I can't remember the last time I attended mass. Or accepted the Eucharist. Or went to confession.
I guess I'm trying to make up for my religious neglect, at least in part, by giving up desserts for Lent. And by pledging to exercise every single day. I believe that one of the best ways to honor God is to honor the bodies he gave us, and it's my hope that by Easter, I will be both physically and spiritually healthier.
Sometimes I miss the days of my childhood religion. I miss accepting everything because it was taught to me. I miss the comfort of knowing God would hear my quietest prayer and the faith of knowing that when I die, I'll be with the people I loved while on earth.
It's not that I no longer believe in those things. Most of the time, I do. But I feel like lately, my faith has wavered even more, to the point where I rarely stop to pray -- or if I do, it's mechanical -- and I've been questioning things more than ever.
I miss blind faith. I miss believing that blind faith was not ignorance but instead true wisdom.
Today, while at Arabica on my lunch break, I noticed a group of 3 people poring over some texts. I soon surmised that they were reading the Bible, specifically a passage about the construction of the temple. This portion of the Bible interests me greatly, and as I finished my mac-n-cheese (no meat on Fridays), I was greatly tempted to approach their table and ask if I could join their discussion.
Yes, they were 3 strangers. Yes, my interruption may have been unwelcome to them and embarassing to me. But they seemed friendly enough: an older lady and two guys around my age, probably a little younger. I almost mustered the courage to join them. I craved something spiritual so badly.
But as I eavesdropped on them for a bit longer, I was disheartened by their conversation. They weren't delving into the word of God. They were talking about the measurements of the temple as if those were the most important things. I heard "cubits" spoken at least a dozen times, and they were performing multiplication facts repeatedly to determine exactly how much of the tabernacle was covered by the curtain, etc. I'm sure precise measurements have a place in restoring the true appearance of the temple. But they went on and on for literally twenty minutes. Cubits. Curtains. Numbers. "No, it was 20 times 12, not 8 times 10", etc, etc, etc.
I cleared my tray and left the coffeeshop. My momentary gusto for joining a religious conversation was extinguished by their seemingly senseless chatter.
Maybe that's why people get so frustrated with religion. There's this focus on nit-picky details, and on all the nuances of those details, until eventually the details become the heart and soul of the religion rather than the issues that really matter.
I guess details like "no meat on Friday" and "give up something you like for Lent" are nit-picky. But I'm not doing those things because I'm "supposed to." I'm doing them because I want to. I want so very much to reconnect with the spirituality of my younger years. And if giving up cakes and cookies will help me along that path, then I openly welcome the change.
And maybe at some point I'll stumble upon another religious conversation at a coffeeshop (or anywhere) that's actually meaningful. Or maybe I'll start one.