Elizabeth Gilbert, a regular columnist for GQ magazine, has written a new book -
Eat, Play, Love - that traces the spiritual quest of a modern, educated, well-employed American. When I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. As a woman, a Christian, and an anthropologist, I recommend it.
Like Liz, a lot of our friends and colleagues want a richer spiritual experience, but they aren't looking for it in the church. It's in the ashram that Liz feels that she grows spiritually. By the end of her stay (1) she forgives her ex-husband (and herself), (2) she learns to enjoy her own company, and (3) she experiences spiritual power and a brief blissful "union" with all that exists.
"So I stood up and did a handstand on my Guru's roof, to celebrate the notion of liberation," she writes. "I felt the dusty tiles under my hands. I felt my own strength and balance. ? That's the joy of a mortal body. And that's why God needs us. Because God loves to feel things through our hands."
My reaction? It's beautiful, powerful, moving. But is the picture of God real? Or is it pop psychology based on warm vibrations? If Jesus had not come, this glimpse of God might be the best we could hope for. But the amazing news is that God not only shines in glory - as Liz testifies - but also walks in dust and hangs in blood because he values us that much. Not just disembodied bliss, He draws us into a true story. He establishes our loves on a foundation that is real. We can make lasting commitments because God has made a lasting commitment to us. We can go from the ecstasy to the everyday world because he did.
Stylistically, Liz' story is a joy - the verbs leap, the metaphors quiver, the longing pulsates. And the spiritual fervor is challenging. "I remember kneeling down one morning?and muttering to my creator, ?Oh, I dunno what I need?but you must have some ideas?so just do something about it, would you?'" Liz prays.
Then she comments, "You can imagine God regarding that prayer with an arched eyebrow and sending back this message: ?Call me again when you decide to get serious about this.'"
Read the book. Or just think about the spiritual hunger that hums around you. Then listen to your neighbor. She may be more famished for God than you think.