Hello, reader–how are you doing? I’ve been thinking about how I developed faith. Not according to any particular religion. Just faith that I’m ok and I can trust the universe, Parent Earth, and my ancestors to hold me.
Faith is the deep well-being that makes possible all the good I do for myself and others. It has a lot to do with love.
A housemate-friend shared an essay about basic trust, and it made me think about faith. I feel fortunate that part of my ongoing growing up process is finding faith after a very unstable youth.
Faith is the caliche-bedrock of how I’m the happiest person I know. I’m safe to feel any emotion and have any experience, because even if I’m very sad or scared in the moment, or ecstatic out of my mind, I know that deep down, I’m ok.
Faith is how I’m safe to take risks, in life and in art, in relationships–in becoming homeless and moving from the desert to a very wet biome. Every day I use faith to say my real yes and my real no, in community and in relationships.
Faith helps me trust my intuition and love myself unconditionally. Yes, I can make mistakes. But overall there’s a larger purpose. My mistakes are part of a wonderful whole. My mistakes glimmer like bits of glass in a mosaic. The mistakes seem random up close, but are part of a gorgeous bigger picture.
Faith allows me to trust that God is holding me in love. The only time God spoke to me directly, she told me she loves me, I’m doing great, and she’s been keeping me safe my entire life. She said I’ll be safe no matter what, even when I cross to the other side.
How much we were abused as children affects our feelings of security and how we see the world, a lot. I have an ACE score of 9–I’m happy I survived into adulthood. Yay–I have the chance to heal my trauma wounds. But by bit, I’m learning how to live with myself and others after enduring things no one should endure.
It’s not just highly abused kids who have trouble with security, though. Capitalism undermines our sense of self-worth intentionally, to manipulate us into buying things. Culture at large is low on emotional skills, honesty, and authentic engagement. Violence is all over the place.
Who is direct and honest, with generous care? Who shows up for love as their whole self?
Ming does that–he’s amazing. I try to live like that. It’s not always advantageous to be vulnerable, when we live in a culture that rewards us for some shitty behaviors. Money can lead to people doing horrible things to other people and to Parent Earth. I think of war, pollution of the air and water and land, and exploitation of nature as the norm, for people who are trying to make money.
So much harm is done and excused, in the name of “we all have to get by somehow.” So it’s hard to make a better choice. We might need to live in poverty, in order to avoid jobs that hurt people.
Heart is lost, in so many money making situations. The heart is seriously lost, like–when’s the last time you saw heart? Maybe it’s behind the couch. Maybe it slipped into the trash and went out on Monday. Heart gets neglected and dumped.
How I found faith has to do with gravitating toward heart. Nurturing and being nurtured is a big part of what I’m on earth for. Caring alone, caring in relationship, caring in communities where I’m honest and share my skills, and caring in systems.
I’m happy to live in community these days where my strengths are honored. What I have to give is mostly acknowledged and valued here.
It took a minute. But I feel good about starting the house ofrenda for Day of the Dead, helping celebrate housemates’ birthdays, fat dancing in the yard, using the waffle iron in strange ways to make wonderful foods, holding hands with people who are crying, and getting up very early to put away the clean dishes someone else washed the night before.
Who is curiously learning and open to change? A lot of young people are actively seeking out who they are and what the world is like.
So it makes sense I’m befriending the young people I live with; they are intentionally growing. We’re asking similar questions.
- Who am I, just on my own?
- Who am I, in the world?
- What are the ways of doing relationship that work for me?
- What do I need to discard, of my childhood and what culture taught me, to do what I’m truly on earth to do?
- What does the world hold for me?
- Where do I belong?
Anyone of any age can ask these questions. But a lot of the full on adults I know are settled into a groove and know their deal. Many women around my age are in the middle of a big career, caring for their children or grandchildren, or caring for their parents. I’m much more free.
Yes, I’m on a disabled path of exploration, which I love. I’m grateful to be disabled with Ming and alive to my worth in the world, a worth I can’t find in a prescribed way. I need to decide for myself what a good life is and how to get it, given the body I have, and its particular pains, expertise, needs, skills, disposition. This freedom is a lot of work, but freedom is my core value. So I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing.
how I developed faith
I was a highly religious kid, doing Christianity. Then I tried paganism which I found intuitive and so helpful. Just seemed obvious, to worship dirt and align myself to the seasons and the moon. I still do that witchery. I read about Taoism and Buddhism as a teenager. Then I did a sect of Hinduism for some decades–I still sort of do it.
But I was an atheist for a long time–while I was doing Hinduism in my 30s I was mostly atheist. People didn’t understand what I meant when I said that.
“So you’re just going through the motions?” they asked.
No, I was getting high on flowers and Sanskrit. It made no sense to be a hedonist among the ascetics. I believed I was wasting my time. It was funny to hang out with old people and listen to Swami talk over and over about drawing in my senses like a tortoise draws in its limbs.
But I was doing something beautiful and holy, all that meditation and ritual, as my soul thrashed around in agony, that Lost Decade, trying to heal from years of abuse. I was turning down my stress and outer struggle, faced inward, finding some form of rest.
I like the rhythms of the worship week and the worship year. I’m a Bhakti yogi for sure, doing love in heaps. Yes, I find god in the people I adore, as well as in nature, food, pleasure, truth, beauty, the sky.
Where do you find God? She speaks to me in a thousand ways. I’m pantheist, so everything is God, and everything is speaking to me.
Everything is speaking to everything. If only through gravity. How does matter know about the other matter? How does all matter pull on all the other matter? That pull is God–Jagaddhatri holding the world together.
The water is God, my dreams show me God, a baby, an elder, my housemate’s smile. God is the air itself, my own body, the mitochondria in my cells.
I was sort of an atheist and a pantheist at the same time for many years–they were layered together, or different views of the same Laura-Marie. Then one day the atheist part I didn’t need anymore. I could leap.
How I developed faith was a lot of healing: rest, singing, flowers, pulling weeds in the ashram’s garden, hanging out with cranky elders who mostly wanted their old Swami back, but he had died. Meditation, dreams, activism in the desert, and queer survival. Holding signs about peace every week at the federal building, and standing for something I believed in.
Feeding hungry people is hard to turn off. I was a non-Catholic Catholic Worker for seven years, and that work is still in me. So that’s why I can’t forget which friend of our community needs food.
It’s my nature to offer. This is how we show our love. Love is how we honor God. God is everywhere and in everyone.
Your spirituality may vary, and that’s ok if you don’t see God this way. I will see God shining out of you anyway. Thank you for hearing me explain how I developed faith. I’m still developing it.