The past couple years have been very rough for me because I've been distancing myself from organized religion.
Coming away from a set way of perceiving divinity, afterlife, the present, and the before-life time, I've struggled with labels. I came from a religion that emphasized God as a perfect being and male father figure. When I was first trying to make it on my spiritual own I felt (and perhaps still do, somewhat) a resentment toward the word God.
For Christmas, Jo's mom asked the older children to share an experience that has strengthened them. I was included in this invitation. Normally, Christmastime in their home is about celebrating Christ. It was really no different this year, but Jo's mom made an effort to use different words for essentially the same thing. Instead of asking us how God or Christ had strengthened us or how the Spirit had touched us, she asked us to simply share an experience that has strengthened us.
As I thought about what I wanted to share, I couldn't help think about the choice of words. The simple change in word-choice meant a lot to me--because it meant that she was aware that Jo and I have different beliefs, and that she wanted to make us feel welcome. I realized that the only difference was words. She meant the same thing, and when I shared my experience we all felt the same thing. We just use different labels.
What some people might call God, Christ, the Spirit, the Creator, Allah, or Buddah, to me is still Love. I believe that regardless of all the differences we might have with other people in the world--be it skin color, culture, sexual orientation, stated religion, language--we all have one essential thing in common. Love. Without taking a poll, I know that every single person in the world loves someone else. It is what ties us together. It is what connects us to our family, our friends, and even strangers in the grocery store.
I believe in a sort of greater existence, if you will. There are no words for what I believe. Oriah Mountain Dreamer uses words like "the presence" or "the Great Mystery". I don't think I can ever truly describe what it is I feel about why we are and what we are as beings of the earth, but I feel that whatever it is I am part of it all. In a way, it's as though I am God or the Mystery--along with everyone and everything else. I believe that matter cannot be created nor destroyed and because of that, perhaps we go through cycles of what eastern religions might call reincarnation. Perhaps in another "life" I was a rock or a tree or a river, and maybe as such I learned patience, or how to weather the storms, or to be steadfast. And here in this new form, I get to learn something new (or maybe the same thing!).
I believe in energies. That I have energies and so do the rocks and sticks and animals (essentially what I'm saying is, like Pocahontas in the Disney movie, I believe that every rock and tree and creature has a life, has a spirit, and has a name). But, I think that maybe that life, spirit, and name is the same for everything. With my limited vocabulary and understanding of everything, I'm going to choose to call it Love.
So, my goal for myself and my spiritual adventuring is to simply learn to be my true self (the self that is made of Love) and, to dance.
I believe that poetry is our way of trying to connect to God or the Mystery or the divine energy within ourselves. And so, I share with you a poem that has touched me, with the hope that it will in some way touch you. I could analyze and explain away the things I've taken away from this poem, but I think it best to simply let you see it how you will. But, maybe, after knowing some of my beliefs, you'll also be able to find a connection to me through this beautiful stranger's words.
I have sent you my invitation,
the note inscribed on the palm of my hand by the fire of living.
Don't jump up and shout, "Yes, this is what I want! Let's do it!"
Just stand up quietly and dance with me.
Show me how you follow your deepest desires,
spiraling down into the ache within the ache,
and I will show you how I reach inward and open outward
to feel the kiss of the Mystery, sweet lips on my own, every day.
Don't tell me you want to hold the whole world in your heart.
Show me how you turn away from making another wrong without
abandoning yourself when you are hurt and afraid of being unloved.
Tell me a story of who you are,
and see who I am in the stories I am living.
And together we will remember that each of us always has a choice.
Don't tell me how wonderful things will be...someday.
Show me you can risk being completely at peace,
truly okay with the way things are right now in this moment,
and again in the next and the next and the next...
I have heard enough warrior stories of heroic daring.
Tell me how you crumble when you hit the wall,
the place you cannot go beyond by the strength of your own will.
What carries you to the other side of that wall,
to the fragile beauty of your own humanness?
And after we have shown each other how we have set and kept the
clear, healthy boundaries that help us live side by side with each other,
let us risk remembering that we never stop silently loving
those we once loved out loud.
Take me to the places on the earth that teach you how to dance,
the places where you can risk letting the world break your heart,
and I will take you to the places where the earth beneath my feet
and the stars overhead make my heart whole again and again.
Show me how you take care of business
without letting business determine who you are.
When the children are fed but still the voices within and around us
shout that the soul's desires have too high a price,
let us remind each other that it is never about the money.
Show me how you offer to your people and the world
the stories and the songs you want our children's children to remember,
and I will show you how I struggle,
not to change the world, but to love it.
Sit beside me in long moments of shared solitude,
knowing both our absolute aloneness and our undeniable belonging.
Dance with me in the silence and in the sound of small daily words,
holding neither against me at the end of the day.
And when the sound of all the declarations of our sincerest
intentions has died away on the wind,
dance with me in the infinite pause before the next great inhale
of breath that is breathing us all into being,
not filling the emptiness from the outside or from within.
Don't say, "Yes!"
Just take my hand and dance with me.
Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Share your thoughts--on spirituality, poetry, or life--in a comment below.