The other day I listened to this episode of RadioLab, about bliss. They talked about the Marsh Chapel Experiment, which I had heard of before, but they interviewed one of the participants who talked about how his experience there led him to a life of deeper faith. It was intriguing to me that these people, already theology students, had an encounter with something chemical and came out with a lasting faith.
My fellow Psychology major friend and I have talked about how much has changed since we were in school learning about the DSM-III. Just this week the DSM-V came out and although I haven't read it (ha!), it sounds like so many of the disorders and syndromes that we studied about have been reduced (revealed?) as chemical issues at their heart. I heard recently about a drug that is being used to treat anorexia. Anorexia! If all these psychological states are just chemical imbalances, what happens to talk therapy? What happens to ferreting out the roots of our dis-ease and working on our mental health? What happens to "tell me about your mother?" Is it all unnecessary now? It's hard for me to believe and also, hard for me to think that the work people have done on their psyches over the years has been worthless. On the other hand, if we can take a pill, balance our chemistry and not be tortured by anorexia, well... that's good, right?
Anyway, during this episode they interviewed a person who had experienced what we'd call a "conversion moment" at a concert with his Christian friends when he was young- a moment when he felt part of a Universal One, a moment of joy, of connection, of groundedness (all my words), of religious bliss. He said he's left that faith since, and as I remember the story, he feels a little jealous of people who can eat a mushroom and conjure those feelings.
I've felt that Universal One feeling, and here I stay, in faith. It wasn't a chemical thing (that I know of!) but a moment, I realize, of falling in love. The people on the show talked about faith as something you experience and then either stay with or lose. It seems to me that love is the same way. Everyone falls hard at some point. The trick is maintaining it, or at least being able to recapture it when necessary, or be able to come to terms with this feeling-and-relationship in a way that it can be sustained.
Later that afternoon, I was standing alone by our fire pit, tending a burning off of extra brush and kindling that has accumulated over the last summer (when it was always, somehow, too hot/rainy/windy/busy to have a fire) and listening to music when this song came up on my list. I took the moment to stand still and feel the sweet warm wind blowing my hair around, felt the heat from the fire, noted that I was surrounded by a happy home (yard) and near Scott, my beloved, and I fell right back into that Universal Oneness, that memory of falling in love with God that happened so so so many years ago.
You are the one my heart is waiting for. You are my treasure, you are my key, you are the door.