It’s been pouring here for about 4 days. Not constantly, but more than not. Last night it was raining so hard it woke me up from a dead sleep.
This song has been going through my head the last couple of days. The melancholy sound and lyrics has been stuck going around my brain.
The sound and the lyrics, the longing for something outside greater than ourselves, it’s not letting me go. I’m an agnostic. It’s the best I can do. I’ve tried being religious. I’ve tried being Christian, an Atheist, and Wiccan. Neither have really worked.
Christianity didnt work for me. I was raised Lutheran, by the time I was 9 I was already questioning that faith. When we had to bow our heads and pray in Church I would turn my prayers into cursing sessions to see if anything bad would happen. Nothing happened. When my Mom was sick, I wanted so much to believe that if I prayed hard enough and did all the right things she would be well. With all the things that were going on in my life growing up, I wanted so much to believe in God. That someone out there had their eye on me. I would pray before bed every night, I watched Pat Robertson and would cry when he prayed for people. I wanted faith so much, I ached for not having it. I felt there was something wrong with me for not having it when so many people around me seemed to. It seemed like such an easy thing to come by, to feel.
When the pastor at my parents Church told me God gave my Mom cancer on purpose to punish her for her sins, I was done. I decided if that was the concept of God, I wanted nothing to do with it and became an Atheist. Believing that there was nothing, that all humans are is a sack of chemicals lit up by electrical impulses, was better than that. I would have occasional lapses, but it lasted for quite a while. My parents found out and forced me to go to Church, Sunday School, and Confirmation (the Lutheran equivalent of Catholic Catechism) anyway. Saying it was just a phase I would grow out of. Do you know what it’s like to have to be “confirmed” in a religion you want nothing to do with and want no part of? Having to go through those motions, the party afterward, the gifts for “coming into the Church” felt so false. Atheism lasted several years. Through most of middle school and all of high school.
Then I found Wicca. I read lots of books from different authors on Wicca. I went to a Wicca 101 class with the coven in Davenport. I tried for a few years to believe. I was heartbroken that I couldnt find faith here either. I wanted faith so badly. But, I couldnt get into the magical (or magickal) thinking behind Wicca. It’s good to have respect for the planet we’re living on, to see it as a living being, and seeing how all life on Earth is interconnected. That is the one thing I took from it. But casting spells and all that, did not work for me. With all the science classes I’ve had, I just couldnt put faith behind it. It just seemed too fantastical.
I’ve read lots of books on religion. I’ve read quite a few of the texts from the “Nag Hammadi Library”, “The Gnostic Gospels” by Elaine Pagels, a version of the “Kabbalah”, lots of ancient myths about the Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses, Norse mythology, and some Joseph Cambell.
The only thing I could find was agnosticism. Agnosticism in a morally neutral universe. I am so small. This planet, this orbital ball, is so small, located on an outer arm of the Milky Way. The Milky Way may be largeish as far as galaxy’s go, but there are so many others and so many other types in this nearly infinite Universe. Who am I to say what if anything is out there, no matter how much at times I want there to be something out there with it’s eye on me.
The concept of an afterlife doesnt mean much. What is more important is what we do here, on this Earth, in this life, to one another. That seems, at least to me, to take precedent over whatever may come after we die. There was an episode of “This American Life” a while ago titled “Heretic” about a man who was an Evangelical minister who stopped believing in Hell. He came to realize that Hell, is here, in what we do to one another.
There are days when the Universe conspires to make aching beauty, or when events conspire for unbridled joy in the simplest things. Like getting caught in a warm rainstorm, or a storm of falling cherry blossoms. There are days when I’m grateful to the Universe for beautiful sunsets, hot sunny days, snow on Christmas, juicy tomatoes, etc. On those days I will light incense and say “Thank You” but that’s as far as it goes.
I’m not agnostic in the same sense Bill Mahr is, all I can say is “I dont know”. And those who have faith, who find comfort and meaning in it, that it is not ridiculous. I understand why we need faith. It makes order out of the Universe, it makes order and gives meaning, to the randomness of life. But, Idont know, and in the grand scheme of things, this planet and it’s goings on are a grain of sand on a very large beach. It’s the best I can do.