November 2nd, 2020
I chose the wrong time to peek behind the curtain.
This year has been one of intense loss for many. I have to keep my face forward, because as soon as I turn my chin to look back at my own losses, it feels impossible to steer it toward the future again. A salmon resigns to go with the flow.
Over the summer, I read a series of lectures that discussed religion and science hand-in-hand, strange and seemingly impossible bedfellows that have indeed been canoodling since the beginning of time. I found the lectures enlightening, frustrating, and simply brilliant, and I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with what I’ve learned.
And what I’ve learned, unfortunately, is that a lot of religion is like magic, and I’ve seen how the most popular tricks work.
At a time when I could really use some magic in my life.
I’ve always believed in the universe, and I still do. It’s mysterious and infinite and, if it doesn’t have a plan, it definitely has a sense of humor.
I got close to death a few years back, in the way that you get close to a pal. It became less a terrifying inevitability, and more an ever-present roommate. This familiarity made me less scared, but it never made me less sad.
An organ is named for the thing it does that makes it unique. A heart pumps your blood. Your lungs let you breathe. In that sense, religion does have an undeniable function: it is the only organ we have that lets us process death and what happens after death in any significant way.
Without it, it feels like standing just offstage, staring behind the set, waiting for it all to fall down.
I think looking behind the curtain was inevitable for me. Curiosity and cats and all. But just as the universe (and its sense of humor) chose this moment to reveal some of its secrets, I have faith in it to provide hope and love and indirect but intimately satisfying answers.
I have faith in the simple idea of faith.