I haven't felt tender lately. I've felt squished. I let myself be exposed to a lot of nastiness and anger, and then felt a bit wounded and hurt and frustrated. Some of this is based on the reality that my "common sense" is not the "common sense" of a lot of folks. These folks are not bad people, or stupid, or any of that. In fact, many of them are intelligent, bright individuals who are really great people. (I am not including the nasty, angry people here, by the way.)
See, I suppose it's like this: I have a crisis of 'description of faith' of sorts. I don't belong to any religion. In fact, I am not sure any one religion really does it for me. It has nothing to do with the deities in question, it's just that my faith is a bit nature-based and informed by my environment, my belief in science and my understanding that people are fallible but boy, do they have an incredible spark within.
This is a tricky one for me. Nothing quite fits; I feel hungry for answers, some sort of spiritual fulfillment. This satisfaction seems to take place when I am amongst the trees or at the beach with my ankles in the water, the pull of the tide so elemental and strong under my feet. These are the moments that speak to me. When I see the land of the desert as we drive to visit my folks, the trees twisted and blackened, a signature of fire--this is what moves me. When I see a child with their head tilted backward, skyward, laughing or shouting for the sake of it, for the sake of the life inside--or an older couple, so in love still and don't you know it!-- that's what I can connect with.
It's a hard place to be in. Most of my family are people of faith, and I deeply respect this. I respect their path, their desire to be closer to God. I think this is a great strength and comfort to them, and I am so glad each and every one of them have this faith to turn to. However, for me, there's a fundamental disconnect somewhere. Perhaps it's the trappings of it that get in the way. I've tried, believe me, to find something that would "fit" for me, and yet all the stuff keeps getting in the way. It's almost as if organized faith and I are magnets of opposite poles-- we keep getting close, but missing the mark, not quite connecting.
Add to this that I don't believe that I have the right to decide how anyone else should live their life. A bit less of a progressive in this way, more libertarian. Right now it's an election year, and I'm baffled and troubled. (This isn't new, either, politically, I'm always feeling a bit baffled and troubled.) It seems like a lot of people are angry and upset, and for so many reasons. Some good, some not so good. Yesterday, I read a lot of comments from really hateful, bigoted people who tend to use their faith as a reason to--and I have no other way of translating this-- keep others in their place.
And it would be so much easier if the ranting and ill-informed cliches were coming from people who didn't automatically link themselves with God, thus instantly assuming moral superiority. When someone--anyone-- is being an ass, well, they're more or less uncomfortable to hear but relatively easy to write off. When someone begins to amplify their righteousness with religion of any sort, I kind of want to run into the street screaming "blah blah blah I can't hear you" like a petty five year old.
I have a sister who would tell me (very lovingly) that people are people. They are flawed and do stupid things and say hurtful things and mean well--- and that people are not God. I know this because I am all of those things-- well-meaning and flawed and capable of doing stupid and hurtful things. And when I seek, for so long now, I just keep coming up empty, coming up short. Prayer, for me, is more or less trying to put out good energy, to set my intentions deliberately, and to hope for the best. Nothing is permanent, nothing is reliable --it's all so in flux. It can all change in a moment.
So I'm comfortable, for the most part, with not understanding, with loving my family and friends just for who they are, and even those parts of them that are informed by their faith, because it's so valuable. I do, by the way, consider myself a person of faith. But answering a questionnaire for Faithful America, I was stuck. "Which faith best describes you?" A list as long as my arm, and nothing that fit for me. I had to write my version of faith in a little box and hope that they'll keep me on the email list.
I'm feeling a little tender for my son, for myself, for my family. I love them all so much--scattered here and there-- and I hope they know this. And I'll have to content myself with feeling a bit like an oddball-- and that's okay. I've heard there's a place for all of us out there, somewhere. My place, for now, is home with my own family, teaching and nurturing at my little school, and patiently doing the best I can with what I've got.