What does the word God mean to you? For some people, the minority I think, their brain waves probably don’t even stir at the word.
For me, the word raises up so many strong emotions. I can imagine the brain waves are flashing red now, albeit much less than they used to.
I was brought up in a Catholic family and community. I was taken to mass every single weekend, no exceptions. Forced into hard seats and listening to a man telling me how to live my life.
And if I wasn’t “good” I would go to hell and be punished. Fear and guilt were ingrained in all the messaging.
Churches in my experience are cold, dark and devoid of love. They are filled with ornate riches that most of its congregation can never afford. Each wall is decorated with paintings of pain and sorrow, that apparently man has created for himself. Women do not exist in the religion other that the Virgin Mary. The Virgin! The only woman is pure, that is the view of the church, procreate and be pure.
In Ireland the Church and State were intertwined. Let me explain how much impact that has on you as a child – your schooling is heavily influenced by the church. We said the midday Angeles (prayers) in school, stopping class to say it. We said it again In our home at 6pm (and this still happens in some homes). An integral part of the school curriculum is to prepare for communion and confirmation at the ages of seven and eleven. Both rituals are to welcome a young adult into the Catholic Church. Every child prepares for months for those rituals. The teachers drilled into us the prayers, when to stand, sit, kneel at which part. They had to, as the local priest, bishop and parents expected it. Perfection! You just hoped that you didn’t drop anything or get a fit of the giggles!
God for me is synonymous with men and the masculine. The domineering, stern male figure, surrounded by twelve male disciples, telling man what to do. It is masculine energy of a young man who has done no wrong being fixed to a cross, with thorns on his head, dragged and bleeding to his death.
A woman would never write that story. She would talk of kindness, light, love and peace.She would use words, stories and talk about the emotions of life. The story would be so different.
There would be forgiveness, understanding and the release of any guilt or shame.
I do believe in, for the want of a better word, a higher being. I prefer a genderless, kind and loving presence. I refer to this presence as the Universe or sometimes Mother Nature. The name is not as relevant as knowing that we are here to be kind to ourselves and to each other. To be at peace within ourselves and our world.
I do chuckle at myself, and the irony is not lost on me, I have shifted away from Catholicism to another unknown, unseen belief.
This time it feels though it is different. There is no worshipping. There is gratitude, and an overwhelming feeling of positivity, light, joy and peace.