I’m not what anyone would call a religious person. I was raised in a catholic household, but do not practice the religion. Or any religion. Being spiritual but not religious (and sometimes identifying more with the agnostic persuasion) puts me in a small group of people who don’t identify with any religion, but live our lives by simply trying to be good people. We make our own fate. We go after the things we want or need without asking a higher power for guidance. We try, but don’t always succeed, in giving as much as we take. When something bad happens, we try to do more than send thoughts and prayers to help (not that thoughts and prayers are a bad thing).
It’s simple really. I’ve found peace with it over the years. Wanting to see the world, but tired of trying to find a travel companion, I started traveling by myself. The solitude brought me peace of mind that I was never able to find before.
The Grand Canyon made me realize that I need to make my own happiness a priority. The Australian Outback taught me that the world is both bigger and smaller than I could ever imagine. Yosemite National Park brought beauty into my life. The companions I met in the National Parks of Utah proved to me that I can let people in and not get hurt. Alcatraz, of all places, showed me the ghosts of our past are meant to teach us to live better in the future. Live and learn.
Over the years, while living in Minneapolis, I have avoided seeing the many churches around the city for what they were. Religion made me uncomfortable. So many people in my past used religion to hate. Christian values seemed to give anyone the right to judge someone else as they perceived God would, regardless of the ignorant hatred it caused. It never sat right with me. I stayed away, missing the beauty that lay within.
The last couple of years, I’ve been able to let go of that part of me. I realized the beauty of the architecture of my cities many churches were there for everyone to enjoy and feel close to. I can appreciate their beauty without feeling trapped by the constraints I felt from religion. Recently, I explored the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis for only the second time in 18 years of living here. It’s beauty is amazing, even for the spiritual but not religious and often agnostic person.
I’ve accepted who I am because I try to live my life well and do some good for others along the way. I’m not sure if whatever higher power that might be out there is okay with that, but I am. Having the Basilica to myself for an hour this week taught me that.