Religion and other bothersome matters…

Painting: "Irish Coast", watercolor, 2005, j.kohut-bartels

Lately I have been thinking  about religion and spirituality.  I don’t see these as the same, and I struggle through a lot of nattering influences to come to a place of my own.

I went through a period of searching for a religion where I felt I could belong.  Raised haphazardly Christian (Episcopalian) or as my brother the holy roller likes to refer to this as “raised by wolves”….nothing of organized religion seemed to ‘fit’.

A short while ago an Orthodox Jew (who turned out to be a bad example of Jewishness and humanity), tried to harangue my husband about “the Saints”.  I guess to this Jew’s thinking my husband looked like a Christian.  I had to laugh because my husband was and is a Buddhist of 25 years standing.  His wife finally told him to shut up because she didn’t want to hear this stuff.  Good girl.

His religious narrowness didn’t put me off the Jewish religion and for a year went to classes about Judaism and attended Temple.  Somewhere my father’s family was Jewish, and though it was on the wrong side of the blanket, I wanted to understand something of this religion.  Finally, it was, to me…..just rituals.  About as mystical as those damn Saints.  I couldn’t suspend my disbelief.

I have a lot of friends who come from different religions.  Muslims, Ba’hai, Christians, pagans, Jews, etc.  The Christians break down into many various parts.  Episcopalian, Unitarian, Quaker, Unitarian Universalists, etc.  With the Jews it was Reform, Orthodox, Conservative.  The Ba’hais were pretty consolidated.  The practicing pagans were just down-right silly to me. Perhaps I had grown far beyond such  stuff.

But still there was a nagging issue of spirituality.  This, I believe,  is something that encases a broadness  that perhaps the religious dogmas can’t touch.  For me, it comes down to a question of Gratitude.

I am grateful for the breath of life, for the ability to awake and walk, to read, to laugh, to see the marvelous passage of clouds and time, to commune with nature and friends and family, and all this is wrapped up in Gratitude.  To receive love that sometimes I don’t deserve.  To give love and to mean it.

I fight this battle with myself and at times it gets overwhelming.  It’s more than I am, and more than I can solve.  I’m out on a limb here, and the answer isn’t  within these accepted forms of worship. At least not for me.

Today it was a perfectly beautiful day…one which was memorable for nothing except the perfection around me.  The sky was marvelous, from dawn to dusk, that sharp sentiment of expectation in the change of season, and the season to come;  the beauty of the still-green leaves and overwhelming, huge trees here in the South; the winds that made themselves known, not as gentle blowing breezes, but as swooshing dervishes, rotating branches and making their power known.

I felt such gratitude in the presence of this day: what wonderful beauty was before me.  There was no way around gratitude.

I came across something tonight, and it struck me as a coda for the day; something that brings a definition or a conclusion to this marvelous beauty before me.  It gave structure and meaning to what I was seeking.

Lughnasadh

“The Autumn quarter of Lughnasadh brings the gift of maturity and is a time of physical harvest and spiritual garnering. It sees the greatest change in weather from broiling heat to dark and chilly nights.  It is the time for celebrating the harvest and sees the busy preparations for winter.  In the human growth cycle, Lughnasadh corresponds to the period of mature adulthood when a certain steadiness and responsibility have been established.  It is a good time to celebrate the lives of all who have helped stabilize and uphold the noble values of life, of all who have exercised good judgment and steered the doubtful into the harbor of certainty, of all holy ones whose guardianship has saved us from life-disabling mistakes.”

From “Celtic Devotional”, by Caitlin Matthews.

Funny, this hits the spot.  It incorporates the Gratitude I am feeling and it gives a particular direction.  It gives hope.

Lady Nyo (with a fond hug to Margie and Bren)

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13 Responses to “Religion and other bothersome matters…”

  1. bren Says:

    Lughnasadh (named after the God of Light) is where we are in life, isn’t it? Being a Grandparent is rather like ‘celebrating the harvest’. And I had not thought of it as a time to ‘be busy preparing for winter’ but I can see it is. I best get busy. Never know when the snows will come and it will be too late.

    We all have different spiritual paths we take. I think they all lead to God in the end. England has recognized the Druid religion so perhaps the accepted forms of worship will expand to provide you answers.

    I took a long drive today and here in the very Northeast U.S. it is so beautiful just now gratitude is too small a word to express my feelings.

    hugs back,
    bren

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  2. ladynyo Says:

    Ah Bren! You got it! Exactly. Gratitude is the word right now.

    And yes, You being a grandparent is this particular harvest! I’m still waiting on something to rise up….lol! No chance of that yet, but then again, considering our son …it is good that it hasn’t happened yet. He’s out in the world (in fact, in Glasgow right now) and perhaps in a few years. He’s way too young for marriage and me for grandchildren? Ha~! I’m still trying to get my head around being a mother. Tough stuff, that.

    I’m going to grab some apples at the Dekalb Farmers Market this week and do some canning. I missed the kudzu blossom harvest by a few days, and did little else. It doesn’t seem right, here with the cool weather (downright cold at night!) that I haven’t put up perserves, etc. LOL! I’m off my stride this year…again.

    Worship. Well, I think you are right. All these paths do eventually lead to something of God. I can’t say I’m too hot on Druidism right now, my understanding of this religion is sparse. I’m just trying to plumb this issue of gratitude and be mindful of it daily.

    Thanks for reading, Bren, and the photo you sent via facebook….and your comment. And have a good and productive day with your beautiful quilts. I should do the same.

    That’s another form of preparing for winter I believe.

    Hugs,
    Jane

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  3. Margie Says:

    What a lovely essay this was! And I believe Bren has exactly the right idea. She expressed just what I was thinking as I read your piece! After a long, hot and extremely lazy summer, I have a renewed sense of “nesting” at this time of year.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the subject of religion as opposed to spirituality. I am content knowing that I believe in my spiritual path, and, in general, reject religions restrictions. If someone put a gun to my head and I had to claim one, I would say I’m a Jew; however I have an open mind and am not willing to ignore the paths that others take.

    Much love,

    Margie

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  4. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Sweetie! Yeap! that nesting thing….and preparing for Winter! It’s in the DNA I believe…

    Well, I’m staying open because I can right now,….but I certainly understand your history. And admire you for it, too.

    I think part of the problem for me here in the South is the constant “Praise Jesus” crowd that are kneejerk. I find a lot of substance in other expressions of spirituality…don’t know about the major religions right now. Am a bit off them. I think it’s the violence between Jews and Muslims…( and yes, the Jews in Israel get tarred with the same brush for pushing people off the land…and for playing the victim while sticking it to the Palestinians.)…. Of course, the leadership on both sides are to blame, but the attitude of aggression on BOTH sides is disgusting and hypocritical.

    No one comes clean. It’s all a jockeying for power and control. That is what the major religions seem to me lately. Christians aren’t excused at all.

    Love and Hugs,
    Jane

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  5. Margie Says:

    Exactly why I avoid religion and continue my search for God on my own. I appreciate Buddhism and, as we have discussed, I was quite interested in B’ahai (not sure of the spelling?). Perhaps that will be my winter reading project. A self propelled course in Comparative Religion.

    I agree, the politics of religion, especially in the Middle East is disheartening to say the least. As a Jew, I know that Muslims are my cousins, both of us having descended from Abraham. Typical family fued, I suppose.

    Meanwhile, I’m baking pumpkin bread tomorrow!

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  6. ladynyo Says:

    Ohhhh…pumpkin bread…haven’t tried that yet. Got a recipe? Used your recipe for watermelon rind pickles last year…it was wonderful. Put up so many cans of it I was giving them away! LOL!

    I agree…the politics of religion is disheartening to say the least. It’s a pox on both houses, in my opinion. After a while, you lose sight of the ‘principles’…the reasons these two people are fighting each other. Nothing good comes from war.

    Bren is Ba’hai, and she is one of the few people I know who doesn’t push her religion hard on others: she gives me material and explanations when I ask. I can facilitate an introduction if you want. I find her, after 13 years at least…one of the most rational people on religion I know. She’s a keeper.

    From the reading of the Celtic Devotional this morning, Tuesday:

    “I waken my soul with the chimes of the silver branch: note of gladness, note of clearness, note of devotion, be within my heart, my mind, my soul. May my soul be preserved from day’s dawning till twilight’s awning.”

    And this, which also appeals this morning:

    “I mantle myself in the covering of creatures: stillness of owl, perception of eagle, humility of wren, speed of horse, strength of bear, courtesy of deer, repose of serpent, silence of mouse, courage of salmon. Nine creatures about me to clothe and protect me, on the ways that I walk.”

    Now, this gives pause for thought: It’s interesting how this would dovetail into Native American prayer and thought. Yet it’s Celtic.

    I like this too: “Abiding Presence of the Deep Worlds, while I have slept, you have been hastening Autumn. Before I enter the motion of the fruiting season, I rest in the stillness of your deep abiding Silence. Though the sun circles farther from us, may I never be far from the warm embrace of your silent presence.”

    What appeals to me about all this above is the reflection on the Natural World…upon Nature. So many times in our prayers and devotion, we are divorced from Nature….we abide almost outside it in the ‘important’ things of our mind and day. This takes from Nature as the basis of our gratitude and devotion and expands it. We turn to some mystical “God” and leave off what is surrounding us: the beauty and fullness of nature and natural things. In no way do I understand all of the above quotes, they are very new to me, but the enchant and draw forth a resonance that seems natural and good.

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  7. Margie Says:

    Beautiful quotes. And you’re right, I would believe them to be Native American as easily as Celtic. I think a closeness to nature is so important. Maybe, as organized religion draws away from nature it causes a disconnect for me. I need the connection to the seasons, the weather, the growing and the harvest to feel closer to the mysteries of God.

    I would love to “meet” Bren. Her comments here are always spot on – she gets to the heart quickly and directly. Quite a good quality!

    Have a good day. My kitchen smells wonderful!

    Like

  8. ladynyo Says:

    I agree, Margie. Your insight here is spot on. I, too….feel this disconnect with the ritual (Jewish and Christian)….the dogma, the cathedral and temple. It’s all a construct of power and control to me.

    The more divorced from nature and natural things, the farther my mind and heart wanders.

    If there IS a God…surely it does not want us to be distanced from such beauty and inspiration.

    Bren is a wonderful friend and I think you would really like each other for the important things: those things that draw us together as we age.

    Love….and send some of that good kitchen smell my way. Making roast chicken breasts and stuffing and acorn squash…but the good cooking smells haven’t kicked in yet. Am off to post “Storm Drain Baby” for the OneStopPoetry jazz.

    Like

  9. Jamie Dedes Says:

    The struggle to understand, to find, to know is a path … a fine one … many share it … This is beautifully written. The life of the spirit is a poem … Poem on …

    I’m visiting here, by the way, from potluck. Believe you are new to it. So welcome.

    Happy visiting and enjoy your own visitors as well …

    Like

  10. ladynyo Says:

    Hey, Jamie. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. People don’t know…or perhaps they do??? how helpful each comment or reaching out makes in a life. Especially for poets because WE LIVE IN OUR HEADS SO MUCH!!! LOL~

    Yes, I agree. What I am finding out is what you are saying is a truth: people are struggling to understand what the hell is going on around us….good and bad. This incident is on of the horrific that we can’t bypass in life. I wish we could.

    Thank you for the complement on the poem. It’s one that just came from lack of words…which is good here. How can you verbalize this??? It’s beyond the pale.

    And thank you….I am going to go tomorrow and look at potluck. I am new to potluck….and actually, I am also new to poetry…only a scant few years of writing it.

    I do enjoy the visitors to this blog. They can make a real difference in a day.

    Lady Nyo

    Like

  11. Eric Says:

    Some very thought-provoking discussion here. I wrote something that relates to the topic, if you’re interested: What It All Means

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  12. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Eric! I am. What It All Means

    I’ll read it today and encourage readers of this blog to do the same.

    Thank you!

    Lady Nyo

    Like

  13. Religion Spirituality Says:

    This is an essential separation as it goes some way to ensure that laws aren’t passed with the doctrine of a particular religion in mind. Religion Spirituality

    Like

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