The centre cannot hold

By Shirley-Anne McMillan. From ‘The God Delusion’ Greenbelt 2007.

Things come apart. The centre cannot hold.

As soon as I was knit together in my mother’s womb I began to unravel.

I remember the exact moment of my undoing. The moment where I realised that all my answers had to change because I had changed.

I was lying in bed. A few days before a human being had burst out of my body into a room full of strangers. For months she had lived, meditating inside me, whispering that she had the final answer and would tell me soon. And now she came out and split me open and split everything apart.

The centre cannot hold.

So later I lay in bed and suddenly realised everything I didn’t know and would never know. Suddenly realised that I did not know God. And as I thought that most terrifying of thoughts, he left me.

God left me.

Things come apart.

The god with the answers was gone. The god with my security was gone. The god with my future, secretly stored until the appointed time of its revelation, was gone. The godman who promised to never leave. The god who was my father. The god who was not my father. The god who spoke my personality. The god who wrote my behaviour down like a map. The god who told me the code to decipher the whole world and all its mysteries; space and time, life and death, holy and profane, was gone.

And I was gone, unravelled completely, from the soul out.

But we do not see things as they are, we see them as we are. And I suddenly saw myself ; someone who had been unravelling since the time I had been knit together in my own mother’s womb. As soon as I was born I started to look for the answer to the question that was birthed in my beginning. From the moment of my birth, trying to reknit myself and remember, remember god. But I never could do it. There always were those questions. I ignored them because I wanted the answer so badly. And I forgot that there is no answer without the question. Perhaps the best we can do is observe our unique unravelling and the way in which we survive it. I am this creature, continually coming apart, but I was born to do it. I am in the unravelling and the making new and the tearing down and the building up again, I am in the question and continually…

in the question.

And it is now my observation that my god is in the business of unravelling. God is not keeping me all together, wrapped up in swaddling clothes to keep me safe, or bandages to hold me in, or a shroud to mask my death. Because the only real safety is in death. And I was born to unravel myself down the path of life towards life.

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