Getting By

park sunriseI belong to a spiritual community.  Unlike most spiritual communities, it does not require me to believe in anything, even something as fundamental to most spiritual communities as a Higher Power.  That has been a good thing for me because it has been the pressure to believe things contrary to my experience that has led me to keep religions at arms length, even as I pick and choose from their spiritual concepts.  One of the spiritual concepts of my spiritual community is Take what you like and leave the rest.  Imagine that.  But  being able show up and participate believing whatever I want doesn’t mean there aren’t orthodoxies, notions that are largely accepted and commonly shared at meetings.   When I came in as an agnostic/atheist, the continual use of the slogan, Let go and let God, drove me crazy.   I’d ask myself, Let God what? since many seemed to be saying that the act itself solved problems, phrased as God did for me what I couldn’t do for myself.   Now, I say it myself as means of accepting whatever outcome occurs.

These days, there are more people in my prayers than I care to count.  Friends and relatives are dealing with injury  and illness, some painful and some life-threatening.   Yesterday, I found out that another friend is dealing with cancer of a nasty sort.   It is times like this that the orthodoxies of my spiritual community grate on me the most, even though they are intended to help people get through hard times.  Everything will be all right or God’s in charge may be reassuring when a man is fighting with his wife or out of work, but when a friend is dying it is incredibly dismissive of one’s pain.    Two more on my bottom ten list are Everything will work out for the best and It’s all part of God’s plan, usually said earnestly by someone whose car broke down.   Then there are the questions:  Don’t you know nothing is bad or good, it’s just our thoughts that make them bad? and Haven’t you ever had something that seemed bad at the time turn out good?   The answer in my head is, Bullshit and yes.  Now, would you like a knuckle sandwich?

Getting By in my spiritual community at times like this is, like most things, on me.  As much as I’d like people to realize that touting their solutions to day-to-day problems to someone in great pain is patronizing, an orthodoxy I’ve accepted is that I can’t change anyone but myself.  I need to remember that most people mean well and that I’ve experienced the very spiritual principle they are talking about at other (easier) times in my life.   Just not right now.  That’s not always easy.  But is is easy to remember not to do the same thing when a guy sitting next to me in a meeting is really hurting.  So, yes, I can always find something good in the bad times.  I will bank on that … but keep it to myself when someone else is in pain.

Have a spiritual Sunday.

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