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The Gravitational Pull of Home and Hearth and Ideas

This may or may not circle around to making any sense. It is the middle of the night, I am finally not exhausted, and I am feeling philosophical.

Ben said an interesting thing yesterday about buses being so heavy that he worried about the earth’s ability to stay in orbit during certain times of the day when there are buses everywhere. He was worried about us not being able to float properly from all that weight.

He is learning about Space in school, and so he is perhaps unclear on the subject of gravity. I mused about Gravity being the thing that pulls us close to itself, so we stay connected to the earth.

Somehow, in my description, I shot way out in my imagination to mothers having a gravitational force that always wants to pull our children close to us no matter how old they become. We almost wish they orbited in seasonal circles around us so that we could always be getting glimpses of them.

And that got me daydreaming about the things that keep us connected to our place of origin, our family, our original set of ideas, the language and phraseology we have as a starting place. My dad and mom have ways of saying things, that are classic Dadism’s and Momism’s. The older I get, the more those sayings resonate in my heart. They are the words that comfort me. They are the words that often guide me in decision-making, in rearing my own children. They are the words that will make me laugh when they whiffle through my head out of the blue.

There is a girl I know, who has recently gotten a bit of a rude awakening to the world of Religiosity: ideas imposed on her to make her fit someone else’s ideas of right and holy, that made her feel bad about herself. I have watched her start to struggle with her ideas of God. I feel a tenderness to this struggle, and am wanting to protect her from running too far away out of anger. We have had many talks of late.

If you saw my bookshelf, you would sense a long theological debate that has gone on in my own mind. My father is a pastor, and a darned good one. He is the type of man who actually lives by everything he speaks, and draws people to a curiosity to try one more time this whole belief thing, simply because of his lifestyle and grace. No matter how far I have wanted to get from organized religion, there is still him, and he means it, and he lives it, and he will bring me to tears with the simplicity of his faith, and the philosophical beauty of his conviction.

It doesn’t ever pencil out for me in attendance at a church in my own world. That plan has been tried too many times. If I lived closer to him, I would probably attend his church, because it would be a place I would feel is real.

There is this gravitational pull to not stray too far from what I was raised believing. I remember when I first started looking into Eastern Religions, and exploring some of the other ideas on the table, I was worried. I worried that it would hurt my dad, or that I was bringing down cosmic wrath on myself. It was my dad who told me that C. S. Lewis (the great Christian Apologist, writer of my favorite books of allegory, The Chronicles of Narnia, and one of the world’s best Christian Authors) had a love for The Tao. I felt a weight had been lifted. Dad never actually told me I shouldn’t seek out other belief systems. He felt confident that I would return to the path he had introduced me to.

This week I started reading Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God – and a line in the introduction felt like someone reading one of my diaries.

“I found that I was a failure as an atheist, too, for I could not cure myself of praying to a God I no longer believed in.”                  ~ Joanna Macy, Translator

We are spiritual beings. We have a hunger for enlightenment, for something to give us a sense of awe and beauty. We want to tremble in the stillness of knowing how small we are compared to something or someone so great as to require our devotion. We continue to seek no matter how disappointing our experience is with organized religion, we seek out other organizations hoping for a better reception. I have cried when I realized that they too were simply a group of people, who could and would disappoint me.

And then there is Geometry, and the Mathematical precision with which our world operates, and that, to me, is gorgeous, and worthy of awe. There are patterns that repeat endlessly in Nature. There is something sacred and eternal in that. I do not think any of it happens on its own just by chance. There is too much precision and perfection, too much striking beauty which fits the patterns, for it to be random.

So, I approach my skepticism with a sense of wonder. I do not stray too far from the ideas of my origin. I may have my own way of honoring my father and my mother, not with direct acceptance of everything they believe, but with devotion to them, and periodic orbits close to their thought lines. The gravitational pull of the home and love I grew up in, keeps me entertaining these ideas late into the night.

I guess I could wish no less from my own kids – that the things we instill in them, they will still be pondering many years from now. I hope the ideas we mull over together will keep them searching reverently throughout their lives for the place where sacred makes a difference for them, and that their lives are richer for the journey. I hope they never stop looking for ways to be better people, and I hope their ideas about God bring them closer to that concept and not further away.

photo from here

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