Wrestling with God

One of my favorite contemporary novelists is Marilynne RobinsonHousekeeping is my favorite of he novels and it has been made into a movie with the same name.  It was a wonderful movie and the novel is even better.   She has also written Gilead and in that novel she made the following observation:

In every important way we are such secrets from one another, and I do believe that there is a separate language in each of us, also a separate aesthetics and a separate jurisprudence. Every single one of us is a little civilization built on the ruins of any number of preceding civilizations, but with our own variant notions of what is beautiful and what is acceptable – which, I hasten to add, we generally do not satisfy and by which we struggle to live. We take fortuitous resemblances among us to be actual likeness, because those around us have also fallen heir to the same customs, trade in the same coin, acknowledge, more or less, the same notions of decency and sanity. But all that really just allows us to coexist with the inviolable, intraversable, and utterly vast spaces between us. (my emphasis)

It is the “spaces between us” that intrigues me and compels me.   Human culture is the contrivance that unites us, it is the “veil we spin to hide the void” (Norman Brown) but spirituality is a quest to delve deeper, to penetrate that very necessary and essential fiction of our enculturation and dance, from time to time, with the emptiness.  I insist that it is in this “emptiness” that we find our Source.  Or, better stated it is in the wrestling with that emptiness, i.e. “wrestling with God” that we find our Source.  Technically, it is not even “human culture” that unites us, it is the emptiness.  Very Zen, huh?


4 thoughts on “Wrestling with God

  1. Anonymous

    According to Astrophysicists, roughly 75% of the universe consists of empty space.
    Referred to as “dark matter”, this emptiness seems to be essential to the existence of all else.
    So it would seem that empty space is a good thing. Very Zenish indeed.


    1. literary lew Post author

      Glad you checked into my blog. There is a guy named Richard Panek who has a book out re “dark matter”. I haven’t read it, but it sounds interesting and I will read it in the future.



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