I think about God a lot. It’s actually one of my favorite things to dwell on. It started when I quit the Lutheran Church when I was 14 due to the hypocrisy and misogyny I felt whenever I went to church. I went on the epic search for meaning and understanding across many faiths. And eventually, I ended up with a peaceful understanding that has guided me through many tragedies and challenges. And lots of good times, too.
So the other day Eve (yes, named after THAT Eve), who is 13, expressed some frustrations with going to church with her father. (Even before we dated, I agreed he could raise our kids Catholic. It was very important to him.)
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“They are all hypocrites!” she spat out. And I smiled inside. “Do you believe in God?” she asked me.
“Very much so,” I said.
“Well, then, what is your religion?” For the first time, she was asking me, and I felt a precious moment coming on!
“I don’t really believe in religion, I believe in God. To me, religion divides people. And if God made all of us, then I believe that we should unite together in our faith.”
“Then, what do you call it?”
I thought, and was stumped, and thought about it some more. I thought about it that night and the next morning. And then I remembered what I call it: the Path of Love.
Early in my search and research, I thought I would find a uniting principle if I studied all the religions closely enough. I didn’t, really. And it’s partly, I realized, because many religions are cultural and tribal beliefs as much as they are beliefs about God. But my favorite saying comes from the Moravians, who settled in Bethlehem, PA, where I currently live. Their credo ends “In all things, Love.” That, to me, sums it up. And I just love how the 14-year-old Moravian Countess Benigna Zinzendorf started a school for girls—blacks, Native Americans, and anyone else who wanted to learn. That was in 1740. And part of my belief is that each thing we do is an act of service and worship. We may not need a church to go to if the world is our church (and I worship wherever music is played!). Nature is my cathedral.
So I’m on the Path of Love. And I’m not forcing anyone else to walk it with me. It’s a choice I’ve made, and have never regretted. It’s my uniting principle, and all religions and faiths, political persuasions, and people are welcome. There is no requirement for entry, no rules or regulations. No dogma. No thou shalt nots. Just a commitment to the effort to approach all things, all people, and all moments, with love.
I just love the Path of Love!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on something as meaningful as God, love, faith and religion. I, too, have found my way away from sitting only in a church to pray or practice my faith. Curiously, my daughters had the same experience as yours did while attending CCD, Catholic Sunday school classes. They saw great contradiction between the love, acceptance, and inclusiveness taught in chapel at their Episcopalian school compared to what they experienced as rules and ridicule while attending our Catholic Church, where my husband continues to worship and feels most comfortable. I tell my daughters that my family’s religion and my “traditional” religion is Catholic but now I simply have faith in in God and I find, like you have said, that it’s all about love.
“God is love and all who live in Love, live in God.” This is one of my favorite songs. I try to look for God in each person, and what makes them special and beautiful. We are Catholic. We are called to love (as best we can!) and given how abundantly blessed we are in so many ways, to act gratefully as God’s hands and feet in the world.
“In all things, Love”! I agree Maria, and I’m walking the same path.
I was raised in a very conservative protestant community, and although I see and have experienced very good things that result from organized religion throughout our world, there are equally very destructive understandings and actions that proceed in the name of “faith”. I believe it is so important that we encourage ourselves and our children to question faith, and God. We need to accept that our God is big enough to handle being questioned, even doubted.
Great blog entry – Thanks!
Well…I don’t believe in God, but other than that, I like what you say. I believed in God once, until I was raped. I believed in God once, and then I saw a child died for want of food. I believed in God once, until I saw his followers use his name to kill, maim, torture, subvert the local culture, and put conditions on everything from food to housing to clothing. I believed in God once, until I lived in a world of hate.
No God, in any incarnation, would allow such atrocities. There is no God. There are people. People who are human and learn terrible things and believe terrible thoughts. People who are human and have learned wonderful things and believe wonderful thoughts. How I behave, how I exhibit compassion, understanding, concern for those less fortunate, bettering my environment (both emotionally and physically) is the ONLY thing that matters. It is the Path of Love, as you put it (for me, the Path of Ethical/Rational/Humanist Thinking), not a path of deity. I was raised Catholic, spent some time as a Lutheran, and even as a Pagan (non-Wiccan). None of them take me on a path I am able to follow.
Good post, Maria. I do believe in God and am a practicing catholic. Yes, we are all sinners. I understand your daughter’s questions. I think that all people need love, forgiveness and acceptance. Sometimes it can be a cruel world. We should all try to accept, love and forgive each other no matter which path we follow.
a bumper sticker I noticed :
“Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich”.
We all seek to blame something, but it seems sad when people do not look to their own actions or some government for the demise, and realise not the miracles in their lives that range from something simple to the extraordinary.
It is easy to be bitter…detachment and enlightenment come from accepting life and its good and bad.
People use their religion, political beliefs, social class, as justifcation to punish others..yet, i wonder if they really understand anything..i think it just human weakness..we use an outside source to justify hurting ourselves and others.
I think what you say here Maria, fits in very much what Jesus taught us..in all things, Love.
Thank you so much for a lovely reflection on your journey.
Very well said! Love is the only true path and crosses all boundaries.
Thank you for a lovely post!
Oh yeah, faulbuos stuff there you!
I’ve about the same background through the years as to spirituality. As a child, I already knew what is so fake and what is so false or hypocrite! I too, found my path; and, Jesus is my Raboni/I love the WORD exemplary. I love God with a child-like passion and with “fear & trembling!”