The Smiths – Rubber Ring – 2011 Remastered Version
A recent conversation with a friend about the specifics of a belief in a divine force reminded me of this song, particularly the sample at the end, “you are sleeping… you do not want to believe… you are sleeping…”
I thought I’d share what I said here for the few friends and family who are keeping up with this blog. The conversation, which I initiated, started with these questions: So… where are you on the question of the existence of a divine force? What do you believe? What have you experienced?
And my friend addressed atheism before coming to his own belief statement, which is where I start my own answer, which I’ve edited slightly:
I think that some atheists are on the same spectrum as fundamentalists. They have an agenda, and nothing else matters, and they are just as fanatical about it… which leads me to think they’re just as unsure as the fundamentalists are of their own foundation. I mean really, why else would you spend SO much energy (angry energy) trying to convince others? I have a few friends (most, if not all male, interestingly enough) who identify as atheist and they have such anger mingled with it. Makes me sad, and definitely turns me off listening to what they have to say. I don’t want to be proselytized by a non-believer any more than I want to be proselytized by a believer. Other atheists seem to be very at peace with their truth, which to me indicates a much more well-considered and solid foundation.
All I feel when I think about the absence of god is cold, alone and frankly, scared. And lately, that absence has been huge. I can’t find a connection in any of the places I’ve looked, and I feel cut off, forsaken even. I’ve felt that connection to the divine as an adult, and every once in a while I think I see the ghost of that connection when I’m in the forest, but it’s not as strong as it was even five years ago. I have met people of many different paths who are like avatars, who undeniably have that connection at any given time. I envy them, and I recognize that they seem to be by far the exception, rather than the rule. I think this group is where Jesus and the Buddha and other spiritually connected people have been, and where they continue to exist. In other words, I think people today are capable of having the same connection to god that Jesus or any other holy person has had, or is having. But I don’t have a clue any more how to get there. And on bad days, I wonder if it’s all delusion.
In the past, I most often felt that connection in community, which is why, I think, a multi-faceted perspective of divinity has always made sense to me. We’re all holding the elephant, so to speak. But there is something that is bigger than the sum of the parts of community, and that’s the thing I think I see a ghost of when I’m out in nature. Maybe for me, being with other people who are of like mind and/or are acting together with spiritual intention is like an amplifier. Maybe I can’t find that connection alone. But that doesn’t feel right to me, not at all. On a very deep level, it doesn’t feel possible that there is no way to experience god unless I’m with other people. In fact, it sometimes seems like that’s where the trouble lies.
So I feel like I’m wandering in some spiritual desert, searching for water, which exists, but is sometimes a mirage. And in the desert, places where there were water sometimes dry up. Sometimes for a person’s lifetime. And sometimes only until the next rainy season. So… I don’t know if I’m in a place that’s so far from water that I’ll never make it back in this lifetime, or if I’m just between seasons. And it is intensely uncomfortable.
People say that faith is believing when you can’t feel or see something. I disagree. I have at various times in my life felt the presence of god, felt it physically both inside and outside my body. I’ve seen it in the landscape. I’ve heard it in music that’s being played live (and even occasionally with recordings). When I danced with Dionysos and Ariadne for a while, I tasted it. I’ve touched it in the skin of my babies. It’s nigh unto impossible for me to not have doubts now when all those things I’ve experienced seem like dim memories. That’s where the scared part comes in. Because was I fooling myself then, or now?
I’m so restless when it comes to this, but restless without an outlet, which is incredibly frustrating. I’ve never felt this before, not when I was a kid milling around in Christianity, not when I was a newling Witch, and only … I think I can trace it back to the coven break-up in Arizona, maybe. But I think that was the straw. I think the seed of disconnect started with Jasmine’s death. And I wish I could figure it out. I wish I had a freaking map. I don’t even have a word to describe my position or belief because truly, most labels chafe, as do most religions, in one way or another. So WTF am I to do?
I guess the short answer is that like Mulder, I want to believe. But there’s a whole lot of Scully in my DNA. (interesting that in the show, Scully was the devout Christian, no?)
So if anyone reading this has thoughts, or would like to answer the question I originally posed, I’d love to read and dialogue.