The Search For Divinity

There are few movies that truly touch my heart.   Some affect me so profoundly that I can barely describe it in words.  It is like that with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love.

Quite honestly, it took me a long time to get interested in the book or the movie.  I don’t really know why it didn’t appeal to me when I first saw the book at the bookstore and I had a very lukewarm reaction to the movie trailer.  I’m just not a big Julia Roberts fan.

But then, at the barest mention of the movie by a dear friend of mine whose opinion I value highly, I had to check it out.  I’m sure, by now, you’ve seen it.  Most everybody has probably seen it. I only saw it for the first time about a month ago. And I cried throughout a lot of it.  There’s some real deep resonance there.

More than the typical viewer, I think.

You can catch the trailer here.

I have a dear friend who is very much my Richard from Texas.  He’s Bruce from Tennessee. I’ve never met him in real life, but we’ve been internet correspondents for almost 2 years.   And yeah, he’s the one who told me about the movie.

He, like Richard, had gained tremendous insights from the school of hard knocks and he has been an a faithful friend and has given me a lot of encouragement on my path to spiritual growth.  We started along a journey of reading literature together and discussing what impacted us.  How many books have we read?  10-15?  I can’t remember.  There’s been countless articles and movies (like this one) we’ve shared with each other.  It’s been pretty amazing.  No – correction – HE’S pretty amazing.

So when I saw Richard from Texas in that movie, I just broke down and cried.  That’s now how I imagine my friend.   No, I’m sure he’s not exactly like that…but very close.  And I got the movie for Mother’s Day, so I can watch it anytime I want to.

I just looked Richard from Texas up for this post…Richard Vogt, as he’s known in real life, died March 3, 2010.  You can read his obituary here.  If I did the math right, he was 63 when he died, not so very old.  And as I write the tears fall.  Partly for the world having lost someone who made such an impact and partly because I’m afraid of losing my friend to death someday.  I’ve already lost a few special friends in my life to death.   I don’t really want to lose another. *

I think everyone needs a Richard from Texas or a Bruce from Tennessee in their lives to help them wake up.   If we all had one of those and paid attention to what they had to say, we’d all be further along the path of our spiritual growth.

I can honestly say that my marriage to my husband has been strengthened from listening to the wisdom of my friend.  One day, I hope to thank him in person.

I went to look for some quotes online from the movie, and then discovered there are much better ones from the book. I had often wondered about my inability to really feel at home in the Catholic church, or in my husband’s Protestant church. But this passage really comforts me:

The Hopi Indians thought that the world’s religions each contained one spiritual thread, and that these threads are always seeking each other, wanting to join. When all the threads are finally woven together they will form a rope that will pull us out of this dark cycle of history and into the next realm. More contemporarily, the Dalai Lama has repeated the same idea, assuring his Western students repeatedly that they needn’t become Tibetan Buddhists in order to be his pupils. He welcomes them to take whatever ideas they like out of Tibetan Buddhism and integrate these ideas into their own religious practices.

Even in the most unlikely and conservative of places, you can find sometimes this glimmering idea that God might be bigger than our limited religious doctrines have taught us. In 1954, Pope Pius XI, of all people, sent some Vatican delegates on a trip to Libya with these written instructions: “Do NOT think that you are going among Infidels. Muslims attain salvation, too. The ways of Providence are infinite.” But doesn’t that make sense? That the infinite would be, indeed … infinite? That even the most holy amongst us would only be able to see scattered pieces of the eternal picture at any given time? And that maybe if we could collect those pieces and compare them, a story about God would begin to emerge that resembles and includes everyone? And isn’t our individual longing for transcendence all just part of this larger human search for divinity? Don’t we each have the right to not stop seeking until we get as close to the source of wonder as possible? Even if it means coming to India and kissing trees in the moonlight for a while?

And I will continue to do just that.  To keep seeking until I get as close to the source of wonder as possible.   And I hope to be an encouragement to others as I have had encouragement from my friend from Tennessee.


*  I wrote the above last night, and finished it about 11:00 pm. Interestingly enough, my daughter brought me Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this morning to ask her questions because she’s going to take an accelerated reader quiz on it.  In the epigraph, there is a passage from William Penn’s More Fruits of Solitude.

Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still. For they must needs be present, that love and live in that which is omnipresent. In this divine glass, they see face to face; and their converse is free as well as pure. This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal.

I’m always amazed when I get messages like this in my life. Seems to me that divinity makes its presence known to me every day.

About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
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