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Archive for July, 2011

Recently my son, aged 10, asked me what I believe from a spiritual perspective. It was a question that I knew would be coming but it was a bit sooner than I expected. That said, I am not surprised, because he is taught theology at his Catholic school and we do not attend Mass.

My Christian upbringing was an informal one. We didn’t go to church because my Mom was a wee bit reclusive. She grew up in a Presbyterian home and her Dad was a pastor for the village church. As soon as I was able to read, Mom brought out the bible and taught me from it. She used a traditional King James translation which was somewhat difficult to read at the tender age of four but Mom would explain the words to me.

As I matured, I sought to find myself spiritually. I attended the Bible Chapel in Guelph, Ontario. When we moved to Wasaga Beach, I attended Faith Missionary Church. I’ve been to services in many Christian based churches, too many to count. I tried to fit in but I always felt awkward and out of place—as if I was putting on a front of sorts.

It was only after the house fire, that I found my path. It’s not a defined one as my spiritual beliefs don’t follow a specific religion or teaching, rather a series of things that I’ve learned from all religions. I refer to myself as a hippie tree hugger. I’m not a hippie in the more traditional sense of the term but I do think love and peace are great things to strive for. I’m a little bit Buddhist, a little bit tree hugger, and a little bit Pagan.

Yes, I said Pagan.

Now before you suck all the air out of the room as you gasp in horror at the word Pagan, this does not mean I am evil or a Satanist or that I am performing rituals. Pagan, simply put, means “a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions.” Some of my beliefs have a Pagan slant to them as I feel that the cycles of nature are an important part of my spirituality. Nature is a pretty powerful force, after all. I believe there is a greater power of good but it’s something in all of us not an entity. I don’t believe there is a hell other than that which humans create.

Here is how I explained my general feelings to my son…

“Think of our universe as a big lake in Algonquin Provincial Park. In the middle of the lake there is a beautiful island which is our spiritual destination. In Christianity it would be called Heaven and in some Pagan religions it would be called Summerland and Buddhists would call it Nirvana. For others it is simply living a productive and adventurous life. Each person is in a canoe and the canoe represents their belief system. Most religious teachings tell us of being kind to our neighbors, being honest, and charitable. And like paddling a canoe, if you don’t keep a certain balance in your life, you will upset things and end up swimming in the lake maybe even drowning. You need a compass to navigate the canoe to the island just like you need a moral compass to navigate yourself through life. You see, even if our spirituality varies somewhat, we are all the same. There is no one true faith and you have to decide what is best for you, live your life well, and be kind. Treat others and your world with great respect. Know that being unethical or immoral will come back to you. Think of how the waves come back toward the canoe when they slam against a rocky shore and how that rocks the vessel sometimes. Some people believe in the rule of three and that the negative things you do will come back tri-fold. Buddhists believe in karma. I believe that the more positive energy you put out into the world the better you make your life and the lives of those around you. I know you are very curious right now and I’ve given you a lot to think about, but, if you like, I will help you learn about some of the many different paths.”

Yesterday at dinner he asked me to teach him about the totem system of the aboriginal peoples and he’s interested in learning more about Buddhism. In the end, no matter what good path he chooses, I hope that he will have a knowledge, understanding, and, most of all, a respect for the beliefs of others.

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