Sometimes it’s so hard to live here in the South. First of all, growing up here you are constantly reminded of the history. There are the folks who are proud of their Confederate heritage as well as those who despise anything to do with the Civil War. There are subtle reminders of slavery and segregation, two very dark and permanent stains on the history of the South. It seems that all these years later, the battle is still being waged on an invisible level. It’s hard to explain to those who are not from this region, but ask any Southerner what they think of it and I bet they’d be hard-pressed to disagree.
Other than the unfortunate history, there is one other big, overarching thing that has its grip on this area of the country.
I sort of touched on this yesterday with the post I wrote on my encounter with the void.
It’s very hard to be a non-churchgoing person here in the South. Well-meaning folks always ask you if you go to church, where you go to church, and invite you to their church if you admit you don’t have a “church home.” When you tell people that you don’t go to church, they look at you as if you had horns popping out of your head. You know the kind I’m talking about…the kind of horns a mythical cloven-hoofed, pitchfork-bearing beast would wear.
My decision to live church-free is a personal decision. It wasn’t a decision I made with the express purpose of hurting or insulting or offending someone else. It was a decision that I made for myself when I discovered that the faith I’d been brought up to believe no longer fit the person I had become. I knew I had to be myself, and that was the day I said goodbye to religion.
And do you want to know a juicy little secret? My life has never been so peaceful.
I wake up in the morning in perfect peace. My salvation is in knowing that my core, the thing that keeps me going in this life, is energy. Pure and simple. Energy. Energy cannot be destroyed. It only changes form. Thus, I know that when I die, my energy will manifest in another place, another space, possibly another time. Will my consciousness be there too? I don’t worry about that because I know that there are questions that will never be answered until we are on the other side. And once I had my first taste of the void, I knew not to question anything any longer.
All is and will be well.
When I was a Christian, I worried constantly about death. What it would be like, how I would take my last breath, and most importantly, if I was going to be able to make it into heaven.
What joy to be free of that worry.
Another thing I’ve noticed about myself since dropping religion is this: I am no longer critical or judgmental of others. Wow, what a realization to make. All those years I was out trying to save souls, I was at the same time doing what Christ taught us not to do. Do not judge others. Well, I can honestly say that since I have taken a different path in my spiritual life, I have a new respect for all people. Whether I personally agree with a person’s beliefs or not, I no longer hold them up to some kind of mythical scale to see if they measure up to what I once thought they should be. No more do I feel a sense of superiority over others.
I choose to focus my attention on respecting myself, respecting the earth, and respecting my fellow human.
Truthfully, what greater religion is there than loving yourself, your home planet, and your neighbor? Seems to me like this is the kind of religion the world needs right now.
Photo credit: iampoopsie.com