The Season of Love

Christmas 1959 (from left to right, Bob, Dad, me, Jayne, Mom, Anne)

A friend sent me a wonderful commentary on the holiday season the other day, which basically said, I don’t care what religion you are, or I am, if you extend to me a holiday greeting, I will wish you one back; that expressing love is the important thing, not what we call ourselves. I could not agree more. No group of human beings has a monopoly on God or an “inside track” to the Divine.

I was raised as a Catholic, left the church in my 20’s and spent a number of years, first rejecting the idea of God altogether, and then searching for a concept of God that was unifying not dividing, accepting not critical, uplifting not condemning, available to everyone not exclusive.

It was a long road for me….from my head to my heart.

Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” Gilbert K. Chesterton

14 thoughts on “The Season of Love”

  1. I was raised as a Catholic too, went through a similar journey looking for God, and I couldn’t agree more with you and Chesteron. Let our hearts, not our heads, be the guide.

  2. Good morning, Mary and all…this would make a good Christmas Card. I think I will “Forward” it to everyone on my holiday list: the picture & the sentiment.

    P.S. I just looked up the dictionary definition for the word “sentiment”…..
    SENTIMENT: the emotional import of a passage as distinguished from the
    words used.

    from, Mary Rita Scott

    1. Thank you for the blessing, Mary Rita. I grew up in a Methodist (now United Methodist) family; but as many people do, I began to question when I was in college. I married a United Methodist minister and together we asked our questions, which sometimes got us into trouble with his congregations. After he retired, we found a Unitarian Universalist fellowship where we were not only encouraged to ask questions–which was electrifying to us–but also were listened to with respect and compassionate understanding.

      Choosing what to say on holiday greeting cards became more and more difficult as our minds became more open and our thinking more inclusive. A few years ago I wrote this “sentiment,” which comes close to describing where I am spiritually:

      “As the Christmas /Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice season
      comes and goes
      and the New Year approaches,
      we wish you:
      the strength to meet any challenge,
      the joy of knowing you are loved,
      the satisfaction of rendering service,
      and the peace of a quiet heart.”

      1. Jean, I love this sentiment! It says it all about what is truly important. So glad you shared this with us all. Many thanks.

  3. “…..and then searching for a concept of God that was unifying not dividing, accepting not critical, uplifting not condemning, available to everyone not exclusive.”

    Mary, you’ve just about summed up my concept of ‘religion’ in my life. I’m not even sure I like the word ‘religion’ because it has so many awful connotations to me that have historically represented strife, wars, extreme behaviours. I believe that there are many gods to many people. For however homo sapiens came to be on this earth, we’ve struggled to make reason of it spiritually. Some worshipped gods, some worshipped the sun, moon, wind, water, all to the same end….of coping with life and trying to make sense of it. ‘In the name of religion’ to me usually means dominance of one over the other. At the moment here in Southern Ontario we are witnessing a trial in which father, mother, son in late teens are accusing of orchestrating or being responsible for the deaths of daughters and a former wife through their drowning in a car which was pushed into a lock in the Rideau Canal, Kingston, Ontario. They are Muslim. It is referred to as an ‘honor killing’. I’m sure there are many Muslims who look on in horror as well as this trial unfolds.

    The tableau of your family photo is the image of ‘family’ which I grew up with…comforting…a mother, a father, siblings, though I had none, but knowing that this was ‘family’. Life has become very fragmented for kids these days with divorce.

    Thanks for another insightful thought for today.

    SandyP, in Canada

  4. My spiritual path has been a bumpy one and I’m still not where I am comfortable. I agree Mary, there are many ways to find comfort and “religion” as long as they are not harmful I am willing to give people the space to have their own. I grew up in a Jewish community although my family was “unchurched” I always envied my friends their faith. My brother became a Baptist minister and I have a cousin that is a Catholic priest. I don’t find much comfort in either. I wish we could all just accept each other and make religion a love affair! (what a wonderful thought) Thank you Mary Rita for the lovely blessing.

  5. Unifying, uplifting, accepting, available…love…you searched for this in your concept of God, then shared it here for us to find. For this is also a perfect description of your blog and how I feel as part of the White Feather family…beautiful message…beautiful picture…beautiful family. What a wonderful gift you give us…Thank you…Much love.

  6. Does anyone read The Sun Magazine? It is a wonderful magazine devoted to essays, beautiful photography (magazine is always in black and white, NO advertisements, and has managed to be around for over 25 years!) Anyway, the interview of the month is titled: Beyond Belief, Jacob Needleman on God Without Religion – and it is excellent! Right along the lines of what you shared today Mary. Here is a link:
    If I shared this before, please excuse – but again, I love my Dictionary of Word Origins and love to think of the word religion this way: re as a prefix always connotes a return, a going back to, and the other part of the word religion is from the Latin, “ligare” – think of the ligaments in your legs, for example – what binds us all, what makes us yearn for a God or whatever one wants to call it, is to me, basically the ‘tie that binds’, the one we sense, can’t quite put a name on, but it is there. And it cannot be severed. I like to think of God’s love as an umbilical cord which is never severed unlike the one that must be upon our birth. We may not acknowledge Him, but He will never deny us, for we are ALL His children. We just come to Him by different paths, or maybe we feel lost completely, off any path at all, but we are still loved, and never forgotten. If His eye is on the sparrow, then surely it is on each and every one of us. Blessings to all.

  7. Wow, Mary, we are on the same wave length today (as well as others, I see). I just posted about religion on my blog today as well. Recently I did an appearance at a catholic school with my dog Frankie and a parent asked me afterwards if I was catholic. I was caught off guard and realized how we can hold shame in not going with the “norm.” But I gathered myself quite quickly and the conversation unfolded in a way in which I felt proud.
    I don’t consider myself a religion, but rather a person growing in my own spirituality– not always easy for me to admit that– but I get stronger every day in standing tall in who I am. Not to say I knock religion, as I don’t. Whatever works for everyone is what I say do– if it is who you are and brings you peace, that is what it is all about.
    I’m so glad I found your blog. I’m really enjoying your posts immensely.

  8. The picture of your family is beautiful, Mary, and makes me nostalgic for times gone by.

    Your description of your involvement and then non-involvement with religion mirrors mine exactly. I have come, after the whole of my life thus far, to realize that my faith is home made. Over the years I have used and discarded various ingredients in my search for my soul and my truth, and have come to a spiritual peace that has been created by selective blending. Your blog has been a major gift to me, as to so many others, and is adding to my spiritual life.

    Blessings to you and to our whole feathered family in this season that was meant to allow peace and good will to shine forth. Love you all.

  9. Dear Mary,
    Thank you for this opportunity to hear of others’ struggles with religion. We are buffeted from so many sources about what is right and what we should or should not be doing. thinking, feeling, that it is liberating to hear many points of view.
    I value all of the responses, and I especially resonate with Suzanne’s “selective blending” to create our own spiritual peace.
    Let’s all go forth and spread a season of love.
    From Fran

  10. Oh Mary, I have the exact same hairstyle with the bangs and headband in my ancient Christmas Cards!
    In the Spirit, Cindy

  11. Oh Mary, how I wish more people in the world felt the way you, and so many of your readers, do about religion. It all comes down to love.

    Holiday blessings to all!

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