What I Believe…
The other day I was with a group of friends during a conversation about religion. One of my friends commented that all of must be atheists. I didn’t choose to respond then, since this is normally a private matter for myself but thought I would write up a note on what I am, religious wise.
- I am not an atheist
- I am not an agnostic
- I am not a Christian, Hinda, Buddhist, Jew, Pagan, Wiccan, Gaian, or other religious follower
Kind of seems to leave everything out and this list is why I normally don’t like to talk about what I believe in. At times I might be viewed as any one of the above but I don’t feel that what I believe is pinned pin down easily into one slot. And I will say that I am definitely not an atheist, so that slot can be eliminated. However, here are some things that if a religion came out with them, I might follow that religion.
- A religion for mothers with two toddlers, one school age child and one teenager who are trying to take care of their kids, keep their household running smooth and probably working a full time job too,
- A religion for fathers who are working two jobs, taking care of odd jobs for their in-laws, helping their wife around the house and working to stay involved with their kids,
- A religion for the small business person just starting out who is trying to build up the business while their family keeps things going at home to allow the business to keep going,
- A religion for teachers, fireman, nurses, policeman and anyone else who is trying to do too much with too little and a lot of grief from the people they work for,
- And a religion for all those people, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandmothers and grandfathers, neighbor down the street, coworker, everyone who is trying to make a living, spend a little time with their family, have some fun, have a little bit of sadness and be busy living life while wondering what everything really means and what is the purpose of it all.
That is the kind of religion I could get into. Probably wouldn’t meet every Sunday or even every week, maybe once a month, on Tuesdays, because the kids don’t have much going on and work gets out earlier and there are still some left overs from the weekend so it won’t be too much trouble to go to a service. And the service will have a lot of talking and laughing, with some serious questions in one corner while the children are running around for some game they just made up and one of the parents is yelling, “Larry, watch out for your sister!”, while everyone enjoys the potluck and the really good cherry pie that Grandma Emma brought.
Yep, that’s the kind of religion I could get behind, no sermons, just people trying to figure out what it all means while taking another piece of pie and yelling at Susan to not run out the door just because her brother is chasing her. The question is, why would I like a religion like this? And how is it a religion? There isn’t any formal book, no formal guidance or set of beliefs to follow, so how is this a religion? My short answer is that it’s not a religion and it’s not supposed to be but perhaps that’s too short. For me, this gathering of people is a spiritual sharing because it is a group of people living life, working through the lessons that life hands them and still taking time to meet with others, to share their experience and love in spite of what life is handing them. They are seeking higher ideals of love, courage, support, and helping each other while still living a full life. They live an integrated life instead of putting religion in one compartment, family in another compartment with work in yet another space that doesn’t allow experience from one area to boost another area of our life.
But too many religions expect a passive participation, where the believers are led towards what to believe, to not question and where believers look for answers from experts when in reality, with a little help, the answers lie within themselves. Or where enlightenment comes from a retreat away from the world. It’s easy to be filled with belief and a connection to God/Goddess/Other when you are away from people, out in nature and close to the earth but how do you connect when you are busy trying to meet that 5 o’clock deadline while cleaning up the mess and explaining to your family you will be home late one more night? The same force is there, the belief is underneath all of that chaos but how can you connect and draw strength when the greater power feels like it’s far away, beyond the walls you are trapped in? How do you integrate that power from religious beliefs and use it to help clean up that mess and still get home at 6:00, in time to play with your children at home?
How do we live an integrated life that honors the spiritual while dealing with they physical challenges a full life can bring? I still haven’t found an answer but if that church ever forms I want to be a founding member. And I’ll help chase the toddlers around for that father and mother while the mechanic fixes that squeaky board in the chapel that everyone steps on as they walk in and Auntie Flo crochets an afghan for her nephew at college, a tired school teacher helps out the slow students with Joe Smith in the corner discussing Socrates and St. Augustine with Mary who’s visiting her cousin while she has a few days off from nursing. Sounds like a warm gathering with lots of love, support, encouragement and courage to help all of us get through another day.