Cuyahoga River

Cuyahoga River
Cuyahoga River in the Valley

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Eat Pray Love -- It's all we need besides sleep

I admit that I was a bit put off by Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love at first. Her meandering writing style was not well crafted and that irritated me, as it does every time I read a New York Times bestseller and discover a writer can’t write. But she was a National Book Award Finalist for her book The Last American Man and received a New York Times notable book designation for Pilgrims, for her compelling voice, comic touch, and amazing ear fro dialogue. Harper’s Bazaar said “The heroes of Pilgrims . . . are everyday seekers.” Anne Lamott is quoted as saying it’s “A wonderful book, brilliant and personal, rich in spiritual insight.” And I love Anne so I started liking Gilbert. The New York Times said “If a more likable writer than Gilbert is currently in print, I haven’t found him or her . . . Gilbert’s prose is fueled by a mix of intelligence, wit, and colloquial exuberance that is close to irresistible.” The Los Angeles Times called the book “A mediation on love in its many forms—love of food, language, humanity, God, and most meaningful for Gilbert, love of self . . . Gilbert’s wry, unfettered account of her extraordinary journey lets even the most cynical reader dare to dream of someday finding God deep in a mediation cave in India, or, perhaps, over a transcendent piece of pizza.”

By the time she got to the Ashram in India, the writing was no longer a problem. I was so interested in her journey that I decided to structure a retreat around it, even though I hadn’t finished the book. I’m defending her here because last night I received an e-mail from someone who had a hard time with me using her book for a retreat, especially in the Methodist church, and he wanted me to stop. I wrote back with my honest experience of the book, and I woke this morning confident that what I’m doing is fine because the District Superintendent said it almost doesn’t matter what you offer the church membership if you get them in the door. The decline of Christianity in America is a fact, and churches need to learn how to deal with that.

The book inspired me to do a retreat based on Gilbert’s year of journeying. February 19, 2011, it came to be.

Interesting: People think your soul make is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. You can’t live with a soul mate forever because it’s too painful. One thing I do know about intimacy is that there are certain natural laws which govern the sexual experience of two people, and that these laws cannot be budged any more than gravity can be negotiated with. To feel physically comfortable with someone else’s body is not a decision you can make It has very little to do with how two people think or act or talk or even look. The mysterious magnet is either there, buried somewhere deep behind the sternum, or it is not.”

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