This post is part of a series on spirituality and coming out. You can read the rest here.
Back when I was still a good Christian, I relied on three things for my spiritual development: prayer, church, and the Bible. These were the paths available to me for seeking God. Sure God made the world, and it was good, but it was only his creation, he couldn't be found there, not really. For that you needed reinforcements. This plan worked fine for me, until it didn't.
At some point, God just seemed to stop showing up there, in that holy trinity of evangelical devotion. I couldn't find him in prayer, I couldn't find him in church, and I sure as hell couldn't find him in the Bible. He was gone gone gone, and eventually, I stopped bothering to look for him.
Then, a few years later, he started showing up again, but in entirely new places. He peered through the tenderness in my husband's eyes, he quaked through my own body as I gave birth, he whispered through the breeze in the leaves as I hung clothes on the line. It was like a thin veil had been lifted from around the whole world, allowing me to see the little God fragments hidden in grass poking up through the earth, the scent of a familiar candle, my son nestling into my lap.
Some people describe this idea, that God exists both outside the universe and permeates every part of it, with words like panentheism, or illumination, or mysticism. But I had a dream once in which I said, "there's a piece of God in everything" as if it were really true. So those are the words I use now, because they are my very own.
"Once you leave the cow path, the unpredictable territory is full of life. True, you cannot always see where you are putting your feet. This means you can no longer afford to stay unconscious. You can no longer count on the beat-down red dirt path making all your choices for you. Leaving it, you agree to make your own choices for a spell. You agree to become aware of each step you take, tuning all of your senses to exactly where you are and exactly what you are doing." - Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World
When I was forced to turn the autopilot off on my spirituality, when I finally got the nerve to forge my own path out into the wilderness, I began to see glimpses of God in even the most unexpected of places. And I am convinced that "seeking God" is a journey available to all of us, regardless of creed, or status, or age, and that it requires nothing more than opening our eyes to the world around us. I am convinced that God is available wherever we find ourselves, even outside the church, the Bible, and prayer as we know it. I believe it because I experience it.
And the most mysterious thing of all is that these God pieces often appear to us on the very paths we are most forbidden from, the ones we have broken all the rules to get to. They show up in the poems of a Muslim mystic, whose words we read with fear and delight. Or in the relationship with that boyfriend we were warned not to date. Or at that gay bar the people at church don't know we frequent.
And what are we to do with that? What are we to do when God goes ahead and makes a home in all the places we were told weren't "safe." What are we to do when we stop being able to find him on the old familiar streets? Do we settle for emptiness or do we continue the journey, on and out, seeking God pieces into the forbidden unknown?