Wednesday, January 7, 2015
UU Adult RE: Spirit in Practice #1
Reflect on your lifelong spiritual journey.
Well, that's what this blog kinda sorta started out as. I needed somewhere to put my thoughts down about finally breaking free of being Jehovah's Witness. Many things that I've said before will probably be repeated here but this is an assignment so...whatever.
What did you learn about practicing spirituality as a child?
Not a damn thing! JW is not a study in spirituality. To me, spirituality is a private thing; one has to find the beginnings of it from within. As a JW, you are told what to believe and if you disagree, you get kick out if you don't conform or get badgered (read: brainwashed) until you do agree.
JW is a Christian sect. Lots of doctrines to remember and points of the Bible to argue with other Christian sects. I suppose I should be grateful that I know something about America's majority belief system. I missed out on everything that normal childhoods consist of since I was a "born-in": birthdays, ALL holidays, extracurricular activities, picking my own friends --JW only, everyone else is "worldly", Saturday morning cartoons, going to college, dating. We were told that only JW is "The Truth" and everyone else will get destroyed at Armageddon. Sounds elitist, right?
I was baptized at 17, a year after I had my daughter. I felt forced because I was made to feel like a failure for having a child out of wedlock. People in the congregation would not even look at me when I was pregnant and would console my mother as if someone just died. I felt no different when I came up out of the water. No connection to Jehovah, no ray of sun from the ceiling, just an awful feeling that I just made a huge mistake. At age 21, I was shunned for being pregnant out of wedlock.
How have your spiritual needs changed?
Where do I begin? After trying through the years trying to go back to JW, my mother who doesn't speak to me was the one who made me see that that religion was no longer for me. She said to me in an email, "I love you but I love Jehovah more." I cannot imaging telling either of my children something like that. From that point on, I started doing research for a spiritual home. I was non-denominational Christian but I didn't understand why a Savior or Mediator was needed to get to God. A co-worker introduced me to Nichiren Buddhism and from there I found my way to Paganism.
I wanted to find somewhere to practice and to meet people. The Buddhist sangha was too far and honestly turned out to be somewhat similar to my old religion. Wiccan covens required an invitation from a current member. I can't remember what led me to Unitarian Universalist, maybe a Beliefnet quiz? A Google search turned up a congregation close to me and the rest as they say is history.
My spirituality needs to be on my own terms. I'm an agnostic deist - I cannot say for sure there is a God but I choose to believe there is one. My belief is based in science and logic, not a holy book. I'm an eclectic Pagan, a solitary witch.
What practices have you engaged in at different points in your life? What practices might speak to your ideas and needs as they are today?
As a child, I went door-to-door trying to convince people that they are wrong and we are right. Meetings were 3x a week. Family study night was another night. And we were suppose to study on our own for all of the meetings. A minimum of 10 hrs door-to-door was strongly suggested.
Now, I follow the natural cycles of the sun and moon (and realize the Gregorian calendar lacks any connection to nature). Chanting was a part of my practice; I could return to that. Other items of spiritual interest are sidereal astrology, tarot, I-Ching, the Divine Feminine / Triple Goddess, and the Egyptian pantheon.
My goal this year is to get through the tarot (by solar month) and I-Ching (by lunar month). Ugh, I'm already behind. Thank Goddess for backdating!