handmade greeting cards, collage artI did something this morning I’ve never done in my life—I threw a book in the trash.  And it was by an author I adore.

I can just hear the Fires of Hell stoking up like a wheezy old furnace.  I’m headed there.  I know it.

Julia Cameron saved my life back in 2008.  I started writing Morning Pages as outlined in The Artists’ Way—three hand-written pages every morning to start scraping the scum off the surface of my mental pond.  My creativity was in a coma after ECT and the collapse of my previous life.  Julia’s humor and gentle guidance brought it back to the surface.

From her other books, I knew she was a recovering alcoholic and lived a 12-Step program, that her relationship with God was deep and meaningful.  So, when I found her book on God, I was thrilled.

Now, God is a touchy subject.  For some, even the word “God” sets off a whole cascade of resistance, prejudice, and fixed notions.  There’s a right way and a wrong way to God, according to most, and folks are eager to show you their road map.  I’m an “All Paths Lead to God” kind of traveller, and my atlas is huge and dog-eared.  I happen to have my own beliefs, but I love hearing what other people find comforting and useful.  I’m the only person I know who actually invites Jehovah’s Witnesses in for a chat.  Who knows what lovely bit of God might trail in on their shoes?

In God is Not A Laughing Matter, Julia Cameron presented her own path to God through writing, walking and opening to the wonder of nature, which are beautiful and full of poetry.  Again, she led readers into an exploration of their own relationship with God through journal questions and proposed activities.  I was lulled as I always am by her words.  So, my shock was profound when she ridiculed the practices that are most meaningful in my life—meditation and a vegan diet.

My Julia?  Intolerant?  It didn’t seem possible.  But with each chapter, her scorn got a little sharper.  The very thing she was preaching against—Spiritual Bullying—seemed to be happening right there on the page.

I shut the book before I let it spoil my relationship with her.  She helped me remember who I am as a writer and artist.  I took courage and strength from her books.  I won’t let the fear and misunderstanding I just witnessed ruin that for me.

Obviously, Julia hasn’t met the right meditating vegan yet.  We’re not all rabid proselytizers and spaced-out stick-eaters.  I like to think that if I rang her doorbell, she might invite me in.  I like to think she’d see that I might have a bit of God stuck to my shoe, too.

So, okay, maybe the book doesn’t belong in the trash.  Maybe I’ll just think of it as unfinished.  She’ll write Part Two after we have coffee.  And maybe take a walk out into the desert.  That’s one path we have in common, and I’m sure we’d find an atlas-full of more.

18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rev Marshall Wright
    Dec 28, 2012 @ 07:11:16

    When taking apart the word, one finds the root ‘religious’ . . . meanng the politics of spirituality. I salute your ‘spirit’ Sandy . . . you are the creator !! My personal Essene mantra is: “Let go . . . and let God . . be me” HO TO YOUR FLOW . . . Love is . . .


  2. Denise Fletcher
    Dec 28, 2012 @ 07:29:14

    Thanks for this blog! Sandy, you have a lot of common sense. I agree that every religion all over the world have kernels of wisdom about our God. No one religion has all the answers and I am not sure understanding is truly possible in this life. People (authors) cross our path for a purpose and we take what we need from them and make it our own. You seem to have done that. You are not Julia, but did help you grow.


    • Sandy Sue
      Dec 28, 2012 @ 07:40:13

      Thanks for your comments, Denise. God and religion can start a fight or hurt feelings just by saying the words out loud. Thanks for not taking offense at my ramblings.


  3. ManicMuses
    Dec 28, 2012 @ 08:17:31

    Bravo. Just because we let people into our lives and allow them to profoundly affect us does not mean we must ascribe to and mirror every opinion and/or belief they personally hold. It’s very brave of you to recognize that and admit it. Sandy, you’re a Bad Ass! 🙂


  4. Penny
    Dec 28, 2012 @ 08:26:19

    Excellent post! I love you my meditating vegan friend! (How dare she diss those things? Apalling, really… *Ü*)


  5. Kim
    Dec 28, 2012 @ 09:45:01

    Sandy, I can so relate to the feeling that throwing a book away is a “sin”! Books have been my friends from childhood, as I imagine they’ve been for you. But I admire how you decided not to discard the author who has been so much help to you, deciding instead to accept what has meaning for you and ignore the rest. Bravo, you.

    “For some, even the word “God” sets off a whole cascade of resistance, prejudice, and fixed notions. There’s a right way and a wrong way to God, according to most, and folks are eager to show you their road map.” You’re so right about this. I have to admit that I’m one of those people who instantly tenses up when God is brought into a conversation. (At this point in my life I’m agnostic leaning toward atheist.) I think everyone is entitled to their own beliefs about a higher power, but I also think spirituality should be a very private part of our lives, not inserted into our public institutions like it is in this country. But that’s a big topic for another day….

    Be well.


    • Sandy Sue
      Dec 28, 2012 @ 11:18:57

      Sometimes we have to push our past (or old notions) away before we can get a good look at them and figure out how to incorporate them into our lives a different way. Babies and bathwater come to mind…


  6. Kitty
    Dec 28, 2012 @ 09:45:54

    Love this post, especially, “There’s a right way and a wrong way to God, according to most, and folks are eager to show you their road map. I’m an “All Paths Lead to God” kind of traveller, and my atlas is huge and dog-eared.” Ain’t it the truth, sister!

    I have that book too! It sits on my bathroom counter, but I seldom read it, so I haven’t gotten to the icky parts you describe. Maybe I’ll just read the beginning over-and-over again. I love the chapter on Prayer, for example.

    I find it so interesting how people are told things about others (meditating vegans as rabid proselytizers and spaced-out stick-eaters, for example) and they just accept it as truth… and then comment freely about something the don’t know a damn thing about. I see this all the time in politics, from both sides of the aisle… Try telling a rabid Republican or Democrat that the other side has a good point when they say… whatever. I do it just to watch them squirm.

    Good for you for being in your truth and throwing something in the trash because it did not serve you. Sounds pretty bad-ass to me!


    • Sandy Sue
      Dec 28, 2012 @ 11:15:24

      Ha! I love the squirm quotient, too. I’ve tried to just slip in an alternative view when talking to the rabid. Usually their eyes will glaze over for a moment, then they’re back to normal (Did I just feel a disturbance in the force, Obi-wan?)


  7. littlesundog
    Dec 28, 2012 @ 21:31:26

    Sandy.. I really enjoyed this post AND the comments! You crack me up!! This last comment to Kitty where you discuss, “talking to the rabid” gave me a good belly laugh! Thanks for that!


  8. Karen Roessler
    Dec 30, 2012 @ 07:01:20

    “Who knows what lovely bit of God might trail in on their shoes?”
    -So thankful to have remnants of sandy pebbles trailed upon the carpet of my humble abode and private soul.

    Having watched a dear friend of mine smash, riddle with black powder bullets, and ultimately burn scads of grief books after losing her 16 year-old daughter, the trash bin seems to be a rather mild death for this offending book. Isn’t it delicious how books can elicit such passionate responses. (Although I believe my friend’s rabid religious friends believed each of these gifts would bring comfort in a much more traditional fashion!)


  9. Fork in My Eye
    Dec 30, 2012 @ 08:09:32

    “…Who knows what lovely bit of God might trail in on their shoes?” I love that whole paragraph. I’m more of a “many different paths might lead to God (if it exists) but more likely will just dangle something just out of reach like a word I can’t quite remember” kind of girl. I suspect my path involves fossils, physics, and poetry, but it’s like a recipe with secret ingredients. And I have limited time and a retarded palate. Not quite up to inviting Jehovah’s witnesses (or anyone else) in to chat though. You’re braver than me. Or more patient. If you don’t mind my asking, when did you start meditating and what do you get from it? (Have you already written about it and I missed it?)


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