I was writing the other day and one of the sentences I came up with was “There was no better cathedral than the wilderness”.
I don’t know why that struck me so, but when one of my friends asked what God meant to me, that came to mind.
It’s interesting how my thoughts on God have changed over time. From my very Mormon view that God has a physical body to my current view that God is everywhere and everything, the one thing that has remained constant is that I believe he is found in people and the connections between them. When I was 15 and couldn’t wrap my head around a loving, personal God, I found him in the love people showed to me. When I was 18 and going through hell, my friends were there for me. One of my friends rallied the entire school to write me letters, and I was given a box full when I returned from watching my dad’s last days. This friend is a miracle, and I firmly believe that her kindness saved my life. When I was 20 and lost, I was given 4 friends who showed me that love wasn’t gone and and hope hadn’t died. Now I am nearing 22, experiencing a personal renaissance, and I recognize what God has done. Even though I couldn’t see him, he could see me, and he let himself be known through friends and family.
One of the things that I don’t understand anymore that I thought I did long ago was the need for church attendance. I used to enjoy church and get a lot out of it, but now large groups of Christians give me anxiety and I can barely tell the message from my own racing heart. Where I do find comfort, however, is in one on one interaction with people, whether I’m with my husband being silly, helping a friend, or helping a student see something from a different angle. Everyone has wisdom and something to teach, and I believe that God can even be among only two people who are doing good things.
I also don’t think you have to be doing things that are widely regarded as holy, either, in order to experience church. There’s as much church (to me) in crying and cursing with a friend who needs someone there with them as there is in meditation and reading the Bible. And sometimes I don’t realize that I’ve participated in something sacred until after the fact, when I sit back and feel at peace, like I have helped someone else or have been helped for myself. Literature can have the same effect on me – Fahrenheit 451 spoke to my soul about as much as the Book of James in the Bible does. God is everything and is everywhere. Nobody has a monopoly on truth or knows the absolute correct way to believe, because faith is by nature a personal experience. No two people are entirely alike, and so no two faith journeys are entirely alike. People will believe different things, and what works for one will not work for another. It all comes down to three things for me – God is love. He is everything and everywhere. Everything and everyone has something to teach.
Am I a heretic? Absolutely. Am I proud of my beliefs? Yes.