I had a conversation with my friend David Marrs several years ago in which he compared the lengths that young lovers go to in order to spend time with one another to his own relationship or sometime lack thereof with God. We were living on the campus of our university at the time. “You know how you’ll be walking back to the dorm at four in the morning and you’ll see those couples sitting in their car, just talking?” He asked me. “They were there when you left at 8pm and you know they’ll be there when you go to bed, even though they have class in the morning. That’s what I want for my relationship with God.”
David’s a humble man and I’ve always been struck by his description of his spiritual life which is wonderfully conversational and usually leavened with humor and a strong thread of optimism. Something about the immediacy and depth of desire that I felt coming from Dave and the lack of pretense in what could have been a holier-than-thou kind of comment stuck with me. I’m not sure what I believe about my prayer life these days, or my ‘spiritual life’ in general. I’m not sure what I hope for. What I want to hope for. What I’m scared to hope for.
I do still want to discover if there may be a way to experience something real and tangible and wild and, yes, good and fulfilling in the spiritual realm. Does the God of Christianity want to take a ride in a 1954 Cadillac with me and then park and talk while the windows fog over and a mixtape plays on the stereo and we run out of things to say but just stay with each other for a while because it feels right? Lately I’m so hungry for him or her to be tangible. I don’t want to be told I’m loved by someone I can’t see. I want to be held.
The passage that I excerpted in the previous post is from English playwright Sarah Kane’s work “Crave.” I came across it on Achtung Baby! a few weeks ago. The running-without-stopping-to-catch-your-breath feeling in the passage which conveys viscerally the relentlessness of desire grabbed me by the collar and sucked me in. It’s an incredible lover’s rant and it speaks to a kind of experience that I sometimes fear that I’ve grown cold too or that I’ll never find a way back to, never have again. Maybe I’m afraid the cynicism in me has dampened the wick of my romantic Heart on Fire such that I won’t be able to set anyone else or my self aflame in the future.
I remember a certain feeling. That giving over of oneself to another in the giddy and sometimes obsessive delight of a teenager who talks on the phone with someone for hours every night. There is something deep in that longing. Something deeper even than the desire for romance although that is there, looming large. It seems nearly universal, the longing to be subsumed by our desires. To give up and give in and give everything. Human beings love to lavish their devotion on something or someone outside themselves. Being with another person can just feel so right. The best feeling in the world really. To love and be loved; emotionally, physically. And to feel secure in that love. Accepted.
I learned after my initial reading of this wild, vibrant passage that Sarah took her own life three weeks after her 28th birthday. The knowledge has retroactively flooded my reading of the monologue with meaning. The timbre of the piece itself doesn’t actually change. There’s a real sense in which I don’t believe it can, based on my perception of the artist and the making of meaning. But that’s not what I wanted to end by saying.
I find myself curious about who Sarah was and what it was that she longed for. What she may not have felt herself to be the recipient of… perhaps what she hoped for or despaired of. And I sorrow.
Sarah… your blue spark jumps across the void.