I have tried to write this particular blog post several times, but always quit after just a few keystrokes.
My father passed away, after a long and good life, a year ago last week. It rattled me. I have spent the past year dedicating some time to really thinking about what my religious beliefs are, even if I really had any. How could I respect science and logic, but yet acknowledge a deep sense of mystery with more than a few personal encounters with the unexplainable?
I have read many books this past year. I have read books on history, art, biographies, astrophysics, meditation, human evolution, leadership, philosophy, saints and sinners. I have read biblical passages, sacred texts, and poetry. I even joined an online course made up of people of all faiths and no faith. I have stared quietly at mountains, oceans, rivers and streams. I have looked at stars and contemplated the desert. I have sat in solitude on the monastery grounds of Cistercian monks. I have inhaled my breath slowly for 4 counts and exhaled for 4 counts. No shit, I have really done all of this.
From all this, I have developed a different perspective about God and yet it is a work in progress. However, I realize now that for most of my life I was taught ,and though even rebelliously, I eventually adopted the idea of a very small form of God. I saw God as a Being, when in fact I now believe that God is Being. God as Being is everywhere.
I started noticing this over the past year, wondering why nature often had this awe-inspiringly affect on me. Why did the color of flowers often stop me in my tracks? A few months ago, in an academic setting, I took a group of young adults to a spring at the base of a mountain. The spring grows quickly to a stream and eventually a major river. They all became very quiet and just stared at the water coming out of the mountain. They told me they felt something and with no prodding from me. I wondered why? What did they feel? I felt something too.
This week I got together with two of my oldest friends; we probably met when we were around five years old. We sat next to a large rock, under a tree, and talked, and laughed, and remembered, and quietly thought our thoughts. I felt God there, in those relationships, those precious relationships. So I felt God at the spring and I felt God among old friends.
I have felt Being when I enter Yosemite Valley, or look up at Mount Shasta, or climb along the rocks of Sedona. I now feel Being when the breeze blows across my face or the clouds change shapes. I feel Being when I look into my dogs eyes. I sense Being when I sit under a big oak tree. When I hear family, friends, laugh … and cry, I feel Being. When a friend sings a song, like Amazing Grace or On My Side of the World, or My Revival, I feel Being.
I feel Being now when I read books about the Big Bang Theory, human evolution, and enlightenment, even in those intellectual endeavors. I feel Being when I have nothing but questions. I have learned you can have faith and questions at the same time. I think Buddhist call it the Beginner’s Mind. I now believe that we were created in the image and very likeness of God, which means God is both within and without, up and down, here and there and yep, everywhere. I believe life is a gift and death is just invisible life. I believe God loves us. God understands our suffering because God has experienced suffering too. Even when we try to kill God, God says “Forgive them, they know not what they do.”
In the end, it all means for me…be gentle with yourself and with others which just means be forgiving. Love yourself, for you are part of Being and love others for they are part of Being. We are sons and daughters of God, like Jesus said. Everyone, regardless of faith or no faith or “other” faith have a plate at God’s table, and there is absolutely nothing one can do to earn that place, just recognize and accept it. I think many understand this One Great Truth at the moment of their death which is why our last look is often so peaceful.
It has taken me a long time to get to this point. Christianity has both hindered my journey and helped it, but mostly hindered it to the point of severe depression. But other religions hinder and help and depress too in their own ways. And religion-less hinders and helps and depress us too. Being is far, far bigger than any one set of rules and rituals. Although Christianity is founded upon the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, I don’t think Jesus had any goals of creating a new religion.
This blog has really kind of documented my journey over the past couple of years. When I started it, I had no idea I someday would be writing something like this. Yet, it feels like I am home with all of it. It feels more comfortable, like it has always been there. I am sure I’ll soon be dropping some more F bombs and being cynical and a bit mean again in the near future, but I have learned that I am not perfect and that is o.k. too.You can be yourself when home.