Friday, August 17, 2007

And another thing...

... about Beloved.

She gave me that book, which I so happily and greedily devoured this week. A book about a minister and her faith journey. And Beloved is, as I may have mentioned here already, an atheist. At least, that's what she says.

And yet she holds some ideas that don't quite go along with atheism. For example. When she was young (in her 20's) she was very ill, and went into a coma that lasted nearly a month. During that time she had a vivid experience of Jesus. She says that she saw him, that he looked like the Roman Catholic depictions in which the Sacred Heart is open and visible. And she felt a tremendous sense of peace emanating from him, as well as a sense of encouragement. She understood from him that she could choose her path: death, which was not frightening except for the fact of leaving her young daughter behind; or life, which entailed a long recovery and significant physical suffering. With his encouragement she chose life and recovery.

But it's all a fairy tale, and he's just a nice idea. She says.

Another belief she expressed recently floored me. She spoke of her mother, a less than ideal human being, and a stepfather who, if there is a hell, is surely roasting slowly on a spit (I hope). And she said, That's one thing I worry about, with respect to dying.

What's that? I asked.

Seeing them again, she replied. How awful that would be. The threat of that will keep me alive a very long time.

It is unfair, of course, for me to ask Beloved (or anyone, for that matter) to have consistency in the matter of her views on religion. I understand that about 33% of Americans believe in reincarnation. That means that a substantial number of Christians believe in it. Of all the things I've been tempted to believe, I have to admit... that's not one of them. But apparently a significant minority of Christians think that the transmigration of the soul is not inconsistent with Christian belief.

Beloved is understandably skeptical about religion. She thinks there are an awful lot of charlatans out there, preying on the gullible masses and doing lots of damage along the way. She thinks I'm alright... at least we know I'm not telling people that gays are an abomination unto the Lord. She thinks I'm more than alright, actually... she came to my church the Sunday after Christmas a couple of years ago, and heard me preach, just once. She told me it was very beautiful, and that I have a gift, and that she'll not be coming again.

That is fine with me. I don't need my lover to accept the tenets of my faith in order for us to be together. I hope that we knit together something fine, my faith and trust in God and in her, and hers in me and in her skepticism. I hope that together we can see more clearly than either of us can see alone. I hope that, through me, God can show her a Christianity that celebrates who she is and offers welcome at love's table, should she ever decide to come back.


Cynthia said...

I needed to read this today. The very spiritual womanchild has declared herself an atheist. My spiritual path has been more corkscrewed than I ever thought possible. I know she's young, and that her beliefs are evolving. We're stumbling through not trodding on each other's beliefs. I hope to show the loving Christ who sustains and nurtures me and the world, but it's not always easy.

Anonymous said...

There you go again, c, touching on parallels....

I'm an atheist, as I think you know. My BP is a Roman Catholic. She and I agree to disagree on religion. But I know that she would love me to find faith. (As would the folks over at Jake's, who obviously want to convert me, especially for some reason this week...!) Understanding this faith thing explains a lot of why I hang out on these religion-oriented sites.

I was raised RC, but came to realize it was empty and meaningless to me. I honestly do not believe there is anything other than what we have here, and after death, we are all fodder for worms. Unlike your beloved, I have had no spiritual experiences.

I think that two intelligent, loving people can find a way to live with this rather profound difference but it takes generosity and understanding. I try to support my partner in all her Catholic doings. I have been to her church a few times, for her kids' confirmations, but as she is cloested there, I'm only "a family friend". I listened at the last mass I went to when the youngest was confirmed and felt....nothing. Nada. Just a clinical interest in the proceedings.

Can you do it? Yes, as long as you respect one another. She may come to believe more. Or she may not, and when you are finally out, that may be a further burden you bear: a lesbian pastor with an atheist spouse.

But your love seems amazing, and I think will endure even this.


RevDrKate said...

It seems that these reflect acts of true faith and love for you both. Very powerful.

LittleMary said...

this is just one thing that amazes me about you. what a beautiful post this morning. on a date the other night she asked if i needed my partner to believe what i believed. is said no, but i would like to worship together, i would like my faith to be increased, i would like her to be on her own path. and i guess that could even be atheism, although i wonder if it would get a bit lonely after awhile...but i am younger and you already have kids, i swear that is a big part of it. thank you for this though.

Jan said...

I am touched by her near death experience. Thank you for sharing that. Words don't matter as much as the Love that is felt and shared.

Joni said...

I am browsing, but intent to come back and fully read... just wanted to share with you my pastor's blog.. while he challenges and goes against the flow.. he is authentic to who he is. A lot of athiests actually come and join in on the conversations, etc.

his blog is