When I wrote my book Darkness Overturned (originally titled Light Through the Dark Glass) I was deeply religious, clinging to the reality of God as my Father –and to the church. I believed in the “straight and narrow way” and sought approval not just from the Almighty, but from church leaders and my brothers and sisters in the family of God.
Believing gave me exactly what I needed and had been sorely lacking as a teenager trapped in a history of familial abuse: a foundation upon which to steady my shattered life, a lens though which I might decipher day-to-day events often confusing and disorienting, and hope for a future free from the pain and despair that plagued my existence.
Where before I had been in free fall I was now encased by instruction and supervision, defined by dogma and association, motivated by revelation and prophecy. I was swaddled tightly as it were, and felt comforted and calmed since I had had no sense of myself before embracing religion. I moved into the house of God and loved its floors, walls and ceiling –albeit a confining space.
As my life progressed I was assailed by repeated false steps and domestic violence. I dug deeper and deeper into religion, finding Biblical meaning where earthly reality made no sense. My head was bowed to the floor and I pulled the walls in around me as close as possible.
Tortured yet ever hopeful, nonetheless I was learning to believe in something far less structured as religion and the church: MYSELF. Through church teachings the scriptures were directive and confining, but I was also catching a glimpse of my value –which gave me the courage to embrace self-worth. My view of myself began to change dramatically once I grasped that my circumstances do not define who I am. And in time I would need a larger space in which to live, one less confining than obedience and submission. The rest is history . . . a lovely awakening of my heart to the enormity of “truth” and its abundant, permeating presence throughout our universe.
The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new. ~Pema Chodron
I do not regret my embrace of religion –it was exactly what I needed and surely saved me and moved me toward normalcy. I am grateful, however, that I grew beyond clinging to its security. The fact that I am not captured by religious authority has not severed me from spirituality. If anything I am even more open to sense and experience the nuances of what to me is sacred, mystical, and endlessly evolving around me.