*Be warned, the below might only make sense to me, and that’s ok.*
Faith in Love. Faith in Human Decency. Faith in Science. Faith in God. Faith in myself. Faith in Kindness. Faith in Family. Or just plain Faith.
For many years when asked about my Faith, I have been at a complete loss for an answer. Usually when this question is asked it is in regards to religion, or a dogmatic belief in a “Higher Power”.
As a child I attended church regularly. Every week really unless someone was sick or we were away on holidays. My family all went together to the Baptist church 3 blocks from our house. I still remember some of the songs that were sung regularly. The Processional song that we sang as the Minister and the Choir entered the sanctuary, and the song to welcome the congregation. The song sung in thanks during the collection of the Offering. I even remember the song inviting the children to come forward to hear the “lesson” before leaving for Sunday school.
I remember the senior member of the church that would let us children help him to ring the bell before the service started, and I remember another senior member who would take us children through the rafters and “secret” passages to the top of that bell tower so that we could look out over the town. I remember the annual summer picnics, and the son of the First Minister who was one of my best friends until the family moved 4 hours away when we were 7 yrs old.
I remember my father volunteering as a teacher in the Sunday school. I remember singing in the children’s choir at Christmas in the scratchy old fashioned dress that my Mom made, and I also remember making the choice to be formally baptised when I was 9 years old.
I remember the pot-luck lunches after the service on the second Sunday of each month, and I remember how happy I was the first time I was allowed to stay for communion.
I have so many memories of church, and I remember believing very strongly in all that I was taught from the Bible, but I don’t remember when I lost all of that faith.
Somewhere along the line I stopped believing in the things that I couldn’t see, and that couldn’t be proven. I stopped believing in the magic of it all, and questioning it everything…but have yet to receive any satisfactory answers.
Then came my 10th grade history class. I’ll never forget the one unit that we studied. Alone or in pairs, we were to pick one of the “ancient” religions, study it and then prepare a presentation to clearly explain their fundamental beliefs and how they affect the societies in which they first flourished. On this list were choices such as Shinto, Buddhism, Catholicism, Druidism, Judaism, and my chosen topic of Hinduism.
This was the first time that I actually delved into learning of another religion, and to me it was fascinating. I’ll never forget the effect that it had on me. Making me think and believe that one god alone couldn’t do everything. Yes, in Hinduism they have many different gods, just as the ancient Egyptian faith and the Roman and Greek gods that we all know of. There were different Gods for different aspects of life and the world, rather than just one God in charge of everything.
I remember that of all the Gods, it was Shiva that made the most sense to me, or rather an observation made in relation to Shiva. Shiva is known as the “Destroyer”. Too many that don’t know, hearing that may sound horrible, like and destructive. Full of vengeance and death to all that don’t worship Shiva.
But the observation that I remember reading said that from destruction we can have rebirth. Think in terms of a Phoenix. It must die, but from the ashes it can be reborn. In destruction we have the chance of a new and hopefully better beginning.
Now I admit that I am not a true scholar of Hinduism, but that one idea struck a chord in me…whether truly accurate or not.
All beginnings have an end, but all ends also lead to beginnings. You see this referenced in the symbolism of the “wedding ring”. It is a circle with no true beginning and therefore no true end. Life is full of endings and beginnings, but most of them blend into one another so smoothly that it’s hard to truly pinpoint the change.
I know that one of the many reasons I lost my faith is hearing so many religions preaching that they are the only True faith, and the only road to a happy afterlife. They kill and condemn people they don’t know purely for their religious beliefs, or lack of them, and they use their own beliefs to justify the killing. I have yet to find a single religion that hasn’t killed in the name of their Gods.
So going back to my earlier statement….I don’t truly remember when I lost my faith. But in losing my religious faith, I have found a new faith.
I believe in the powers of Love. I believe that true kindness is more abundant that many of us think. I believe that we are all capable of salvation. I believe that we all have the power to be good, and that our actions reflect on us into the next life, just as a reputation often proceeds you in this one.
I believe that there are many paths to righteousness, but it’s only my hope that if I choose the wrong path, who or whatever I find at the end of it will truly be the loving and kind deity that can forgive my choices, and know that in my heart I truly had only good intentions.
I learned to believe in myself, and to live my life as a good person, or at least as good a person as I can be. I learned to have my own set of morals and beliefs and not to blindly follow the beliefs of another. I learned that perfection is a myth, and to find glory and pride in all of my imperfections.
But in doing this I have also become a jealous person. I am jealous of the people that can have such a trusting faith. I’m jealous at the ease that they accept what can’t be seen or proven. I’m jealous that they don’t question their faith as I do. I am jealous that they don’t doubt the existence of their God, or what he (or she) stands for.
As I said at the beginning, I truly don’t expect this to make sense to anyone other than myself, but there it is.