Someone else on the Internet is also reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s wonderful book Eat, Pray, Love. And she picked the exact same passage I was going to quote here. Here it is:
To search for God is a reversal of the normal, mundane worldly order. In the search for God, you revert from what attracts you and swim toward that which is difficult. You abandon your comforting and familiar habits with the hope (the mere hope!) that something greater will be offered you in return for what you’ve given up. Every religion in the world operates on the same common understandings of what it means to be a good disciple–get up early and pray to your God, hone your virtues, be a good neighbor, respect yourself and others, master your cravings…and then fiercely try to hold on to their devotional convictions throughout the lunacy of another day.
The devout of this world perform their rituals without guarantee that anything good will ever come of it. Of course there are plenty of scriptures and plenty of priests who make plenty of promises as to what your good works will yield (or threats as to the punishments awaiting you if you lapse), but to even believe all this is an act of faith, because nobody amongst us is shown the endgame. Devotion is diligence without assurance. Faith is a way of saying, “Yes, I pre-accept the terms of the universe and I embrace in advance what I am presently incapable of understanding.” There’s a reason we refer to “leaps of faith”–because the decision to consent to any notion of divinity is a might jump from the rational over to the unknowable, and I don’t care how diligently scholars of every religion will try to sit you down with their stacks of books and prove to you through scripture that their faith is indeed rational; it isn’t. If faith were rational, it wouldn’t be — by definition–faith. Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch. Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity, it would just be … a prudent insurance policy.
I am not interested in the insurance industry. I’m tired of being a skeptic. I’m irritated by spiritual prudence and I feel bored and parched by empirical debate. I don’t want to hear it anymore. I couldn’t care less about evidence and proof and assurances. I just want God. I want God inside me. I want God to play in my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself on water (Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love, page 175-176)
Beautiful and exactly how I feel today. Thanks Journaling Faith blog for typing it out!