How many times have we slammed into walls in life, only to either slide back down them bruised but alive, or peeled off like some bad wallpaper with a cheap replacement slapped back over it in haste, while we continue more or less as before?

There have been pivotal times I’ve run into walls, though thankfully in looking back, I can recognize the wisdom that was garnered from the pain of separation, whether from another human being or from society in some form. I’m not overtly rebellious, but something inside of me balks at accepting the status quo simply for its own sake. What follows is an example of one of the wall hits with the greatest lifelong impact. I’d love to hear about your own, if you’d care to share them.


One of the first startling memories was when, at fourteen and as a devoutly raised fundamentalist, I decided to no longer attend church. My Sunday school teacher on whom I had a bit of a silly adolescent crush kicked me out of class for being a wiseass, though that’s certainly not what he would have termed it. As an all-around model student and perfectionist, I took this as a major blow, and vowed never to set foot in his classroom again, which meant I would lose major face by returning to church in general. So I stayed away with one future exception, despite fears of being ostracized and the deeply rooted terror at making a choice that would land me somewhere less than desirable in the afterlife.

A sort of inner quaking persisted for over a decade, but I never backed down on my decision. Meanwhile I began to read voraciously, anything I could get my hands on, from the beautifully illustrated Hare Krishna books sold at airports everywhere to the I Ching. Once I had children, I questioned the wisdom in losing that first spiritual bridge, and even brought my small daughter to Sunday school and placed her amongst other children to begin her indoctrination. But after the adult morning service was out, something twisted inside of me and, despite misgivings that I could provide her with adequate nonsecular guidance, I once again vowed never to return. There was simply something diminishing and lacking in that particular brand of patriarchal structure for me, and I didn’t want my daughters tainted by the experience. It was hard enough being a woman of the ‘fifties who rooted through cultural hype in order to establish some foundation of self-esteem. I wanted more for my girls. I just didn’t know how I was going to provide it for them.

In time, I managed to discover much of what was missing in the dogma of youth, a shining core of faith and divinity that had settled deep within me despite the means by which it was inculcated. More a product of my own personal communication with the great unseen, this eternal flame burned in me as it must, I think, in any soul, by whatever means, if it is to blossom into self-realization.

P.S.  My daughters turned out with similar inclinations, unsurprisingly.


13 thoughts on “WALLS

  1. First, let me thank you for giving me an alternative to “God”. The Great Unseen is so much more appealing to my sensibility. I’d been looking for a word or a term, and now I’ve got it, ready-made!

    I do not know much about religion, doctrines or the patriarchal spirituality of these doctrines. The traditional teachings I’ve had as a kid was an open-spaced reverence towards The Great Unseen. It was freeing, without my knowing it, because I didn’t know a rigid structure existed. Until I grew up. That’s when I found people doubting others, unsure of their own traditions, hence defensive about it. It is slightly confusing for me, still. This chained, walled living.

    What caught me most about your post was your first paragraph, and your mention of a status quo. I have a similar situation, not related to spirituality, though. I do hope, however, that when I come out of it, the wall I see is liquid, and permitting. Thank you for a lovely post. Majorly because it helped me write what has been going on in my mind.


    1. Priya, first let me thank you for taking the time to so thoughtfully respond to my post.
      Second, I wonder that you can relate to this at all, for isn’t India a largely matriarchal country? Isn’t the Divine Mother quite alive and well in your corner of the world? I’ve always thought it to be so, though with the cultural restrictions on women as well as men – or what we in the West might term restrictions – perhaps there is a patriarchal influence embedded in those restrictions, after all. Now You have given Me something fairly profound to think about!
      And I wish you would write more about the paradox between the two, if it moves you to do so. Anyhow, thanks for the ping-back, and blessings to you and yours!


      1. Sorry to be responding as P.I. now, but that’s how I am logged in!

        India is a patriarchal country. There are only very small pockets where the society is dominated by the woman-figure. Divine Mother co-exits with the Divine Creator. A male. And the Divine Protector, a male. And the Divine Destroyer, male again. The Hindu Trinity includes all males, but that shouldn’t be judged as a sign of writing the feminine force off. It is just that Hindu philosophy believes in a harmony of the two, I guess.

        Well, I must write about it someday. Food for thought for all of us!


  2. I like your post. I rarely go the the church (maybe 2-5 times a year) but I’m always more than confident to say that I believe in the “Great Unseen”. Had a troublesome childhood but never once doubted. I’m only 21 and I hope this wont change.
    My parents are traditional catholics and would always tell me that I don’t have a God because I don’t go to the church and attend other church activities. I would always reply, “No matter how much you read the bible, you wont find anything that says religion will save.”
    It always felt uncomfortable whenever I attend church activities when I was young simply because it was status quo. I firmly believe that each of us has our own ways of finding, reaching out and communicating with the God.

    P.s. I also liked how you called God the “Great Unseen”. It has a mysterious ring to it. I would like to use it in my future posts.


    1. Aloha peltingrain, and thanks for dropping by and taking time to comment thoughtfully.

      I well understand feelings that can be elicited by parents or other loved ones telling me that I didn’t relate to the right god because I had forsaken ‘Him’ by leaving church. What a crock! The only place one could ever possibly touch the Great Unseen is in one’s own heart and mind, in my humble opinion. Some attend church their entire lives, go home, have affairs, beat their wives or kids, control and dominate others and/or live tormented lives. I’m not sure how to account for that, other than they have never quite touched divinity within themselves, waiting for some church authority to infuse them with its power. To me that is sad. And although my particular path has been difficult at times, I would never change it, for it’s only strengthened my faith and determination to be more Christ-like, to possess more Buddha-nature. Of course I’m far from perfect, but I know inside when I’m being true to myself and when I’m not. I’m not clouded by others’ doctrine or judgments and so am clear as to what my true nature is – and I know I can always return to it and usually am there.

      I’m not sure my term the Great Unseen is original, but it comes to me now and again. You are more than welcome to use it when you’d like. And you’re right, it has an air of mystery about it, because no matter how many humans interpret scripture, that Force will remain utterly unknowable. I love that about It.


      1. No more words to say. You’ve taken the words right out of my mind.

        I know that the Great Unseen wasn’t your original but I just had to give you credit for making me remember the term and inspiring me as well.

        Thanks for following and hope to hear from you. 🙂


  3. Bela, I hope you remember my post on religions and beliefs. I am not sure if you read that one or not! I’ve to check it out. I too believe the same, I do not need to enter any specific temple to prove others that in what I believe. I love the way you shared you thoughts and feeling here. Lovely post Bela, once again I am by your side! 🙂


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