Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My Religion is Love

It's been coming on slowly, but I finally figured it out. Oddly enough it took a wondering mind and a scene from an Anita Blake novel for it to really hit home for me: My Religion is Love.

Let's start with a definition, to make things easier:
noun: religion
the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
"ideas about the relationship between science and religion"
synonyms:faith, belief, worship, creed; More
"the freedom to practice their own religion"
  • a particular system of faith and worship.
    plural noun: religions
    "the world's great religions"
  • a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.

I'm not talking about the first definition. As if. I've been an atheist for 21 years now, and that's never going to change.  There's been a time or two where I wished I could believe in a god(s) or goddess(es), it certainly would make things easier, but I just can't allow myself that safety blanket. Hell, to be perfectly honestly, I'm not capable - I have no faith in things I can't see or feel.

There's only ever been one instance where I felt a higher being might have helped me, and she owns part of soul, should she ever want it. But even so, I'm too much the logical engineer: I just can't really believe in her existence, or any other god's.

No, what I'm talking about is the other two definitions: Faith. And.... "An interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance" fits, but it's a damn ungainly way of saying it.  I'm not sure how else to say it though. But it's not an "interest"... It's.... the thing that makes everything else make sense to me, it's the core of my emotional logic, it's the meaty bit, the driving force, the thing that makes life bearable, makes life worth living. It's...... 42.

Religion is about faith. And for most of my life I have had precious little faith, in anything or anyone. But slowly, oh so slowly, I've found my faith. I have faith in one thing: Love.

I've always been a hopeless romantic. I've always seen every story from the heart first - by that I mean, whatever the story, in my head, it revolves around the relationships, around the love and hurt, and whatever else is always secondary for me.  I've always wanted to believe in love, but I've never..... had reason to. I'm logical, even when it hurts, and love just wasn't for me. But I also couldn't see, couldn't believe the kind of love you read about in books, the kind you'd die to protect, die fighting for, or suffer any hell to keep safe, actually existed in the real world, not really.

Until I found the right man who taught me what it meant to really be loved. Until someone I loved walked through hell for me.

I'm not a hopeless romantic anymore. I'm a hopeful romantic.  I believe. I have faith. In Love.

I've been a hopeful romantic for years. But the faith thing, that's new. And it was only recently that I realized just how deep it went for me.

It's stupid, a horror novel lighting the way, but it did. There's a scene, I think in Blue Moon where there's a demon, an actual demon, just outside Anita's circle of power trying to get in. She's not alone. Her assistant, her ex's injured mother, and some others. For a time they are protected by Anita's magic, but at one point the circle breaks. Sort of by accident they find their only weapon: their faith. Anita tried shooting it, but the bullets went through the demon, he was only solid when he wanted to be. Her ex's mother was understandably terrified, and Catholic I think. So like any good Christian she started reciting the Lord's Prayer. When the demon tried to get close to her, it was as if her words literally stung him. He couldn't get close to her, couldn't touch her. Anita, Episcopalian, added her voice and the demon cringed. She urged the others, if they had faith, now was the time to use it. I may be remembering it wrong, but I think there was another man, not a Christian, a Hindu, who started reciting the Bhagavad Gita and the demon couldn't touch him either. Or maybe it was just Larry her assistant who is Jewish, I think, that started praying. For whatever reason, I walked away with idea that faith was faith, and evil just can't touch it. But this scene haunted me. Because I have no faith. I have no armour against that kind of evil. Or I didn't.

No, I don't think I'm going to find myself face to face with a demon, not in real life, but I'm plagued by nightmares, vivid, terrifying nightmares that I wake up screaming from. So for me, having armour the next time I'm attacked isn't just an intellectual exercise. But it has to be armour I believe in 100% 'cause I'm fighting myself and if I don't believe it, then the gun won't fire, the door won't shut, my legs won't work, and I won't win. And when I don't win it hurts, it burns, I feel everything in my dreams, and I wake up screaming my terror.

The other day, in the shower, this scene popped into my head again, as it does every once in awhile. Sometimes I recite the Lord's Prayer with Anitia, thinking, if I lived in her world, if my cross lit up and made vampires shrink back from me, I could believe in god too. I can't even think of the words now, but I've known large bits of it, memorized it when I was a teen, hoping to find comfort. But that morning as my mind's eye saw Anita crouch beside her ex's mom, holding the woman's hand and reciting the prayer, I stood tall on that red hill and sang my heart out: "Ain't no mountain high enough,  Ain't no valley low enough, Ain't no river wide enough, To keep me from getting to you babe, ..."

Love poured from every every word, bright and powerful. I nearly glowed with it. The demon flinched, but not because I couldn't hold a tune, Love took care of that I think. No, he flinched because I was full of faith, and he couldn't touch me. 

And that pulled me out of my daydream. I had faith. True, unwavering, no-doubt-in-my-mind faith. The kind of faith most people save for a god, that's the kind of all encompassing faith I have in love. My faith has been building slowly over the years, so it's not like it came as a surprise exactly.  But I'd never really called it faith, and I'd never really thought of it in terms of religion. Faith had always been the sticking point for me with religion - I just never had faith.  But I have it now. In Spades.

So it occurred to me: my religion is love. And as time goes on, I'm more and more convinced it's true. And that it's what's right for me.

It's not a traditional religion, but since when am I ever traditional?

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