Yeah. I know the feeling. Don’t we all?
There are times when you feel just plain worn out. Trapped and frustrated. You feel like you’re the person in the Beatles song — sitting in your nowhere land, making all your nowhere plans for nobody.
You make a little progress, and everything else seems to fall apart. Life seems pointless at the moment. You’re wide awake at 4 a.m. — AGAIN! — turning things over in your head.
It’s like there’s been a power outage and you’re alone in the dark. You’re feeling disconnected from life and from love.
Some people see those times as proof that there is no God. Even the most spiritual people have many, many times when they feel like God has taken the last flight out of town.
So, what do we make of those times?
During the 1960s, some people decided that those times were proof that God was dead. Kaput. How else do you explain our lack of love?
Something else happened in the 1960s. The new kind of lamp was invented by a British accountant who got his inspiration from an egg timer at a pub. (Really. Look it up.) The lava lamp soon became an interesting addition to the psychedelic scene.
Also, an alternative way of looking at God in dark times.
Back in the 1960s, that’s not how I was told to imagine God. My grade school religion classes were heavy into punishment. We were presented with a very harsh, legalistic and unsympathetic God.
A God who doesn’t make sense to me.
We were told that God loves us unconditionally — Aww! — but only on the condition that we follow certain rules for behavior, many of them dealing with sex.
If we failed to meet those conditions, the unconditional love went away. And so did we, too, sent off to be flame-broiled. God was portrayed as a cosmic Santa who sees all that we do and is more than happy to slip a lump of eternally burning coal into our stocking.
Well, isn’t that disturbing!
As I got older, I realized: I don’t buy it. That’s not how I’ve experienced God.
To me, God is more like a lava lamp. Or, to be more precise, the power that brings the lava lamp alive.
(Note: Any and all descriptions of God are totally inexact and severely lacking. But that’s OK because they can also be helpful in some ways. Or harmful. Each of us has to decide for ourselves. Now, back to the lava lamp …)
When you turn on a lava lamp, a clump of inert wax is sitting at the bottom of the oil-filled chamber. As the oil warms, the wax starts moving and rising. It comes alive, in a sense.
It’s the same for us.
In my experience, we’re all plugged into a loving power that warms us and makes us glow. A spirit — some call it grace, others simply call it love — that flows through us and brings us fully alive. A spark that heats the glob of good stuff inside each of us — love, compassion, creativity, laughter — and makes us bubble up.
Even in those times when we’re feeling disconnected, we’re still plugged in. Maybe we’ve just turned ourselves off for a while. Or something has happened in our lives that has turned us off.
We all spend time in darkness. It’s part of life — an important part. We can do a lot of soul-searching and growing in the darkness. But even when we feel immersed in darkness, the spark is still flowing through us and working inside of us. Gently. Lovingly. Always there.
And when we’re ready to glow again, God is ready, too. Patiently waiting for the moment. Eager to help us flip the on-off switch.
Encouraging us to open ourselves to others. To let them wrap their arms and their love around us and turn us on again. And for us to do the same for others.
Bubble up. Light up our little corner of the room. For a while.