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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Do I Need A Label?

I've tried for several years to figure out what bubble to darken on a questionnaire about religious affiliation.  Never really wanting to label myself one thing or another, my status has been undecided.  Then my Dad said this term "seeker" to me and somehow I'm more at ease with my beliefs.

No organized church has ever felt like home to me.  During my Presbyterian days as a kid, I enjoyed singing Psalty's songbook with the other Sunday Schoolers.  At this point, the tunes elude me and the main lasting memory is of my swinging legs accidentally loosing my brown shoe into the back of my classmate's head.  

When we switched churches and "became" Lutheran, I recall crying when I was passed over for communion because I'd not yet been confirmed, though I'd received communion at the previous church.  This was likely more embarrassment than anything else.  No tween wants to feel left out.  

There are fond memories of being an acolyte at this church where I was later confirmed.  The pastor was a delightful man who was always engaging with his sermons.  Christmas Eve was always magical and I remember feeling ease in the silence and the grip of my flickering candle.  My son was later baptized in this very church.    

A few years down the road, there was an affair between the deacon and the new pastor's husband.  This began the destruction of my towering belief system.  I can't stomach hypocrisy.  Still clinging to the conceptual "belonging" to a religion, I later had my daughter baptized in a cove in Hawaii by a Lutheran pastor.  He was a cool guy who was willing to "overlook" the facility's rules about holding the ceremony on their property.  He also wore a rash guard that had a collar.  He was awesome.

When my Dad said he was a seeker, I sort of realized that I've been a seeker for a very long time.  In my college days I attended various types of churches with friends, I'm open minded that way.  Not one of these visits yielded a comfortable sense of belonging.  If anything, it elicited the opposite reaction.  That same tension I felt when I had been passed over at communion erupted in my shoulders.  Organized religion and I are just not meant to be together.  Though I continue to read and learn as much as I can about all forms.

Where then does that leave me?  Science doesn't have all of the answers and neither does any one organized religion.  All religions have the potential to create wonderful human beings.  The original Seekers formed as a group because organized religion was corrupt in the 1620s.  They eventually became the Quakers.  For the most part, they wanted power to get out of the way of individual's connections with God.

Being at ease with myself is something that came with age.  It is the most blessed feeling to no longer care about being judged for being me.  The daily decisions that I make are based in kindness and humility.  The only rituals I have are my morning cup of coffee, a few keystrokes on this site,  and an imaginary sun salutation as I stand outside and breathe in deeply.  Floods of joy are what I seek.  Maybe this is God.  Maybe with dogma out of the way, I can feel more of what this world has to offer.  It's okay for me to live without a label.

Maybe God is in that mysterious cloud formation.  Maybe He is in the laugh of a baby at the supermarket.  Maybe He is in the embrace of a friend.  Maybe He is in the motivation to stay healthy.  Maybe He or She is in all of us and the words and other people get in the way.  I'll keep seeking and feeling quite comfortable in my way of being a decent human being.        

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