Does that offend you? It brings me great comfort. Why anyone would want to remove that source of joy and comfort from my life? But people claiming any kind of spirituality are fair game in our society. Tell you what…don’t try to fix mine. It is not broken and has sustained me through a life that has been interesting, to say the least. So if you want to be part of this community, by all means engage. Abuse hurled at someone else’s beliefs is non-productive and will not be tolerated. If the topic of spirituality offends you, stay out of this section. I promise not to push my beliefs down your throat. Spiritual pilgrims welcome.
Ignorance comes in many forms. Quite frankly, to ignore the possibility that god, karma, mother nature or whatever mysteries may be out there does not seem very scientific to me. I guess i’m too Star Trekkie. I think science is meant to be exploring the whole universe. To simply dismiss the spiritual realm seems a little extreme, but such are the days in which we live.
I do not live in a fairy tale world. I don’t believe if I pray before a Minnesota Vikings game, God will help my team win. And why does god love Tom Brady? I do not know. Such are the mysteries of the universe.
Nor do I think my system of belief is “better” than anyone else’s belief structure. I don’t profess to know it all, I only know what has been valuable to me. I could not have gotten through many crisis in my life without my understanding of god. There you go.
Anyhow, I’m going to give you a snapshot of my own journey and we will see where things go from there.
I was raised primarily on military bases. On a Canadian military base there were two congregations, Roman Catholic and Protestant. Catholics have a neat system. Just about everyone who was raised Catholic, knew what to do in a congregational setting. Protestants…not so much. Each of our little protestant cliques has their own rituals and so when we get together no one can be offended if we just do a little ritual cut and paste.
Which brings up the question: why does the military hang their hat on one god? And why do they only allow Christians to be blessed before battle? Damn. If I were going into battle, I would think throwing all my eggs into one basket might be foolish. I would advise such folk to pray to every god they can think to name if it brings them comfort and courage before the coming battle. Hell. I’d bring all those Roman and Greek gods back into style. Statues all over the place. Anyhow, I became a member in those days and was confirmed into a denomination. Yay.
If that sounds a little casual, so be it, but I have always believed in god. I believed there had to be something bigger than us. Trust me…I had lots to pray about. But I was also a scientist at heart and to my dismay, god never turned on the light automatically as a proof of existence. My requests did not really seem to matter in the larger circle of things. I also studied a lot of the weirder stuff, like Kirlian photography, spiritualism and telekinesis. Incidentally, my telekinesis did not work any better than my prayers. I also bought x-ray specs from the pages in the back of the comic book.
I went through a lot in my teenage years, as do most of us. I started university at 16 to study environmental biology, dropped out before the first semester ended and entered the workforce. I eventually ended up working at a rolling mill. Good physical work and I partied like there was no tomorrow.
As I brawled and battled my way through teenage years, I knew that something was missing. I was always angry. And unhappy.
Then I met god. Yup. Was up in the mountains with some of those crazy born again Christians. It was pouring rain and they were setting up tents, happy as pigs in shit, which is how I felt coming down from a mess of drugs and booze the night before in order to brace for this adventure. One of the group was a close friend from high school who had invited me to come on this hiking trip in the mountains. This was a female friend I desired, so it seemed to make sense at the time.
So they are setting up tents and making a fire…and it is pissing cold, Rocky Mountain rain cold. And night is falling quickly. And the whole time they are singing Jesus songs. Talk about a bad acid trip. We ate and went to bed. Wet, fucking cold, crazy people… wtf was i thinking?
Suddenly i had a thought. What if they were right?
So I prayed. I asked god to give me a chance. I said I was sorry for lost opportunities and asked forgiveness, as I have done so many times since then. No secret prayer book, no ritual at an altar, no ceremonies. And, for the first time ever in my life, I felt peace. Now I could try to do a whole bunch of evangelical stuff here, but that is not the point. I am simply sharing my adventure with you.
Since that time, many things have taken place. I got married to Dawn and she died after giving birth to our third child. I married again. This marriage did not work out, as sometimes happens. Met my soulmate. Married again. We have a blended family of eight children with all kinds of different biological parents and we all know our genetics come back to haunt us so, yeah…been praying like hell for their safety and happiness, etc. i was in a life-changing car crash in 2001 that meant i could no longer hold a job. Yeah. There was that.
And the Church and I have had a stormy relationship. I do not think it would be productive to name denominations and such. Nor do I think it is helpful to point fingers and belabour the point.
Can I just say I am a big fan of Jesus, but have a hard time with his fan club? Can I just say that when I needed my people, many of them vanished or shunned me and my family and leave it there? If I am part of a society of people who believe in the spiritual and then hate and judge and condemn, I have issues. I do not care what version of god you follow. Bringing pain to others has nothing to do with the divine.
And so I retreated from the church and religion in general. And I lost something in the process that was valuable to me. My spirituality languished and my soul (or whatever you choose to call yourself) starved. I tried going back to congregational life, but I think there were too many ghosts and I decided I was done with a church that no longer saw me a valuable part of community.
But something happened- crisis- and now my soul is awake and I feel spiritually alive for the first time in decades. So I am taking back my spirituality with a vengeance. Not to be the pain-in-the-ass, door-knocking, pamphlet-reading, kind of person. So I ask again: “Why anyone would want to remove that source of joy and comfort from my life?”
I am not an expert in other people’s’ belief structures, so I hope to invite people with different perspectives to share their journey. As I always say, if you can’t be kind, don’t read it. If it offends you or makes you angry, just stay away. If it is helpful to you, join in and share your experience. Blessings.
St. John of the Asylum