I had a startling experience this holiday. A grown woman, a good 20-25 years older than I, decided that it would motivate me to return to my religion by calling me a loser (complete with a sad head shake and disappointed expression).
Tough love, possibly? I found it appalling, and I was shocked into silence where I would usually shoot back with aggression. I had to pause and think about what she was saying – why loser? Does she truly believe that someone who leaves a sect of religion is now no longer worthy of respect? Someone who cannot succeed, or is doomed to a bleak existence? For a minute I almost believed her.
The following day, I spent time with a good friend whose presence reminded me that spirituality has nothing to do with religion. That being a phenomenal human is not linked to following strict regiment. I spent time in nature, near the water yet still close to the city, and felt a higher presence against my back. A warmth slightly stronger than the sun. A hug. I felt comforted as I watched a bird (not a duck, we determined) diving deep to fish and popping up many yards away…I listened to the water lapping a few feet below me, and I wasn’t afraid of drowning. The wind buffeted my (newly) short hair and I wanted to laugh at the sheer joy of being alive. I’m so lucky. I’m so blessed. And my religion has nothing to do with it.