just to get them out—but writing provides a sense of catharsis, and I couldn’t ignore the feeling that I needed to go back and be more active in whatever spiritual ‘community’ this has become for me.

You’d think that after so many years, I’d have learned that my own expectations of my god are rarely if ever proven correct. Clearly that was not the case. In short, I came to some conclusions regarding what I thought my god wanted of me, and what he would consider appropriate or not in terms of my devotion. I saw the red flags way in advance, got the distinct feeling that my actions would be considered offensive and impertinent, and still I went forward. I found myself adamantly insisting that what I was doing was right, that it was sacred—I even tried to convince myself that I was reflecting my god.

In the back of my mind, I knew what would happen. I was conscious that I was setting myself up for disaster, and I even welcomed it like some sort of martyr. I was drifting further away from the god I had come to love, losing sight of who he was in favor of what I wanted.

In time, I persuaded myself into thinking that this distance from my god was a gift, rather than a curse. I considered it an honor, to be placed in a position parallel to his own—both devoted to a god who refused to turn their gaze upon us.  But ‘distance’ turned into outright ‘absence’.

It’s a strange thing, when the god you have devoted your life and love to acts as the first and last light illuminating his own darkness, yet the inky black you’re left in after he leaves is yours alone. It wasn’t holy or sacred; it was utterly human and rife with shame and guilt. I hated being left alone to contemplate my dishonor, but even more, I hated that fact that I didn’t have the strength of will to love my god from afar. This was not an honor bestowed to me, it was a humiliating and humbling exposure to the fact that I had prioritized the performance of being a ‘good’ devotee over actually doing any valuable devotional work. In trying to emulate my god, I had proven just how unworthy and unprepared I was for such a role.

I panicked and floundered for a while, trying desperately to repair the ties that connected my heart to his.  I thought I might be able to piece together some semblance of what was by sheer force alone (I still wasn’t ready to admit that I had fucked up)—if only I prayed longer, gave up more of my time to honor him, maybe then I would remember what it felt like. I think I grew to hate those moments I set aside for him, if only because I knew that they wouldn’t bring him back, and I was wasting my breath on empty prayers.

I tried a different tactic. When I first devoted myself to this path, I believe my faith grew in leaps and bounds because I had been thrown out of my element—I had packed up and moved clear across the country, leaving home and family behind so that it was just me and my god in the unknown. I thought maybe that was the key this time as well.

It wasn’t, at first–or at least, not quite. I found….something, like a memory, and it made me almost forget about that absence. It wasn’t Him, but it was a feeling like I was at least on the right track. As I got over my own hubris and started to listen once more, things started falling back into place. I’m not quite ready to share how exactly this came about (I don’t know if I ever will), but suffice to say that I managed to ‘find’ him again.

In this time, i’ve learned some things about myself and the kind of devotee I was, am, and strive to be.

I think, perhaps, I am not drawn to Lightbearers simply for the wisdom they illuminate. Perhaps I am lured by those who love too deeply, whose adoration cannot be contained in such fragile shells and so it consumes them from the inside out. I’m a moth drawn to the flames of self-immolating devotion—be that to a god, an ideal, or humanity itself.

Knowing this, I offer up this prayer to my god:

Let me not jump into the fire in search of honor, or set myself aflame for the sheer glory of reflecting You. If I must burn, let it be out of love and love alone.