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An Atheist and full of peace

It’s so interesting being on this side of a belief system. To go from absolute Mormonism to atheism has been a complete surprise to me. I would never have thought I would feel this way at 51. That’s what I love about life. Just when I think I’ve got all this figured out, my experience shows me something I didn’t even dream about.

I’m surprised about how happy I am without having faith in an afterlife now. I’m surprised how much ownership I feel now for my feelings, behaviors and choices in my life. I’m surprised how peaceful I feel not knowing what happens to life when death occurs. I’m surprised that for ten years now, I haven’t even had an inkling urge, thought or desire to pray to some voodoo magical man in the sky for help, assistance or comfort. Not once. It’s something I don’t even think of and every once in a while I remember that I just don’t go “there” anymore. I don’t feel like a victim that needs saving in any way nor do I believe in the most foundational way, that there is any circumstance where I think something “out there” could possibly help in any circumstance.

I’ve come to swim in the certainty of science, as far as we have come.  I love the open ended answers that it brings. No absolutes, not really, and an openness that things can change with new information.

I love not believing in magical thinking anymore. The confusion and game of “what is the answer” is gone. Having to guess at a possible answer to a prayer is now, thankfully, removed from my existence and it feels so good. The mental and emotional effort that was focused on  wondering, anguishing and searching for truth for answers from above; for begging forgiveness and beating myself up metaphorically for not being spiritual enough, obedient enough, and humble enough to figure out the answers I was missing. It took precious time from me. The greatest value I have in life is time and so much of it was used up by a belief system that kept my focus mainly on how my life’s choices affected the ripples of eternity!!  No pressure there…GAADS!!  My behaviors and motives always had that question at the forefront, and now I wonder what true contributions could I have made to the planet, my community, my family and my education and career if I could have been less focused on magic and more on the reality of living on this planet, now,  with all these beautiful people around me, knowing this is all I get. Sure would have been nice to let go of all that thought baggage that religion brought to my  belief blueprint.

Now that I’m here and a belief in a god seems ridiculous to me, I am amazed at how grounded this mystical thinking still dictates this society. It’s as if, since I have found the freedom in letting those beliefs go, than why doesn’t everybody else? If I can do it, then surely so can everyone else, right?  LOL!!  Not necessarily.  In fact, it’s hard for me to find any one, especially a woman, who doesn’t believe in some kind of voodoo mojo, whether it’s Christianity, or some modern belief flavor of the month, energy voodoo or otherwise. It’s all bullshit as far as I’m concerned but to each his own. I know of what I speak as someone who went from being a Christian Mormon to a belief that there is a Universal energy that is in my favor and god is in all things, to now realizing that I’m made up of the same particles of stars and that energy changes and one day my energy will change with my death and my energy will be released back into space or the earth, depending where my body goes.

The thought that my mother is gone forever, never to be reunited again used to cause me great sadness, grief and despair. I remember consciously agreeing to believe that she lives on, so that I could live with some comfort of that knowledge. Now, however, I don’t believe I will continue after this life is over and thus, I will never see her again or be reunited. Yet, I do not feel despair or great sadness. I feel a great sense of gratitude that I was born in a time that I got to experience the beauty, love and grace that she brought to my life. The full gratitude of the gift that she was, is even greater to me now knowing that it’s more probable that consciousness ends in death. How blessed I was to have such a beautiful, loving mother in my life. How ripped off I was that she only lived to be 68! How tragic it was that she contracted some mysterious fatal disease called CJD and that it took my mother from this planet. What beautiful memories I get to have of this amazing woman and feel the love she poured on me everyday of my life. I still can live that love and I try and honor her by loving those around me in the way that she so gracefully taught me.

Here I sit, pleasantly aware that I once thought peace and atheism were mutually exclusive and now, much to my surprise, I live a life where those two worlds are constant and claimed. Who would have thought? Life is full of delights and I’m so grateful that I exist to discover them for as long as I can.

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One Voice

I’m sitting here in my room, at 53 years of age, looking at my computer and feeling a yearning within my heart to reach people to say, You ARE Enough! You have always been enough and you’re NOT flawed. Flaws are a definition by some authority by which to judge one’s self and another. It comes from the judgment of perfection, which is another authority’s list of qualities by which no one needs to adhere to or believe in. I have this feeling inside myself that my story and what I have learned needs to be told “out there” in the world for others to witness so that they might find their voice, their truth and their empowerment and love themselves unconditionally. And yet, here I sit, writing words again that may never be seen by anyone. I see the mouthpieces that have found a path to be a voice that reaches millions such as  Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, Brene Brown, Eckart Tolle, Wayne Dyer and multiple authors of self-help books and I listen to their words and I scream in my head, I KNOW THIS, I’VE LIVED THIS!  Why do I get to know this and live through experiences that have taught me this and yet I cannot find a way to get my message to the masses like them? I know the dance but I don’t know how to get to the stage with my message.

I’ve attempted to life coach, start a blog, make a website, post on FB a multitude of times and  write every day and yet, my words seem to follow a path that seems to dissipate with each step. My heart aches for those who have not found their voice, or have given up or are convinced that they must believe in a paradigm that diminishes and teaches them that they are small, broken and wrong. My heart burns to teach others that they no longer have to listen to those voices within and outside their heads that keep them down. That they have the power to stand up if they will only trust the voice inside their head that says, “No more!” I question my own limiting thoughts and I refuse to believe in a perspective that leads me to feel subservient, not worthy, less than, bad, sick and wrong. This “waking up” has brought me to a place of empowerment, peace and trust within myself instead of looking up to be saved or told what to do.  I look inward for answers and when it comes to how to share, empower and show this world a better way, I see an abyss of unknowing on how to make it so, and yet I feel compelled to keep searching for a way.

Why do I have this yearning but no path to follow? Why do all my paths seem to end with a whimper? Am I just kidding myself that I have anything of value to teach through my stories? Do I want too much? Am I just yearning for fame or power? Do I feel powerless in my life?  Have I misunderstood that the yearning to make a difference is really a disguise to feel of value?  Maybe….it’s something to consider but when I strip the layers of beliefs from within, I find value, worth and love at the center. Not because I’m special, or do anything great but because I am here. I exist and that’s enough.

My story is as valuable as the next guy or girl. We all have a story to tell. Why does mine seem so insignificant that I can’t find a path to express it and share it with multitudes? I want to change the world for the better and the only way for me to do that is to teach, show and challenge the status quo of mediocrity, inequality, beliefs that keep us small, dependent and unconsciousness. There is no 1,2,3, steps to follow. It’s not a clear path to proclaim in a how- to book or infomercial. It’s not a meme on social media or a wise saying. It’s a practice to walk the walk of authenticity and living 100% out loud by coming out of the shadow of guilt, fear and shame and viewing one’s wholeness as complete and ever expanding with each breath.

It’s not an easy path but the start can begin in an instant. An instant of clarity of awareness that we  hold the power to question and choose the path of our lives.  We can choose how to respond to this world and we can act and respond in a way that isn’t hurtful, defensive or inauthentic. We can step back and consciously choose a perspective that serves us, while letting those we touch claim their truth as well. Reality is nothing but perspectives mixed in with some facts. But mostly we create our reality with the  perspectives viewed through the  stories we tell ourselves.

I say, choose the story that lifts you up because when I don’t, my whole being feels weak, helpless and wallows in the dark misery of pain, guilt, shame and fear. I feel dead inside and it’s unbearable to stay there. I want to live, thrive and bask in the light of authenticity, peace, love and joy. I say, acknowledge and then reject to believe in the story that says, you are broken, you need to be saved, you can’t reach your dreams. Instead listen to the voice that says, You are ENOUGH! We all are! We always have been!!

Embrace the story that says feelings are okay, not to be feared. It’s the fear of feeling that can kills lives. It’s the suppression, denial and unwillingness to shine the light upon our deepest pains that damages us, those around us and leads to suffering and hopelessness. Once you let the feelings move through you, you can come through the other side with a realization that you did not die, you are still here, breathing in and out and nothing had to change externally for peace to encircle you. Embracing and allowing the feelings to flow through you, without judgment but only acceptance, can bring you to a place of unconditional love and because you were willing and had the courage to allow this to take place, you can find that you did not need to change who you are, the experience revealed the truth that was always there… YOU ARE ENOUGH….YOU ARE LOVE!

Maybe this story is all in my head. Maybe this story isn’t even true and maybe the masses don’t need to hear it said again by me and others, over and over. This message hasn’t changed for hundreds of years. It’s just been said in different ways, a thousand times over and yet, with all the voices speaking it out, there is still so much suffering in the world, so many conflicting, painful and cruel messages that are embraced and weaves throughout our psychology. So much pain and suffering from within. It’s bad enough that we have external painful issues to deal with like clean water, poverty, illness and disease but we also have the disease within our own minds. Disease within that says stay the course of helplessness, dependency, suffering and obedience. External voices that demand that you lay your rational mind on the altar of  obedience to authorities that command to be worshiped and sell you the paradigm that you aren’t enough and never will be. That to be human is somehow minuscule in comparison to their story of conditioned love and blind obedience.  You must change and be different, they say.

I for one reject that story of limitations and cruelty, along with damning judgments. I choose this day and every day to question that which keeps me small, whether it’s a voice from the pulpit, political arena or inside my head. My story may never reach the masses and my voice may never be heard from  within the wilderness of humanity but it’s my voice and it’s ENOUGH!!

Thankful with a side of gratitude

There are no accurate words or verbal expressions that could possibly even touch the depth of gratitude I feel for all the many people that came together, like pieces of a puzzle on January 29th, and saved this much loved man.  You not only saved HIS life but you saved the lives of many that day. You saved his parents, his children, my children, his siblings and our wonderful friends from facing another day without the caring, embracing, loving influence this man brings to our lives everyday.

You especially saved MY life. As I held his hand and watched these angel women administer CPR and assist Stevie on the sidewalk that day, I pleaded for him to fight and stay with me. I pleaded because of how treasured our life is and how cherished our love is. Our priority has always been authentically to honor and love each other, and I have never regretted any moment of our time together. I only wanted MORE…more precious time to share with my Stevie…  And you all gave me that. Nothing I could ever do can repay you for that.

Thankfully, due to the concern, compassion, along with the quick life saving actions, of these angel women, the paramedics, fire department, sheriff’s department and all the staff at the Davis Hospital,  we all now get to continue a life where the fact that he is still here, breathing in and out is a constant reminder, even more,  of how precious life is, how quickly life can be taken and how cherished and important each of us are, simply for being human.

Without the timely administration of CPR that day, he would not be here today. Please if you are not certified, become so as soon as you can. You never know when you could be called to use it or feel prompted to apply it.

Our world, especially now, needs to know that there are so many people that are good, kind, caring, considerate and treasured. They may not get on the nightly news or get tweeted about every hour, but they are there, just the same. We all need to know that. We all need to trust that! These individuals stood up that day, as I’m sure they do everyday and followed their hearts, used their knowledge and put their best foot forward. That’s more than I could have ever asked for and the outcome is that our happily ever after gets to continue.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

 

 

My daughter and the Open Road…

A mother only allows herself to feel  loss if she gifts it to herself. I find it is only for a short time that I grant myself this luxury this morning. My first born, my sweet daughter left this early morning to find new adventures in a new state, on her own, taking a road trip to explore with her courageous heart. I am so proud of her for listening to her inner voice that says to go  and find more, see more, learn and experience what this world has to offer. I envy her strength and the trust she must have in herself. She travels to a place she has never lived, no one she knows, to seek a job that is unknown and yet, she drives forward.

I lay in bed for hours thinking of the first time I saw her face and the beauty that was in her eyes. Her cries softened when I spoke to her for the first time and this morning, her tears flowed with mine. We bond as women and feel the magnitude of our love for one another. She has always been free but to wave goodbye, knowing this will be a further distance for us both, makes me want to cry out, “Stay! Stay a little longer. Let me hear your beautiful voice linger with your song, a little longer”.

My wish is that she knows how precious she is and has always been. She’s a grown woman now but I see all the years of her life through my eyes. I welcome all her years with open arms. The ones that have been and the years to come for her. I have been honored to love her every day and witness the beauty that she is. She is kind. She is loving. She is an artist. She is the smartest person I know with an intellect that defies this planet. She is a pioneer in the VR world of computers and I believe her name will be known long after she leaves this world. She continues to make her mark wherever she goes and her love has left a mark within my soul that is everlasting.

Go forward my girl! I will gather my tears and embrace them as I witness your path. I will be here and cheer you on in all your adventures. I will grieve for a little while and embrace your open road.  I will continue to love my life in all its various ways and I will always be grateful that I get to be your momma everyday!

I love you unconditionally and feel that in return. Knowing you has been and will always be my greatest treasure. Thank you for the gift of you! I love you with all of me!

Wine, writing and Billy Joel

I came home from work today and decided that since I’m alone for just a bit, I would sip a glass of wine, listen to music and write. I feel so grown up. I’ve got this big beautiful house, money in the bank, wine on my lips, a job I enjoy and today, for a minute, I feel like a grownup. At 51, I wonder when I will ever feel truly grown up. I’ve always felt that I’m living a young life and never have I really grown into my big girl shoes. This age thing is quite a trip! I look in the mirror and I see that time has marched on but truly, I don’t see it all that much. I feel young inside, except my chronic back pain. That doesn’t feel young! But my body still looks good as far as I can tell. I’ve always tried to stay in shape and sometimes people think, I’m a bit crazy with it but I think, as long as I can do it, I’ll just keep doing it.

(Song in the background)

Billy Joel…wow, that takes me back. Marisha’s little talent show in 3rd grade. We worked so hard on that routine and her little body groovin to the music while she memorized all the words to “We didn’t start the fire”.  Who does that? What girl in 3rd grade can do that?  THAT girl, for sure 🙂  What a joy it has been being her momma! I have to say, I took some pride in her intelligence. Like somehow I was responsible for some of it…that’s funny to me now. The world is better because she’s in it.

Billy Joel was more around during my high school years. Can’t help but think of my teenage friends. We were so clueless but trying our best. Life was so open and full of possibilities. I had no idea how precious that was to feel back then. I see time shorter on what might be,  instead of what has been and it blows my mind. What am I leaving behind to show I was here? It’s strange to think that sometime in the future, no one will even know I existed. Wow!  I wish I could have impacted the world in a greater way than just being one of many that came and went. But I don’t know how else to be or what else to do to make a big difference. I’m so glad I had my children. At least for a time, I can live on through their memories. That will be nice and I better not out live any of them. That would destroy me. 😦  I’m so glad I met my Ex and we loved, once. He was so much of my first lifetime and I wish I could have made his life happier. My heart will always see his sad eyes and weep. I wish I could have been his view of joy, instead of regret.

I’m so glad I get to live another lifetime in this one. One in which I can be honest, authentic and truly be all of me, accepted and loved fully. So many others just don’t get that chance and I know it. I wish everyone could be taught what true love is really about. Not the false possession and control that is modeled so much. Okay, so here’s one of my greatest wishes. I wish I could have been a brilliant writer and speaker that shares my story about finding oneself and accepting, with compassion, one’s mere existence as worthy. I wish others heard my story and felt like they could also do the same. I would go and speak all over the country, meeting others who also share my passion about relationships and the road from religion, spirituality to agnostic/atheism and they realize they are not alone. I would have liked to look back on my life and see a lifetime of education and work to mark my path and passion. That I could leave a legacy for others to follow. How grand that would have been. I would see a life full of exposure to intelligence and educators as mentors and leaders. What a path that would have been. One pursued in excellence of academia. I would be called Dr. Susan, with tons of experience and knowledge to back it up. My life has been amazing, don’t get me wrong. But it seems to have been so small. My experience, so narrow. I’ve lived in one place and my world seems so small sometimes. I realize i must like it, for I choose it this way. I’ve always followed my energy and now I see that some of my energy has waned. What to do with the time I have left?  That’s the question, isn’t it? Where do I go from here? Who knows….for now I’ll just sit and sip and listen to Billy Joel for a while.   🙂

 

 

A thought & a belief walk into a bar…

As I took a walk today, my mind took me back to a past memory, tucked away. I recalled a time when he and I were together at a gym. We had been  going through some rough times. As I was running on the treadmill next to him, I suddenly visualized myself alone, without him next to me, and the lightness of my body and the seemingly expansion of my soul was undeniable. It was instantaneous and lasted mere seconds but it was expansive to my soul in that moment. All I could do was feel, not think, but experience myself within that moment.  What was that all about? Why did I feel such exhalation? What did it all mean? It is only today as I study more and more about the processes of the mind, biology,  the power of intention, decision making, trusting the self and manifestation that I realize that  the clues have always been there just waiting to be deciphered.

I don’t know why the thought came to me to visualize myself without him but the results were empowering. Of course, then the guilt set in and I found myself judging myself for even thinking of the thought let alone feeling so happy within my mind and body.  It’s as if my soul was soaring with the visualization. How can the visualization of a separation be something so empowering and enlightening? How could not having someone by my side whom I love, be a freeing experience? I could not deny my powerful moment but I COULD ignore it, or wish it away. I could even lie to myself and tell myself it didn’t really mean anything or it didn’t really happen that way.

What I had not discovered yet was that my truth was sharing itself with me in the only way it could. Through my senses,  together with my mind.

I have always heard people say and even myself say, I trust myself or I don’t trust myself but what I see today is that I trust myself in every moment. Trust is an acceptance of a believing thought and that  what I feel in each moment,  as I define it by my perspective, IS the truth for me. If I believe thoughts that bring me pain, suffering, hopelessness, sadness or anger along with revenge, my body feels the effects of that thought. My body feels small, even sickly like my energy is draining. I feel out of control, loss, and fear. So much fear. So I can say with certainty that I trust myself. I am choosing to believe the thoughts that cause my self to feel the effects. I am trusting that the thoughts I have are my truth, in that moment and yet the effects bring me pain, smallness, anger, stress, jealousy, envy and hate. My world becomes small in an instant. My heart feels small, tight and constricted. The father of all of these constricting emotions is FEAR. Fear of rejection, being out of control, not knowing, abandonment, failure, looking inward, losing and being judged. Yet, I trust these beliefs so much. I trust them as my truth otherwise, I wouldn’t experience these emotions.

I’ve learned one big lesson since I’ve uncovered this connection between believing thoughts and experiencing an emotional response. It  is: Do not judge myself when I feel. Let me repeat that, do NOT judge myself when I feel!  I didn’t realize how much shame is involved in feeling. Somewhere along the way, I accepted the teachings that feelings were something to be controlled, not felt, or they should be denied. Especially if they were viewed as negative, in nature. Along with those teachings, I became my biggest critic. I would immediately judge any negative or fearful emotion and shut myself down, without having the freedom of acceptance to examine why I was feeling what I was. It was unacceptable to feel the way I was, so I would attempt to stifle, ignore or deny what I was truly feeling.

When  I was negatively affected by another person, I would immediately judge my feelings and to escape the dark feelings, I would put myself in the others shoes and start to justify why they would do or feel as they do. Unknowingly, I was honoring their feelings over mine. I was being dishonest about my feelings and not owning them first before viewing myself through the eyes of the other. As Author Byron Katy has written, “I was in their business when I needed to  be in MY business”.  I would start to talk to myself about how “wrong” I was to feel as I did. I was being inauthentic to myself.  I believe people are mostly afraid of negative feelings because we have too often been the witness of someone who has seemed out of control of their emotions. The result was usually some kind of destructive behavior being taken out on others and pain was the consequence.

What I didn’t realize is that when I feel emotion, I don’t have to REACT on what I’m feeling. I can just “be” with the feelings. I don’t have to act. I don’t even have to react and judge them. Just feel. Let the feelings flow through my body and take notice to what my body is feeling. This type of acceptance and “being” with my emotions, creates a space to delve deeper and explore the belief systems that lie below the surface of my emotions. I can find what I am believing that is causing me so much pain. Once I get to that belief, I can  question how true it is for me or not, not just for that moment but as a whole belief. I can question myself if it is something that is always true, has always been true for me under all circumstances in my life?  The next question is, do I want to continue believing this thought or do I want to change it? Now it’s time to get honest here. There are rewards in believing thoughts, even negative ones. It’s time to look at those rewards and see if I am really willing to give them up for a different belief system. Even if the answer if no, the action of taking responsibility for a belief system is powerful. Then I  can really claim this belief as an empowered individual instead of feeling like a victim by it. I  can believe it with vigor, knowing that I am  choosing to do so completely with awareness.

When a person is aware, they can claim what they feel and how they believe and it can become a part of them, instead of something they need to avoid, hide or deny. I have felt my wholeness expand as my belief systems are revealed and claimed. I no longer have to be afraid of my emotions. I am a safe place to feel without the damning judgements that used to be my companions.

On the other end of the negative emotions, there are other thoughts to believe in that bring me different physical and mental experiences. Feelings and emotions connected to the thoughts that bring me joy, love, confidence,  empowerment, strength, fulfillment, happiness, peace, abundance and prosperity. I am also believing those thoughts as well and feeling the consequences within my body. I find myself accepting of these types of emotions without feeling the need to explore my underlying beliefs. I usually allow these feelings to flow through me and the result is usually some kind of uplifting experience for me. My world becomes bigger and brighter with a love that can bring me to my knees, at times.

More often then not, I enjoy feeling my more uplifting emotions. I yearn to be at peace and have love in my heart. This is the type of experience I will attempt to choose over and over. Therefore, when I do feel a negative emotion or feeling, I now see these emotions as   messengers to examine what the beliefs are that underlie these feelings. If I am to shift and return to my home of peace, I must accept the offer to explore and undercover, decide and shift, if that is what I truly desire. It’s always a wake up call to get honest with myself and then see if I want to stay there or move on.

Knowing now the connection of belief and biology, what did that mean that fateful day on my treadmill and my expansive vision? Somewhere, below the denial and pain, I believed that I would be better off alone. I saw myself running on my own,  free. Did I come to trust that belief? Was I willing to risk it all to be free? I ran and I still run…FREE 🙂

 

C.S. Lewis and a Mountain of Faith

“The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just that time when God can’t give it: you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.”
C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

When I was 32 years of age, I found myself alone, dehydrated, exhausted and desperately attempting to climb down the face of a large mountain on the hottest day of the year. My water had run out, the lack of shade was everywhere and yet as I looked to the distant west, I could vaguely see the area where I knew my house was sitting, waiting for me.

That was 19 years ago and now as a 51 year old woman, I once again find myself staring at this quote that I read many years ago, after my mother passed away. She died a few years after my adventure on that mountain and C. S. Lewis’s book was the only book that I found any similarity to my grief, any resemblance to the pit of darkness that was found at my core of her loss. But this quote, hit a different nerve today. This quote was the description of my desperate heart that described my spiritual journey on that mountain that day. I had prayed over and over, hour upon hour, pleading to my god and yearning for an answer to guide me down that mountain, to inspire my mind and find the path that leads to my salvation. Over and over, I heard noises and saw patches of dirt that I thought might be my answers. I continually followed the promptings that must be from god. Each time, I was led to a dead end or a dangerous direction that led to no path, no answers, no guidance, no safety.

Where was the calming, warm  feelings that have always washed  over me in the past? Where was the inspiration of heart and mind to be guided down a safe and nearby path? Where was the loving feelings from a god that had always burst from within me, like before? This was life or death for me now! I wasn’t huddled in a warm church house praying with a congregation, or praying over food with my family. I was here, alone, exhausted with 15 hours of traversing under my belt! It was so hot, not even an animal or insect was out in these conditions. Where was god then? Where was his tender mercies then? Pleading eventually changed to hopelessness, than to giving up, than to anger and fueled by that anger  a rebuking of an absent god.  It was if I saw myself lay down on the hard, hot ground and wonder to myself….this is it? this is how I end? I felt each thought, each inquiry. What did I want? What was I waiting for? Was there no entity, no person, no divine creature to save me? A deep burning bubbled up from the center of me as I realized that there would be no one, no “thing”, no savior to rescue me. If I wanted to live, then I would take the anger, confusion and pleading energy within me and get off the ground and get myself off that mountain! No longer would I wait for anything to save me again. I traversed and traveled through thick piercing  oak and hot rocky dry land until I  heard the faint sound of a stream. I quenched my anger and replaced it with gratitude as I swallowed the cold liquid of life and eventually, a worn path and hours later,  to the arms of my loved ones.

As I was driven home, I remember the shock of experiencing something I had not experienced before. Not only did I become lost, confused and endure a test of my strength and endurance but  I had begged and pleaded with god and got nothing in return. Not a goose bump, not a tingle, not anything from within to ease my pleading soul and comfort my asking heart. I had always felt “something”. I couldn’t understand that when I needed my god the most, to guide me, to save me, to help me…I got nothing in return…nothing. What did I do wrong? Why did god abandon me? Here is when I could have inserted C. S. Lewis’s pattern of thought and choose to pick the “fill in the blanks” with how unworthy or too desperate I was to hear god’s promptings and peaceful spirit. I could once again give god the benefit of my  doubt and my questioning, like I had done previously, over and over again with issues where I questioned my faith.

As I returned into my house of safety, I found myself once again on my knees. I started to pray once again and almost immediately I felt the familiar warm sweeping peaceful waves flow over me. I realized at that moment, that god had not abandoned me, that he had not refused to save me. He wasn’t an unloving god that abandons his children when they need him the most. I wasn’t an undeserving sinner that wasn’t worthy of his love or guidance. No, not at all! I realized at that moment, that those peaceful, warm flowing feelings were not from god but generated by ME, by my own BODY and the chemicals that make up my bodily system!! I had produced them when I felt safe and watched over. I had produced them when I knew I was taken care of and my safe heart could welcome god’s love. I could produce them when I heard a beautiful song or a touching speech. I could replicate peace, warmth, tingles and goose bumps over and over ONLY when I knew I was safe, warm and loved. That’s how the body works! That’s how MINE works and many millions just like me. Only,  I had been taught by my religion, what those feelings were. I was taught to define “IT” as coming from god, something good, something “out there” watching over me, some divine, unique gift of the spirit, the holy ghost.

Sure, I could choose to follow C.S. Lewis and make up multiple reasons of why my answers to my prayers were not given on that mountain. I could tell myself that my answers were given, just not in the way I was accustomed.  I could give god another “out” for my denied expectations and once again blame myself for not being an open vessel for god to communicate efficiently within.

OR, I could realize that  our bodies secrete different hormones and chemicals that are based on our emotional and stressful states. When we are at rest, the pituitary secretes a parasympathetic response and when we are stressed, our bodies respond in a sympathetic way. One leads to peace, calming hearts, joy, feelings of euphoria and love, the other leads to restriction, fear, anger, stress and narrow focus.

The Holy Ghost didn’t abandon me! I defined the holy ghost by the perfectly natural feelings that happen when we are at peace and feel safe. Based on our chemical, genetic make up, these feelings are in everyone, generated by everyone and defined by everyone in unique  ways. How we define the reasons for these feelings are included and readily accepted as we grow up in our environments and are  taught by our teachers that surround our existence, either literally or by example within our communities.  I had attributed them to a god, a holy spirit, to basically  something external all my life! I hadn’t questioned the definition of those feelings until I experienced the extreme absence and the easily replicated feelings, once home safe and sound.

The totality of this revelation wasn’t fully embraced by me for years but this day marked the beginning of that path.  Now, when I see that C. S. Lewis quote, I’m reminded of how far I have come. I learned to get myself off that mountain. I learned that no one or thing that was external from myself  was going to save me and that I had all I needed within myself to get down that mountain. I saved myself and I am no longer a victim in my life, spiritually or physically.  I take full responsibility for the choices and decisions I make. I can fully embrace others as they are without the mesh of a mystic  god to blur my view. I have never felt more peace and authenticity since that day. That day,  I refused to offer up one more excuse for an absent god. I refused to pick up another self-created beating stick to hurt myself for not being  “good enough” for god to answer my prayers and  save my life.

There is no anger, no issue to deal with here. I am not full of resentment or have feelings of being abandoned by some unloving god, only enlightenment that I can and do define the experiences I have! That is the beauty of choice. When emotions are attached to my experiences, I have the freedom to define them, however they serve me and I have found that embracing science with its evidence and replicated results bring me a joy beyond I’ve ever experienced. There is a certainty there and yet there is still room for doubt, exploration and continued openness to new evidence and new discoveries to be found.

I have found a new sense of gratitude for my ancestors who have evolved so that I may experience my slice of consciousness in this life.  I am in awe of the beauty that surrounds me instead of wishing and hoping for something greater. This is great and it’s here now, with each breath. My heart and mind no longer hunger for the balm of Gilead. I find no comfort in believing that there may be something more after this life or that I will be reunited with loved ones that have gone on before. I can’t possibly know what happens after, it anything, but what I do know is that I have now, I have breath now. I see the faces of my children and my lover and I live in this moment, fully embracing them as they are… now. This life is all I have been given and I will embrace it for all it’s worth. Today is my eternity. There is nothing more promised. It is enough.

Some people may read this and become sad. They may think I’ve lost my faith and that I have refused to no longer reclaim it and in a way, they would be right. There is nothing revering to me when one claims they have faith without the realization that they have bought into the concepts that define that faith.  I have found that facts, research of evidence and an open mind to explore other explanations to be beautiful companions instead of faith.  In a way, I have a new faith. One where I need not look to be saved but to savor each breath as I walk, whether upon mountains or anywhere else this slice of consciousness takes me.