Since I’ve come off the sauce for Lent and can’t drink myself comatose every night before bed, I have of late found myself very restless come the (t)witching hour and, whilst I do everything I can to put off doing so, including over eating till I feel sick, watching TV till the wee hours and browsing the Daily Mail website (I know, really heinous), but on occasion I have been having the odd late night conversation with The Man.
I usually do it standing at the window looking at the moon, so it’s a good job I’m not on the ground floor as my neighbours already think I’m a bit loopy as it is. The cats mill around me, looking at each other anxiously, no doubt thinking ‘Who da fuck she talking to, blud?’ (they are very Sarf London, my boys) as I mumble away rather sheepishly not knowing if I should wait for an answer, say Amen or just tail off when I’m done.
Whilst I was brought up a Catholic, I’m not religious per se as I feel that in my experience, organised religions tend to divide and alienate rather than unite and bring together people nowadays. They also tend to attract the ‘holier than thou’ who use and hide behind their devoutness to prove their ‘goodness’, but don’t actually live by the commandments or tenets of said creed. Ironically such types are usually incapable of true, honest self examination and as such they are unable to identify and acknowledge their own light and shade (and we all have some darkness within us, folks!) so they end up being the most dangerous members of society of all. M Scott Peck’s ‘People of the Lie” addresses this subject beautifully and is recommended reading for anyone who is in an abusive relationship with such a person and needs clarification and/or a way out.
In one way, it’s a shame as whilst I hated going to mass when I was a kid, as an adult some of the things we were made to do now make perfect sense, especially when cross referencing with other religions/spiritual practices.
Weekly mass was actually a time to get away from all worldly distractions, like TV, radio, parents, siblings, and have some quiet time where, amongst other seekers, you can listen out for and touch base with the grace within yourself, have a think about how you are doing, what’s worrying you, things you’d like to change in yourself and others and share these thoughts with God.
Confession should have been time to chat with someone honestly, with complete candour and without any fear about where you might have fallen down, whom you might have wronged, why this might have happened, and have them talk you though it and put you on the right path again.
Fasting before mass was to put the body in a state where it is naturally more alert and receptive to the divine.
Giving things up for Lent proves to the seeker that these indulgences are less important then we think they are, and demonstrates how strong the body and psyche is when not bogged down with sugar, booze or other such stimulants.
Unfortunately it was never explained to me that way at the time. Instead it was all about being told you were a sinner, bad, useless, being hit, being told to shut up, to do as you were told, not ask stupid questions, in sum a culture of fear, punishment and shame.
It was also a shame that these so called holy people who’d given up their lives to follow Christ and spread the word did such a fucking abysmal job of it.
The biggest shame however is for the genuinely devout who follow organised religions who unfortunately tend to get tarred with the same brush.
That said, I don’t think preaching works; like most people I don’t like people trying to ram their beliefs down my throat, and I’ve had a couple of altercations with ‘God Botherers’ who aren’t content to be told that I believe in God and have a relationship with him; it has to be their God and I have to go with them and do it their way, and invariably I ended up telling them to fuck off and leave me alone. These kind of people also tend to have a desperation about them that makes me feel that they are clinging to their religion like a drowning person hanging onto a slippery rock, which means that they will blindly believe anything they are told and not intellectually think about, analyse and totally buy into what they claim to believe.
I’m a firm believer that when a person is ready they will seek their chosen path.
And it works. I have several atheist friends who know what I believe and I never bring my faith up for discussion, but more often than not, we end up talking about God, because they themselves have brought it up :-). Ha! In yo’ face biatches!
Whilst I have dubbed God ‘the Man’ in this piece, I reiterate that I haven’t got clue who he (she or it) is. It could be God, Buddha, Allah, Thor, Lakshmi, but I don’t actually care. I feel and have always felt that there is another greater, higher intelligence who exists alongside us, and I don’t think he/she/it cares what you call it either as long as you call it.
Incidentally before anyone pulls me up on it, I don’t for one minute think The Man gives a stuff that I cuss, because he knows my heart and that as much as I stumble, I really do try. He’d rather listen to my potty mouth than to a religious fanatic baying for blood, a priest seducing a child or a holy man calling for someone to be stoned to death any day of the week.
I also believe that, in the words of the late, great Dave Allen, that if there is a God, he’s bound to have a sense of humour 🙂 .
What I can never forget and always be grateful for is that the one time I called upon Him for help, and really meant it, He answered. It wasn’t for me, but what I was asking was audacious, unbelievable, so unlikely to happen, but it was like I knew it would work and it did. Nothing short of a miracle. In the fifteen years or so following I’ve never experienced anything like it since, but I do know he’s there; not too far, but bloody far away enough for me to get annoyed by his absence.
Sometimes I address the thin air and snap ‘Stop hovering and do something then! Give me a fucking clue!’
But he’ll only do stuff when he’s good and ready.
Hence the nickname, The Man. Typical.
Bedtime now, so’Goodnight and may your God go with you’ 🙂 .