I am not a religious person. I could be called spiritual, in a perhaps strange and complicated way. On an intellectual level I am an Atheist, but on an emotional level, I am (sort of) an Animist–I identify closely with Taoism. I do not believe in some Intelligence or Will directing the course of the universe, and neither do I believe in souls or spirits or supernatural beings. At the same time, I do have a sense of the sacred (which I do not confuse with the “Divine”) in all of Existence and Life itself. I do not ritually worship anything, yet I live daily with a deep appreciation and love for all things. I do not believe in Good or Evil, but instead in neutrality, where perception and necessity convert events into nuanced greys.
I was raised to be a skeptic by ex-Mormon parents, who nonetheless allowed my flirtation with religious practice in my adolescent years: at various times between the years of 15 and 17, I wanted to be Jewish, Catholic, and Wiccan. I spent the vast majority of my childhood and adolescence surrounded by devout Mormons and their pervasive subculture. I sometimes wonder how that conflict between my parent’s latent antipathy towards their former Church and my near-constant immersion among them affected my religious and spiritual development.
My parents and my sister are now all practicing Episcopalians. None are dogmatic conformists in the interpretation of their faiths, but I nonetheless find myself sometimes bewildered by this new-found religiousity. Though they have been churchgoers for a few years now, I still find it strange that they, who once were staunchly not, now are. But I can see that their new beliefs give them a sense of direction and belonging, and that is always a good thing. In that sense, religion has its purpose, and for those who need it, it is a valuable source of spiritual comfort.
Perhaps the spiritual exploration of my teen years guided me to the realization that I do not need religion or dogma or ritual to get that spiritual comfort. At some point, I knew that the entirety of existence was sacred, and that the act of living was itself an act of worship. I don’t need to complicate Living with acts of ritual. Everyday I live, and I live knowing that every living thing is part of my congregation; that we all worship together. There is no need for the Divine to validate my existence or provide me reason for being. My spiritual comfort is in knowing that it is enough for me to know that I am.