Monday, October 8, 2012

Be Not Afraid - Spiritual Atheism

Be not afraid
I go before you always

I’ve been singing this song to myself, on and off, for about two months now.

What a comforting idea, that power, always with you. I want to believe in that.
I do, in a way.

There is a power in the universe. I believe that with all my soul. But I just don’t know how to define that power, what to call it; I don’t know the strength or the purpose of that power. But that’s OK. That’s the mystery that religions have been talking about since humans first started thinking about these things. I’m OK with the mystery.

But I have to admit to some fear. Where are my parents, now that they’ve died? I can still feel them, their love and concern, so they can’t possibly have simply ended. They are in the universe, somehow.

I read a short story in high school (I can’t remember the title or the author) that said the dead exist as long as someone living thinks about them. The less they are in our thoughts, as we “move on” and gain distance from our grief and from our love, the more they fade. The scariest thing was the idea that they felt that loss, that they felt that forgetfulness. I vowed to put my Nana in my thoughts at least once a week, so she wouldn’t fade. And, I think I’ve actually done that ever since, though thirty-one years have passed since she died.

If I keep my parents in my thoughts every day, will they continue to exist? And, what does that mean, anyway? Would they want that existence; to be held in a connection to this living earth rather than to have the freedom to explore whatever is next?

And so, I am afraid. Afraid of what they have gone through in dying. Afraid of what I will go through. Afraid of making a mistake.

Whatever one would call my faith, I do have faith that there is love in the universe.  I agree with the mentor that is Jesus Christ, who seemed to teach us to treat people well and trust that life is good. Who tells us that we can wander far, in safety, though we do not know the way.

I’ve been wandering for all of my 43 years, trying to find the way. I’m struck with the idea that the wandering, not the way, is the important thing. That, naturally, is frightening. I will try not to be afraid.

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