Something that’s been rolling in my head for months now, came to light today.
I am a once churched person.
In high school I was, in my opinion, a bit fanatical. I was as I see and perceive it now, headed down a path of extremism. I was judgmental. I was inflexible. I was intolerant. I had a skewed view of my responsibility as a Christian. A skewed view of my responsibility as a human. It was not how I was being raised, but how I was evolving at the time.
Growing up it was church Wednesday night, Sunday morning, Sunday night, any other time in between for anything. At school, President of the chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Much of which I am proud of. What may be a surprise, is that as I look back or had conversations with some since 1979, a few things I am embarrassed about and apologized for. That would be the fanatical side of all of it. (Thanks Coach Black)
My decision in 1985 to do what I had wanted to do all along propelled me into an exploration that was inevitable when I went back to college. Exploration not as an educator, but someone who would express (or wanted to express) themselves through images and words. While the path moved and changed here and there, not being truly realized, the path has been good.
If you take my high school persona and sit it next to who I am today, some might be surprised. Some may not. I’m not sure where I fit into that analysis. Where I am does feel better than where I think I was.
What completely shifting my path did, was bring the beauty of our diverse world front and center to me. While I haven’t yet seen the whole world yet. I had glimpses into it from unique perspectives and experiences through professors and classmates. I think my eye’s were pretty wide to begin with, but what I learned, my mind was also open. And the beauty of humans I have experienced is a lifetime of love.
I’ve been thinking about all of this a lot for many years and even more within the last decade. The beauty that surrounds me in the people that have graciously allowed for me space in their lives. Goodness to last a lifetime.
Some of it is confusing to me. I have often ask my Mom, who took me to that Church 3 times a week, what shifted? What changed? And by the way, took me but I never felt pressured to go to that Church 3 times a week. It was part of me, it was home. With people I loved.
How do you explain, understand or accept the differences that I see today? Some are ideologically, figuratively, metaphorically and literally so different. Not only are we no longer in the same pew, we aren’t across the aisle or even in the same building. Diametrically apposed. Where I feel it now, is in my heart. In high school I now know I felt it in my head. I am certain of that. Certain because of how it feels now. I don’t know who is right or if anyone has to be right. I just know how it feels to me. How it feels in my heart.
College and 1985 was about digging deep. At the time I don’t think I knew that. I know now that there I only scratched the surface.
A lot happened that year. Despite the fact that I was finally doing what I wanted to do, the family unit I had grown up in was kind of crumbling. My ground, my dear cousin died. Then my Great Grandmother. Jung, Nietzsche, Thomas Moore, Plato, Hesse, the Masculine, the Feminine, Symbolism … Religion. Many of my classes were therapy. Deep self refections and vulnerability that now I realize, again just scratching the surface.
During this time I use to spend Sunday mornings at a teachers house talking, Sufism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity … praying together, eating together and talking about religion. Not as a specific, but as choice and exploration. A heart settling knowledge that it was love and compassion that was religion. A religion I wanted. That there was a possibility that there was not just one way. But that we could all come together for the greater good, listen and take care of each other with no judgment, no expectation. Just love.
Now more than ever before we have at our fingertips so much information. We have so much access to each other. We have such an incredible opportunity to share love. To honor and care for another. Yet I read and see so much anger and hatred. A lack of tolerance for difference. Accusations of people that we just can’t know. Us vs. them.
What is it that makes us believe one thing over another? Why the disenfranchisement? What appears as ones attempt to understand something to express the understanding of it, often feels like judgment or reads as hatred. A feeling that often brings tears to my eye’s and weighs on my heart so heavily.
What is happening?
A once churched person