Friday, February 8, 2008

No Two Ways About It

I'm starting to think that I shouldn't have given fish up for Lent.
No, I haven't suddenly changed my mind about compassion towards living creatures, and no I didn't give in and go on an all night California roll bender.

However, I'm starting to think it would have been a better idea to give up my ambivalence for Lent. Maybe... ;-)

In all seriousness though, a complete stranger asked me today (in a completely pressure/judgment free situation) what I honestly believed, what my "spiritual beliefs and practices" are.

I hemmed and hawed for a moment before muttering something about being raised in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and studying Buddhism and seeing the validity of any honest quest and then I sort of made some vague reference to the "Ultimate Reality" and energy.

Wow Lindsey, is that really the best you could do?

You see, somewhere along the process of earning my degree in Religion and Philosophy and going off to graduate school I got so worried about people judging me for what I believe that I packed everything I might have held true into a box, locked it and sat on top of it. I think I lost the key.

So now here I am in this sort of suspended spiritual animation where I'm able to hold all these different conflicting ideas in my head and not do one damn thing about them. I don't judge, I don't believe, I just absorb. As a consequence of this amazing ambivalent juggling act I feel absolutely root-less. There's nothing holding me up.

I think this is definitely a major factor in the recent anxiety I've been experiencing. Sitting in class sometimes I really want to have an opinion, I really want to have some system of something to measure these new pieces of information against on a personal level.

I want to argue not for the sake of arguing but because I actually care about a belief or a cause.

It's a little bit scary thinking about unpacking the box since it's been so long since I've even really looked in there. But I think at this point in my life, at this point in my relationships, it's a necessary fear to face.

My act of compassion towards animals this Lenten season is not eating fish.
My act of compassion towards myself and everyone I interact with (especially you Mark) is reclaiming my roots, reclaiming health, reclaiming myself.

This isn't going to be easy, but sometimes the best things in life just aren't.


Anonymous said...

I know how you feel, Lindsey. I haven't been able to put it into words until I had your help, but I've had the feeling that I don't really hold my own opinions, I just absorb and regurgitate the opinions of others. I haven't really been anxious, but I have been feeling like I haven't been participating in my classes like I ought. Thanks for the help! :)

Kassie said...

Believe it or not, I kind of went through the same thing last year. I would sit in church and be offended when they talked about taking Jesus as our Lord and Savior. I was offended! In church! Ridiculous. In my quest to have an open mind and not exclude any possibilities, I lost faith. So this may sound hokey, evangelical, maybe even down-right fundamental, but I had to reclaim Jesus as the guy who saves me from my stupidity. Granted, it's not the same kind of cookie cutter faith that many others have, or that I had before this journey, but I feel like I have the best of both worlds now. I'm open-minded and I have my faith.

I don't know if your journey will take the same form that mine did (probably not - it shouldn't) but I think going through that is what all religion and philosophy students eventually have to do. What it all comes down to: I had to remember for myself why I became a religion student in the first place. The answer to that question is different for us all, but I believe it is an important question to ask.

Love you! Good luck with your Lenten endeavors.