Joys and Trials
I swore I'd never do a meme, but one probably should never say never. (I probably shouldn'ta swore either, but "should" and "shouldn't" have never been guiding principles for me). Confused? I am. What were we talking about??
Oh, yes. To get to the point, a few days ago Em tagged me with the "Joys and Trials Meme" and I have been thinking about what that means ever since. Here are the rules:
"You have to use your own belief system for the meme.
No fair using someone else’s to make a joke or satire.
Being humorous about your own religion is encouraged!
You have to have at least one joy and one trial. More are encouraged. And no, they don’t have to be equal in length, but please be honest.
You have to tag at least one other person. More are appreciated!
Please post these rules!"
I have to admit that I’m not exactly sure what this meme is really asking. I’ve visited a couple of the former tag-ee’s sites, and they seem to have answered in religious/spiritual terms. Unfortunately, it has been so long since I gave serious thought to just what my "religion" is, that I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around a clear enough picture of my spirituality to couch my answer to the meme appropriately. If I base my reply on my heart's feelings (rather than what might be my "soul's") then my Joys list includes (not necessarily in this order nor limited to):
Nature – living things, beauty, weather
People (or at least "good" people)
Going outside naked when it’s warm and windy
Words, images, songs
Good food and wine
Laughter and having fun
and my Trials list includes (not necessarily in this order nor limited to):
Nature – in particular, rats, voles, raccoons, woodchucks, hail, lightning and high winds, potato blight, Japanese Beetles, and sometimes deer
The degradation of nature
Fundamentalists of any sort
War and hatred and greed
A bit of background: My father was agnostic, my mother a Baptist. I was raised in her Baptist faith, but eventually decided that his agnosticism made more sense. Husband (who is Jewish) and I say grace every night, a grace that I learned when I was a young child and just never stopped saying:
We thank you for the food we eat,
We thank you for the friends we meet,
Thank you for our work and play,
And help us to be good all day. Amen.
It is perhaps an odd little ritual for two quite ripe adults, and it’s the only "religious" thing we do, but in its simplistic lines the basics are contained: thankfulness and the acknowledgement that being and doing good is right and proper.
I say this grace not because I believe in prayer as a way of communicating with a listening God (I don't), but as a reminder to myself of how fortunate I am and what I believe my human responsibilities ought to be. Grace is often followed by one of us asking the other (with a smile), “So, were you good today?” and then dinner is consumed as we discuss the events, experiences, accomplishments and trials of our respective days.
There are times when I feel that I am not a spiritual person at all. My belief that whatever power created this vast existence is unknowable is simply a rational thought. If that is the yang of me, then my yin is the deeply passionate belief that there is a purpose, a reason for and a connectedness of everything in the universe, not one living creature better, more important or chosen than another. In that context, my Joys list becomes:
The beauty and wonders of Mother Nature
The peace and happiness Love brings
The lessons of Time and Experience
The excitement of Creativity and Artistic Expression
The enrichment of my life by Friends, human and animal
And my Trials can be summed up in one:
People. Our arrogant, greedy, destructive, self-centered, irreverence for each other and – above all – for Mother Nature and all she encompasses, that which gave us life and sustains us. I am despondent over the degradation of the planet and the fact that so few people living today understand or care about the interconnectedness of the lives of humans with everything natural surrounding us. "Progress" and "economic growth" demand that we work to obliterate our very sustenance.
Yet, is there a god reigning over all that IS? Maybe. It does seem to me that there has to be some great unknowable power behind the mystery, but as Iris DeMent sings,
Everybody's wonderin' what and where they all came from.
Everybody's worryin' 'bout where they're gonna go when the whole thing's done.
But no one knows for certain and so it's all the same to me.
I think I'll just let the mystery be.
Thanks, Em, for giving me the opportunity to stand on my little soapbox for a few moments. I'm not sure I have answered appropriately, but I was honest. I tag Crabby - if she wants to accept the tag - (giving her full permission, if I may, to move the discussion away from the spiritual if she wants to...), and I leave you with this.