Writing prompt: If you’ve lost trust in someone before, describe the experience.
I grew up Catholic, from a Catholic family and went to Catholic school. I’m not religious. I have a great story about how I came to that but will leave that for another time.
I happily exist in this godless life without spiritual complaint. But when contrasted with the tradition in which I grew up, there is something that I miss from that time. Within the community of the Church, there is a structure that I don’t have now. Not just the structure of ritual, of the communion and holidays, but in the structure of the practicing of faith. Faith provides a framework of forgiveness.
As an atheist, I am not beholden to a higher judgement. Or am I?
In living your life you come to recognise that the values you hold require something of you. Like any act of integrity you are obliged to commit to them. For many, those values are in line with their Faith. The faithful are required to report in to their higher judgement, through confession, communion and prayer, lest they be judged before the Kingdom of Heaven.
The faithless don’t have this check in. For an atheist to commune with their spirituality, we have to create our own higher judgement.
This is what I’ve come to learn in my 30’s. I yearn for the connection to spirituality through my community like how I was taught growing up. I don’t possess the central tenet of that teaching, of faith, to enact it.
Instead, I have had to come up with something else. The first chapter of my career saw me working side by side with death. From this experience I was able to develop an outlook from the opposite end of my life, despite my young age at the time.
Infused in my acts I ask myself to be responsible to myself on my deathbed. To ask myself if I lived my life with integrity, in accordance to my values. If I acted with kindness when I was shown disrespect. If I acted with patience when I was shown selfishness. If I forgave when my trust was damaged.
Is it harder to stay accountable this way? To be honest, I don’t know. I can’t speak to the difficulty of the faithful to commit to their integrity under the eyes of a higher judgement. But I suspect that it is made easier to achieve by being supported by the community around them.
So, just like the faithful are strengthened by those around them, I am too. I am beholden to the humanity that surrounds me. I have a role to play in the world I want to see. It is small, but it counts.
How do you practice your spirituality? Share with me in the comments.