Visions of Daniel
New York: Alyson Book, 2007.
Finding Your Niche in Life:
God's Way and the "Secret" of Life
When asked why they are homosexual, any lesbian or gay must respond, “It's just the luck of the draw.” But a homosexual Christian could also respond, "God wanted me to be this way." “I am this way because this is how the natural processes of human conception, birth, and rearing led me to be. God has been at work in my life. Divine Providence decreed that I should be gay.”
If that's the case, then, following Jesus' call must include accepting one's homosexuality—or whatever else. Not to accept it is to resist God's call. Not to accept it is to reject the divine plan for us. This same lesson applies to anybody—the man born irresistibly heterosexual and unable not to think of marriage, the woman born with awesome and burdensome intelligence, the family struggling against poverty, the spouse who simply cannot make the marriage work, the parent grieving over the death of a child, the couple who just cannot have a child, the gifted employee out of work because the economy went bad, the person living in too small a town who has no way out, the artist hard-pressed to make a living without deadening the music of his or her soul, the stunningly beautiful guy or girl trying to be just one of the crowd, the scientist or entrepreneur or athlete or politician who just happened to be at the right place—or the wrong place—at the right time.
In these and other cases, religion tells us to accept God's will, to trust in Divine Providence. This advice does not mean to give up and succumb to mediocrity or to get puffed up and lord it over others. It means to realistically face the facts and to do whatever we can to make the best of them. When we cultivate such a positive attitude, sometimes surprisingly good and totally unexpected outcomes result. Grappling with reality forces us to come up with creative alternatives.
I find no other way to understand things. Life must be lived as it comes. There is no privileged way out. Belief in God does not take the challenge of living away. Religion and spirituality do not provide an inside track on life. Prayer to God does not merit miracles that remove life's difficulties. On the contrary, authentic religion and mature spirituality lead us to look life in the eye, to embrace it for what it is, and, with our best wits, our best intentions, and what like-minded companionship we can find, to make the most of it for ourselves and for everyone else.
People are always wondering, “What is the secret of life?” Well, there it is. I have just written it. After a long and arduous search, I know no other wisdom, nor do I believe there is any other. Authentic spirituality is not about achieving some supposed comprehensive insight or experiencing some blissful, altered state of consciousness. What life actually offers us leaves us living in unknowing, in trust, in faith. And to live joyfully in such faith is, I believe, what it means in practice to be a Christian. This same is also what it means to be enlightened or to be a mystic. It is what it means to be like Jesus and to follow Jesus' call. And it is what it means to be a genuine human being, believer or not.
As far as I know, there is no other way. To seek another way means inevitably to indulge in some kind of idolatry. Idolatry is substituting some more palpable and convenient “god” for the Unknown that surrounds our lives. We make many things into idols: money, houses, clothes, cars, careers, beauty, “friends,” romance, drugs, political causes. We expect them to keep us secure and make us feel good. Even religion—simplistic fundamentalism, reliance on miracles, a literal Bible, the teachings of my church, the word of the pope—is liable to become an idol. It was for good reason that Jesus condemned his religious contemporaries for being too invested in their religion and too negligent of the things of God. The difficulty is that to attend to the things of God is to live in ultimate uncertainty, surrounded by a cloud of unknowing, simply trusting the universe and whatever is the Power behind it.