Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Faith here and now

I attend church these days --I know, quite shocking-- but as much as I try, most of the time I don't feel what's supposed to be in the message. There is no real revelation other than a petty political one that has no business being spoken from the pulpit.

I'm afraid I'm still more Buddhist than anything, just someone who is trying very hard to live by compassion for the sake of compassion, not because it's an expression of love for a divine being and not because I think it will get me into Heaven, but because it makes the most sense to love everyone as you'd have them love you.

As Vonnegut would say, "God damn it, you've got to be kind."

I believe that, even if I don't always get there (obviously).

Still, I think I used to understand Christianity a lot better. I used to pray and when I prayed I spoke to God with a fierce faith. I prayed for those I loved and asked with utter remorse for the forgiveness of my sins. I prayed for assistance, while believing fervently that God isn't one to grant wishes. I begged to understand and to find peace, but peace was slippery.

And I was thinking about some of these things as I was driving along with my girlfriend, discussing the preacher's sermon --I thought the guy sounded good, but didn't much care for what he said.

We were riding along, soaking in the air conditioning. The sun was shining and just ahead of us, we saw a young, dark-skinned man kneeling in the grass and offering a prayer to the east. His long hair was in tight braids tied together like electrical cables right above his neck.

It was just after noon and behind him, he'd dropped the pack he'd been carrying.

He was just a traveler, a weary pilgrim headed somewhere, but this gesture, a prayer by the side of the road in plain sight of Sunday traffic, was easily the most spiritually significant thing I'd seen in quite a while. It didn't make me want to convert to anything, but it reminded me that we're all on our own roads to "Damascus" and most of the time, like this young believer, we're moving against the traffic.

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