Grant that I may not so much seek … to be understood, as to understand. –St. Francis of Assisi
During my college years I began the difficult journey of emerging from fundamentalism. My journey began so deep within fundamentalism’s heart that it took earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and tornadoes to jar me loose and get me moving. I’m speaking metaphorically, here, of course.
It was painful, and there were times I wasn’t sure that I wanted to keep on living. What held me back in those moments was a quiet, but insistent internal whisper. “What if something interesting happens next…and you miss it?”
For as long as I can remember, I have been a reader. When other kids spent their summers running around outside, I curled up on the couch with a good book. I have always loved the way a novel’s plot propels me forward. I know well that bittersweet feeling at the end of the book–the satisfaction of resolution mixed with the disappointment of ending.
As I healed from the seismic shifts in my worldview and relationships, I found that reading was a helpful metaphor for what keeps me in the land of the living. Life is an endlessly interesting book, full of small resolutions, each followed by new plot twists and deeper understandings.
The stack of books beside my bed (and on several other surfaces throughout the condo) is now mostly non-fiction. As a no-longer-young adult, I’ve learned the joy of reading for information, as long as what I’m reading is creatively written.
Whether I’m navigating the real world, or have my nose in a book, I always want to know what’s going to happen next. I want to know more about the many topics that interest me. I’m on a quest for deeper understanding, what UUs call a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning.”
I live because life is endlessly interesting. People, religion, politics, science–it’s all endlessly interesting, and I live to understand as much as I can.
Understanding has a rhythm, like breathing. Reading, listening, observing. A pause for reflection, then writing, speaking, living. Back to reading, listening, observing. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out…until one day, in the fullness of time, I turn the last page, and see the words, “The End.”