Every now and then I get this feeling in my gut like I've done something horribly wrong.
It's strange especially when I look back on the day and realize my largest accomplishment was actually getting completely dressed.
Sometimes, though, I begin to think about religion, when I get this feeling. Just a few minutes ago, imagery of the Christian Cross, and other relics of that sect began to flash through my mind. I really don't know if it's me feeling bad for leaving behind that way of life, or if I'm feeling bad for ever having been a part of it. It's so hard to tell, that I honestly don't know if there's a way to determine that.
Do I call it a "crisis of faith" if I have no faith, but am thinking about it? I guess now is as good a time as any to recap my religious life:
I was brought up Episcopalian, the American version of the Anglican faith. Catholic Light. We would go every (or almost every) Sunday to St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Greensboro, NC. Week in, week out, the same routine to the point that I memorized half the verses we went over. Sometimes I'll find myself trying to recall them, though now I only get fragments..."forgive us for our trespasses and those who have trespassed against us...thy kingdom come, thy will be done, forever and ever, amen". While those incantations are now vague, I sharply remember sitting in the pews, looking around when I could at all the people, and how over-dressed they were. I also recall the overwhelming raping of my nostrils from Chanel No. 5, Brut, and every other perfume in existance that managed to find its way into the church. I can still feel my lips move along, sometimes quite vocally, other times silently in imitation, to those verses and songs. I never understood why we sat and listened to a man, sometimes a woman, give a lecture on good deeds or anything that happened to strike their fancy, or how that pertained to Jesus. Thinking back...I realize that during sermons, Jesus never really came up that often. I mean, sure, we'd say "through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior" and all that, but, the sermons I can't recall ever specifically dealt with him. It was always about how one of the "Apostles said best" about some experience the speaker had, which is impressive given the 2000 year difference. The Christmas services were nice; the church bell would ring as people prepared for the beginning of the service, and the bell would ring at the end...very beautiful. I can still hear it today. There was this one time, while I was looking at people as they prayed because I finished my little prayer early, and I noticed a woman form the shape of the Cross in front of her. I imitated her, on impulse more than anything, but as I was half-way done, my mom reached over and stopped me...just kind of, swatted my hand away. I never questioned her action, or why what I was doing was wrong, but that particular Sunday sticks with me. The lady had black hair, about shoulder length. I think she had on a black top.
Shortly after my grandaddy died, we (mom, dad, and I) took in my grandmother, where we cared for her as best we could. Mom's side of the family still seems to resent us for wanting to take care of her, and actually having an interest in seeing her happy. I'll never get over that, but that's for another night when I can't sleep. We tried taking her to church at the beginning, but her legs gradually got weaker, and we finally stopped going to church just because it was convenient for all of us. After my grandmother died, we didn't return to church - dad was too busy working every day of the week, and mom had her job too.
During this time of no church, I began to explore my feelings, and question my own faith. I began to see and feel that Christianity didn't suit me as well as it did others. I didn't understand why so many people were so crazy about it. It seemed too stuck, too routine, and just chaotic. It was during this time that I was sitting in World History in high-school, and my teacher, Mr. Kell I believe, covered India that day. In particular, we were covering the religions, and especially Buddhism. Reading the textbook, I was drawn in and cannot recall any of the class after that point, because I was finding every bit of text about Buddhism within that book. I was absorbed and enchanted, thrilled to find something that spoke out to me in a clear, practical manner. There was no martyr to celebrate, no church needed to be a True Believer. All I had to do was obey five simple precepts that were so blatantly obvious to me, I felt like I had found a new home. It felt right; it felt so good to have a reason in my life again. I never denounced Christianity during this time, I just said to myself that I would try Buddhism out, see how this peaceful mindset would work for me. I still remember those days clearly, and I appreciate all they taught me. I learned to explore deeper within myself, and search for what I truly believed. I made it a purpose to never leave any doubt unchecked. I felt so free, released from the bonds of "do good and go to Heaven; do bad and go to Hell". There was simply "do good, see good, live good". The charm of Buddhism has never really left me. While I don't accept the notion that I should worship Buddha or any of the Bodhi's, the guidelines for happy living are still important to me. There is no threat of retribution attached to them, as with every other religion.
For a time, somewhere between high school and around last year, I decided to dabble in more Occultish stuff. I never went as far as to hold a seance, or accept Satan as my new-found lord and savior, but I played with Tarot and simple stuff. I enjoyed the idea of taking nature in for its beauty, but the idea of worship still bothered me. While fanciful, I can't accept that lifestyle.
I find myself today appreciating nature, and loving the earth for the big, beautiful, blue and green thing it is. It's truly amazing, huge, and just intense as hell. I love the sunrise, and I adore the sunset. The stars are so inspiring, and the moon is always enchanting. I find myself appreciating science, and technology, and the endeavors of man towards a total understanding of life. Today, I find myself at times questioning whether I do believe what I feel, and at times loving where I'm at. It's a feeling some people will never shake, and I guess I'm one of them. I can only take these opportunities and make sure to bolster my position, and prove why I feel the way I do.
Growing up, I was a child - young, hopeful, brought up to believe what my parents did so I'd turn out to be a good, proper man one day.
Today, I'm a man with a love for English literature;I am a writer, a thinker, a pain in the ass, a lover, and...free.
I am an atheist. I am an Atheist. The only God is the one we create for ourselves, and I do not need any God or god to justify my life. I am free from dogma, and I love life. I do not wage a "War on Christmas", and I do not want to destroy America's children. I want the freedom to admit who I am, and to believe what I want without being hounded by people who want to "save my soul".