Should we follow a religion to believe in God, or live our lives and see what happens after death?
–Rene Starink, Crete, Greece
Great question! In contrast to some powerful religious factions, I believe that we are each free to worship in the way that feels right and comfortable to us. Despite their pontifications, no single organized religion has the inside ‘track to God’. Could you imagine a God who would only let the Baptists in?, or just the Jews?, or the Hindus?, or only the Christians? That’s ridiculous! We need to leave room for all interpretations, and to increase our understanding and tolerance for all people, on all places of the path.
The little boy in China who meditates everyday and prays to Buddha, the girl in Ireland faithfully attending services at church each Sunday, the couple in Jerusalem lighting their first menorah, the family in the Midwest baptizing their baby, the man in Rome who scatters his wife’s ashes at a candlelight service, the nurse in Canada giving Reiki to her patient long after her shift ended…each one of these people are linked by their faith and their willingness to participate in a ritual onto God, the Great Unseen Healing Force, Allah, Buddha, Jesus, and so many more.
Do what feels right to you. Explore as many or as few religious practices as you like. Open your horizon to sample and embrace whatever aspects of organized religion that feel good to you. Leave room to discover the God of your understanding. If the organization of things turn you off, consider a more native American approach, and let nature be your inspiration. (How DO those birds know when to migrate south and when to return? How does a butterfly travel thousands of miles? Why did those elephants cry when they came upon the bones of their brother who had died? What is it that gets a tiny seed, the size of dot, to turn into a wonderful tree?…and so on…)
Whatever your choice, whatever your upbringing, remember–spirituality and religion are often two entirely different things. It is possible to be a highly spiritual person and never embrace any particular religion or church. Likewise, it is possible to be highly religious and be lacking spirituality. You are free to choose and evolve. God loves you any way! Just be a kind and decent human being, do your best, do good where you can, and I’ll see you on The Other Side.