Archive for the ‘spirit’ Category

Finally bought and planted the Limelight Hydrangea and am so psyched at the pretty.  See for yourself!  When I started working on the garden last March, I cleared all of the weeds from this small area and divided and transplanted the hostas.  The Limelight Hydie was the crowning touch.  Thank you Labor Day gardening sales!

The once derelict plot

Up close and pretty

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Resolution #8: Meditation

I’ll be honest, I know nothing about meditation.  In fact, it doesn’t really interest me.  But the truth is I have no Zen (according to the Huz) and anxiety is always beating down my door.  Last year, one of my doctors gave me the card for her “meditation guru”.  I just sent her an email about meeting her.  Why did it take me a year?  Because I am not a peaceful person and this feels weird, that’s why!

My only goal in trying this is to see if it helps reduce stress and boosts my concentration, you know, the ADD thing.

There’s also a workshop this weekend I may attend about women and stress management.

Oddly, I’m less stressed than usual, but I have been creatively blocked so filtering out the useless crap in my head seems like a good idea.

Chalk this one up in the Spirituality category.

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Interesting piece from The Washington Post: Why Do Americans Still Dislike Atheists?

Apparently I belong to one of the last despised groups.

Thanks First Laura for the link.

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Yoga has utterly fallen by the wayside.  Poof.  I fell out of practice during my stressful March and now it’s no longer routine.  Routine.  I never liked routines, but in order to be a functioning member of society, I gotta abide by some: school schedules, work schedules (although, not lately), bedtime for kids, bills.  I can’t tell if I’m anti-authoritarian or just lazy.  Maybe both.  I want to spend my time doing what I want to do when I have the rare free time to do it, so going to yoga class or the idea of going to the Unitarian church incite rebellion.  Another possibility: change is hard and I resist change like a stubborn two-year-old.

In the mean time, I’m adding to my bedside table reading list (thanks to Dan):

  • Greg Epstein – Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe
  • Lawrence Bush – Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist
  • Robert Solomon – Spirituality for the Skeptic

This month’s resolution is just too big to work through in one month.  Next month will be a complete switch to a small, achievable (and rather embarrassing) goal.

Ah, teasers are fun.

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I haven’t been doing so hot on this month’s resolution.  Maybe that’s not entirely true.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, but not a lot of acting.  A resolution regarding spirituality – and my complicated relationship with it – just can’t be contained in a one-month serving, I’ve discovered.  But some good has come out of the month so far:  I have a better understanding of and respect for Unitarian Universalism; I realize that my aversion to attending a service of any kind (even Unitarian, for Pete’s sake) is deep, deep, deep; I find spirituality in nature, my kids, a fine line of prose, art, food, music that lifts me out of my self, love, and friendship (but don’t most people?); and I am trying to embrace the word atheist.  It’s a hard word to embrace.  Not at all cuddly.  In fact, it’s rather strident.  Atheist.  The word sounds confrontational to me, so I have lived closeted for the most part, only revealing the A-word when I feel close to a friend, when I feel trust.  But the truth is that in attending only one UU service, I still felt not-at-home both in the environment and with myself.  Even though I was assured that many congregants considered themselves Atheists or agnostics, I still felt like I wasn’t listening to myself.  Until last night.

Last night, my husband and I watched a recording of The Daily Show from a few nights back and the always hilarious and imprudent Ricky Gervais was on.  We love Gervais in unhealthy heaps, because he has a fuck-all attitude.  Nothing is sacred, and yet Gervais isn’t as mean-spirited as David Cross or as crude as Sarah Silverman.  I think it’s his goofy grin and maniacal laugh that make him more endearing.  That and his awkwardness.  Anyhoo, Gervais stayed late on the show to share his Easter card (on the show, it was just the photo of Gervais crucified with a microphone in one hand and with the word “atheist” emblazoned on his bare chest, but this link takes you to the WSJ article he published WITH said photo).  Something clicked when I saw the photo and listened to Gervais talk.  He did not, let me just say, disparage any religions, but he was dead-on funny about his personal belief system.  It was a relief to laugh with him.

Tonight, while at the library with my daughter, I remembered a message I received on FB from a neighbor who read my blog.  He referred me to several books and websites for skeptics and strangely I found that he had written me another message that I had failed to find 2 weeks ago.  He recommended a book edited by Dale McGowan called Parenting Beyond Belief (this is McGowan’s website of the same name).

Dale McGowan's books

The library had it.  I borrowed it.  Everyone from Richard Dawkins to Julia Sweeney to Penn Jillette have contributed to this anthology.  I’ve already read Sweeney and Dawkins and I’m moved by their honesty and compassion.  Perhaps I can do this.  I can raise my kids with the values I hold dear without subjecting them to a religious education.  I will answer their questions honestly and I hope that both of them will choose to follow or not follow a religious path without the pressure of my own beliefs.  It’s not the easy way to do it.  My parents always told me I made things harder than I had to.

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My kids examining the bleeding heart flowers

At my most spiritual, I am outside.  Makes sense, right?  Native Americans found spirituality in the world around them, just as other cultures have throughout time.  During this season of fecundity, or rebirth if you like, it’s hard to go wrong contemplating the trees budding (unless, like me they make you sneeze out of control — but that’s what prescription antihistamines are for) or the birds building nests, and all of the neighbors who I haven’t seen since last Halloween strolling down the street with wagons full of kids.  Yesterday, I spent most of the day outside barefoot.  Living up to that Kentucky stereotype.  The kids had friends over and played while I gardened and read on the porch swing, listening to the bird conversations.  It’s times like this when I’m most content and questions about eternity just seem unnecessarily angsty.  It’s times like this when I don’t feel the need for the four walls of a church or synagogue because my porch, my yard and my kids’ laughter is enough.

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Yesterday, Sunday, I dressed for church.  I figured a UU church didn’t require much dressing up, so I kept it casual.  And when I got to the church, I hid in the back behind a tall man in order to be unnoticed from the pulpit.  My purpose was to observe, not draw attention to myself.  There was a lot to observe.

I doubt I have the correct terminology for the service, so I’ll just describe.  The language of the service was very inclusive of all people, all perspectives, all belief systems and that was very welcoming.  The greeters were warm without being overly enthusiastic so as to scare me away.  The hymns were, well hymns, but the lyrics were lovely.  I especially loved the last song that described the earth as a blue boat.  There were two milestone ceremonies, both sweet if odd.  Definitely not the type of thing you’d see in a traditional church or synagogue, temple or mosque.  And the sermon was both inspirational and taught me a little something about Unitarian philosophy.

Still, I felt uneasy.  I think it’s just a knee-jerk reaction to being part of a group of people gathered to “worship” in a sacred space, especially a space other than a synagogue, a place called church (though I prefer the Quaker term: meeting house).  For all of my adult life I have avoided this.  When I meditate or contemplate, I prefer to do so alone.  There is much to admire at First Unitarian, but as with most of my resolutions, this one will take multiple visits before becoming a habit, or choosing a different path.

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