I gave up God many years ago. Like most people, I was brought up in a religion–Judaism in my case–that defined God through holy books. The holy books were read and defined according to traditions, and religious leaders. With rare exceptions, I saw two types of religious leaders: One type were the social directors. Friendly but without much in the way of deeper spiritual understanding. I rarely saw or heard God from them except in a superficial way.
Then there were the fundamentalists, obsessed about what they read in the Bible. They loudly proclaim their belief in God, but what I saw more was adherence to what they and their teachers said the Bible (you can substitute Torah, Koran, Bhagavad Gita or whatever) instructed. Since I could not ultimately abide by the rigidity and some of the dictates I was told came from God–most intently because I am Gay, but not only that–I felt guilty, dirty and unworthy. Giving up came a bit later. I decided that if these were God’s words, I had to reject him.
Actually, what I rejected was this external, Father in the Sky, a Zeus redone image of the ultimate, male authority over all existence. Given all the suffering in the world, I thought as others have said, if God even existed, he was a f**k-up. So forget him.
Over many years and some drugs I should add, I did find something, a sense of the universal connections in existence. I also discovered Buddhist meditation, a process of stilling the mind’s many distractions to better perceive things as they actually are. Meditation became my central practice, a way of opening to the imperfection of existence with less judgment, of recognizing my own distortions as well as others, so that I could see beyond them with compassion. At the same time, I became more aware of the wonders of existence, the beauty around me.
More recently, I became involved with Unity San Francisco. My husband Allen got involved first. I went occasionally, finding it OK, but not inspiring. Then I heard the Reverend Sonya Milton speak. She spoke Truth. It wasn’t just the humor, the stories or even the insights she shared. She was real, human, working with mistakes to retakes, and relating with her congregation showing humor, respect and caring. Rather than playing reverend either as The Authority or The Entertainer, she was authentically attentive and present.
Unity believes in one God, many paths. It holds the Devine as the benevolent universal connection between all existence. The emphasis is on the inner connection to God, Buddha Nature, the Universe, Jesus Christ, Allah, heck you can name it Goofy if that works for you. Yet Unity also recognizes the connection with the outer Devine as well, not as a judging authority but as the loving, fundamental force behind existence.
The inclusiveness of Unity and authenticity of Reverend Sonya is what drew me in. Reverend Sonya has recently retired. Wanting to get more involved, I took the training to become a prayer chaplain, something that seemed very strange to me at first. I will write about that later. Fundamentally, I have found a way to reclaim God as the living, vibrant, connecting force both within and without me.