Friday, January 20, 2006

May the Force be with me...

First, my complaint: why do my best ideas always arrive while I'm either driving the car or in the shower? The two places I'm least likely to be able to write down what I'm thinking... **grumble**

I was cruising out to the 'burbs today after my sanity time at school. B had a mildly tough morning, but has recently become very good at articulating what he needs from us to accomplish what he needs to do, so instead of hovering & wondering why he's melting down, we can put together a plan of action & move forward. Today is was OCD "thoughts" that were preventing him from getting dressed. I asked if he wanted me to stay with him while he dressed, since our presence often holds back the thoughts, & he said yes, so (with my back turned) I played with the talking Rufuses (they have identical sound chips, so we get them going in stereo & it sounds hysterical, which always cheers B up) while he dressed & we were back on track pretty quickly. His OCD/Tourettes tics have been on the rise lately, but we have a pretty good idea of where the stress is coming from that triggers them, which makes it easier for all of us. So, after sanity time with Paula & friends, I headed for JoAnn's to get a bigger piece of foam for needle felting & then to the oriental food store for more furikake & ochawan, plus any new sweets that looked interesting. On the way there, listening to Welsh folk music & enjoying unseasonably warm weather, I found myself contemplating faith... for the life of me, I cannot recapture the sequence of thoughts that brought me there, but there I was.

I have come to view most religious belief systems as constructs that allow people to have faith. I have been searching, religion-wise, since I was about 13 years old, which is when my family decided to stop going to church. We were Catholic, but had never really felt a part of the church community that we belonged to, so it was pretty easy to just drop it. I had never really "bought" the message of salvation or the need for it, so leaving the Catholic church felt like a door opening for me. I spent the next few years experiencing zen buddhism, kundalini yoga, & spiritualism & finally, at the age of 19, found myself at the Unitarian Universalist church I still belong to today. The great thing about being a UU, for me, is that the spiritual quest did not end when I joined the church. In many ways I have come to see my religious search as somewhat separate from church. Church is my community, the place bigger than my family yet not so big that I get lost & can't make meaningful connexions. It's a complex community & has changed considerably in the nearly 30 years I've been there. I've nearly left in disgust a couple of times, but this is where I honed my sense of what it means to belong to a community, & where I discovered my power to change it. My church family has seen me move through many stages of religious belief, from my post-Catholic phase (where I shook loose a lot of the beliefs I'd been raised with) to my discovery of the Goddess (where I found myself finally able to bond with & find wisdom from a person deity), to where I am now...

...which brings me back to faith. I have begun to see faith beyond the religious context & as more of a pure, psychological necessity for living. In this way, I have come to see myself as a person of faith. I think that people need faith in order to live their lives without despair, & in order to live life with zest. Faith to me is not sureness, as most religions would have you believe. Faith is living as if I am sure, but with an awareness that things happen, sometimes bad things, that I do not deserve, but that often teach me how to be a better person. Because I am a Survivor of incest, my trust of people was broken at a very early age. I felt this brokenness for many years & am only just understanding that I don't feel broken any more. My husband has played a big part in my transformation, & my son has, too, as has my slow-but-sure development of a functional relationship with my mother. When I look around me now, I see people whom I can depend on. I do still have fears, of course, & I can think of situations that would perhaps destroy me ( I worry terribly sometimes that something will happen to B or C- I simply cannot imagine the emptiness of their absence). So I've come to think of my faith as a faith in life, the life described in the Star Wars films as the Force. The cumulative, concentrated will of Life to Live is how I see the Force & what I currently place my faith in. I still get great comfort from my relationship with the goddess, which is an important part of my mindfulness practise. I also am comforted by my image of being a Jedi, in relationship with the Force, feeling it, & working with it to make life go well. I don't have the authority or hierarchichal Jedi hang-ups that the movies portray. My Jedi would never have fought the Clone Wars or have been sucked into being ambassadors for the Old Republic, they would not have taken sides in any conflict, but would have protected those who need protecting & mediated for the the rest. (They wouldn't have worn those clunky boots, either... :) My Jedi would not have been represented by their lightsabres, but by their aura of calm. These are the things I aspire to, "aspire" being the key word. I do not beat myself up (much) when I fail. B is far too sensitive & impressionable for me to luxuriate in failure, since this is not the sort of behaviour I want to model for him. He's seen me melt down- & he's also seen me apologise for it- apologising has become practically a spiritual practise for me. But that's the other thing about faith as opposed to religion (as is often practised)... I know I have to exercise my faith every day in order for it to "work". Not to perfection, but too keep me on the path of learning & growing into my life- which is not all about me, but about the Life that surrounds me, my family, my communities, & ultimately the world. So I aspire to be the best Jedi I can be, which means trying to find the wisdom to think about what I'm doing, not take things for granted, not to judge myself & others harshly, & to honour life. I guess this qualifies as my evolving Jedi Code :) May the Force be with me as I practise...


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