I have a slightly embarrassing confession: I just finished my first New York Times Bestseller, Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I liked it. Actually, kind of a lot. Don’t judge me. My English professor had recommended it to me, so hey that gives it/me some credibility, right?
As suggested in the title, Gilbert tells her story of traveling to Italy (Eat), India (Pray), and Indonesia (Love) as a form of life and identity recovery after a messy divorce. Drama, silliness, and cheesy one-liners ensue, and in the end she comes out of the other end a new and more fulfilled person. Not exactly surprising. But oh so entertaining for a long plane ride.
What I found most interesting throughout the book was the author’s intense and deep desire for God. Early in her book, she describes an “ah-ha” moment, where she first cries out and hears from God crying on her bathroom floor before her divorce. From then on, she begins her search for God/god in the form of yoga, meditation, chanting, praying, journaling, adopting a guru, etc. While this soul searching is nothing new and very human, I have never really heard someone describe the desire to find/have/be in a relationship with God they way she did. Furthermore, as a Christian, I have never seen/read this kind of longing in a non-Christian before (while she claims God—monotheistic, capital G—her beliefs are very much a mix of religions and philosophies, and she clearly states she does not mean God just in the Judeo-Christian sense). It was beautiful and inspiring to me to feel her yearning, because so often, unless in desperate times, I forgot what this yearning is like.
“I just want God. I want God inside me. I want God to play inside my bloodstream the way the sun amuses itself on water.”
But then, I was also confused. When she talks about God, His love, her relationship to him, I am in such agreement with her. Perhaps it is my ignorance, but it is not common for me to find such a deep connection to words describing a God other than my own. The way she speaks of God is so very Christian, so Biblical to me, yet she not speaking of the same Biblical God I know.
“God is, ‘L’amour che move il sole e l’ature stele…’ The love that moves the sun and the stars.’”
-Pg. 46, cited from Dante’s Divine Comedy
“Prayer is a relationship; half the job is mine.”
“YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW STRONG MY LOVE IS!”
–Pg. 158, what God told her
“Our whole business therefore in this life is to restore to health the eye of the heart whereby which God may be seen.”
-Pg. 123, quoted from St. Augustine (ok yes, he’s a Christian)
I believe that God uses anything and everything to teach you, bring you closer to Him, and this is just another example of God using something rather silly on the surface—a guilty pleasure memoir—to challenge my faith and ideas about Him. I learned a lot from this book! So even if I don’t agree theologically with Gilbert, I still take away strong inspiration for my own walk with God. It left me wanting to bring more prayer, mediation, and passion into my faith.
Which led me to my next book, the complete opposite of this book—The Celebration of Discipline (thanks Tarah!). Ha!
And to finish with this thought:
“There are only 2 questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history: “How much do you love me?” And, “Who’s in charge?”
-P. 157, quoted from an old lady