losing my religion

As a follow-up to the previous post, I have been considering the place of Christian religion within my life. In the interests of striking a balance, it’s important to acknowledge the abundance of personal growth that has occurred for me as a direct result of religious involvement.

For many years, the church provided a structured spiritual space to facilitate healing from inner wounds, and helped me reorient towards the world, rather than away from it. Addictions, despair and meaninglessness that would have ensured an early death were gradually released through the message of Christ and in the process, openness, beauty and purpose became foundational as a way of life. I still have a deep sense of the sacred in the symbols of death and resurrection and can see this as a life principle at work in the earth. But I saw it first in Christianity.

I have known some wonderful human beings in Christian circles. Lifelong friends, people who are kind, loving, truth-seekers and thoughtful individuals. Being part of an embodied community can facilitate identity re-creation (and also pain) and helps me understand the motif of being ‘born again and again and again’ as a daily task best done with others. In community, we are enfolded into belonging and becoming.

Finally, I’ve had a glimpse of the mysteries of Life. All religions offer small insights into what is commonly known as God, and through studying theology, church attendance, prayer and meditation I’ve seen something of that which I would call divine:

A player who takes the risk.

An energetic presence that gets me up in the morning.

An acidic water that dissolves this heart of stone for crystal.

An ocean that leaves random messages of love along the shoreline.

A compassionate someone that keeps me hanging on despite the lack of answers about my own existence.

The art of a curved charcoal line drawn quickly on white paper.

Planetary wisdom.

Ultimately, I’ve left organised religion because that which is sacred cannot be contained by religious codes of belief and moralising. The old symbolics of Christianity are now tired, outlived, ragged. I like my divinity excessive, extravagant and wild, not at all dogmatic. In Oranges are not the Only Fruit by Jeannette Winterson, she talks about the process of art-making and says “the damp small confines of the mediocre and the gradual corrosion of beauty and light, the compromising and the settling; these things make good work impossible.”[1] They also make God impossible.

So finally, with Winterson’s wise words: “Everyone, at some time in their life, must choose whether to stay with a ready-made world that may be safe but which is also limiting, or to push forward, often past the frontiers of commonsense, into a personal place, unknown and untried.”[2]

I’m making a conscious choice to push forward, with gratitude for past Christian frontiers, but now into a new space, yet unknown.

[1] Jeanette Winterson, Oranges are not the Only Fruit (London: Vintage Books, 2001), xi.

[2] Ibid., xiv.

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