"... like a man with his head on fire looks for water." Thus speaks the unnamed guru at the heart of the central portion of Elizabeth Gilbert's bestselling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love.
I think the last time I was looking for God with that kind of intensity I was an adolescent, caught up in the twin infernos of religious fervor and sexual awakening. My bedroom smelled constantly of recently burned candles, because I spent hours into the night saying the rosary with the help of an antediluvian devotional booklet, complete with lurid watercolors depicting the particular infernos through which Our Lady had passed.
One of the first things I told Beloved when trying to explain my religious inclinations was that, when I saw Godspell, I really did put a pebble in my shoe, confident that physical pain would move me along the path to holiness.
Of course, the memory is short. I was in that kind of put-out-the-fire search for God's comfort just a few years ago, when walking across the coals of my dying marriage. And I have sought God's intervention in my own life and behavior as recently as... today, lunch. I pray before meals now with a fervor I'd almost forgotten I was capable of. I pray on my knees at bedtime with the gratitude of someone recently pulled out of quicksand... because I have recently been pulled from the quicksand of addictive behavior, and now stand on the friendly shore of sanity.
Elizabeth Gilbert says the word guru is made up of two syllables, meaning 'darkness' and 'light.' The guru is the one who helps you to make that sojourn, from darkness into light. I suppose, second to Jesus, Bill W. is my guru.
Look for God like a woman with her hair on fire looks for water. Yes.