Being away – having a change of scene – it is an opportunity to press PAUSE. Lately, I have felt satisfied with the recent developments of my life. I have felt pleased with some of the positive decisions I have taken to look after my health – physically, emotionally and spiritually. This time away has been an opportunity to think clearly, to think deeply. I was reading a post about a week before we travelled. It confused me. It seemed very bitter, and it was obvious the person harboured hurt and blame. I am sensitive to people’s pain, yet what they said did not make sense.
The reason I have been thinking about it is that I have had a challenge these past few months because my parents (who associate with the Episcopalian church, as do a significant portion of other political figures) became angry because I listened to the service of another church. It seems odd because they have never been particularly active in their chosen faith. They hardly ever said a word about religion to me. I am not against them, their beliefs, their church. I did not choose to listen to a service by another church to hurt them. But when I mentioned the service I listened to, it was if I was the stinkiest – it was if they could not stand the odor.
Beliefs, faith, they can run very very deep. I would not want to comment on anyone else’s beliefs. My opinions and views on my own experience within the Episcopalian church have not left me with any bitterness or personal hurt. I spent long periods of my childhood away from my parents and my relatives went to other churches. I had a mix of “input” when it came to the ideas I was exposed to. As a youth, I did not know what I believed. I had a passing curiosity in spirituality and read about lots of faith, and asked friends about their religious beliefs. When I was in my mid-twenties, I began to deeply ponder why I existed at all. Perhaps that was the start of me being conscious that I had a spiritual hunger within. But I will say this…I want to be allowed to use my ability to reason and contemplate. I want to be allowed to search for answers to my questions. I want to be able to observe people who are living by a set of beliefs and determine what effect it is having on them.
What I have learnt is that if I listen to other people’s opinions of a set of beliefs or the people who believe them – I hear a very limited point of view. Often unwittingly, people who share their own point of view, are often giving a very questionable account. Sometimes…it comes across like Dominic Cummings giving his opinion of the conservative cabinet. (Not that I give a fig about the UK government or any other government for that matter – but of course I shall pay my taxes and make sure I abide by the law.)
So while I have been away, I have allowed myself time and space and peace to think, to read, to pray and to make decisions. Something has been brewing…and it would seem I am becoming more and more convinced. I think what I am trying to say is…I am ready to get on with my life now that I have found something I can finally believe in. I think I am changing. I feel more alive than I used to, and my desire to go on living is stronger. I am breathing in something fresh and fragrant and it is making me feel so much better about life, about our future, about everything. I am becoming sickened by anything that smacks of disregard for the precious gift of life, and love and loyalty and humility. I am starting to want to avoid things that sicken me.
I need to be allowed to think…but at the same time…I know I can be quite an emotional creature at times. So I do double check important things with people I trust. I trust Ben’s balanced viewpoint. I trust some of my very wise and balanced friends. So it has been reassuring that they have heard me out and they respect the conclusions I have come to. In fact, out of concern for me, two of my friends decided they would listen to one of the services of the church I had listened to. They were so impressed they have listened every Sunday since. It seems I am not crazy after all! I just seem to enjoy what makes sense.
My life is going to change a lot over the next six months. We are heading back to the US, to be near to Ben’s family. I find that beliefs and opinions run deeper in the US than the very multi-cultural city of London or our tiny village in a sleepy part of Hertfordshire. When we are back in the US, I will be a couple of hours drive away from one of my parents’ homes. I want to try to make peace with them, something that I have not been able to do over the phone. But at the same time, I want to be allowed to think, and reason, and believe what makes sense to me. I respect they feel the same way about their own chosen faith.
I have a lot to learn. But I am hungry to learn. I am willing to be corrected and change whatever is causing harm. I think maybe I am saying goodbye. I don’t know. I just find that a lot of the posts that appear in my WP Reader are making me physically sick. That tells you something doesn’t it. It means I am changing. I think that I need to be able to make decisions that make sense, that feel right and that deepen my peace of mind and joy in life.
I want to breathe in pure fresh clean air…I don’t want to feed my mind on poison. It is becoming easier for me to distinguish the murky fog that some people are intoxicated by and addicted to. I want to live a life full of genuine love and joy. It is becoming easier to recognise how to do that.