I’ve been mulling and mulling on the topic of this entry, and it’s plain I’m not going to make any progress on my writing in any other area unless I address this topic, which I’ve been holding back.
I’ve been in a push-pull with faith. It’s a weird thing to attempt to describe this conflict, when I feel conflicted yet there is not actual *conflict* going on. What has changed is that my spiritual world has expanded enormously in the past two years, and yet my ideology, the intellectual framework I use to understand my place and purpose in existing has not evolved or changed with my experiences, and I need a firmware upgrade. A faithware upgrade.
I’ve found myself intensely, deeply, painfully drawn towards people who talk about their connection with their faith. I’ve thought about going to church or to AA meetings. This is a difficult thing to admit because I know I don’t need a house of faith or ritual of spirit to connect with my creator.
And yet I can’t escape the driving need I’ve been feeling to *pick something* and be done with it. Just fuckin’ DIVE IN already!
Another source of the conflict is that I intuitively know that what I’m looking for isn’t in a church or at a prayer meeting. I understand my own independent nature enough to know I can’t be led to this pool of faith and drink – I need to decide for myself how I’m going to get there.
Yet the burden of making the decision is so heavy, I can’t bring myself to make it! Which is hilarious because intellectually, I *know* there is no wrong path, no wrong faith, and it’s not like you can fail at being a child of heaven and earth, right?
See, where I find myself tripping up a lot is in language. Part of the conflict is in using the word “god”. You start talking about your relationship with god, you’re employing the language with a lot of heavy history. I can’t talk about god without thinking about the weighty history of others who have used that word.
And yet, no other word suits me.
When I was a kid and I asked my parents whether God was real, they told me they had to get back to me. They had a little parent conference, and then they told me they believed that someone “got things going” but that we as individuals are responsible for our own lives and actions. This was good enough for me at the time, since I was basically asking whether “god” fell into the same category as Santa and the Easter Bunny. Since the answer was “no” I thought to myself, “Good. This voice/presence/feeling inside of me is God, and I’ll talk to him like that.”
When I was a kid, “God” was the word I put to my spiritual connection to the universe. It’s something I never gave up, even though my relationship with mother earth would soon establish and grow.
I stay grounded in mother earth every day. I talk to her creatures every day. I am aware of the consciousness of the trees, the birds, the blades of grass, the rocks, the collective earth energy and even the spirit of the air and wind. But this connecting isn’t *enough* for me anymore. I think it’s because I spend so much time now talking to spirits in heaven, and helping other people to make that connection with their loved ones.
I am very grounded and supported here on earth, but I never lost that connection with god that I established as a child. When I really needed something, I asked god. Not mother earth, god. Even if I was talking to my spirit guide, my spirit friends or any angels – I would always ask them to please relay this request to god, and to please help it all happen.
Now, I know there is no one right way to relate to god. Some people say “the universe” or “source”. You know what? I can’t feel the strength of connection when I ask “the universe” for something. Maybe it’s because I really lock in when I feel like I’m connecting with a Consciousness.
I like relating to nature as conscious form. Sure, plants don’t have thought processes the way that humans do, but you can *relate* to them *as though* they have a consciousness that can speak, and their communication will filter through as a conversation. I have this understanding that although the information comes through as a conversation, with plants and rocks or other “inanimate” objects, it’s not an incarnation in the same way that I express myself. A blade of grass will relate no information of its past lives as other blades of grass. Humans and many animals, however, will.
Maybe it’s because I’m a medium that I need to relate to my creator as a consciousness, a singular consciousness. That’s what feels familiar to me, that’s what feels strong. I know it’s not everyone’s thing, but I have to give myself permission for it to be MY THING.
So that’s it. You’re dully notified, readers! Faithware upgrade is initiated, and I’ll be talking to and about god more often.
This will be very interesting!
18 thoughts on “A faithware upgrade”
Hi Kate! — it’s interesting that our religious upbringing is so diametrically opposed, yet we find ourselves in a similar place now. I was raised ultra-conservative Christian, the kind of church where you are taught that you have to believe in the whole literal package, or you’re doomed. I’ve always been a bit more liberal in my thinking (more so as I’ve aged), but I still was very active — a church leader even — for many years. Until … my son died, and I opened up. In my need to stay connected with my son, my mind expanded into metaphysical realms. It was almost like flipping a switch, it happened so rapidly. I started remembering who I was, really.
So, now, what to do with the church thing? I’ve struggled for months, trying to decide if I should just — leave it. Move on. I simply don’t believe in all of it any more. But, I find that what I *need* from church is the loving and caring community. And, even though the church gets some things totally wrong, other things are … totally right. So, I find myself integrating the new thought with the old. I can, for the most part, fit my new belief system into the old framework, and it works. The God that I’ve always believed in, is still the same loving All-Present Source. And He does come to my church. Maybe I’ll stay with it in the long term, and maybe I won’t. But, for now, it’s right for me.
I think that periodically taking our beliefs out of their container and shaking them up is just part of the growth process. I guess the question is — what are you looking for? A loving and caring community with similar beliefs? A different kind of connection with our Creator? Or just the freedom to speak more freely about it?
I suspect you will find that many of us grapple with similar issues. I think it’s just part of the human experience. 🙂
Thanks MB 🙂 I realized today that at some point, I’d integrated this idea that needing a working idea to facilitate an active relationship with god indicated some sort of personal weakness. I probably picked this up in the 90s when most of my friends identified as atheist or agnostic.
Mary Beth I would say my experience is exactly the same. Even the part about losing a son and how it changed me. It was very beneficial to have the church community there when lost him, the support was amazing. In my opinion we are so much more than just one religion. Yet I still say prayers that I love, the Hail Mary, The Prayer of St Francis the Memorare. I would imagine they bring me comfort or help me find that place where I am connected to everything divine. I honestly don’t think generations of the past this had problem. We are exposed to so much more than just our little community with social media, the internet etc. All for good reason. We are the generation that will make a difference
I considered myself an atheist until 2 years ago, even though I had tragically lost two brothers. I simply thought there was nothing when we left here. I believed it was humans need for some sort of immortality that created god or religion. Boy, was I arrogant.
When I had a spiritual awakening two years ago it almost lead to a mental collapse as I tried to integrate these realities. When I hear your internal struggle, Kate, it made me reflect on my own struggles. I realize your belief system is much more grounded than mine ever was, but when I read the first part of your post I thought of St John the Cross. His writings and other authors related writings were a great comfort to me as I struggled with spiritual issues and marrying my old and new realities together.
So the craziest thing… I went and googled “st john the cross” on my break and I came to a sight called “catholic.org”. It really tickled me, the contrast of Catholicism and websites. So I went here: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=65 and as I started reading the lamp on my desk faded in and out, in and out. Like someone was dialing the knob up and down.
So thank you, because when I get indications like the light thing, I take it as an “on the right track” message.
I have to take a second to acknowledge the part of my brain that’s going, “Catholicism? REALLY????”
So Jane, do you know why you were thinking of st john the cross?
I don’t really get it.
It was that you wrote about a conflict but “not actual conflict going on” and the pushing/pulling feeling. Something about that wording really resonated with me. It is St Johns writing on Dark Night of the Soul, that came to me when I read it. His writings and other interpretations of Dark Night really helped me during a belief system crash, so I thought maybe it could help with smaller belief system conflicts.
It is funny about the light. Two years ago I would have laughed at someone who said that. Now I say “OK, Got that, Heard you guys” to my guides.
I like to thank them for that stuff, because fiddling with lights is physical enough that I can’t miss or ignore it, but it’s not as scary as physically moving shit around like a poltergeist.
Kate, I hear you. I feel like I’m getting nudged to solidify my beliefs as well. I was raised Catholic, and my parents left the church when I was 13, shortly before I was to be confirmed. It sort of left my faith in a lurch. Inside, there was a 13 year old Catholic girl. I openly dismissed the Catholic rituals as “routine mimicry” and mindless. I found God in the woods, in nature, and believed that we are all the same and that Jesus and Christianity was not the *only* way. Fast forward 20 years. In that time, I found myself in theological and metaphysical conversations EVERYWHERE. Even bars. Especially bars, for some reason. I started thinking about church again. When I turned 33, someone pointed out to me that Jesus was 33 when he died, so I better do something big that year. Who even says something like that? It was a coworker, not even a religious one. But I kept getting that pull, back to God, back to Catholicism. I went in to talk to a local priest I liked, a friend of the family. I drilled him with questions. Do Catholics believe that people are going to hell that aren’t Christians? All sorts of stuff. He answered honestly, that he didn’t believe that to be the case. But he loved God, he loved Jesus, and he loved the church. God is defined as “pure love.” It was more open minded about religion and perfection then I’d remembered. And I loved the community, the physical act of prayer, the beauty of what some call the “routine cannibalism.” It’s like a living God who loves you so much that He wants to be part of you, within you. Anyway, I’m going to church a bit less now because I feel I need to release the fear within, the fear of spiritual deception that the church instilled. The guilt, the impossible task of perfection. I dream of saints, pretty regularly. St. Paul was the latest. I just knew it was him in the dream. He handed me communion, and when I put it in my mouth, I realized there were already 4 or 5 communion wafers in there already. When I woke up, I googled a little bit and found the dream of the “road to Hell” by St. John of Bosco. Well, that was terrifying and threw me into another tailspin.
I guess my point is, I still struggle with insights followed by questions. Pretty much daily. I do know that when I go into church, the energy in there feels very pleasant. Celestial. Strong, uplifting. Since I’ve been more energy sensitive in the last year, I’ve noticed that. I don’t see us as a human race walking away from all of these churches, because God IS in them. I know there are problems. Years of stuffy white men rewriting the rules and translating and retranslating Jesus’ original messages, as well as pulling out the pages they didn’t like. If you have any questions about Catholicism, I think I have a pretty unbiased view. I see the perfection and imperfections of it. And as an adult, I took classes at the local church just for fun when I first joined to learn more about it. Sorry for the rant!
It’s an awesome rant. I can relate to you, and I’m sure it’s that gorgeous celestial vibration of a church space that’s been held sacred by so many for decades that draws me like a magnet.
But the idea of having to talk to a human when I go there is repelling. I’d like to just to, sit, light a candle, pray, leave. Can you do that in a catholic church?
That may be a silly question, I understand. As well, I don’t think my local churches, catholic or otherwise, would let me walk in and out without wanting to talk to me.
That isn’t a silly question! Actually, check the local bulletin or even sign at a Catholic church that’s local. They usually unlock the door a half hour or so before each service, or you can call the office. Then, just leave a few minutes before the service starts. No one bothers a person who is in prayer, or reflecting. It smells nice usually, like incense, at least the larger cathedral type churches do. And those are the ones with statues and candles. I was so grateful when George arrived I often knelt weeping at the feet of the Jesus statue in humble gratitude. Probably embarrassed George a bit the way I carried on, but I don’t care. When I go I light candles for both of us next to each other, and usually a third for anyone else that I think could use it.
The office of a Catholic church is commonly called a “rectory,” if you saw that and weren’t sure what it was. As you said, the founding of so many churches was one of love and sacred intention, so I think that’s a lot of the vibe I pick up. They have holy water dispensers too, if you like that sort of thing. You can use anything to hold it. I keep some in a drinking water bottle, and just wrote “holy water” all over it to make sure I didn’t take a swig of it by mistake.
ha ha! (picturing you taking a swig of holy water.)
I sent you a couple of emails. But saw this today and thought of you. Maybe you are just remembering and therefore feel that connection. 🙂
Hi Nikki – I got your emails, thanks! I’m waiting until some space clears so I can absorb what you said and be thoughtful in my reply.
It’s been an extraordinarily busy week!
Kate, Have you ever visited a Friends Meeting House (Quakers)? The service is held in silence and you only speak if you are moved to by the spirit. Often, it is an hour of meditative silence and quite powerful. I used to go and sometimes tip toe out right after service, avoiding the social time.
You know, I’ve been drawn to Quakers for nearly 15 years, but have never had the opportunity to participate. I think I’ll start looking for a group. thank you
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