Schmaltzing My Way to God

On my spiritual journey, I searched for God everywhere: the yoga studio, the holistic workshop circuit, the shiatsu mat. A well-practiced head tripper, I hunted for God in my thoughts, somehow certain that God would arise in the form of a concept.

During my materialistic phases, I imagined God a slick car, large house, a Hugo Boss suit, as though God himself wore Gucci. And for some time, I looked for God on the skyways of self-avoidance, mistaking the short-term benefits of the ungrounded bliss trip for enlightenment itself. I went down this road for some time, seemingly joyous on the outside, but a bubbling cauldron of unresolved feelings and memories in the deep within.

I looked everywhere, but in my heart. Conditioned as an armored male warrior, it never occurred to me that God could arise through the feeling heart. I had grown up in a warring family, and adapted my consciousness to the battleground before me. Through my well-defended lens, opening my heart was a dangerous path, one that threatened to distract me from my necessary vigilance.

When I opened my heart too wide, I was vulnerable to attack from warring factions. When my first intimate relationships threatened to open my heart, I fled them. The closer we got to bridging the heart with the genitals, the faster I ran. With no template to stand in the heart-fire, I preferred the safe confines of my lone wolf lair to the perils of vulnerability.

Consistent with my conditioning, I studied to become a criminal trial lawyer. Shortly after being called to the bar, I delayed the start to my law practice. Something in the deep within had another agenda for my path. As part of my process, I went to the courtroom to watch trials and consider my life's direction.

It was here that the first chinks in my armor appeared. Images of old suffering began to flood my courtroom visits -- my mother's unhappy face, my father's acts of violence, hiding under my bed while the battles raged.

As I sat focused at the back of the courtroom, tears poured out of my eyes and drenched my warrior armor at will. My inner world soon became like a series of beaver dams, each with more painful memories lying in wait behind it. Every time I cleared one dam away, another wave of feeling arose. The heart, it spoke.

Thereafter, I returned to my habitual range of emotion, the armored way of being that I knew so well. But something had shifted. There was a crack in my armor where the heart got through. Oddly enough, the crack revealed itself at the video store where I found myself repeatedly renting sentimental love stories -- "Serendipity," "Out of Africa," "Horse Whisperer" -- in an effort to crack my heart back open. I would lie down on my couch and watch the same schmaltzy film like a mantra, crying a little deeper with each viewing. I dared tell no one, but I loved it.

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