Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Deepening My Spirituality (Instead of Trying to Define It)

I received a request for prayer from a friend yesterday.  I waited until today to respond.  The reason? My immediate reaction was, "should I tell him I'm a Deist, and thus no longer pray the way he would expect from a fellow Catholic?'  But today I was moved to respond, "I'm holding [your request] in the light," the way Quakers lift up prayer requests.  It felt right to respond in this way.  If he comes back asking for why I used such terminology, I can get into the details then.  If he says it sounds like I'm Quaker, I'll say "thanks."

I will be attending an overnight Catholic women's retreat soon.  I love retreats, although generally I opt for silent Ignatian retreats, which allow plenty of alone time and time in nature.  Not sure this will compare.  I'm concerned that I will face my "former Catholicism" head on during this retreat.  I already know I will not be participating in their sacrament of reconciliation, and I'll be leaving to come home before their ending Mass begins.  I hope I won't have to share much and can just listen for nuggets of God's speaking to me through others, and then reflect alone as much as possible.  If asked, I can honestly say that I attend such-and-such Catholic church, because I do.  Though it does not mean I am Catholic anymore.

I think one of the most difficult things about this transition is being critically aware of the wording associated with holidays, spirituality, and God.  I can no longer just mouth what I'm used to mouthing if it holds no truth to me.  And I need to give myself time to come into my own as a Deist (does deist need to be capitalized?!) so that as my daughter grows, I'll be better prepared to navigate her "religious upbringing" with my husband.

The more I think about being a Deist, the more I wonder why I hadn't embraced the term much sooner, as soon as I learned about it.  I think I know.  It had a lot to do with my need for external validation.  But I live in such a pluralistic society that I see now that no matter what one person may validate for me, someone else may very well counter.  In other words, I can't please everyone.  Nor is that my job.

I hope that as a Deist, I'll be able to go back to celebrating Christmas and Easter without worrying about the Christian overtones... I was really on the fence this past year with both holidays, as I didn't know how to find meaning in them.  I think I may revisit some Pagan practices, actually.  I spent two years as a Pagan - one actively practicing and the second just sort of waiting for the next phase in my spiritual development.  During that time, I came to appreciate nature more, and it was one of the things that attracted me to the religion.  That and the feminine divine, but now I see God as a transcendent being, non-person, gender-less, so I don't need a reactionary Deity to counter my patriarchal upbringing's Father God.

The more I think about what it means to me to be a Deist, the more I think, "it's just so simple.  So uncomplicated.  So pure and minimalist."  I'm looking outside my window and catch a glimpse of leaves swaying in the breeze, and I realize that I'm having a "spiritual moment".  Here's my religion. I just attended a brief religious service, having merely glanced outside.  I look beyond the trees and sit still enough to notice the barely moving clouds in the bright blue sky, and I think, "there's God." And I see the sunshine on my windowsill, and think, "here, too."  :)

I love to read.  I recently realized that reading "counts" as a hobby (!).  And what does Deism encourage?  Reading, study, learning.  That is one of the main ways to get to know God.  (The other is observing nature.)  I'm glad I'm done looking, and can now spend my time on deepening my spirituality instead of on trying to define it.

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