Sometimes I envy those who have an abiding religious faith. Not a lot of the time, but ‘sometimes’. In times of duress or fear mainly.
Now, I wouldn’t call myself an atheist or even an agnostic or an apostate (does it mean anything that all the nouns applied to those of lapsed faith start with the letter ‘a’? Probably not. Anyway, I wouldn’t apply any those words to me primarily because they demand a level of commitment I just don’t have. You know, you would have to believe in the criteria of your ‘disbelief’.
But, like all of us, I have had times of torment and at such times I have envied those of firm belief who actually hold the concept there is a Godhead looking out for them. And when I am in duress I tell myself I believe that, too. I mean to say, it’s not that matters clerical are alien to me. I was forced to go to Sunday school when I was a kid. And I was confirmed into the Anglican Church. You know what Anglican is; It’s Catholicism Lite and was created so Henry VIII could have his wanton way with Anne Boleyn. And if any Anglicans are offended by such assertions, I too am officially an Anglican so I’m entitled to be flippant.
Anyway I got confirmed and that was about the end of it for me. I mean, we are talking about God and belief and I have tended to think that there is no reason a fellow (or woman) who wears a collar back to front knows anything more about God than I do. I am not being insufferably arrogant about the matter, but just because a person attended a lot of divinity classes it doesn’t necessarily put that person in better touch with the eternal verities. If it did I’d sign onto theology courses in a heartbeat.
So, does that mean I am a stranger to prayer? No, it does not. Ironically (perhaps) I do pray. It keeps me in touch with whatever cosmic muffin is there. I have to form an image so to me God looks like the guy with the extended finger in the da Vinci painting. You know, white beard and all. I do give prayers of thanks and I do give prayers of ‘fear’.
Does this make my a hypocrite? Probably. And it also makes me envious of those who think they know what it’s all about. And if they really believe what they believe, then God love ’em.
Once, in a time of great despair I happened to find myself in Norwich, England. And in my despair I wandered into the magnificent edifice of Norwich Cathedral – I mean, if you are going to pray why not go someplace cool? And pray I did, with great emotion.
I am not sure if my prayers worked but slowly things got better – much better. So, a decade later I found myself in Norwich again and I made a return visit to the cathedral. And therein I gave thanks. It felt good.