I love reading and writing. I came to writing late in life and discovered a world where I feel like a fish in the water.
“This is the book that made me lose my faith,” Sophie said.
Eliza looked at the cover of the thick book that Sophie had on her round white coffee table.
“You’re kidding. This book?”
“Yes, the Bloodline of the Holy Grail exposes the truth about the lineage of Jesus that the Roman Catholic church tried to hide for a long time,” Sophie said with conviction.
Eliza had lost faith and moved away from organized religion years ago. It crept up on her as she became busy with life, mostly growing up in an environment of war, violence, and trying to stay alive.
“This book was written by a conspiracy theorist who dreamt of power and privileges. Laurence Gardners was delusional and called himself Prior of the Celtic Churches Sacred Kindred of Saint Columbia. No one took him or his research seriously,” Eliza said.
“This book and its revelations, though perhaps somewhat unfounded, is the straw that broke the camel's back,” Sophie said. “It just added fuel to the fire that has been raging in me for a while now.”
As Eliza was mocking Sophie’s unfounded decision, she thought of her own path to non-believing. Several years ago, a priest told her that she clung to a childish understanding of the Christian faith. She now agreed with him. The problem was that Eliza never had the chance to get a more mature understanding. She had to have recourse to other spiritual practices to pull herself out of her “dark night of the soul”.
“How do you feel now that you believe you lost your faith?” Eliza said.
“I don’t believe I lost my faith. I know I lost my faith,” Sophie said. “The moment I realized that I stopped believing was an intensely empty moment. I felt like I was living in a vast emptiness with no boundaries. When I pulled myself from the shock of the limitless void, I started reflecting on how to fill this emptiness.”
“What did you replace it with? Have you filled the void?” Eliza's voice broke with the tinge of jealousy she felt. She still struggled to fill the emptiness in her that was caused by her loss of faith.
Sophie’s voice was soft when she said, “It took me a few days to realize that I don’t need to fill the void. I chose to let it be and leave things as they are. Life will take its course and change will happen naturally as long as I allow it. And I DO WANT to allow it.”
Eliza felt blown away. It had never occurred to her that she could accept the void in her rather than keep trying to dislodge its weight and fill it with whatever she could think of.
“What do you do in the meantime?” Eliza said.
“You mean what did I do in the time between realizing the void and knowing that I don’t need to fill it?”
“Nothing. Life continued as before. I’m curious to discover what life will bring my way. I’m certain I’ll be surprised by what’s to come once I understand it.”
The hint of jealousy that Eliza felt moments earlier was turning into full-blown greenish envy. She took a deep breath to keep it under wrap. God knows how much she wanted to accept whatever life sent her way without reacting strongly or falling apart.
“I know you no longer believe in the teaching of the church. Don’t even try to hide it from me. How are you coping?” Sophie said.
Eliza blinked a few times, which made Sophie smile. "You know you cannot hide your thoughts and feelings from me."
Eliza looked lost in her thoughts for a moment then said, “My faith never stood on its own. It never mattered by itself. It was linked to the love of my community. It’s that love that was at the basis of my faith. As an older person now, I quite understand it. I keep the sweet memory of that love-based faith. At least, I’ve known it even if it weren’t all real.”
They’re all gone. How have I survived their loss? My faith died with the last of them. My faith died but the love of my community still tug at my heart.
A sob escaped Sophie’s lips as she knew what Eliza did not say out loud. She moved closer to Eliza, put her hand gently on hers, and squeezed it. “Not everyone is gone,” Sophie said. “You still have me. Friends forever like coffee and milk, remember?”
Tears ran down Eliza’s face as the two friends sat in silence listening to the music of their diva playing in the background songs of yearning and nostalgia.
“Many of us will experience loss of faith or times of spiritual trials. Spirituality has its ups and downs just like the rest of life. Just be patient and mindful and keep hoping,” Sophie said.
I have no other choice.
© 2022 Liliane Najm