Oh bollocks, I should’ve just done a geography degree

And so it has come to pass that at age 40, I’m starting to question my place in the universe more and more in terms of mortality; and where I would like to be spirituality wise if indeed there is an eternal life, in some form, available to those of us who behave reasonably well in life, by today’s standards.

I’m smirking as I write this because as a former legal eagle, plotting my way through my thinking feels a bit like drafting myself a set of broadbrush obligations; where ironically my professional path may indeed preclude me from entering the pearly gates on the grounds of breaching the material term “behaving reasonably well.”

For the record, I’m out of that scene for now, o’ lord!

So, I’m aware that all this existentialist pondering is a “thing” many people tend to do around early middle age. People my age that I know are starting to die; two in the last month. I remember my mum attending an Alpha course in her forties and me thinking her insane to have been co-erced into such a cult, and getting into huge teenaged debates about it based on hormones rather than fact.

I guess that makes me not only god fearing but also not having been very respectful of a person’s right to believe whatever they please. But that’s most 15 year olds, right?

I suppose it has always been quite fashionable to be vocally god fearing in the way that some people go vegan for five minutes or wear a bit of red wool because Madonna is, or get really into sharing the prophecies of Nu Messiah, Russell Brand, on Facebook (now that is scary). It’s all a bit hipster; all a bit reactionary and is really about being part of an “ante-flock.”

In my case, when I dig back into the memory vault as to what my dismissal of faith actually came down to, it was largely about not attending the same Church of Scotland Sunday school as all my classmates and therefore hating it due to a massive case of FOMO.

Genuinely, that’s pretty much it. At a very elementary level my siblings and I made going to church so much about kicking and screaming that my parent’s couldn’t cope and we all stopped going.

I also remember vividly trying to apply “lead not to temptation; for temptation is sin” as a young child to EVERYTHING as a way of life as this was part of the Lord’s Prayer recited at the end of every state school assembly by the head mistress. I believed it to be disastrous to take that extra sweet or whatever. In reality it was just a gospel truth that was flippantly read through thrice weekly in an otherwise Santa and Easter bunny type environment.

Taking it all to heart was just the kind of little kid I was/big kid I am. But I can see why a lot of us moderates quit, it’s not nice to feel sinful when tempted at any level in a so-called free world.

And yes, I know it’s a different story if you are a victim of the criminal elements of any faith. That’s horrendous and indefensible and not something I want to seem to be trivialising. It is hard to understand the how’s and what’s and whys and is a different post to be written by someone who knows more than I can claim to.

Recently, now living far from home, I started dipping into the zoom Sunday service at my old childhood “no friends” church, a practice which has emerged almost universally as a result of COVID.

There is a comfort I can’t describe in returning there and listening to the minister’s words. I don’t really know if I believe or not but there’s just something about it that I like.

I also like that I can catch up with the recording whenever. That I don’t have to interrupt or create my own legacy of kicking and screaming children (and husband) within family life to pursue/tune in to a personal interest.

Perhaps it’s not as intimidating as I recall. I am now an adult among other adults. It’s easy to sit quietly and anonymously as part of a virtual congregation, I’m not feeling I need to explain myself there for my absence or why I have come or indeed to anyone else why I’m going. I don’t really need to have friends there. It’s a weird feeling. It makes me slightly nervous.

What is also interesting is how similar the sermon and prayer is to the words spoken in my non-religious guided meditation group – there we visualise and honour a variety of goddesses, our higher selves, send vibes of light and energy to ourselves and those who need it in our lives and pledge to be kind, choose the path of love, etc etc. Go compare.

I hadn’t anticipated considering switching the word “universe” for “god” being something so close and aligned to my own current spiritual and moral practices. And I’m just talking about comparing one of the known 4300 religions of the world.

I have always considered myself agnostic. I’m a believer in lots of things as a person of technicolour imagination. I’ve been a saint and a sinner and survived. I have been fortunate enough to visit mosques, temples, churches and synagogues. I practice mindfulness and meditation within a group scheduled to coincide with each new moon. I keep up with current affairs. Tracking kinship back to the beginning is mind blowing. I want a patchwork coat made up of all the best bits.

I’m confused. But then I’m not. But then I am again. It doesn’t really matter and I don’t need to understand any of it but it’s good to journal out the thinking.

I guess when it all boils down, my over-arching epiphany is “oh bollocks, I should have done a geography degree,” closely followed by a seeping, creeping fear of being judged for being god loving especially when I’m not sure I actually believe.

I do know that I feel faith in something unknown, and bigger than all of us.

Amen.

2 thoughts on “Oh bollocks, I should’ve just done a geography degree”

  1. I suppose a lot of people wander and wonder in and out of a religion. Even as a non-believer I do feel that religion is obviously valuable for people. If not sometimes just for the sense of community and a answer of sorts to questions in life and a certain moral code for guidance. I have hit 50 and as my 40s were full of existential angst eg what’s my life’s purpose? It’s now evolved into ok I have less years ahead of me than I have behind me so will just ‘go with the flow!’ and be happy.

    Like

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