I’m thousands of miles above the ground, or however many miles one is when she is in an airplane. It’s been weeks, months really, since I’ve gotten any healthy amount of sleep, and I’m beyond tired, the fatigue heightening the stirrings in my soul, in my mind, in my troubled heart.
But this weariness is not what weighs me down as I float suspended between Heaven and Earth. It is, predictably, existential angst, whatever that is. I swear I read a book about it once.
The pilot tells us we are 1,000 nautical miles from Salt Lake City, having just passed over the mighty Mississippi, flowing with what I imagine to be the wrath of God.
I’m taking an improptu vacation, Veteran’s Day giving me the long weekend I need to escape.
I’ve been telling everyone I am coming here for a concert, and they all think I am crazy to travel thousands of miles for a few hours of entertainment, but the truth of it is that the concert just gave me the excuse I needed.
It is fitting that Salt Lake is the Mormon Mecca, because it is a pilgrimage that brings me all this way.
I’ve rented a car and a motel room and made no plans to meet with any of the many friends I could be seeing. This is my time in the desert, and time in the desert is best spent alone.
I won’t be hitting the normal tourist attractions. I have no desire to see Temple Square, the Conference Center, or the Tabernacle. As someone who isn’t quite Mormon, but can never really shake the mindset–and with that the requisite guilt of any apostate, there is no appeal. They are not places of spiritual significance anymore, nor do I have the curiosity of an outsider.
I’m here stuck in the middle, looking for some kind of resolve to this struggle that has encompassed my entire adulthood. I’m approaching 25 and this is more than the Mayeresque quarter-life crisis.
I read My Faith So Far between Providence and here, and I have the Seven Storey Mountain for the return flights, always hoping to find answers in others’ struggles, in their journeys from longing to faith to confusion, to faith mingled with confusion. Having been stuck in confusion for so long, a short respite into quasi confused faith would be enough to relieve this pressure, at least long enough to get my bearings and approach God with something more than panicked despair.
I read of Patton’s time at ORU and smile, remembering those cold afternoons when Veronica, Trevor, Jessica and I trudged through the slush in Harvard Square, down Church Street to the chapel, wishing that they had built it closer to the T-stop.
“Hey, if we have faith, we can make anything happen, right?” one of us would say.
“Yeah, if we really believed it.”
“Like move mountains?”
“What about chapels? Do you think if we all prayed hard enough we could move the church building closer to Harvard Square?”
“I don’t have that kind of faith. It would never work.”
“Yeah, but it would be nice, wouldn’t it?”
And as silly as it was, I wanted to believe we could move mountains. We all knew we were being stupid. This isn’t really what is meant by faith moving things. At least, I don’t see it that way. Moving a soul is so much more powerful that moving even the largest mountain. Rocks do what God tells them. Souls have free will.
Like when David and I would talk about angels and how they love and praise God with all they have every single day.
And I would always say I’d rather be an angel. It would all be so much easier. Screw free will. I want to love God willingly. I don’t want to have to fight myself every step of the way, Original Sin tripping me up, as I try to negotiate a perpetually dark wood.
I smile to myself just thinking of that image and how apt it is that I stay stuck in the darkness. I love the Inferno, and the Purgatorio comes in a close second, but I never did get through Paradiso. All that happiness and worship and love couldn’t keep my attention. The irony slays me. Maybe I should just be thankful for my humanity. Angelhood sounds boring.