We are born inside the gates with the power to create life
And to take it away
The world is our temple
The world is our church
Heaven’s here on earth
If we have faith in humankind
And respect for what is earthly
And an unfaltering belief
In peace and love and understanding
–Tracy Chapman/Heaven’s Here On Earth
This has been an interesting year. How does that saying go? May you live in interesting times? It’s true. I do.
I have laughed more in the last year than I have in a long time.
I have cried more in the last year than I have in a long time.
I have questioned everything I thought I knew about myself.
I’ve learned how to mostly embrace who I am.
I’ve become close to people who were only acquaintances, and seen people drift away who were once close to me.
Yeah. I am still fat.
Those are all good things. Even the crying.
Things change and stay the same and all of it just is the way it is.
Earlier this month, I was at the beach with several people I love. They were all meeting each other for the first time, but all know me very well. At one point, I walked out to the back deck and interrupted three of them talking about me. They stopped their conversation long enough to tell me that they weren’t done discussing me and I should come back later.
They meant it. So I did.
When I came back, they were still at it. I had no idea that there was so much to say about me. I’m not the most fascinating of creatures.
What they were talking about is what they referred to as my stubborn refusal to admit that I am spirutual.
No one, I was told, can be as full of wonder as I am and not be spiritual.
Can so, I replied, (because I am a total wordsmith like that.)
Can not, they insisted. You have to admit that there must be some sort of creative force behind it all. It couldn’t just all be accidental.
Must I? Couldn’t it?
Yes. No. Besides, you’re always looking for things to be grateful for. That’s a spiritual trait.
No, I just recognize how good I have it.
And so it went. We did not agree. They laughed at my lack of belief in spirituality and I laughed at their insistence that I must be wrong. I don’t care if there is or is not a spirit. They insisted that I am Zen and just don’t want to admit it.
Maybe it’s semantics, but what I believe in is things of this Earth. People. Mountains. Trees. Squeaky cats. Purple sunsets. Rain. I can be thankful they exist without feeling a need to thank a Creator for them. They exist. That is enough for me. I don’t feel a need to put a label on it.
If someone thinks I am spiritual because I see beauty in life, then that’s fine. If they want to label it Zen, or being a purple people eater then whatever. I think I am just an atheist with an eye for beauty, an appreciation for the people I love and a desire to seek out silver linings wherever I can. I like good beer, books and Elvis Costello.
My name is Michelle. I am who I am. No more, no less.