Returning to truth?

You walk past shopping markets and sports tents, fitness venues and restaurants, now clear that the noise offered by such offerings is not the soothing balm that your inner discomfort is calling for.   Eventually, you find the calming presence of a religious sanctuary and go in, hoping there’s a priest, a chaplain, a minister, a rabbi, SOMEONE you can speak to.

“Sit down, dear,” a kind voice instructs.   “What brings you here today?”   

You turn and discover a warm smiling woman wearing a gown with a clerical collar.  With a deep breath, you feel yourself start to relax and you settle into the cushioned chair near her desk, hopeful that you’ll find relief here.

“I’ve just been feeling off all day – like I should be so happy, I was about to receive a highly-esteemed award and recognition, but I couldn’t do it, I walked out,”  you begin babbling, relieved that at last someone might understand what you’re experiencing. 

“And then I was having a glass of wine when I realized, I think I just need to come here, to talk with you, and I’m hoping you can help me figure out what’s going on with me.  I mean, am I having a midlife crisis or what?  Like, why can’t I just be happy with what I’ve achieved, and what I’ve got?  I should be so thankful, but I’m not, I feel like this sense of dread or guilt or I don’t even know what it is, just like I don’t even want any of this anymore.”

The woman tilts her head and nods understandingly.

“Indeed,” she agrees.   “This happens.  It’s a sign that you need to come back to the Truth and discover God’s Will for you.  You will need to commence a daily practice of prayer each morning and night, praying for guidance.  You will need to forgive.  You will need to practice appreciating what you have, and start a gratitude journal.  You should also start volunteering, so that you are living a life of service.  And if you perform all of these things every day, you will see.  God’s Love is everywhere.  You should not be feeling confused.  God has a plan for you.  But you must do the right things every day so that you can discover His plan and follow it.”

You stare at her incredulously.   

It’s the Dean of the College of Expectation all over again, just wearing a different wardrobe. 

Shoulds.  Musts.  Rules.  Perform.  Do it right.  Obey.   Be good.  Follow the rules.

The tension in your stomach, which had relaxed after the wine and upon entering the sanctuary, tightens up again, and you’ve got to get out of here.

“I, uh, I have to go,” you mumble, startling the well-meaning religious guide as you fling yourself out of the soft chair and dash out the door of the canvas tent.

Back amidst the sea of circus tents, one thing has become clear to you:  you’ve got to find a different way.  You don’t know what it is yet, but something’s got to change.

You walk, and walk, and walk, through the cacophony of tents, looking for something – anything – that offers a hint of something – anything – different.

At last, you come to what seems to be the last of the circus tents.   Beyond this row of tents is a wrought-iron fence, beyond which are rows of stone markers and tall trees, as far as you can see.   You realize you’ve only ever experienced circus tents, and had no idea there might be anything else out there.  That doesn’t seem like the right place to look, and besides, there’s a fence there, which clearly means keep out.   Still, you wonder…

Meanwhile, your attention is drawn to an enormous circus tent with a steady stream of people going in.   “MILLIONAIRE’S CLUB,” the sign says in huge black letters.  “Monetize your talents, become a millionaire, and thrive!”

Maybe that’s the ticket, you think.   Maybe it’s about me doing my own thing, getting off the hamster wheel, and making gobs of money so I can do whatever I want.   Maybe I should check that out.