Monday, December 8, 2008

action is important...

"The world is holy. We are holy. All life is holy. Daily prayers are delivered on the lips of breaking waves, the whisperings of grasses, the shimmering of leaves." - Terry Tempest Williams

I was raised as a Catholic, went to parochial schools until I was sixteen, learned that only Catholics could get into heaven, and even wanted to be a nun at one point. In spite of all this, I abandoned the idea of hell in my early teens when, for about three years, I spent most of my waking hours outside. Confronted daily with the incredible beauty of cloud formations, sunsets, flowers, trees, coral reefs, and star-filled night skies, I could no longer believe that the Creator of these wonders would ever banish its creations to hell for all eternity. I rejected what I had been taught about eternal damnation without any reservations and without ever feeling a need to seek reassurance from anyone - it was my secret heresy and I enjoyed thinking about it secretly. When I was about seventeen, my Mom started talking to me about reincarnation and karma as possible explanations for the meaning of life and we had many discussions that ultimately had the effect of opening my mind to the possibility that the Catholic Church did not hold a monopoly on the truth. These discussions with her marked the beginning for me of a long and still-ongoing search for whatever truths there may be to be found in this world.

In the early days of this journey, I encountered for the first time some born-again Christians who seemed very similar to the Catholics I had grown up with. They were sure that they had found the absolute truth and that only other people who believed exactly as they believed could be "saved". Annoyingly, their approach to any new person was to ask "Are you saved?" Not being so distant from the Catholic Church at that point in my life, my reaction was "Well, of course I'm saved - I've been baptized as a Catholic!" Even now, though, after so many years, whenever I am asked this spiritually arrogant question, I find it really hard to react in a polite way.

In my opinion, being "saved" (if such a thing exists at all) is not something that would happen to me at some fixed point in time - as in some moment's grand revelation - but is rather an ongoing process of the choices I make - choosing to be kind or not, helpful or not, understanding or not, to do my best or not, day after day. Of course I am not perfect and do not always succeed, and sometimes I am even an opportunity for someone else to practice patience or not, but I will keep trying - I will to keep trying. I think intention and effort matter more than consistent outcome, and that even one totally failed effort to be loving is worth more than a lifetime's worth of revelations not followed up by action.

4 comments:

Tango daddy said...

I much enjoyed your seekers journey. Your thoughts on cloud formations,flowers, trees, corral reefs, and star filled nights mirror my own concepts. I was recently asked what I believed was more powerful God or Mother nature? My reply they are one and the same. What say you?

marain said...

YES! And this is one truth that has never changed in all my years of seeking.

Thank you for visiting my little blog!

All the best to you!

ksliberal said...

I hear everything that you said here. ACTION is everything. I do consider myself to be a Christian, though I stay as far away from organized religion as possible. I don't believe those places have much relation to Jesus. I have taken into my heart the notion that Jesus was here to teach us that our actions are the most important thing and that it doesn't matter what label you carry, if you love one another, are good to each other, admire beauty wherever you find it and bring joy and love to everything you do, you are pleasing to God.
I am also a recovered Catholic. I never could get over the notion that God would not bring a newborn baby into heaven if it was not baptised first or that perfectly good people would go to hell because they weren't baptized Catholics. As a matter of fact, I eventually came to the same realization as you--I don't believe in the devil or hell. And those "Christians" that want to "save" everyone should look to their own salvation, whatever that may be. I find that they deviate from the teachings of Jesus more than they follow them.

marain said...

ksliberal said:

I have taken into my heart the notion that Jesus was here to teach us that our actions are the most important thing and that it doesn't matter what label you carry, if you love one another, are good to each other, admire beauty wherever you find it and bring joy and love to everything you do, you are pleasing to God.

I love the way you have put this, and I agree with you entirely!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. It is gratifying to know that someone read what I wrote and felt inspired to contribute their own insights.

All the best to you!