Many of my atheist friends are uncomfortable with the word miracle. It’s because most folks perceive miracles as being the result of a personified deity. A brief personal religious history: I’ve identified as Catholic, Christian, Buddhist, Humanist, Atheist, and Agnostic at different points in my life. As of now, I like the terms Naturalist, Seeker, or Humanist. This angers people. Especially those who are threatened by different belief systems. They want to group me in a box as someone who thinks like them or someone who doesn’t. They can’t deal with someone floating outside of the boxes.
I tend to relate best to Atheists and Agnostics. But I have religious friends who have redefined God in a way that describes what I believe in. Many of the sisters have an evolved view of God that allows me to discuss God and Faith with them without feeling like a fraud. For example, some people define God as love or positive energy. Right on. I just can’t shake the patriarchal, violent etymology behind God. The term makes me uncomfortable. I associate it with guilt, abuse, and fear. I don’t know that I’ll ever be comfortable using that three-letter word to define my own spiritual beliefs. My experience living with nuns has helped me be more comfortable in my own beliefs. It healed me enough to have compassion for those who do not think like me. I used to be jealous of people of faith. So many of them are unaware that not everyone can make themselves believe what’s comfortable. Because I was not treated with compassion or respect when I disagreed with some religious folks, I didn’t think they deserved it back. I now understand intolerance stems from fear. And how sad it must be to feel so threatened by someone who doesn’t agree with you. I’ve lived in that sort of fear. It’s miserable. I hope by being able to reclaim some of the religious language, I will be able to have more honest and open dialogues with people of all beliefs. There’s something spiritual in respectful conversations about beliefs. When neither party is defensive, we can learn and grow so much from one another.
I’m reclaiming the word miracle, because it embraces mystery. Lately, I’ve been capturing photos of pine cones in different stages of growth. Pine cones are miraculous. I can’t believe I ever took their growth for granted. Watching the brown cap form over the new bunch of pine needles, and then slowly develop into a pine cone is mind blowing. Wildflowers are miracles too. Hopefully the photos capture some of the joy these things bring me. Still loving life.