Upon much recommendation, I recently read “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. (It was a #1 best seller and what’s that? I’m slow on the uptake? Yes, I know.) Today as I was struggling with my strep throat.. again… and feeling just pretty much the lead in my pity party, I finished the last chapter on the porch of our tiny condo in Seattle.
She explains something the Zen Buddhists believe, that an oak tree is brought in to creation by two forces: One being the actual acorn and the other being the will of the future oak tree. That during the growth, the older version of the oak tree leans in and whispers “GROW” to its younger self urging it on to the final version of itself. She says she feels much the same way through her spiritual journey, that her self confident, peaceful self breathed wisdom to her younger, more uncertain self. She found that all along she knew it would be OK in the end, that God or Self or Universe is forever finding the balance of truth and happiness.
I grew teary reading this.
Perhaps it’s the hangover of antibiotics and the insane amounts of water I’ve had, or delusions from the fever itself, but there is a simple clarity to this ideal. Something inside me clicks. Something whispers “yes.”
After a sorted religious background trying on denominations like shoes, finding which fit and don’t squeeze too tight but give freedom and comfort and support, I find that I prefer to live barefoot.
This will send my mother in to fits of tears and my Christian friends to their knees on my behalf, but if I am being honest, and I see no other way to live if I am to find truth, sincerity, and peace, I can no longer pretend that I am seeking an external source of happiness. I am no longer seeking. I am finding.
I’ve been internalizing a great many things of late: not only of the spiritual, less tangible aspect to life, but also the physical wellness (not only brought on by a two years solid of illness and medicines and doctors). I am finding the link between wholesome foods, plenty of water, exercise and spiritual and mental health. There is no body without the soul and there is no fuel for your soul while your body fights toxins.
By god, I’m going hippie on you.
This isn’t sudden, nor is it a single product of one event, but rather the culminating of several events coming to head at once. I’ve seen Christians breathing hostility and anger and I’ve found Atheist to be loving, truthful, and honest. I’ve found a community that welcome all people and turns away none and I’ve walked in to churches judged before I sat down.
There is no correlation to religion and goodness within people.
I’ve seen that I am in charge of my own decisions, that I decide with whom to invest my heart and time with and where I spend my words and thoughts. I can use those for the greater good of my soul and my friendships and family members or I can use them to cook and boil the angry waters of unfairness.
This path is 9 years in coming, not a day, not a month, not a year. I’ll continue to share with you the path as it fell, starting one night on the Gulf of Mexico digging my feet in the warn Galveston sand talking politics and religion, to sitting on my porch in my tiny condo in Seattle, nine years, three states, two kids and one marriage later.
Welcome to the transformation.
I’m a Christian, but not of the turn-or-burn variety. More like a there-are-many-paths-up-the-same-mountain kinda girl. It’s good to know that other people have similar views.
“There is no correlation to religion and goodness within people.” I couldn’t agree more!
By Bridget/queenofhaddock on 2009 05 24
“There is no correlation to religion and goodness within people.”
Well apparently that line is the big resonator today!!
By Dawn on 2009 05 24
i am on that same path somewhat. for me it was meeting people who were honest and sincere and confident in their beliefs…all kinds of beliefs…that started me questioning. not so much the christians who judged, hated, or were hypocritical in their ways.
i almost hate publishing this comment because of who might read it, but i wanted to let you know you aren’t alone in this journey!
By natalie on 2009 05 24
Good for you! I am a Christian, but I believe that we all make our own paths…some of us choose God, some of us choose nature, some of us choose the beauty in ourselves and others. I choose a little bit of all of these, really. And probably more.
You’ll have a lot of people here along for the ride.
Side note: the little black dress design is fabulous.
By Jen on 2009 05 24
I’m on the path you’re taking. I grew up in church (have you seen Footloose? THAT was the church I grew up in- EXACTLY) an then I decided god wasn’t for me, then I went back to god and became a christian. Now I’m not really sure. I’m finding that right now, I have no idea where I am really and I’m just on my own path trying to find what I believe.
By perksofbeingme on 2009 05 24
I have been a Christian all my life (and have found myself recently cringing at even calling myself that for many of the reasons you talk about here,) and have found myself rejecting the religion part of it all, but not rejecting a relationship with God. I’m all about growing too. Growing is good. Being static and stuck and thinking you’ve got it all figured out and never changing: bad.
By sarahgrace on 2009 05 24
We all have transformations, some religious, some life-changing, some just plain weird. Celebrate yours.
By Jenn Hughes on 2009 05 24
Exactly!!! I’m one of those weirdos who feels more at peace/serene/in touch with whatever spiritual/deity thing when I’m outside doing stuff like planting/weeding or picking huckleberries in the forest or whatever.
“There is no correlation to religion and goodness within people.”
Amen. IME, I’ve almost had a direct opposite correlation. *sigh*
By Lanna on 2009 05 25
Just trying to comment - very nice to meet you at the PI party. Hopefully this will work.
By Jenn Scholz Hughes on 2009 05 25
Cool, it worked. Will add you to my blogroll.
By Jenn Scholz Hughes on 2009 05 25
Well my dear, this will surprise you if not shock you into next Year.
I cannot find a church home that I feel fulfills me. Yes, I am still a christian and I walk daily with God. Jesus didn’t have walls which defined “the sabbath day” that kept us all from hell but the following is what I am grounded in.
“Jesus? enemies put Him in the grave on Friday celebrating their victory, but Sunday morning was a different story. The grave could not hold Him. Death couldn?t contain Him. The forces of darkness couldn?t stop Him. On the third day, Jesus came out of the grave and He said, ?I was dead, but now I am alive forevermore.?
One principle that the resurrection teaches us is that God will always finish what He started. No matter how dark it looks, no matter how long it?s been, no matter how many people are trying to push you down; if you will stay in faith, God will always take you from Friday to Sunday. You will see your day of breakthrough because God will complete what He started.”
Yes, I have peaks and valleys in life. I have certainly learned through this past year while getting certified, God brought me around to where my enemy was and we are completing my task together. My darkness on this earth will be overcome. I see a possibility of my next journey and yes, another enemy awaits me.
God said that if you are going through a dark time, remember that your day of resurrection, your ?Sunday? is on the way! “Keep standing, keep believing, because soon you will rise up into the higher places He has in store for you!”
I rejoice daily that God is beside me and so happy that in the end, I will be with him forever.
By Oma Flinger on 2009 05 25
Sounds great, Les. I think we all have to find a path in life that we feel right walking on.
I also think that it’s a continual process - you could alter your path still, or take a fork. Or even just plant new trees on it along the way. And I’m thinking that you’ve been on it really for longer than 9 years, and that you’ll keep walking it for as long as you keep on keeping on. It’s your life path, your destiny, your thoughts, heart, and soul. I know that my path has changed over and over again and I’ve refined it over time, sometimes changing its direction completely, but I’m always still willing to think about it, decide how I feel about it, and modify it if need be. That is, my path doesn’t have to remain rigidly stuck under one definition, leading only in one direction forever. Dig?
I did want to point out that I’ve seen hostility and anger, as well as love, truth, and honesty in all types of people - of all kinds of faith or lack thereof. I feel like your statement, “There is no correlation to religion and goodness within people” is really very true. We are all capable of a wide range of things along a practically infinite continuum. None of us is automatically right based on any one of them.
By Sarcastic Mom on 2009 05 25
I grew up church hopping. My mom tried out different religions and none fit. I came to think that I would never believe in any kind of organized religion. I’m 28 now, and 2 years ago I became a Christian. It was sudden, and one of the craziest things that’s ever happened - it happened in a moment, something clicked.
But, I believe I would have been a good person either way. There are bad Christians and really good Atheists. I believe that what matters most is respecting our fellow humans, finding a community we fit into, and having lives full of happiness while also helping our fellow humans in whatever way we are able.
It feels good to find that fit, and I’m happy for you!
By Rachael on 2009 05 26
“I find that I prefer to live barefoot.” Say it loud, say it proud.
P.S. Yeah! I can comment again.
By Maria on 2009 05 26
Love this post. Love.
I’ve been going through the same transformation myself since I was 16. Oh the harm people (including my family) do in the name of love for their god.
I am agnostic coming from a very Mormon family. My husband learns toward Buddhism coming from a very Catholic family. It has at times infuriated both sides of our family.
I however love how we whisper to our three children to “grow” without the stifling entrapments of pre-judgments and entanglements of organized religion as my husband and I were.
Nothing brings it more home to me than the furor over Prop. 8 in California. Religious belief trumped a personal love of one individual with another.
It hurts my heart and yes, created a schism in my family when they discovered my blog. Their judgment and silence toward me as been deafening.
One aside, did you try on the Unitarians? Their embrace of all religions: Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Paganism, etc. appeals to me. We just haven’t taken the time to slow down and breathe.
The Bellevue Unitarian church says on their website: “Unitarian Universalists believe that personal experience, conscience and reason should be the final authorities in religion. In the end, religious authority lies not in a book, person, or institution, but in ourselves. We put religious insights to the test of our hearts and minds. Ours is a free faith.”
We haven’t been, but I find incredible value in finding a community of like-minded individuals. Yes, an oak tree is strong alone, but a grove is better to stand together.
By Scout's Honor on 2009 05 26
True, true, true! I Love it!
By KC on 2009 05 27
I too recently read Eat, Pray, Love. I was holding out because the woman was divorced and I was not ready to deal w/ that reality because it is my life now.
I get your barefoot comment. Great imagery btw.
I too have been on journey that is still going on, and as I grow older I love that I know I am on it and balance is there. I can hear the whisper of “grow, it will be okay”.
I also love feeling and knowing that I am in charge of my choices. I don’t despise my religious upbringing, because I needed it to get me here. Do you feel the same?
By Sarah D on 2009 06 01
Be proud of what you believe! It’s something to always cherish and share.
By Acai on 2009 06 04
It seems this has resonated with many people, including me. Raised Catholic, I now think of myself as more Agnostic, as in “I don’t know”. Because I don’t. I know I don’t like organized church/religion - it has never felt right for me. I know I don’t like the judgemental aspects of church, and I don’t like blind faith. I guess I’m Doubting Thomas. My family doesn’t discuss because I think they’d prefer not to “officially” know of my rejection, but no longer attending church with them on Christmas and Easter is a big tip-off. I think I heard it described once as “Cultural Christians” in that I like the celebratory part of the holidays - the tree, the presents, Santa, Easter Bunny - the works. But can’t support the religious parts behind those cultural images/rituals. Ultimately, we all have to follow the path that leads us to happiness and peace. It’s a fun, interesting journey - enjoy the ride!
By MP on 2009 06 04