Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I know of no beginning, and I know of no end

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with the holy word ‘love.’

I started to title this entry with a tongue-in-cheek “In the Beginning . . .” But after about half a second, I realized that to do so would be A) blasphemous and, even worse, B) unbearably trite.

Also, to say “In the Beginning . . .” would make it sound like I know something which I do not. I’d be coming across as in control, in the know, and probably insufferable. Whereas the truth is that I don’t know the truth.

You see, the religion that I’m going to describe here is an exploration, not an explanation. It is about appreciation and application, not about revelation.

(I know that I’m about two sentences away from most readers saying, “Wow, this person is a freak,” but bear with me a moment more.)

For most of my life, including all of my adult life, I’ve been a devoted agnostic. It has seemed the only sensible religion to me. At some times this has been because I recognize that my brain is entirely too small to encompass all the secrets of the universe. At other times it’s been because every other religion that I’ve ever encountered has some weird or outright creepy metaphysical tomfoolery associated with it. You know - provoking divine wrath by eating the wrong foods, having to spend a specific number of incarnations as a bug or a rat because you acted selfishly, or even just being punished through endless generations because of something utterly beyond your control that one of your ancestors did before your great-great-thousand-times-great grandparents were born.

I don’t mean to disparage the world’s great religions -- for all I know, any one of them (or several) could be absolutely 100% true. And most of them bring peace, happiness, and morality to their followers. But if you’re being realistic, you should probably admit that from the outside they all appear to have some pretty strange baggage attached.

And so I have been content to say, “I really don’t know. Someday I’ll die, and maybe then I’ll find out. But until then, it only makes my head hurt to think about it.“

Or at least, I had been content to say that.

Lately, the weight of the world has borne down upon me, and I have found myself in need of comfort. Where once I believed in the general goodness of humankind, I have more recently begun to despair that we are worthy of respect at all. While I had faith in people, I needed little faith in religion. But as my faith in humanity has lapsed, I have begun to wonder.

So if one is losing faith in the human race, both collectively and as individuals, what can be done about it? I could not seriously contemplate turning to an existing religion, for the reasons described above. But I also could not simply will myself to believe in people, when so many prominent reasons to distrust and even revile them were being thrust daily in my face, whether by the news media, by the corporate grapevine, or by my own eyes.

Embarrassingly enough, my solution derived at least in part from seeing ten or fifteen minutes of a truly awful made-for-TV movie on the Sci Fi channel. The scene that I saw while flipping past included a meeting between a living human and a goddess who’d come to Earth or to whatever bizarre mythical land the movie was set in. I don’t know why she was there, and I did not bother watching the remainder of the movie (which appeared to be nearing its end anyway) to find out. But that intimate and direct personal contact between mortal and deity stuck in my head.

Weeks or months later, as I cast about for a means to keep myself out of deepening depression, I hit upon this notion: that I should form own religion, with my own goddess, whom I could directly address in order to keep my focus upon that which is beautiful in this life.

And so I began going through my day making regular prayers of thanks to the goddess of love. Thanking her for the people around me. Thanking her for the views of beauty presented to me in the morning sunlight or in the twilight that comes at dusk. Thanking her for music, and art, and even for bad cable movies.

It has helped me feel a great deal better.

So, then - if you haven’t decided that I’m a freak - visit again from time to time and I’ll tell you more of how I worship the goddess and how that worship helps me. I make no promises that she will help you, or even that she exists.

But if you wish to love life, you must commit to Love in some fashion. This is the path that I have chosen. Walk it with me if it helps you.

Lovingly yours,

A Devotee

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