Monday, April 29, 2013

Mysterious Monday: Searching for Spirituality

I was born into a mixed religion family. My father had been raised Methodist, my mother Protestant, so I was primed for religious open-mindedness right away. This is not to say that those who were born to parents who shared a religion are not; just stating my background and what it means to me.

As a young girl in New Hampshire, I attended Sunday school every week at the local Protestant church. I heard all the stories, I sang all the songs, I held the candles at Christmas and ate the “body of Christ” and drank the “blood of Christ” at Easter. Those are lovely images for young, imaginative children, by the way.  o_O

When we moved to North Carolina, we were unable, surprisingly (not) to find a Protestant church anywhere. There were churches all over the place, but my mother, a good New England Protestant, would never consider stepping foot inside a Baptist church without her being invited by a friend or relative. It just wasn’t in her nature to seek the new, the different. My father in those days was working a lot and so he really didn’t pay much attention. My religious education began to slip.

Less than two years later, we moved back to New England, to Connecticut, but by then the habit of not attending had been established. We became the type of attendees that many people sneer at—the holiday church-goers. We attended every Easter and Christmas—religiously, if you’ll pardon the pun. When I began working at the age of 15, Sundays became a necessary work day since most restaurants require you to work on Sundays or at least be available. When I turned 16 and began waitressing, the lure of the almighty dollar was too strong for me to resist and I volunteered to work every Sunday. My week-ends, starting on Friday night and continuing through Sunday night, were when I made the most tips.

In college, I learned about other religions and began to explore. I dabbled in Buddhism and New Age religions, mixing a little of this with a little of that until I had an unrecognizable form as my religion. I studied astral projection and past life regression and witchcraft. I dabbled in spells (only white, never dark). I realized that there was more out there than just what we could see when I encountered spirits and, once even, a demon. At one point, I almost became a Catholic, because the boy I was seeing was Catholic and his parents would not allow us to marry unless I was Catholic. He caved to parental pressure and I stopped my studies when we broke up.

These days, I call myself a Christian Wiccan. I believe some tenets of Christianity—that there is a higher power and it is a good and benevolent power, but expects us to treat our fellow humans a certain way. I also believe as Wiccans do, mainly their first “law”—“And it harm none.” Recently, I have had my eyes opened once more by a woman who posted that she was a Witch, not a Wiccan. Silly, lightly informed me had thought they were one and the same. It turns out, I am both and neither, with more leaning toward Witch than Wiccan. I do not wait for certain times of the year/moon cycle to cast spells. I do not work from a spell-book. I do not have a Wiccan name. I would love the sense of community that a Wiccan coven would bring, but honestly, I am a solitary person and I find that a lot of times, when you get more than a few women into an organized group, things can go to Hell in a hand-basket rather quickly. Add a few men, and I’m not sure it would be any better.

So, to sum up, I believe in a higher power—call it God, the Goddess, whatever you like. I believe that power to be benevolent. I believe that if we are kind to each other and honest and trustworthy, we are not going to spend eternity in some fiery pit. Neither of my boys is baptized, because we were not able to bring them to a church of our choice when they were babies, but I don’t believe this will have them roaming around in the “in-between” after their deaths if they are good people in their lives. One thing the Witch’s article taught me is that I still don’t know what I think I know, and that’s a good thing. I prefer to be balancing on one leg than standing confidently on two when it comes to certain things; I don’t want to feel so sure of myself that I become obnoxious. This is not to say that everyone who is confident of their religion is obnoxious, but I might be if I wereI have that tendency. Plus, there’s something to be said for constantly learning, constantly opening your mind and spirit to new (positive) ideas.

What about you? What are your religious views? How did you come by them? Do you think everyone should believe as you do or do you follow more of a "and it harm none" sort of philosophy?


Jen FitzGerald said...

I had no church experience until I was in the 8th grade and was taken by my science teacher and his family. We moved shortly thereafter and it wasn't until a couple of decades later that I really was impacted by formal religion. My husband wanted to start attending church. So we found a local, non-denominational church and went. I enjoyed the sense of community and volunteering. And I made friends.

When we moved to Texas, we didn't go to church right away which was probably a mistake, but eventually we found one. I went, made friends, volunteered, the whole bit. But the church got too big and began asking too much of the few volunteers it had instead of insisting that everyone find a place to serve as it used to do. I finally got fed up and quit. Aside from my daughter, who still goes to that church, I don't communicate with anyone anymore.

As for what I believe, I do believe in God and I believe what the Bible says. And I rarely take the Lord's name in vain. But I don't walk the walk and I don't talk the talk.

Lynne Kensington said...

Hiya, Jen! Sorry, thought I responded to this--guess I've been busy. Or something.

At any rate, I appreciate the feedback. I love when my friends stop by to comment on my posts. :) There is a nice sense of community when you attend church; I do miss that.