Saturday, September 24, 2005

Generosity and Gratitude

Some of you know of a twisted path I've walked with religion. From my religious days -- literally so, as being a member of a "religious" order in the Catholic Church is a specific and differing identifier from being a "secular" priest -- to my days now as totally a-religious, a tranformative journey has occured, changing my life for the better in ways I'm unable to describe. The Katrina event sharpens my perspective about religion: I place my trust in people and nature, beautiful and endless are they. I simply see no need to jump to other-worldly entities when the people and lives right here around me are so deeply blessed. I don't care if god exists. I don't care about Jesus. (Poor fellow, the crap people have laid on him these past two millenia.) I don't feel aggressive about god; I simply see no justifiable need for the distraction of believing in him.

Perhaps this puts others off? It doesn't matter; your experience is cherished and fulfilling, I hope. And so is mine.

Everything is made of Love. Everything. Love is the brick and mortar and the bricklayer. Love is literally the Stuff of Everything. It's pre-existent. It's the start, the Alpha. And god, at best, is only the beta, an invention of humanity.

Trusting Love challenges me far more than spitting out rote prayers in church, fooling myself into thinking some entity cares about my fate and affects it only because I've quietly asked him to. Strikes me as a foolish idea, really.

Contrast that with a story from last night, when I went out with brand new friends to a nice little place in the Fan neighborhood here in Richmond. Trisha and I were talking about things and next week she and some friends are travelling to Iceland to celebrate a birthday. Her original plans included a trip to Sweden after Iceland, but she changed her mind when she saw the devastation from Katrina and instead of travelling further, she has donated the money she would have spent to the Red Cross.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out the Red Cross debit card that has made such a difference to me these past few weeks. "Then it's you. You gave me this, Trisha."

Feeling a wave of gratitude, I've learned yet again the lesson of Love and the power of humanity to make this world perfect and gorgeous. I can't buy gasoline with a prayer. And your bible doesn't find me a house to live in.

So Trisha, to you and to every generous soul like you: You are god to me and people like me who need you. You are Love and caring, food and water, safety and warmth. You are comfort in my storm, the mast I trust I can tie myself to in the churning waters. You are the hope and strength I need to re-build a broken life. You are the role-model, the example of living that challenges me to be like you later, when I'm in one piece again. You expand, fill, calm. You delight in dark moments, ease in troubled places, hold me when I'm desperately lonely for friendships swept away in a moments time three weeks ago. You have changed this little life. And a million others.

Everything is made of Love: hurricanes, houses, dogs, forests, seas, you, me, Trisha.

Everything is made of Love. Can you handle it?


Blogger bradley said...

Joseph, don't you think that religion, when taught and practiced in the true spirit of its own teachings, is also made of love? And if it is, then doesn't have a place in your "Love-created" world? And if it does, isn't it worthy of more than your derision? (Hey, what the fuck, brother, let's get a little intellectual discourse going here, you know? Enough gloom and doom, for God's sake...)

11:33 AM  
Blogger Kate Lilac said...

I'm with you on this one. I can recognize people's need for religion, but I can't understand it personally. To me, whatever helps a person make sense of his life and doesn't hurt someone else is OK by me.

4:55 PM  

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