Monday, March 29, 2010

One Seed, Many Roots, One Tree

The older I get, the more I become convinced that the way that those of us who have religious or spiritual beliefs label ourselves and define our beliefs doesn't matter to the Divine as much as it matters to us. I've had many intense spiritual experiences over the years, starting in my time as a Catholic, continuing in my years as a Solitary Kinda-Wiccan Pagan and in the years since I realized that the path that worked best for me lay somewhere between the two. And you know what? Although my own consciousness has changed many times through the years, one thing has remained constant in these experiences.

Every time I'm gifted with one, I feel like I have come in contact with what can only be described as pure capital-L-Love, something so beautiful that it nearly brings me to tears—which is not at all a normal occurrence for me. (Most of the people I know have never seen me cry for any reason.)

We can give it all the names we like, tell all the stories about it that we want, make hundreds of rules about how to best know, love and serve it, but there it is. In the end, that's why the Christo-Pagan approach works for me. Although I'm no expert on world religions, every single one I've researched so far has come down to the same thing—it's inspired by love in one way or another, crafted to explain the mysteries of the world and used as a tool to comfort, guide and occasionally frustrate ourselves into a higher way of thinking than the strictly materialistic. The fact that so many people misuse and abuse faith (and believers) of various types in so many ways has nothing to do with the roots of it, the truth of it. Those people are predators and will generally use anything—not just spirituality or religion—to do what they want. Some systems make it easier to carry out these abuses than others (Vatican City, I'm looking at YOU), but that doesn't make those systems or all of their adherents into corrupt and immoral self-righteous judgemental douchebags—just the people who do these terrible things.

Despite our differences, we really do come from the same place. As the saying goes, though I doubt it was intended to be applied this broadly:

"One seed, many roots, one tree."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Things That My Body Is Not

My body is not a disease. You can't catch "fat" by being in my immediate vicinity.

My body is not a moral battle. I am not evil because I am fat. Neither can I be made a saint by becoming thin.

My body is not an indication of laziness or stupidity. I work hard when I've got work to do, and although I'm no Einstein, my intelligence is at an average—or perhaps slightly above average—level. My memory is so good that it's actually a bit of a running joke among those who know me best; I'm very good at memorizing music, and I'm often able to remember details that other people have long since forgotten.

My body is not disconnected from my mind. I know how much space it takes up, and I inhabit that space proudly.

My body is not unhealthy. My resting heart rate is in the low 60's and my blood pressure is also relatively low at 120/70 at my last reading. I have a brisk walking pace, and I am perfectly capable of singing in a clear, strong voice even after running up a flight of stairs. I may not be able to run a marathon, but my body does what it needs to do, and it does it very well.

My body is not an indication of the state of my soul. My extra adipose tissue does not signify gluttony, nor is it an abomination that should be removed from the "temple of the soul".

My body is not thin. Both because of my bone structure and my inability to shrink fat cells past a certain point, even if I only ate a small amount every other day I probably would never make it down to anything less than a size 12. Even that might be stretching it a bit.

My body is not weak. I grew up around horses, and that means a lot of heavy lifting, especially as I got older. Hay bales, large buckets of water, big bags of horse feed and shovels full of manure—to say nothing of actually having to push heavy wheelbarrows full of said manure—gave me some rather impressive musculature, especially for a fat girl, and even though my equine days are long since past, I still do enough heavy lifting that I am as strong as I ever was.

My body is not ugly. Not everybody has the same aesthetic preferences, and I happen to think that my body is, if not beautiful, then at least fairly interesting. Those who have dared to openly agree with me may be relatively few in number, but then, who wants to be with someone who only values them for their physical appeal, anyway? I certainly don't.

My body is not perfect—nor would I wish it to be. Some of its imperfections even mean slightly increased comfort; I survive the nearly six-month winters of my home province much more easily than my thin peers, and once the weather gets hot, I'm able to swim sooner and longer than people of a more socially acceptable size because I retain body heat better than they do. I also find that my size is a surprisingly accurate jerk detector—I've rarely had to wonder if someone found me attractive, and the people who don't will often tend to make their views known in such a way that I don't particularly feel motivated to impress them.

And most of all, my body is not anybody's business but mine. I don't want unsolicited diet advice from total strangers. It isn't up to anyone else to point out that I'm fat, as if the fact that I can't buy skirts, slacks, jeans, dresses or underwear in a "normal-people store" (unless said store is Value Village, and even then the selection's pretty dodgy) wasn't enough of a clue—perhaps they think that the fact that I can buy bras and (some) shirts in regular stores would throw me off the scent. Even if it did, the slightly tight fit of the seats in the local community theatre centre would be more than sufficient proof of the expanse of my backside. Any health issues I may or may not have are not suddenly made appropriate for public discussion by the size of my body. I am neither an advertisement nor an argument for the wider availability of bariatric butchery surgery, dangerous weight-loss drugs or fad diets. I am not an example of what's wrong with this country, and it is not OK to mock me for purchasing ice cream, driving a car or ordering anything but a small salad at a restaurant.

My body is my business only, and anyone who thinks that my size is an adequate excuse to discuss it in detail or rail at me for decisions they don't actually know that I've made is not only ignorant in the extreme, but unforgivably rude as well.

(Inspired by a video that was—quite rightly, in my opinion—absolutely torn apart at Womanist Musings.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

This breaks my heart.

Anti-abortion extremists go to Hell

...and once again, a religion that's supposed to be devoted to a God of Love is used as an excuse for anger and hate.

Stop it. Just stop it. If you claim that you want to follow the path laid out by Jesus, don't harrass people going into places where abortions are performed. Don't murder the doctors who perform the abortions. Don't create "WANTED" posters containing the addresses of the doctors' homes or private offices, and don't threaten them. Actions like this are just about as far away from being Christ-like as you can possibly ever get. I'm no Biblical scholar, of course, but the only time I remember Jesus getting well and truly angry was the time he threw the moneylenders out of the Temple. He didn't kill people. He didn't yell at people who did things he disapproved of. He didn't do everything in his power to make their lives miserable. He rebuked them once in awhile, but he never did anything this destructive—this evil.

Sometimes I wonder if Jesus as this trying-to-be-humble Christo-Pagan sees him, and Jesus as seen by these hate-filled and self-righteous people who are behind so much of the misery caused by the anti-abortion groups, really have anything in common besides the name.