DATELINE: December 11, 2020, from Lady Proverbs, somewhere on the Oregon Coast
When it’s nice on the Oregon coast in the winter you have to book it and get
out in the sun. I just did that and the wind was also pretty light. The
shoobies (tourists, google it) aren’t around too much now as it’s off season
except for a little holiday business, so the beaches have only a few walkers:
locals, the retired, cold-water surfers and childless couples who can do their
COVID remote jobs from anywhere.
These two to four mile walks, always without earphones or distraction, have
served as a large, sandy psychiatrist’s couch. Having recently retired I have
the luxury of taking these walks whenever weather permits, and have used this
time to work through some interesting stuff of late, from Dementia Mom’s
ongoing journey and her weekly hiccups, to worries of our political and social
world, to the issue of religious beliefs and spirituality, and everywhere in
I’m not a church-goer. What I consider God isn’t the one I was taught about
during 8 years of Catholic school and 15 years of going to mass every Sunday,
and every weekday in the early years of our Catholic school’s requirements of
mass before class. I stopped going to Mass at age 15, feeling absolutely
nothing being there and in fact feeling worse as it was an obligation, a
penance of sorts that always ruined Sundays. No one seemed that happy in St.
Cecelia’s. It was badly lit and cold with the usual tortuously uncomfortable
pews. Mama Bear didn’t say much when I stopped going with them to church on
Sundays. I did sleepovers with girlfriends on Saturday nights so I wouldn’t be
home in time on Sunday to go with them, and so I imagined she didn’t notice that
Although I did have one brief period of time at about the age of nine I think, where I
felt extremely religious and sang in mass with a zeal I had not had before. I did feel the spirit within me, so I supposed, the music taking me to that spot when you meet faith and shake hands. It
was probably only for a couple of weeks and then I lost steam and decided that the zeal-thing wasn’t for me. Now I wonder what had prompted that brief moment of religious engagement. It was 1968, so
there was a lot of weird shit in the air then. Could have been that.
You may have experienced times with friends or workmates when someone brings
up spirituality. It’s also chatted about on talk shows and written about in
magazines. The famous question is asked, “Are you spiritual?” That’s
a hard one for me. I’m not sure the depth of spirituality I’m supposed to have
to say ‘yes’ to that question, or even what the definition of it is since it by
nature is subjective. It sounds a bit lofty to me, so it’s highly likely that I
can’t really say I am spiritual.
For some spirituality is linked to religious faith; for others it’s the
interconnectedness of the world and the universe at large. One person may experience
a state of spirituality by attending a holy religious ceremony, while another
may feel spiritual by eating peyote and tripping in the desert. Both feel in
their spirituality that there is something greater than all else that has beget
Some people would not call themselves spiritual at all, taking a more
scientific approach, e.g., we are living, finite things and we just die and
turn to dust and are part of a huge continuum of life on earth, a cellular
being like everything else, whether a bug or a blade of grass.
I don’t believe in a Catholic God whose “son” Jesus came to earth
to try and save us from ourselves. But I do think Jesus was a pretty amazing
man in the history of mankind (if he’s more than a fairy tale) who was really
trying to humanize our world. He took the greatest hits from the bible and
brought them down to the people who were dying for some fairness and peace in
their violent, hard scrabble lives, and simply worn out in all ways. Jesus was
a channel who helped folks see god, have faith and be good. Who helped people
understand why we needed to be kind, not harm one another, share and be
charitable, non-judgmental, and open to new ideas. And unlike most modern
religious leaders who tend to be arrogant, charismatic empire builders (and
frequently exploit and abuse children and others), Jesus wasn’t in it for that.
He was the real deal, a very amazing person, but not the son of God in my book.
Just so rare of a human being, if indeed he was real, that he would necessarily
be considered other worldly.
So I didn’t answer my own question, which was about the definition of
spirituality and whether I was or wasn’t spiritual. But, here it is: I’m tired of defining everything. I know what I feel and see, what makes my heart soar from being part of this world and this universe, the good, bad, and ugly, and the terrible, great and beautiful. So I’ll just keep it to myself, you can keep your belief to yourself, and we all go wee, wee, wee all the way to heaven. Peace out.