Being lost when it comes to religion/spirituality is a really odd place to be in sometimes. On the one hand it’s driving you crazy. You feel kind of stupid and small, wandering around in circles. You spend time with people you know from those circles and some of what they say sinks in and feels right and true and like home… but then other things remind you of how alienated you are from your own spirit. Not because they have said something wrong, but because they are so sure of themselves that it reminds you of how unsure you are.
I find the more I look around as I am lost the more I notice other people and their faiths. And, much to my chagrin, I have discovered that I am suffering from a horrific bout of Religion Envy. I don’t know if this is just me, or if this is something that is common to those that are lost. I could be the only freak out of this but it’s another aspect of being lost I find myself pondering within my heart.
As I have said before I grew up somewhat Christian with a very Catholic Grandmother. For part of my elementary and middle school I went to a Catholic school and occasionally attended mass. I still have a place in my heart for some parts of the Catholic faith system. I feel a strong tie to Mother Mary and I keep an old Rosary that my Grandmother used to teach me. I can still remember her showing me how to hold each bead, the Hail Mary’s and the Our Father’s. She had a tape with some soft music and a gentle voiced nun reciting the prayers that she gave me a copy of. I can still remember listening to it at night, my fingers on the beads until I slipped into sleep.
Looking back I find I have some envy in my heart towards Catholics. I envy their rituals, handed down for generations. I envy their great cathedrals. I remember as a teenager going to Montreal and seeing the Cathedral of Notra Dame. I remember the feeling of holiness as I walked in, a holiness created by the reverence and prayers of thousands. I remember being transfixed at the Altar to the Blessed Mary and seeing some of her titles (Mother of God, Our Lady of Mercy, Our Lady of Sorrows etc.). I couldn’t tell you how long I stood there until somebody in our group had to lead me out. I envy their history and they way in shaped the world I know today, good and bad. I still find much beauty in their path, although there is much I do not agree with.
In thinking on this envy I realize that I envy much of the Jewish Religion and culture as well. I envy their history and traditions, over six thousand years of traditions, cumulating in their own language. I envy their power of memory, their ability to keep the past alive and make it a lesson to their lives. I envy the fact that theirs is a whole culture built around a religion and I have heard of people being a cultural Jew, in that they are part of the culture without necessarily believing in the religious side.
I also find myself envious of some of the Muslim bloggers I read about. How certain they are in their faith, their devotion to prayer (5 times a day! Your lucky if I remember 5 times a week!). I envy their ability to put their trust in Allah and their utter conviction in the Koran and the life of The Prophet Mohammad. The surrender in the will of Allah must take a tremendous amount of trust and faith that I have never seemed to have.
The list I have of religion envy stretches on and on. The more new religions I read about, and the more I read of the faith and practices of their followers the more my envy grows. In each of these religions there is a solid foundation of traditions and writings going back centuries. They have established prayers that are adored and used the world over. Their churches, mosques and temples are beautiful in both design and the sense of community it gives their followers. I also find the utter devotion people have to be awe inspiring. I always seem to be filled with doubt, with questions that burn into my soul and there is no water to quench it. While I have no desire to follow any of those paths, I still am haunted by the power they have for people.