I’m back! After months back and forth on the road and several weeks cramped into too-small hotel suite with our family of 9 (plus a dog!), we finally closed on our new house, and are settling in. I have had no headspace to write since August, save for a few boozy jaunts on Twitter, making provocative statements about ontology, but I have a desk and a real computer again, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of me.
I was worried about you. Glad to see you back, and in such good shape!
“The ocean is a funny thing. It’s the same everywhere, which makes it feel like home no matter where you are in when you run into it. Sure, the shade of blue changes a bit, as does the kind of sand you find along its edges, but the sound and the smell and the feel of the thing is as constant as the stars, the rhythm of the surf reassuring like the beating pulse of the planet we all call home. In a way, it reminds me of God as much as anything does, larger than comprehension, roaring with power but silent and aloof, always calling to you in subtle tones but never bothering to explain why. You just sit and stare at it as it takes you away from yourself and makes you feel small. It’s a symbiotic relationship, I think, and one I’m not sure I can live without.”
Nice to see your return, Mr. Skojec. I enjoy and appreciate your writing and sharing. Much of what you write about, including the “far-out” stuff like UFOs, especially your spiritual journey, appreciation of bourbon, or whiskey more broadly (I’m an aficionado myself), resonates with me. At least the version of your presentation that is a healthy remove (to my mind; not passing judgment) from the TLM crowd and realm.
The “ocean” sentiment you expressed reminded me of two things. First, the notion that C.S. Lewis frequently referenced: sehnsucht. A kind of longing or yearning for the numinous, even homesickness for the same. I feel this myself often. I’m God-haunted. Second, the power of nature to point to the Divine. My fave author is Mark Helprin. His thinking, writing, immense talent, wisdom, looms large on my own outlook and perspective on life. I’ve included a link to an essay by him that speaks to me, if you are interested. I hope you don’t mind me sharing. It highlights, among other insights, the potent, if mysterious, language of nature. While I heartily agree nature often points to God, imbued, as it were, with the Transcendentals, I’m also not blind to its horrifying, terrifying aspects, the mysterium tremendum et fascinans. Indeed, some of what nature displays is so antithetical to what I believe is God’s nature, namely Love, that to reconcile my belief with some of what I know of nature, I can only hope, cross my fingers, even, that the brutal manifestations are a result of our fallen world. As you described, I, too, at times, have a felt sense of God as “silent and aloof.” I’m not naive. I’m not a wuss. I’m not a prude. I only say this to illustrate how I, too, feel the contradictions in life. I’m actually very conservative, generally speaking, i.e., politically (more paleo), socially, fiscally, etc. Like you, although on different terms, my challenge is on the spiritual front. Not belief; rather, the frequently myopic and harsh side reflected in so much religion. This doesn’t make me squishy, at least as far as I’m concerned. I despise the “anything goes” liberal variety of religion. The Judeo-Christian context and Western civilization are my home and conviction. The woke replacement religion, e.g., the diabolical anti-sacrament of abortion, the alphabet people madness, etc., to my way of thinking, is anathema, and I strongly resist it in all forms. (However, I’m constitutionally unable to abide the “Benedict Option.” It just seems nutty and ultimately dangerous. I’m also too inclined to certain secular pleasures.) In spite of God’s redemptive and healing promises - which I believe! - His revelation in Christ, I still struggle. Not so much with faith, per se, but with much of what is associated with God, especially the Church (I’m Catholic, ecumenical in many ways, and would describe myself in some ways as a “Barron-type” believer), and even within the broader spectrum of small-o orthodoxy with which I’m largely simpatico. Yet, I can and do easily find myself drawn to “heterodox” views, e.g., apocatastasis. At least the Orthodox, whose theology and spirituality I greatly respect and admire, largely allow for greater latitude in this regard. All this to say that I “get” the struggle. Mine comes from other angles, but I understand.
P.S. A third thing. Your entire post and use of liminality reminded me obliquely of the Celtic idea and experience of “thin places.”
P.S.S. Damn. Sorry. That was a rambling response by me. Just felt moved to share.
Steve, great to have you back
I was wondering what had happened as we had not heard from you for a while. You're a good man and your honesty and truth-telling are a blessing to many of us.
Congratulations on the new experiences and opportunities. It's interesting to read that you're more open and active with your family after giving up the Church obsession. My wife noticed the same thing in our family when I gave up on the Church too- we are more open and responsive to our kids, who are more happy without the restrictions and demands of having to dot all the Catholic i's and cross all the Catholic t's.
And, btw, the Patriots aren't so bad.
Here's to new adventures!
Change takes a lot of courage but is also exhilarating. I like the theme of liminality here and the sense of hope it offers. Likewise, self-awareness takes courage as we spend so much of our life energy avoiding ourselves. But I think when we can look honestly at ourselves then real change can take place.