…or is that treason?
I’ve been writing a lot about faith, or lack of it, in recent months — over the past five years, as it happens. Weird, for me, as I’ve always been what I consider a “spiritual” person, to be in a place of “faithlessness.” It morphs as I go — but here’s where I am now (an abbreviated list).
I do believe I will wake up each morning.
I do believe in oxygen and invisible pathogens and single-celled animals and diatoms.
I do believe I will have some kind of literary success.
I don’t believe that airplanes should be able to stay up and so therefore when I fly, I do so with the absolute certainty that I will die — I just hope that I won’t. (But I always update my will and kiss my loved ones goodbye.)
I don’t believe in a supreme being or plan or fate or karma or “meant to be.”
I do believe in a “spirit” of a group or event, when people enjoy something or mourn something together.
I don’t believe in a soul.
I do believe in personality and individuality as products of protein and amino acid and electrons and neuro-synapses (or however one describes it medically).
I do believe my cat likes it when I feed and pet him.
I don’t believe he (or any other animal) “loves” me or gives a rat’s ass about me in any other way (and please, don’t try to convert me to the cult of pet-loving…I come in peace, but cannot be persuaded! Yes, it’s a fatal flaw.)
I do find peace in sitting quietly, in reading about spiritual things, in observing nature (wild winter storms, spring rain, summer sunsets, etc.)
I have studied Catholicism and the history of Christianity for many years; I have read Jewish mystics, Zen masters, pop psychologists, the Way of Wicca, and Men Are From Mars. I have been therap-ized and churchified in Protestant, Anglican, Catholic and anything-goes Christian houses of worship. I have cast spells and runes and burned onion skin and mistletoe on the fire. I have swept the magic circle and read my tea leaves. I have had my palm read many times, as well as my Tarot. I have read The Lord of the Rings about 20 times.
It boils down to this for me: I wish I believed in something bigger. It would make it easier — I wouldn’t have to be responsible for my own shit, I wouldn’t have to carry every worry if I could lay it at someone else’s altar. But I take the far side of Pascal’s wager: I don’t want to be a fool at the end. I did that already. Fool me twice, shame on me.
And yet…I never thought I’d be in a relationship again. He believes in God but doesn’t believe in marriage. I’m the opposite: I don’t believe in God, but I do, at last, believe in marriage again. Each of us is convinced that the other will someday see it right. I never thought I’d trust another person again enough to do this, walk this path, and yet, here I am.
And I think sometimes, if I can believe in this, if I can believe in him, maybe I can stretch enough to believe in something else…But I’m not there yet. Am I, Jack (my Presby minister friend)?
Advice to Aspiring Writers: Try making a list. It sometimes helps you tell something you couldn’t just say before.