I believe in God.
A statement like that can trigger a whole host of reactions. Our relationship, or lack thereof, with the Divine is so personal. So particular to each of us. Yet the way the word God gets used can cause everything from your basic quiet acrimony to divorce, to violent discrimination, to full-on war.
So let me tell you what I mean by God, starting with what I don’t mean. I don’t mean an imaginary man in the sky. I don’t mean a God affiliated with any religion. I don’t mean Jesus, Yahweh, Allah, nor Vishnu, Krishna, Lakshmi nor any of the other Hindu gods or goddesses—although I respect the teachings of all of them. At their essence, all religions have beautiful wisdom and guidance to offer us, should we choose to explore their doctrines. What I mean by believing in God is sensing a benevolent force surrounding us. Some refer to this as Spirit. The Light. The Divine. Source.
I have friends and clients who have sworn off believing in a benevolent force when something unthinkably horrific happens to someone they love. How can I believe in a caring God when this heinous murder happened? This brutal act of terrorism? These are real and painful questions, impossible to answer for anyone else. Some people find a deeper comforting relationship with the Divine in the aftermath of trauma and loss, some move decisively to atheism. To each his or her own. We all need to make sense of our lives in our own way.
At times in my life, I have lost my connection with the sense of a benevolent force, and found myself wondering if I made the whole thing up. Other times, I have felt it dimly, and pined for more, not knowing quite how to turn up the dial. And then there are the phases I love most, when I feel my body humming with some energy that is more than just me and my skeleton and organs and cell tissue. I feel held, guided. Connected. That’s what I mean when I say God, the connection to what feels like Source Energy.
As I age, I notice for myself what enhances this connection, and try to do more of it. For me, it is as simple as having space and time. Space and time to reflect. To meditate or walk in the woods. To do yoga. To go hear live music. To laugh my head off—with friends, or while watching hilarious comedy. Something about this Divine Energy has a real levity to it. A sense of humor, born of perspective, scope, that prevents me from taking myself and my life so damn seriously. Check out the Dalai Lama next time you get the chance. He sometimes laughs so hard he has to take off his glasses and wipe his eyes. The next moment he is in deep reverent meditation. And a few minutes later, talking about the pain of exile. Then something strikes his funny bone again and on come the giggles.
How does connection to the Divine allow for the whole range of human emotion, the acceptance of all of human experience? What does that have to do with spirituality? For me, it has something to do with the sense of being held, which loosens me up. I get uptight when I think I’m running this whole show on my own. My shoulders rise, my neck tightens. Sometimes my hands even start to grip, as if I am holding reins, or the imaginary steering wheel. When I remember—or even better, deeply sense—that there is something way more than little ole me in charge here, I soften. And when I soften, I allow. Allow for the tears, the giggles, and everything in between. That’s what I mean by believing in God. I mean tapping into the grace that allows me to surrender to all that is.