It was a Poet-Philosopher’s Dream – to watch Life of Pi tonight with my family. To watch the beautiful interpretation of delving into oneself to learn about the great unknowns, the enormous out there, the big questions, the tiger, the vegetarian, the sea and the sky and the storm and the quiet.

Oh, such a tremendous movie. Such a story. Such an achievement.

A poet I love, recently spent a month writing about religion. This morning, my waking thought was to do something similar, to write every day for a month, and maybe get to the end of my anger and suppression. I want to taste some of the bitter roots, and find the sweet again in the words, the poetry that used to wash over me. I feel like I haven’t been able to write poetry for years, because my starting place is in disarray.

More than anything, I am a mystic. I am drawn to the language and the wealth of beauty within scripture. I recently had someone chide me for not having an accepted deity in my life, in my frame of reference, in my vocabulary. Little did this person know how much their words sent me back to years of feeling at odds with the church.

If ever I had once met someone within the church (other than my parents) who read the scriptures, enjoyed them, felt a reverence for the words and the meaning, was moved to tears perhaps. If ever. But no. The only reading I ever saw was reading to prove a point, or to get a convert, never just to see how the words gently rained over the spirit and brought a sense of seeing or recognition. And usually not even that. Not reading at all, just, “My pastor said.”

All my poetry used to start with a phrase or a verse of scripture. When the church started telling me how to vote, and being more political than anything else, more caring about the outcome of a race, than the state of my soul… I lost interest. I did. I cannot condone the way of the church anymore. Especially when I was broken, and shattered, and begging for help, and the church I attended looked the other way.

And yet, there’s a part of me that breaks every time I feel anger seeping into my voice when I speak about my faith. Part of me still seeks the grandeur, the falling to my knees in reverence, the tears of joy, the kinship and the sense of belonging.

This movie brought all these questions to the surface, and to a spectacular visual dialogue of the smaller parts of these big ideas. Down to the heartbeat in the drumbeat, in the wave and flute music, in the chanting, in the bellows of a boy on the verge, of a tiger on the brink of starvation, of the meerkats. And the look of wonder reflected from our own eyes, in the eyes of the interviewer.

The main character of the movie was a delightful reverent, who was comfortable claiming god, speaking about and to god, and still being racked with doubts and questions. Maybe that is what I have been missing, any sense of curiosity for more. All I ever got from church was a sure answer that didn’t seem to realize that its own answer created more questions. It is time to write these questions, these dialogues, these moments of extreme beauty and bewilderment. There is splendor in the complexity and the glorious unknowing.

photo from here