Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tilting at the Windmills of My Mind

Do you have those moments, minutes, hours, weeks where you wonder if and where you fit into the scheme of things? Lately the hum of my mind, stuck in some cerebral groove like an old 33½ rpm, has been driving me crazy. I know what began this latest spiral of self-doubt and knowing that it is probably a light form of depression is half the battle. But, despite that knowing, I am still tilting at the windmills of my mind.

How do you make yourself see your worth? Know that you’re not just an albatross around the neck of those you want as your friends? I have no clue. Well really I don’t, but the sane part of me screams at the tilting part to take them at face value. I have great friends. Friends, who would not willingly harm me, would not willingly say something hurtful – even in their own pain. I am blessed. My husband, daughters, grandson, parents, and dog all love me. I am blessed.

Recently I’ve come to realize that in some respects many of my friends and family are in the same uncharted waters where I am barely treading to keep my head above. Many are ex-Mormons (friends, not family,) trying to figure out where they belong in the world. How to deal with their personal beliefs, their spiritual beliefs, and the lies and truths of their birth religion? I am blessed because, while I did leave my birth religion, I left because I needed to feel important to my beliefs and them to me. I needed to be true.

Christmas morning when I was twelve, I proudly sat in the choir loft singing with all the love I have inside me at the joy of Christ birth. My belief in Jesus Christ, my Lord Redeemer has always brought me to tears. So to be sitting there with my siblings that Christmas morning, having chosen church over opening presents, I was shocked into reality to find the choir berated from the pulpit for anxiously wanting to be at home opening presents instead of singing for the Lord. Well this wasn’t so for me, weeks before I’d snuck into my mom’s closet to see what I was getting. It was no big secret to me; see I really had chosen church that Christmas morning. I know you think my reasoning is convoluted. Don't despair, deviousness does have its pain.

Our previous minister and his family had been relocated after a decade ministering to our membership. So this special Christmas morning message of not measuring up to the Lord was brought to us by a new fire and brimstone, Bible thumping minister who must have failed to realize which type of Presbyterian Church he had signed on to. I cried all the way home and after a wonderful Christmas celebration had a heart felt discussion with my parents.

As I said, I was raised Presbyterian, but it wasn’t until a year ago that I came to even realize my father doesn’t believe Jesus is the Son of God. You could say the pronouncement, that Saturday morning, at my parent’s breakfast table left my mother and me… well, speechless. A rare occasion to say the least, and even more confusing in the light of what happened that Christmas day some forty years before. My mother and father had sat and listened intently to my problem and offered up the solution that, at the age of twelve, I could begin my discovery of other religions and faiths and chose which fit me best. Both of my parents backed my decision with the condition that I must go to church each Sunday. And no, Saturday Mass didn’t count, I had to go to Sunday Mass too. Ouch.

Wow, I can hardly imagine what my Ex-Mormon and Ex-Catholic friends would think at this proclamation in their lives. The church I’d been raised in was just two city blocks away from our house, and was one of many on a long stretch of La Mirada Blvd. So from the Presbyterian Church I went to the Baptist Church (whoa, not for me) skip the Friends Church, go to Mass with my cousin, to the Pentecostal Church with a friend whose Bible thumping father was the minister – it was good entertainment, but I wasn’t sure where God and I fit into the scheme of things. At Girl Scout camp we had a lovely, non-denominational, folk music based service (my fav.)

Finally I went and tested the waters of the Friends Church. When they spoke they were warm, inviting, and thought the same way I did. That the light of God was inside me, that I mattered in the scheme of God and the world. I’d found my home. That’s not to say I was a faithful Friend from day one, no, I am a child of the 60s and 70s. I have been a slut, a druggie, a loner, and very human, but I know that God still loves me. That Jesus died for me; I know that the eternal light of God shines inside each and everyone of us if we let it. That ever, loving light was mine.

Am I a good Quaker? Not very, I don’t attend meetings nearly often enough, I am not strong enough in my convictions to stand up in a fight of wills. When it comes to knowing the Bible and its verses I am terrible. I can not quote verse and scripture, and it’s not that I won’t go look them up, not that I don’t read the Bible, and not that I don’t believe in what is there – because I do, but because I know enough for me. I live fully on the belief that I should not judge other people, that I am loved for me, and that my religion is Jesus and is between me and God, and that violence against another – either personal or as a community is a crime against the nature of Christ.

The Bible charges us to witness to others. Unlike Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, or some Baptist I don’t believe this means peddling my religion door to door. I find that vulgar and rude. To me it means being prepared to listen and discuss my beliefs with someone in their time of need. Or even my time of need. To give them succor and lighten their load, to show them the light inside of themselves.

I am distressed when I see my friends, new and old, ravaged by the lies of their religion. So devastating the realizations, that their faith is often tested and found wanting. Religions where the Church and those who run them have literally become more important that the God they are suppose to serve. When the power and money has corrupted those who serve, that they have become a force unto themselves.

In Genesis God create heaven and earth. He created man and woman, maybe not on an even playing field, but both were created along with the beast, birds, and bees. Oh, and those horrid little snakes. In Leviticus he handed down the laws of the Old Testament to Aaron and the Rabbis, laws for the serving Rabbis of the time that have spurred the basis of hatred over the millenniums. And with the beginning of a new age, God leveled the playing field with the birth, death, and resurrection of his son Jesus. He wrote two news laws that null and void all that went before and gave a gift of salvation equal to all, no man is placed above woman, no woman is placed above man – equality in salvation.

I weep that people once faithful to God have had their foundations destroyed by religion, a destruction so deep it rents the fabric of their daily lives, crushes their spirit, and questions all that they are, all that they believe. I will over come my depressions, because I am strong elsewhere. I hope they too will over come and see the strength and peace that comes from the light with in, the light of the Lord.


Sideon said...

Lots and lots of food for thought here - "tilting at the windmills of my mind." I don't know what song that's from, but the phrase is right at the tip of my tongue!

I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day. I told her that I'm not religious in the slightest - if anything, I'm agnostically pagan. I told her, "why settle for one god when I can have all of them?" Facetious, yes, but the sentiment touches on the aspect that there's not one school of thought that holds my "need to know" versus "would like to believe" versus a strong belief in science. When it comes down to it, I believe in energy and love: we are all made of light. That is my belief.

Self-worth. I love that you ended with the statement and affirmation that you are loved and blessed. Yes. You are.

Cele said...

Tilting at Windmills of My Mind is an amalgamation in thought of two songs. 1) pick your choice, either version by Dusty Springfield or Julie London's Windmills of Your Mind.

Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever-spinning reel
Like a snowball down a mountain
Or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel thats turning
Running rings around the moon
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

2) Lyrics from Gordon Lightfoot's Don Quixote. These lyrics in all are very appropriate
Thank you Gordon Lightfoot...

Through the woodland, through the valley
Comes a horseman wild and free
Tilting at the windmills passing
Who can the brave young horseman be
He is wild but he is mellow
He is strong but he is weak
He is cruel but he is gentle
He is wise but he is meek
Reaching for his saddlebag
He takes a battered book into his hand
Standing like a prophet bold
He shouts across the ocean to the shore
Till he can shout no more

I always try to be positive, that is what being a light is all about, there is enough negativity and hatred in the world without me adding to it - A light dose of depression is bad enough, I don't need to add more.