When it comes to spirituality, I’m all over the map. Early childhood in Catholicism, late teenager goddess religion, Irish mysticism and earth-based spiritualty, Buddhism, meditation circles, Emersonian transcendentalism as well as attending mosques, synagogues, stupas, weird pagan festivals and sweat lodges. I found divinity in all of these settings, so, I could not comprehend how all religions feel that they have the one way. All ways lead to God.
Also, the ecstasy and devotion that people felt about their religions, I had only experienced in the woods. This led me to the very natural path of looking at decaying trees and animals, the role of fungi, discovering a mother with baby turkeys, the spring regeneration of Coltsfoot and Lady’s Slippers and the flow of birth, life, death and resurrection from a scientific and naturalistic perspective.
Are we as dead as a skunk on the side of the road? Good-bye and lights out; existence and what we know of life is over; this life is not a dress rehearsal. These ideas reminded me to be mindful because… this moment might be all that there is.
Then, in a concerted effort to drop my damn baggage because it was too damn heavy to carry anymore, I was serendipitously led to kundalini yoga through a mindful woman centered teacher, a guru. Despite my New York skepticism, bits of wisdom slowly crept in. One of our mantras was so real; I am beautiful, blissful and bountiful.
May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you; and the pure love within you, shine your way on. To hear a chorus of women singing this and raising their voices for themselves, each other and all of humanity is life changing.
And the voices of women in our gathering lifted my spirit up, and after decades of Biblical trauma, I finally started to weep because I had not cried since 1998.
I would like to say that everything was rainbows, unicorns and the partner of my dream materialized, but that did not happen – or at least not in that order. This was a human version of Eat, Pray, Love. I stopped wine, weed, over-exercising and type A behavior of doing, accomplishing, and being so busy I basically would pass out at night.
Nightmares, sweats, electric currents running up my body, out of body experiences, dreams, memories, bad memories, really bad memories and panic attacks flooded my system. I made it this far to be hospitalized NOW? I thought I would have to check myself into the fifth floor or whatever floor the psychiatric unit was on.
Thankfully, a kind psychiatrist who agreed to see me said, “Well, of course you’re having a nervous breakdown, you have stopped all of your coping mechanisms. That is why all your trauma and remembered trauma, and abuse is flooding you because you are not denying or detaching from it. You are in you body and mind, finally experiencing it.”
I could cope with this because I was a fighter and this was another thing to overcome. Yet, this was not a Hallmark movie where I suddenly was BETTER. It took years as I began to learn and perceive I am not my trauma or emotions and learn a new way of being.
Which brings me to 2023 and sitting in a Catholic church on Saturday at 5pm.
I am sitting in a pew and letting the words wash over me and as the priest says, “God is merciful.” I am thinking, Tell that to the people in Turkey. I am feeling smug and judgmental and realizing this as I try to plug into something larger because my smugness is irritating me. Then I realize…
I do NOT know any divine path or what is in store for anyone or how it plays out in their or the universe’s karmic soup. This is a horrific tragedy and God is not sending lightening bolts or golden horseshoes. Perhaps the mercy is the community that rises to help those in need, the humanitarian community that is working OT, the donors, the people praying, all of humanity that recognizes the horror.
Because there is no God.
He is not a person doling out blessing and punishments. Suddenly, I reached a beautiful joyful peace in that Catholic church. God, for me, is about divine oneness, that interconnectedness we feel when we do selfless service, like the first responders at 9/11, or when we do something as simple as wave a car in front of us when they are trying to pass lanes.
Yet, I am getting super judgey when the priest talks about this weird martyrdom of Catholicism, the turning the other cheek, loving a-holes.
Then another epiphany hits me that intersects Catholicism with Buddhism. All suffering comes from attachment. I am suffering when I look at my wrinkles, grey hair and weird sagging skin because I am attached to an idea of beauty. To turn the other cheek means I am not attached to revenge or the most important thing, my emotions, which drive my alligator brain, not my divine brain.
I am 60 this year. I recognize more frequently my alligator brain and my divine brain, and my need for divine oneness finally has the majority of my time. In these last few weeks, my attachments are thankfully loosening their grip. And to drop this is to feel so free. I feel like I can just float away. I just lost 50 psychic pounds.
When was your faith challenged? What steps did you take when you questioned your religion or faith? Has your relationship with God, religion or divinity changed as you have aged?
Tags Finding Happiness
Oh, wow….. I have been so about this in the past years. I grew up in a religious Lutheran family: church every Sunday, prayers before dinner and after dinner etc. I questioned immaculate conception, and resurrection and Jesus being divine. Jesus was a kind, loving, accepting teacher – but divine? I do admire the faithful – faith is powerful and healing.
Today, I, too, have studied Celtic lore, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism and other religions – I respect them all and must say that I believe in so much that religions offer to sooth my spirit.
Today, I know that “God” must be a woman. The colors of the flowers, and the sky, striped and polka dot animals, silly looking birds and lizards and fish must have been created by a woman! And why, pray tell, would a male have blessed a woman with a pleasure point, a clitoris, simply for her own pleasure? I don’t think so.
Women carry life and give it birth. Women nurture and feed and sooth and heal.
I see Mother Nature and her beauty, the raging storms, the rainbows, the sea and tides and I feel that it was a female that created all of this.
Whatever one believes, however, is individual and our spirits need to be nurtured in order to keep our bodies healthy and healing.
I think it’s a mistake to try to tell anybody what to believe. Sometimes it’s a mistake to even share your beliefs. I’ve met people who have grown up Catholic then switched to Evangelical, grateful to have found an authentic relationship with God that is more theologically on point. I’ve also met people who have grown up Evangelical who have left the church, sick of hypocrisy and blaming it on God (or the lack of God). I’ve met virulent atheists and gentle ones. I’ve met doubting Christians who have been shifted off-balance by the solid talk of non-believers. So many people speak with assurance about their beliefs and what they KNOW in their spirit, their hearts, their minds, their bellies but nobody knows. We didn’t know there were radio waves until somebody figured out how to capture them. We didn’t know cancerous chemicals were in the air or that viruses could travel from person to person because we couldn’t see them. Some people STILL believe fervently that the earth is flat. We don’t know a LOT about most things, yet we talk to each other as if we have this vast wisdom. THAT is what has changed in me. I have recognized more and more as I have aged how much I don’t know and how much those around me don’t know and when I read this, I fear that somebody who doesn’t know might think that YOU know and be guided out of a belief that comforts them. After all, that’s what beliefs are supposed to do for us in the end, aren’t they. They are supposed to comfort us. They are supposed to give us hope. That’s why many people leave the church–when they don’t receive that comfort and hope. But that’s also why so many flock to the church, especially when they see the people in Turkey, especially when they are GOING through those kinds of trials. That comfort and hope is what they need to cling to. So I hope the people that read this remember that the writer doesn’t know anything. None of us know anything. In the end, it may be better than any of us could have ever imagined.
Surely no sane person would want anything to do with a god who would torture, maim and kill men, women and children as some sort of trial.
I was raised in a Christian home, made my own personal decision for Christ when I was 12. While I didn’t always walk closely with God, it was after my first husband left me that I truly pressed into Christ. And He was there for me, I saw more miracles in my life than I can count, literally. Jesus is the most precious thing in my life. And when I see true Christians walking that out, others are blessed and His true heart illustrated. Nothing means more to me.
Keep sharing, Sister. It seems time is short.
Amen! Thank you for writing the words I was thinking. May God richly bless you and all that don’t know Him as we do.
I agree. As I get older, my faith is much more important to me. Living as a Christian is not easy. Every Friday morning we have a prayer meeting at our church. We have also been praying for the Ukraine. We don’t understand why God has allowed this war to last so long or why Putin is still in control. But we still pray faithfully to Jesus to end this war and know that He is in control. We got a new pastor in Oct. Already he is preaching about Revelation 1-5 and sin. Wow! Not in a fire and brimstone way, but a gentle, quiet way that people are just longing to hear. New families are coming every week. People are needing the fellowship of each other and needing encouragement on how to deal with the ways of this world. I want to be a light in this dark world. I want people to ask what I have that they don’t. I don’t actively profess my faith but I try to live the way Jesus would want me to and people do see a difference in the way I relate to them. Even my non Christian friends. Yes, the older I get the more I realize that my faith is becoming more important. I will be 74 this year.
A great and gentle post. I posted somewhere on here but just got approved. What a great site that we can be different, share our beliefs and not be censored. ❤️
Oh boy this is a deep subject! I was raised Baptist. Baptized at age 12 after a life changing vision at a church summer camp. But my particular church was brimstone and fire and scary really for a child at least. Married a German Lutheran and immediately loved his church. Bye bye to all the guilt and negative connotations. Have stayed a Lutheran ever since but really for me it is the connection I feel with God through my belief in Jesus that has grown and continues too. I went through a phase a few years ago of I have to save everyone I care about but thankfully have settled into the knowledge of that’s not my job. What a relief! I am at peace with the path I’m on and letting everyone follow their own. But for me I keep my heart open and know I will be learning as long as I’m alive. And honestly in this often scary world keeping in close contact through prayer with the One who controls it all truly brings me that peace which surpasses all understanding. I hope everyone can find that!
So, apparently you are your own god. You go to the religion that most closely resembles your own thoughts/feelings on how a god, religion and followers should be. Glad you found a home. Peacefulness is precious.
If you want to share your beliefs, that’s fine. But, you really have no right to be on this site criticizing people and replying to them with your disrespectful and ignorant remarks. You obviously are a troll and I am not sure how you were approved to be on here.
I questioned my faith early on in my life. My mother told me she wanted me to be old enough to decide for myself if I wanted to be baptised. She said I should know what it meant. So, as a 12 year old, I began my quest into understanding faith. I did get baptised at 12. But wondered if I knew everything I needed to know. So I always had an ear cocked ready to hear or challenge what I knew. When my 22 year old son died back in 2005, I remember thinking how I would expect others in my place to be angry with God. I wasn’t. I was actually comforted by him. I remember thinking how strange that was. Later, about ten years or so, I was going to a different church. I really enjoyed listening to the pastor. He was smart and a great public speaker. They regularly had baptisms. All ages. And they would get a t-shirt afterwards that said I HAVE DECIDED. And after all the searching and listening, that was it. Truth for every religion in the world. You just have to decide. And when you do, you’ll have it.