Growing up, I was a once-a-year church-goer — I only went to church on Easter Sunday and on a very rare Christmas Eve. The day consisted of a trip to church, followed by a great family meal and candy; it was just like Thanksgiving, except with church. It was fine by me, after all it was only an hour (Catholic service was exactly an hour; no more no less) and I had a new outfit, so all was good. It wasn’t until I got older and we no longer had to go that I started to question this behavior. As is turned out, my Dad, who is more of a spiritual man and never subscribed to any one religion, did not want to force any religion on us. My Mom, who was raised in the church and went regularly, agreed but still wanted us to be exposed so we could have some sort of understanding about religion. But all in all we were left to find our own way. Religion was never discussed unless we had questions. The idea was to allow a religion to find us, or for us to find a religion that we believed in and that we could relate to.
It wasn’t until my 30’s that I really started to think about religion and what it meant to me. I was still so lost because there are so many religions, but they all seem to worship the same God (just with a different name). The Bible can be interpreted in a million different ways; after all it is a book of stories and each person can take something different from it. I never felt like it was necessary to visit a church to worship the Lord. I did believe in God, just not the image that, to me, seems forced on us. So much about the church seemed hypocritical — from the Catholic Church sex scandals to the Baptist Church’s financial controversies ranging from preachers running off with the congregation’s money to pastors spending extravagantly while their parishioners struggled to feed their families. A church could be everything from an extravagant 100 year old plus Cathedral to a dusty basement apartment. It just didn’t seem right and I didn’t want any parts of it, so I just ignored it and walked my own path of righteousness.
But I was feeling incomplete and I still had many questions. I lived a life that I believed to be righteous, but I wouldn’t consider myself as God fearing — I mean, after all, I didn’t fear God. Why should I? I was always taught that God was a kind and gentle God, a forgiving and loving God. What does that term “God fearing” even mean? In my quest for wholeness I discovered spirituality. I came to the conclusion that I am a living spirit having a human experience. Years ago when I was having my home blessed, the Bishop asked me what was my idea of God. No one ever asked me that, but surprisingly the answer just came to me and my answer was that I believed there was not just one God, but that there were many and that they all served a different purpose. I read it somewhere and it sounded good, so I went with it. Many years later, I found myself thinking about it again and I came to a different conclusion — there is just one God, one being, and it is the universe: everything around us, regardless of if we can see, touch, taste, smell or hear it, it was there and it was God. My idea of God is that we are all cells living in the body of God. Maybe I am in the arm, maybe the foot, but I am in there living, breathing, working and helping supply life to the universe.
With this new found understanding of who I am and what my relationship to God is, I realized that everyone has a choice in this life to either be a healthy productive cell that works with all the cells around it in an effort to keep the body healthy, vibrant and alive, or you can be a cancerous, destructive cell that infects all the cells around it and creates a diseased and dying environment. And with this understanding, I walk through life free to be me. I still don’t go to church; my world is my church. But today, like every day, I will celebrate family, life and love, and my hope is that you will do that same.
Happy Sunday and Happy Easter to you!
Words to live by from Ky