Friday, February 1, 2013

Of gods and Music

O vast Rondure, swimming in space,
Covered all over with visible power and beauty,
Alternate light and day and the teeming spiritual darkness,
Unspeakable high processions of sun and moon and countless stars above
I sat tonight beside one of my dearest friends, listening to these words crash over me through the voices of a choir and to the accompaniment of a symphony. In a state of bliss, I allowed myself to be carried away by the music. I let my spirit drift on the waves of harmony, floating peacefully on the notes as the conductor wrung every ounce of emotion from the gathering of artists before him. It was magical.
Bear me indeed as through regions infinite
Whose air I breathe, whose ripples I hear, lave me all over,
Bathe me, O God, in thee, mounting to thee,
I and my soul to range in range to thee
My mind wandered, jumping from note to note like stepping stones. I felt the playful lilt of the violins which surrounded me as if a flock of birds were escorting me to an unknown destination. The cellos and bass wrapped me in their warm, comforting tones, each note creating the clouds which wrapped softly around my body. The drums boomed thunderously as if sent from Thor himself and the horns proclaimed their joy to the world as the choir of 100 voices melded into a beautiful sense of “oneness” for me.
I thought about these words. I tasted the flavor and wondered upon their inspiration. These verses were written by Walt Whitman, who believed in all religions but adhered to none. He once wrote in a poem, "I adopt each theory, myth, god, and demi-god, / I see that the old accounts, bibles, genealogies, are true, without exception" I have some things in common with Mr. Whitman. I love words. I love the way they can inspire and I love the way they allow me to convey my thoughts. I also value religion. Now those of you who know that I am a staunch atheist may have read those four words twice just to be sure. Yes, I value religion. Let me explain.
A person’s religion can be the pillar of support an individual relies on during their lives. A religion can be a god or several, it can be a passion like music or art, it can be inspired by a place or a sight, a sound or a smell. A religion can also exist within the absence of a god. I believe that none of these are less or more than any other. Perhaps you think my definition too loose or vague, that a religion must have a god with a name and a pretty place to go so see him, her, it or them. Think what you like! I challenge and dare you to, for that is entirely the point. I decry only that which does not encourage questions, values only blind faith and relies on desperation for obedience. I respect those with fire and courage no matter what the belief or the name of their deity.
I was raised in a very religious home. Actually, I was raised in two- my mother and father shuttled me back and forth between their homes so I was alternately expected to identify as either Presbyterian or Reformed Baptist depending on my location. I also attended a private Christian school until the time when I ran away from home at 16. I have put in my time with organized religion. There were many battles when I was growing up between family members about religion and the issues associated with it. I left my father’s home and went to my mother’s for a very short period. A rule of my mother’s church caused me to be asked to leave her church (because of my rather cavalier approach to religious debating) and because I was in her household and not attending the church, was asked to leave her home. Church law stated that any person living under a member’s roof must attend the church. In my mother’s mind, there was no room to debate the issue.
I was angry for a very short while but I was ready to be on my own. I had seen enough of blind faith and unquestioning obedience. I needed to be where the questions burning in my mind could be asked and to be around people who could not only give me one answer but many. I became an anti-religious warrior, waiting for the Jehovah’s Witnesses like a wolf waiting for sheep, fire burning and ready to lash out at all who had the nerve to try to “save” me. In those days, I was as fearsome as any preacher who ever dared minister about the evils of the flesh and the tortures of hell. I was the anti-evangelist, preaching on the downfalls of religion, the stupidity of “sheep”, and the ridiculousness of blind faith.
These days I have mellowed and come to understand spirituality. I can touch the deepest parts of my soul, embracing the energy within myself and others; the energy which exists in every living creature. While I am still an atheist, I value the faith that others have within themselves. Just as I expect to be allowed to develop and embrace my own version of spirituality, I will defend anyone else the right to their own.  My spirituality has no god and no savior save for the fact that I have embraced it to save myself. It is the ultimate act of taking myself, this self that I have built from a person who was once too hurt to want to live, too raw and broken to exist within the real world. I have taken all of the hurt, guilt and pain and turned it into something I understand and can embrace. I have accepted  within myself, the parts of  that will never fit in with my family and I have turned away from the guilt which was instilled from the moment I could understand what I should feel guilty of. To me, it is power in a raw and animal form. I play because I touch my spirituality here, take it and make it my own.  My kink is simple. This is the place where I find my bliss, touch my version of god and create my own heaven.

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