When I was a girl, my God was a kind God, a benevolent God. My mother taught me that our God loved all, that our God was made of pure light, life, and energy. My mother taught me that the universe was energetic, that we each have a soul within us, that we are more than what we are. When I was a girl, I spoke with that God, I sang to that God, I trusted that God with all my heart, with that trust particular to children, a wholehearted trust, a devout trust.
When I was a young adult, my indecision permeated my spirituality. I was a skeptic believer, a believing skeptic—perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps there's a God or perhaps there are gods, perhaps there's more to this world than meets the eye. Perhaps there's some metaphysical realm beyond our own, perhaps there's a heaven, perhaps there's a hell. Without proof, how could anyone be sure? Without proof, how could I be sure? Some people take a leap of faith, but I prefer to keep my feet on the ground, firmly planted, secure. Some people take a leap of faith, but I am afraid of heights.
When I grew older, my skepticism enveloped me. How could I believe without evidence, why should I believe without reason? I knew that I did not know what I did not know, but knowledge is power and power is not easily won. I allowed for the possibility of the metaphysical, the magical, I arrived at a firm neutrality regarding religion. I hated religion for the interpersonal harm it caused, for the battles it sparked, but I loved religion for the hope it gave to the hopeless, for the strength it gave to the weak.
When I grew older still, my opinions shifted toward severity, the moral calculus inside my head carried me to where I am today. I do not know if there is a God, if there are gods, if there is more than meets the eye. I do not know if we have souls, if we have spirits, if we live in an energetic universe. I do not know, no one knows. How could I know, how could they know?
I do not know, and I cannot make decisions founded upon uncertainty. Knowledge is power and power ought to be built slowly, built surely, built respectfully and with care. I do not know and I cannot sympathize with decisions that harm humans for the sake of a supernatural deity. I do not know, and neither does anyone else, and I respect everyone's right to believe in what they wish, so long as they cause no harm to others.
I do know that I love humanity. I do know that I am fascinated by human potential, amazed by human capability. I feel great sorrow at the human ability for cruelty and harm, I feel great hope at the human ability for compassion and kindness. I am not an atheist, not quite. I am simply unsure and cautious, an indecisive agent with rational values and a great care for living beings.
I do not need spiritual salvation, for I have found my religion in the warm embrace between lovers, the laughter shared between friends, the connections between family, the feeling of belonging. I have found my spirituality in the momentary eye contact I share with strangers, in the peculiar and wonderful realization that every person has their own life, their own story.
I will live and love this life I have, I will be kind and caring, I will make decisions based on my understanding of humanity, I will honor justice and fairness and equality. I don't need religion to be moral, all I need is the knowledge that I am not alone and that my actions have consequences for others. I will live my life morally, ethically, happily.
After, my heart will no longer beat, my veins will no longer pump blood throughout my body. My neurons will no longer fire, my body will no longer digest. My eyes will no longer see, my ears will no longer hear. I will shut my eyes and slip away into oblivion. I will cease to exist. There is neither heaven nor hell, neither afterlife nor reincarnation—not for me, anyway. Maybe there is a new world for those who wish it, but the end I hope for is a quiet end, a peaceful end.
May we all find the peace we desire.