Conversation with a “Christian” girl

A beautiful Sunday afternoon was in progress. As usual, I was sitting in Starbucks, typing away at my book draft, when I saw a couple of women enter the courtyard. At least, that’s what I like to call it.

The two Latino women were older than the usual crowd at Starbucks and a lot younger in disposition. One of them smiled at me beautifully, as I am often finding women in the Westlake district do, especially the Latino ones. For whatever reason, they look at me, smile, greet me and go on their merry way, or sometimes engage in polite conversation, laugh and generally allow me to be with them happily. It’s a phenomenon I haven’t encountered anywhere else in Los Angeles, or even the surrounding Valley Cities — Glendale, North Hollywood and so on. Perhaps it’s the children. They are everywhere in Westlake!

A bit later I noticed a young girl probably in her late 20s sitting at a desk in the corner. I barely pay attention to women nowadays, even though it was my burden in the past to constantly look at their inner world and see how much they suffered. Thankfully, after I gained a certain level of understanding, this vision was taken away from me, allowing me to live in peace. It’s really difficult to live in a world where you can see the suffering of others near-constantly.

See, what I love is sunshine, and when it hits something feminine, like the trees and the grass, the buildings with stone or steel and glass facades, the pavement on which we all love to hang out when things are nice out, I pay attention. And it hit the hair on this young woman. Golden. “Blonde”, I believe they would say, but I hardly pay attention to fashion. I don’t know.

She was writing away at something, looked like work. But the sun was interfering more and more. What started as little speckles of sunshine soon turned into a fiery wash, coming and going, splaying her and her notebook. The wind picked up, making the whole thing a bit harder to manage. The pages were flipping, her hair was constantly getting in her way. Even the two Latino women who were cheerful now started feeling the effects of the sun and wind.

Instinctively, as I am wont to do, I sprang into action and said to the woman who’d smiled at me earlier, “Is it ok if I move this umbrella? It’s hotter now.”

“Thank you!”, she said, realizing what was bothering her. I am well-trained in this arena; the elements are my friends and I know how to be well in their presence.

The blonde girl looked up at me, her mind still on her work. “Sorry I am actually writing about the wind right now and I noticed you were getting bothered. I am a spiritual writer.”

Enough explanation to satisfy them all, for I had moved the umbrella to give them shade and give myself even more sunshine. They smiled and went back to their work. So did I.

Hours passed as I wrote about the effects of wind on spirituality and the journey to the soul. Sky was next, the happiest thing on Earth, although it’s outside it, really. I was all smiles writing about my favorite element.

“Excuse me!”

I looked up. The blonde girl was on her way out.

“I heard you say you were a spiritual writer. Can you tell me what you are writing about?”, she said. It sounded more like a challenge than a question. I knew what to say. I am often thrown random stuff at me in hopes I will respond in a way that invites people into war. I am unable, as my way of being is simply non-violent.

“Yes I am writing about spirituality. I only write for women. Have you heard of the ‘Sacred Feminine’?”, I implored, hoping to engage her in conversation, not war.

She softened a bit. “I’ve heard about the Divine Feminine”, she emphasized the word ‘Divine’.

I was ecstatic. In fact, the terminology I love to use is the ‘Divine Feminine’, not ‘Sacred’ as she’s more than just sacred to me. I love her, deeply. She’s my partner!

“Oh wow! That’s the word I use in my book: ‘Divine Feminine’”, I said, thinking perhaps here was someone new, not like the ones who came before her. Maybe she’s interested.

She was.

“I don’t mean to be disrespectful”, she said, disrespectfully, “But how do you know that it’s the Divine Feminine? Did she say it to you?”, another challenge.

I sighed.

How does someone know that they are breathing? Does the breath have to come and say to you “I am breath”?

This is the problem with book reading, not actual life experience, for you get questions in your head that you don’t understand are absolutely nonsensical. You don’t look at a tree and wonder if it’s a tree, although I maybe over-confident about today’s women, who seem to need an app for that. You don’t look at a woman and wonder if it’s a woman — and that’s definitely something people are having trouble with these days, trying desperately to label, categorize and box people into genders and so on.

“Well, she is all there is.”, I said, “What else is there? All existence is essentially feminine in nature.”

War ensued within her nonetheless. But I wasn’t participating. I am used to these kinds of women now. They come up with a narrative that calls into question their own beliefs, and they go to war within themselves, violently trying to subdue what’s bubbling up from within: love.

“I respectfully disagree”, she said, very disrespectfully, and smiling, not happily.

She launched into some explanation about the creation story, how God made all this, etc. I don’t listen to women that don’t talk about their own life experience, bullshitting others into some scriptural nonsense they’ve come across, adopted as their own belief system, and try to beat others up with it. It’s insane. I would much rather hear from a girl about how she felt when she wasn’t able to find the grocery item she wanted on a shelf. Spirituality isn’t about some highfalutin nonsense about Heaven and Earth, but The Way you see life. I am far more interested in talking about love in the context of grocery shopping than church.

In any case, how anyone can talk about something other than their own life experiences is beyond me, but this is vogue nowadays.

I responded in my characteristic fashion, by allowing her to finish, asking her a follow-up question and watching her squirm inside as she pretended to know.

Then we launched into a discussion about Grace, the feminine Grace that you all must embody. But she insisted that God owned Grace, that it’s His and that you cannot say anyone else has it!

In other words, feminine Grace belongs to God, but it isn’t present in women. I cannot disagree, especially as this woman was a prime example of one severely lacking in Grace! Instead of allowing me to love her, she wanted to fight, knowledge against knowledge, interpretation against interpretation, wisdom against …

“You know, love is what carries wisdom”, I said to her at one point. Wisdom does not enlighten, only love does. As you are enlightened, wisdom is apparent, something you can see, not something you have to work at. Understanding happens the same way. You see, and you understand. You don’t have to work at it. Knowledge, on the other hand, is all work, no rest.

Our whole economic system is hell-bent on knowledge creation, dissemination, consumption, refinement and so on. And that’s why no one is able to rest. What can you do? Knowledge is so limited in nature that you can never have enough to satisfy your desire to learn. But this woman only wanted wisdom, understanding and knowledge, had convinced herself only God could provide it and then, she said something really stupid.

“I will pray for you, that you may receive wisdom, understanding and knowledge from the true God”, she said.

“Where do you think all this that I am writing is coming from?”, I asked her, as she turned and left.

Pain. That’s all I sensed in her as she left. The kind of pain that comes when you pretend to understand something you haven’t experienced yourself.

Our languages have become tools for psychological manipulation instead of storytelling. Instead of talking about who we are and how we see, we’ve decided to talk about life in the third person. It’s as if we can see someone else’s life. Through their own eyes.

It’s not impossible to do so, actually. But it’s exceptionally rare to be gifted in such a fashion, where one is able to inhabit the consciousness of another person and see what their life experience is. I would strongly recommend against asking for a power such as this, for you have no idea just how poorly most women live.

Beneath all the makeup, pretty clothing and stylish accessories, most women suffer in ways that I cannot even endure anymore, which is why I am happy to be relieved of my deep-seated empathy for them that allowed me to see way deeper into their condition than almost anyone else I’ve met. Worthlessness is tops. Lack of self-confidence, self-criticism, self-loathing, fear and paranoia, disturbing violence against their own bodies, sadness and anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, it goes on and on. The darkness is overwhelming, the despair beyond redemption. Or so it seems.

For the darkness is all pretend bullshit. There’s no issue with women’s bodies. No, the corruption is way deeper, in their souls. Lost in a fog, they run around trying to find relief, seeking comfort from anyone or anything, pleasuring themselves if comfort doesn’t work. It’s all nonsensical, really. There’s no need for suffering, none whatsoever.

But it starts by assuming you know what happened to someone else, like Jesus. It starts when you pick up a random treatise on someone else’s life experience and decide that you can make sense of it by reading, watching, listening and thinking, not living.

Your life experience contains all the lessons you need to learn, and you would progress so much more if you just paid attention to it, instead of what others are saying about their lives. True Christian living is just that — live, contemplate, ask questions but don’t look for someone else to give you ready-made answers, for their answers come from their own point of view, not yours.

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A couple of days later, I sat down to write this story. At some point, I went in to grab a decaf Americano — my favorite drink — as they don’t make decaf drip coffee in these coffee shops anymore it seems. A girl that I had spoken to a few times before as I was ordering started talking about the fact that she was feeling low.

“It’s been cloudy and that brings everyone down man”, I said. She’s a girl but it’s my way of speaking, informally. I love them so much I assume anything I say is ok.

“It’s true!”, she says and starts to babble about something I cannot hear while she’s doing other things and the café gets noisy. But I catch a bit about not sleeping enough.

“I follow the sun, you know. I go to bed by 6 pm.”, I say. Even in California I find the sun isn’t as ever-present as I’d expected. There are so many cloudy days here, especially in this season. And the sun sets early and rises late, by my standards anyway :)

She shares a bit about how she wakes up and goes to sleep. And then, she commits to something else — living in tune with the sun.

It’s enough spirituality for one day.

If all my girls did was commit to something every day, especially to wanting love, they would go as far as they should, be fulfilled and live a very happy life. Their life would be full of experiences where they would learn all they needed to learn, understand all they needed to understand and know whatever they needed to know in the moment, not as a gathered piece of information, but natively, by being.

It’s just that simple.

Christianity has become a quest for wisdom, understanding and knowledge, not love. There is no end to this quest, and it does not fulfill. You will remain as poor at the end of this quest as you were at the beginning. Life isn’t limited anyway, so where will you stop? You will have to keep searching, finding new information that will clash with old information, as everything is in flux, at least as far as wisdom, understanding and knowledge go.

Truth isn’t found in words at all, but in lived experience — beyond it, in fact. To want love is to go beyond all that is and find yourself in a world of truth, beauty and love — one that cannot be explained, communicated in words, nor shared, except by being in it, together. And only those who can say they live in it, together, can claim to be in love, with each other.

Everything else is bogus.

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Instagram @penumarthyshashi

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Shashi Penumarthy

Shashi Penumarthy

Instagram @penumarthyshashi

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