Friday, August 6, 2010

Spiritual Diversity

Living in Mississippi and Alabama since I was twelve, I have been exposed to a lot of opinions about what religion is and what mine should be. Fortunately, my parents allowed me to develop my own beliefs. My father’s background was Catholic though he considered himself Agnostic. My mother’s back ground was Lutheran though she had developed her own beliefs from a variety of cultures. Her family had stopped going to church when they were told that from now on the collections were to be silent. That meant no coins. In other words, if you were too poor, we didn’t want you.

So I was baptized Methodist as a child and taught the Lord’s prayer and left alone about religion. At 3 ½, we got ready to move to Saudi Arabia so my mother put me in a Bible school. I believe the intention was to have me Baptized again before taking me over to a “heathen” country. Though very young, I do recall two of the teachers talking about me. The one felt I shouldn’t be there because of my mother’s reasons for putting me in the school. The other took the high road saying it was important to help everyone that asked. My father also felt my mother had enrolled me for the wrong reason and I was eventually taken out of bible school. I guess my mom hoped that my earlier baptismal would “stick”.

I remember the folks in Saudi Arabia to be very kind and generous. About the only issue that was ever a problem was that my mom refused to walk three steps behind my dad. My dad loved the rule (surprise!) and my mother hated it. I also don’t think she was ever allowed to drive over there. I do remember the heads and hands of people that had committed crimes stuck on stakes on the side of the road. My mom always tried distracting me as the bus drove by. I always knew when it was getting near by my mom’s increased apprehension. Of course, as a kid, I had to see anything she didn’t want me to see. I think it was a bit drastic but it shows how different their beliefs were (an eye for an eye!).

When we returned to New Orleans, I got exposed to Catholicism at the church in Jackson Square at midnight mass. I remember it was hot, filled with smoke, my knees hurt, and I couldn’t understand a lot of what they said.

My next exposure to religion was in high school in Poplarville, MS. Many peers were pressuring me to go to church so I finally gave in. I got to ride an hour or more on dusty back roads in a hot school bus to listen to a Baptist preacher scream about going to hell (using 6 foot speakers to help him shout across ten or so aisles). After a few weeks of giving up my precious free time to return home depressed with a headache, I had had enough.

As more and more people told me how sinful I was and realizing my sexual orientation was a big problem with many, I finally gave up on finding my religion. I later found that many of my tribe had followed the same journey and turned their backs on religion in frustration and anger.

For me, this left a huge void in my heart. Eventually I began searching again on my own and eventually became a Spiritualist. I study many belief systems and follow my heart to the truth. I try to live my beliefs a lot more than forcing them upon others. I wait for those curious or in need to come to me.

My mother once told me, “Start with Love, End with Love and the rest will work itself out.”. It is the core of my beliefs. I even wrote a poem about it…


Think the WORD.
Say the WORD.
Be the WORD.

I soon wrote another poem called LOVE which replaced WORD. But really, whatever WORD you use for your intentions, this is a simple yet powerful guide.

So instead of denying your spiritual side, why not put the energy into something more positive? Instead of denying or condemning others, why not use the time to simply sit quietly and let life’s stress melt away? It will make it so much easier to face times of challenge. Or just not respond in an angry or hateful way, instead smile. It can be quite effective and disarming.

Two ears and one mouth. For someone that enjoys talking, it’s a lesson I have to constantly remind myself. I use this blog when I feel the need to vent.

There may be a time when you need support and developing your spiritual beliefs will insure that it’s there when you need it, even in the loneliest times.

Respect for life’s diversity is what America is about. And no matter what MANY would have us believe, RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY IS INCLUDED! Whatever your beliefs, you have a right too them. And so do I…


No comments:

Post a Comment