“I Should Believe Only in a God Who Knows How to Dance” (Nietzsche, “Zarathustra”)

After being surprised by good news yesterday about my novel, Martin of Gfenn, of course, I felt like dancing, but my house isn’t conducive to it (too much furniture for a small room, too many dogs on the floor and my kind of messed up body) so instead I hugged my big white dog for a long time and thought about how you really never know. You just have to keep trying (and forgetting about your efforts).

In other writerly news, a few days back I took a look (after a several month hiatus) at what I call (working title) “The Schneebelis Go to America.” I was surprised. It’s a strong story.

I’ve been disgusted by writing for a while, disgusted by writing itself and by all the BS surrounding publishing etc. I had to come to grips with the external aspects of writing (that really do not concern me) vs. the seminal aspects of writing that concern ONLY me. I had to figure out what it means to me to write. Oddly, the answer came to me when I was thinking about the spiritual practice (newly acquired) of one of my friends.

She’s had a hell of a year and, though she’s hiding it, denying it, scared of it, she’s lost. One morning she got up and decided to take a drive. All drives here are long, though we are a “neighborhood” (as big as Connecticut) and she ended up at a meditation garden in San Luis. San Luis is the oldest town in Colorado. It was founded by Spanish immigrants and it is a very, very beautiful place.

This part of the American southwest is littered with churches, old churches, mission churches, ruins of mission churches and rebuilt mission churches. It’s a place that has an intense and somewhat scary spiritual past. In San Luis is an old church. There is also a new church on a hill built like an old church. On the hill is a trail with bronze sculptures representing the Seven Stations of the Cross. The figures are life sized.

But this place was not the objective of my friend; she was going to something else. There’s a labyrinth and meditation garden dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus. My friend had a major spiritual experience there and, when she came back, she came to tell me about it and invite me. I said I would go with her (and I would) if she needed me to, but I also know this is absolutely categorically not and never will be my thing. The mere thought of walking around in a labyrinth — even one that’s open to the sky and easy to navigate — well, life is already labyrinthine enough. I could see doing it for fun, but as a route to God? In my mind it was “Walk THIS path” and that’s not new.

Then I wondered, “What is my thing?” It’s kind of bewildering that I have written three novels about Christianity and I’m working on a fourth. I’m really intrigued (I guess) by the human search for God. I’m most intrigued by those who fall outside the borders of the established church. But I’m not “consciously” intrigued. I don’t go around thinking, “I’m interested in lepers and Mennonites” — not at all. I’m not even all that interested in Christianity. So where is it?

When I returned to my abandoned story, “The Schneebelis Go to America,” I also began, again, to research things I need for the story. The research was suddenly easy; sources appeared where they hadn’t been last time I looked. For me, that’s a “sign.” Reading (as I am now) an online book, Mennonite Immigration to Pennsylvania in the 18th Century by Henry Smith, Ph.D (1929) I finally had a linear narrative that ties together all the little pieces I’d assembled by myself AND more. I found other things, too. Somehow, I found the “open sesame.” I have no idea how — maybe by stopping and thinking things over.

My life hangs on two hooks; wandering around in nature with my dogs and creative work. These are whatever I have of a spiritual practice.


4 thoughts on ““I Should Believe Only in a God Who Knows How to Dance” (Nietzsche, “Zarathustra”)

  1. I think it is wonderful that you write books, sound silly I know, but it is not easy. I did it just to do it , but nothing with substance. I have read your books, and enjoyed them all. Religion is absolutely not my thing, but reading of the reform church in Switzerland opened my eyes to a lot. I lived in Zürich (opposite a Zwingli church) for two years and now I know what it is all about. It even spurred me on to learn more about it, although that is still waiting in the wings. I was so happy to read of your book having success I would dance as well. It is not just the writing, but the research, the proof reading and being sure that everything is in the right place before taking the plunge and sending it to the publisher, not to mention the suspense to know if it will be accepted. Good luck Martha, you deserve it all the way.

    • Thank you. I got a little boost this morning. I follow (and Martin of Gfenn is followed by) Quarteirverein Gfenn. They were happy, too. It’s all inexplicable to me — why Switzerland? Why this topic? I’ll never know. Ancestral revenge on Zwingli, I guess… 😉

  2. That sound pretty good to me. Excellent, in fact.

    Ganesha dances. I have a bronze of him dancing and it makes me happy. I don’t exactly worship him, but I enjoy him. Maybe, he enjoys me, too.

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