“I’ve heard you are an atheist these days.” I’ve learned to smile. Statements like that abound.
I laugh to myself because, in these moments, I actually find myself deeply in love with the Divine nature. I find myself releasing and relishing in it in ways I haven’t in a long time.
I was recently asked what deconstruction is… Let me be clear I am not a theologian.
So, I answer it in the way I would answer it…
When I was able to truly take a look at the construction of belief and culture that I had adhered to for decades, I had lots of questions. I had seen much and I’m not talking about being hurt by the church, leadership, friends. I’ll admit that those things happened. People want to discount those that look, ask, and walk to statements like, “Oh, they were hurt.”
I’m not going to go there. That minimizes and relinquishes those from responsibility to change or to notice and acknowledge for themselves perhaps places that they don’t want to have to see just yet.
For me deconstruction was a long process, I thought of bricks being taken down. Answers no longer being so black and white; things once deemed evil and of the devil weren’t. If one thing I believed was so different, then what about others. I wanted to question, converse, not just take black and white answers. I wanted to look at a sacred text and not be told I didn’t have enough faith just because some idea was being challenged.
More than anything I wondered how a system supposedly following a man of love could be more about the religion he chastised then the man it was supposed to follow.
I did watch too many women who were gossips be held up in the highest regard, while the migrant worker is dismissed. I did watch it back rooms burnt out pastors talking about those who assembled under their charge speak horrible things. Discrepancy after discrepancy, picking and choosing which issues were the ones to land on but not taking the totality of the heartbeat of the Divine.
I realized that the foundation of the building I had built was built wrong, and I didn’t want to dwell in it anymore. What was in one moment brick by brick became a wrecking ball. It was painful and lonely and scary. AND, I felt the pleasure of God in a way I hadn’t.
In the yoga studio, that I had been told was of darkness; the presence of God began to meet me in ways I hadn’t experienced in the church in a long time. As I moved and breathed, I found life again. I found Spirit again. I found a depth of love.
Brick by brick, a wrecking ball.
I was not just one who attended Sunday services. My whole life was wrapped around the reality of faith. Livelihood, friendships of decades…. deconstruction brought much loss. It was demolishing. Mostly because others thought now I was of the devil. Their thoughts of me weren’t that I was intelligent, questioning, willing to ask hard questions, willing to go to the proverbial Samaria of faith. It was I was a heretic. AND still, I walked.
Frightened I was a heretic.
Then Thomas Merton quotes, meeting with an Episcopal Priest, a Lutheran pastor, a spiritual director, an LGBTQ community, a therapist, and most importantly MYSELF. Myself and God…
There is sacred text where Jesus says that he will not leave people on earth as spiritual orphans. He sends one, whose job it is to lead into all truth. That is the Holy Spirit. In the ancient Hebraic text there is a promise that should we go too far to the left or too far to the right we will hear a voice that brings us back to the center. I took those sacred texts together and prayed and journaled and walked.
Being led of the Spirit versus religion is a very interesting prospect. I added the prayer attributed to St. Francis, Lord my God who are you? Lord, my God who am I?
Deconstruction would come to the foundation and there was a cornerstone of that foundation that I knew was true, all else was up for grabs. Even the way I configured that cornerstone was up for grabs. Not made in my image, became a motto.
So much religion reconfigures God to fit their image of what they want God to be… that was the problem of the religious in the times of Jesus. HE WAS NOT WHAT THEY WANTED HIM TO BE… NOTHING has changed. Jesus who he was as he walked the face of the earth would be offensive to most Christians today.
LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN… JESUS, as he really was.. WOULD BE OFFENSIVE TO THE MAJORITY OF CHRISTIANS TODAY….
I wanted to know and be known, I didn’t want a golden calf made in my image. I wanted the real deal…
Then there was an empty lot. Building deconstructed. My hands holding a brick… I wasn’t Christian enough, I was yogi enough, I wasn’t straight enough, I wasn’t gay enough….. So who was I… What scaffolding did I then need and want?
I didn’t want to create a theology that pleased itchy ears… I didn’t want ideology out of convincing because I wanted a sacred text to say something… I saw as much within the liberal and progressive movement that was full of shit as much as the conservative theologies I had believed…
So, I looked at the man of Christ. I read other sacred texts. I found so much in common. It made me rich. I was less and less afraid. More in more in love with the Divine nature.
Brick by brick.
Owning what and who I am, where I’ve been, and the reality of the unknown of where I am going…
I go simple these days.
Mercy, Justice, Humility
The example of Christ and what He did and who He hung out with and the reaction of the religious…
They thought Christ was of the devil, too… I guess I am in good company…
Be you… Celebrate how you live, trust that if your heart wants to love Spirit, Christ, God, Source, the Divine that you will be led… You will not be left as an orphan …
Much of religion is bullshit.
But that isn’t the way of Spirit.
Elle Miller is a spiritual director and yoga therapist working in the field of trauma and recovery. Specializing in religious trauma syndrome, gender and orientation issues, realities around sexuality, sensuality and knowing pleasure and desire within the body. She has physical offices in Blacksburg, VA, and Charlotte, NC, and sees clients online.