This Isn’t My Religion, But My Whole Life

I have had some crappy luck lately.  Things that look promising sour unexpectedly. Things aren’t quite going in the direction I want them to go.

Regardless, I still practice my faith. I still believe. I still pray, pour libations, and burn incense. I still celebrate the holy days. Having a bad month doesn’t mean my gods have abandoned me, or that my faith is one of false superstition. It means I am having a bad month.

I don’t believe in Providence. I don’t think we give up our entire lives to the gods and trust they will provide. I also believe in moderation, and that too much devotion can be a bad thing. Martyrdom, obsession, and asceticism are frowned upon. A good life filled with both pleasure and virtue is the aim. Drink but do not become a drunkard. Eat without being a glutton. Pray but keep your powder dry.

A major life goal for me has been to repay, or pay forward, the kindness I have received in my life. Today, the gods changed my plans by giving me the option of doing just that. Not in the way I expected, but by giving me the time and flexibility to help a friend in need. Rather than giving me the things for which I asked for their aid, they are giving me something which fits my values and makes me very happy.

Nothing in my life is how I would have anticipated it. There is no way I could have predicted the people and places in my life that have so much meaning for me now. I am surrounded by love, friendship, and kindness. I couldn’t be more blessed. But the greater blessing is being able to return this love, friendship, and kindness. Not out of martyrdom, but out of mutual respect and hospitality.

There has been some discussion lately about what role religion and the gods play in our lives. The problem is in the question. These values and beliefs, these sacred relationships with both the divine and our fellow mortals, this IS our lives. This is what we breathe and eat and sleep. Not as a monk praying in his cell, or as a fanatic who cannot function in society, but as living beings embodying what we hold as sacred.

One day I will begin building my prosperity in order to help others with my abundance and help build infrastructure for my coreligionists. But right now I am so happy and blessed I can repay the kind hospitality I have been given. In the most holistic way imaginable, I am embodying my faith. This is not separate from me. Not a hobby or an interest. This is my life.

This isn’t my religion. This is my life.

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