Damned and Holy

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Right now I have 3 cups of coffee sitting on my desk. One from Caribou, one from Starbucks and one I brewed myself a few minutes ago. It’s 12:15 am and the thought of going to bed is bleak. I’m tired, stressed and overwhelmed, but my fingertips have a buzz that only writing can release. Plus, I have something on my mind…

I just finished a book called Holy Cow. It’s about the author, Sarah Macdonald, an acclaimed journalist in Sydney, who moves to New Dheli to be with her journalist boyfriend. Her experience is India is both inspiring and unsettling. While India is the beautiful, spiritual country I’ve read about, it’s also filled with violence, death and despair. Macdonald goes through a series of spiritual journeys to find herself. From Hinduism to Buddhism, Jainism to Judaism, she finds both beautiful and dark things from each religion. She first arrived in New Dehli an atheist who was highly cynical and judgmental (her own words) of the overt culture in which she was completely immersed. But her lack of spirituality and direction left her feeling unfulfilled, so she sought for guidance.

I’m trying very hard to turn this into a post where everyone can take something from it, but I prematurely accept defeat. Religion is a tricky subject that, for years, I’ve avoided. And when I say years, I mean my entire life. I am like Macdonald when she first moves to India; I’m cynical have very little direction in terms of my “spiritual” life. I’ve never been hooked. When the topic of religion comes up, I squirm. I never have anything very insightful nor knowledgable to contribute, so I hide in the corner until the topic changes. Coming from someone raised by two moms and was told time and time again that my family was going to Hell, Christianity never appealed to me. But even they can find love and hope in the church. If my moms, who have experienced enough shaming and hatred for a lifetime, can believe in a God who loves everyone (like he’s supposed to) then they’ve figured something out that I haven’t.

But I’m tired of being angry. I want to try to reopen the door that has been closed shut for so long, but I don’t know if I have the capacity nor the willingness to be that vulnerable.

Sarah Macdonald moved back to Sydney over 2 years later. She didn’t find a religion that spoke to her completely, but she took something from each:

From Buddhism the power to begin to manage my mind, from Jainism the desire to make peace in all aspects of life, while Islam has taught me to desire goodness and to let go of that which cannot be controlled. I thank Judaism for teaching me the power of transcendence in rituals and the Sufis for affirming my ability to find answers within and reconnecting me to the power of music. Here’s to the Parsis for teaching me that nature must be touched lightly, and the Sikhs for the importance of spiritual strength… And most of all, I thank Hinduism for showing me that there are millions of paths to the divine (Macdonald, pg 291).

While I might never be ready to open myself up to spirituality, I’ve learned that no one is ever ready for anything, so maybe I should take a chance. What I do believe in is this:

Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times (yeah, I quoted Dumbledore). My faith in humanity used to be slim to none, but I’ve come to see and learn things that give me hope; hope for a better world, free from hate, hope for compassion and understanding. And if I’ve learned anything, it’s that hope is a very powerful thing.

I might be on the verge of a very exciting, very terrifying journey.

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