A grand opportunity keeps whirling around my mind, cutting corners so that the loop can spin shorter and faster. My family and I have a real chance to do something groundbreaking. Something memorable. Something EPIC. I feel as if I’ve been training myself for this chance subconsciously.
I have always struggled with spirituality. As a youth, I was pretty much told that I was Christian. I assume that I wanted to be Christian because all of my friends were. That’s how it came to be that I became “saved.” Well…that and all of the Southern Baptist threats of damnation and a burning soul in the fiery pits of Hell while being poked with Satan’s pitchfork. I remember crying while the preacher had us all bowing our heads and praying at church one Youth Group Wednesday night. I thought that I had felt the “spirit” enter me, just as the preacher said I would. As a youth, I suppose I couldn’t tell the difference between this spirit I was supposed to feel and the emotion of the preacher’s powerful raised voice full of fearmongering. Ah me. Southern Baptist beliefs.
I also remember shakily writing “Wendy was saved on date/date/year” in the front of the Bible that my parents had recently given to me. I can clearly envision having to flip past the empty blank where the date I was supposed to be saved was supposed to be written before this “Blessed” event. As an adult, I guess it makes sense that I went with the program. I had many thumbs of pressure placed against the temples of my still developing mind.
Finally, years later, at another church, someone made fun of me for wearing the same dress to Sunday school about three or so Sundays in a row. That was the end of my family church going days. I didn’t want to be different, but even more, I didn’t want to be ridiculed in a place where I was supposed to be shown everlasting love and support. Hypocrites. Sure…children can be cruel. I was about 11 or 12 at the time, so it really struck my poor little Southern ego pretty hard. Luckily, my Mother didn’t force me to go back. I’m not sure that it was because of the fashion critique, though. I imagine that comment may have been the straw that broke the manger scene donkey’s back, though. Or maybe it was because of the battle that had to be dealt with by the congregation every Sunday. The one where the deacons and one particular youth minister were trying to get the congregation to vote out our current pastor. That pastor turned out to be gay. This is why they were trying to get him to leave the church. The Youth Minister I mentioned was not only trying to get the current happy pastor voted out…he was also trying to get the congregation to vote him IN as a replacement for the pastor’s job. In the South, this means that the pastor would also have to pack up his family (a wife and two daughters) and leave his home, which was spitting distance from the church walls. The Youth Minister got what he wanted.
Anyhow, that was the end of my religious experience until I was around 16. Then, I decided to try out the local mega church because a lot of the popular girls went there AND because a lot of the popular, cool, cute, handsome and dreamy BOYS attended there too. That didn’t last long either. My social status was pretty much attacked there too. Being that it was the mega church, there was a lot of money floating around in the gold plated donation trays. The parents of the children I hung around with were the ones who could spare the big bills every Sunday and Wednesday. The children of those parents were the ones who were monetarily funded to go on all of the extravagant church mission trips and outings…which I could not afford. I was never offered help to be able to attend those cash carrying events, so I never went. Soon there were inside jokes that were made on the church bus that I didn’t understand or couldn’t use because I wasn’t THERE when the joke was created. I couldn’t possibly understand how funny it was. “You should have seen it! You should have been there!” *sigh* The joys of youth.
To end my church journey for good, I decided to go to a Southern Baptist University. I won a grant to attend it and because of that, it was pretty much my only option if I wanted to attend college. To give a short version of the college experience, I went to some of the chapel meetings to try to make new friends, be around boys (again) and to have something to do. The college was in a small town ( there was literally one traffic light in the town at the time), so attending chapel sounded better than driving down to Wal-Mart to walk around and look at stuff that I didn’t have any money to buy. I eventually went so much that I was brainwashed into thinking that maybe I should give this Christian thing another try. I was saved…again. This journey was a little more emotional for me. I felt like I had made the right decision for a long time. I was floating on glittery puffy Christian clouds where everyone was kind and generous and pure. That went on for awhile…until my Father died. I got so tired of hearing “he is in a better place” and “he’s looking down on you.” Finally I called bullshit on the whole thing and just stopped trying to resign myself to any sort of religion. I had no interest in searching anymore.
So…where do I belong now spiritually? The only answer I have to that question is that I feel the happiest when I am outdoors. I can sit for hours and stare into nature. I always feel rejuvenated after being out in the open, outside of any structure. I have never been afraid of any sort of animal or insect (unless it jumps out and surprises me), so when I come across one, I often end up studying it. I’ll watch a spider wrap its prey. I’ll see if the ants all stay in the same line of formation if I place an obstacle in their path. I’ll stare beak to nose with a curious bird. I’ll sit next to the coop and watch the chickens. I love nature. I feel the most peace when I am surrounded by it. This is why this opportunity that I began this blog with is truly so EPIC for me. I will get a chance to be surrounded by nature ALL of the time. I will be secluded and charmed. I have no fear over how I will be able to handle the silence of it. I am gleaming with excitement over the prospect that I might actually get to live the way I have always dreamed…in a cabin in the woods.
Granted…it might not start out as a cabin. Hell, it might not even end up as a cabin. Cabin or naught, I will be in nature. I will get my hands dirty daily. I will watch sun rays shine through glass topped jars. I will rub the petals of the flowers that I come across in my path. I will crouch and sit beside the rabbit who is surprised by my presence. We will stare at and accept each other. I will not be judged for doing these things, because the people who want to be a part of this community will see it and think it is beautiful. I can be truly unleashed in a setting such as the one I dream of. I am ready. I want to meet the true spiritual being inside myself. I know she’s there…she just hasn’t had the chance to emerge uninhibited.