I am religious.
Actually, I really should say something like “I am not spiritual, I am a religious heretic”
The former version is my standard response to people that seem to fancy a surface driven spiritual life that is individually based.
See, to me spirituality at its very essence is about community. Claiming to adhere to your own spiritual definition is placing oneself away from the global community and I just don’t think it works that way. Especially since being having your own kind of private Idaho “spiritual belief system” is completely exclusive of others.
Relationships are amazingly difficult, and they take time and energy to make them work. This is true for congregations too… sadly, they (a church body at any level in a structure) can become toxic just like one can have with family and friends… the thing that has been happening though is that if it gets too uncomfortable, one just leaves and finds another body politic that hold to their beliefs… most often, in family this is not the case and for those families that are strong enough to hold on to each other, there if a definitive commitment… meaning that the whole unit is stronger than the individual… right?
I mean, look at having children… they are completely dependent on you for a long time, choices you make can deeply affect them… the same applies to family and friendships… they can be a lot of work.
But, I have yet to show you an example of my heresies…
I love Lent. I love the ritual, the sacrifice, the mindfulness of it… is prefer it over Christmas in terms of the intent of the event.
I observe a hybrid version though (yes, one that fits in with the religious community I am worshiping with). I don’t allow for the weekends, or Sunday to be a free day (in my mind that lessens the intent that accompanies the call of abstinence). I begin preparing the week before, in a pre-lenten prep period. In addition to abstaining, I invoke. I mean that I try to bring in a practice that allows me to self reflect in terms of abundance (and therefore not only in restraint). Fasting, is an interesting thing as I often claim that gluttony is my favorite sin. I fast, I avoid meat (though I do eat fish) and on Fridays I only eat when it is dark outside.
I love going to mass and watching the ashes be blessed, walking up to receive the imposition of the ashes and wondering which route they will go in the words uttered while they place the ashes.
This year, I was unable to make it to any church to this. So, I took a dried rosebud, and burnt it and when my husband got home I blessed them and placed them upon his forehead. He in turn placed the ashes on me, and I uttered “Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return. (Genesis 3:19)” because I enjoy the reminder of mortality.
I feel like I made a mockery of the ritual, though I kept to intent. The ashes after all are a very ancient symbol of mourning an penitence… so, maybe I need to make peace with the ritual this year.