For the last year, ever since my mom's health took a sharp downturn, I've been my dad's ride to Florence Congregational Church on Sundays. That community has been important for my dad and the weekly outing with me was something he always looked forward to and enjoyed, so I didn't mind taking him there. It meant giving up attending my own Quaker meeting for the duration, but I had already been questioning whether silent waiting worship was working for me. I was ready for a sabbatical.
A month ago, my dad was Section-Twelved into a geriatric psych hospital when his dementia started to make him emotionally volatile. I had been visiting him every day at his assisted living facility which was right on my way home from work, but the hospital was almost an hour away. I didn't see him at all for three weeks, and when I did visit him there, it actually took me a couple of seconds to recognize him. He was slumped forward in a wheel chair, looking v…
Since I began describing myself as a Quaker Pagan, I run into people who are suspicious of my claim to be both Quaker and Pagan. To these folks, Peter and I look like spiritual cheats, trying to sneak fifteen items through the clearly labeled Twelve Item Express Lane of a spiritual life.
“Cafeteria spirituality,” I’ve heard it described, expressing the notion that my husband and I are picking and choosing only the tastiest morsels of either religion, like spoiled children loading our plates with desserts, but refusing to eat our vegetables.
This isn’t the case. The term “cafeteria religion” implies imposing human whims over the (presumably) sacred norms of religion. But Peter and I are both/ands not out of personal preference, but because we were called to our religion… twice. By two different families of Spirit.
I can explain this best through my own story.
I became a Pagan out of a childhood of yearning to be in relationship with nature, magic, and the glimmers of the numinous I fou…
I love where I live; since moving to our new home four years ago, I've been able to build a relationship with a piece of land for the first time since I was a child. It's everything a dirt-worshipping Pagan could ask for. I have a garden, and I grow much of my own food, and that is as much a spiritual delight as a taste treat. And I have woods again as neighbors: glacial boulders, white pines and black birches, owls and white-tailed deer.
And the bears eat my lettuce.
I'm not kidding about that. Oh, it's winter now, and the bears are huddled up in their dens. But this past spring, I grew lettuce. Award winning, gorgeous lettuce: three different kinds! They were nourished to extraordinary size and succulence by the cool, wet weather we had, and each night, I would gather just a few outer leaves, knowing that careful tending would mean tasty salads for months.
And then, over the course of three days, the bears ate every single one of my lettuce plants…