I have never been really good at saying NO! Where I am living at now proves that in a cruel and comical way. How my life has been is proof that maybe “Just Say No” could have been an advantage. But I said Yes to the bad & dangerous & devious things.
(I have said Yes to a great deal of good things, as well.)
Point being: I say YES more than what I should. Constructing boundaries has never been my strong suit. Destroying them, or never having them, was/is more my style.
If you would have told me I would agree to go into a church, listen to the sermon, pay attention &, most importantly, keep an open mind to the possibility I might get something out of the whole experience – something positive & important – I might have smirked. I might have shrugged my shoulders at the thought, tossing it off to the side. It would be like the thought of buying a different kind of toothpaste that might brighten my smile.
A good idea. But it would be just that: an idea.
I wouldn’t exactly buy the toothpaste.
It was not long after getting the few possessions I had unpacked, put away & my space in the apartment clean when Mr. D___, my roommate, asked me if I went to church.
“No. But I would like to.”
Now that was an honest answer. Most of this year I have been toying with the idea about expanding my exposure to the World of Religion.
Not so much in a Spiritual Way. I have that covered. I have a Higher Power; I pray to that Higher Power. There is no deficiency in that department of my life.
It is & always has been comradery as my bottom-of-the-barrel inadequacy. I have never been good in groups. Socializing with a large group is hard enough. Espousing to what a large group embraces is, for me, beyond overwhelming. It is downright terrifying.
I have never been a follower. To deny my hankering for social interaction would be pointless at this junction. For some reason, I did not find or feel it during the numerous A. A. meetings I have attended. That has been a major let-down over the past year. And that has not come from a lack of trying.
It’s just not in me. To follow their path – any path that is paved, it does not seem to be the one I take.
Why not try a church?
I have tried so many other, not-so-pleasant things in the pursuit of company.
What would the worse thing be in going to a Church?
Maybe I might fall into the trap? Drink the Kool-Aid, as some people say.
The attraction to it is there.
For years I have shared my interest in Catholicism. It has its own established poetry & beauty. It is a dark, overwhelming & massive beauty, with dark & wonderful buildings. A lot of Politics behind it, though – too much so for my taste to ever consider being converted… unless I was ask by a possible future-to-be Mrs. Leland Locke.
Like I said, I have trouble saying No.
Buddhism is intellectual. That is how I feel about it. And historians & scholars do not recognize Buddhism as an organized religion. It is a “way of life.” And I see myself following a physical, meditative, & spiritual progression in order to overcome the sufferings of life.
It makes sense to me.
I can relate to it.
The founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama (later to be know just as the Buddha) believed in the “Middle Way” of living. Born as a prince in what is now modern day Nepal, Gautama was acquainted with lavish riches & pleasures. He abandoned this lifestyle for destitution – to poverty & struggle & suffering.
He carried on in such a manner for some six years, until reaching prajna (Enlightenment.) Discovering nirvana.
Afterward, Gautama taught The Four Nobel Truths:
- The truth of suffering (dukkha)
- The truth of the cause of suffering (samudaya)
- The truth of the end of suffering (nirhodha)
- The truth of the path that frees us from suffering (magga)
Being able to identify that all life is that of suffering which must be overcome is logical. – I can’t deny I am, and have been, struggling in life. Irrational actions have led to Great Suffering for me & my Loved Ones. As a philosophy, Buddhism is very appealing. And Siddharth Gautama’s “Middle Way” of living is not the worst thing I could work towards. It is, in fact, my possible American Dream.
Be Middle Class. To not to suffer so willingly & recklessly. Not to be gluttonous, but moderate. To not surrender to deprivation, yet keep my distance from indulgence.
Another teaching/philosophy I have adopted into my life comes from writer Don Miguel Ruiz, and the teachings of the Toltec he outlines in his self-help book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (1997). The Toltec culture is a pre-Columbian Mesoamerican culture that ruled a state centered in Tula, Hidalgo, Mexico in the early post-classic period of Mesoamerican chronology (ca. 900–1521 AD).
The Four Agreements are as follows:
- Agreement 1: Be Impeccable With Your Word.
- Agreement 2: Don’t Take Anything Personally.
- Agreement 3: Don’t Make Assumptions.
- Agreement 4: Always Do Your Best.
The Four Agreements… book was given to me by the Executive Director of a sober house I was living at from January to October of this year. And the book & its principals I use everyday. Agreement #1 is the most important to me right now. Be Impecable With Your Word. Peccare is the Latin term “to err” or “to sin”. Impeccabilis (not liable to sin). Impeccable With Your Word is to be without Sin in your word. Lying is the ultimate Sin. To your God, and to yourself.
“What does this have to do with church,” you might ask.
What is my reasoning to go to church? when I have all these sutras & teachings & philosophies to keep me grounded on a better path to life.
Church is not a place a Person can attend & be saved.
And Salvation is not why I am going to this predominantly black Baptist Church tomorrow morning. I might as well be upfront with that. My motive to be active in a church – any church – is a silly & selfish & comic absurdity.
I want to be around people & places that are positive. To me it seems absurd because most of the time I am not interested in being around people. And when I am, I’m quiet. I would very much like to volunteer my time to helping people. If that means I will have to fry fish on a Friday, or clean up the basement, I will. Not all selfish actions are bad actions. And it is selfish! I want to be a better person, via implementing Good Deeds during the week, and spending time with people gracious enough to include me.
Maybe not believing their Christ died for my sins will pose a problem for some. If asked, I will tell the truth. This is, after all, a Baptist Church I will be attending tomorrow morning. They are big on the whole Jesus Christ Saves concept.
I’m looking forward to it; looking forward to hearing the honest “Hallelujahs!” & “Praise the Lords!” that will probobley follow after some of the Pastor’s comments.
Mr. D__ told me we will be leaving around 11:30 tomorrow morning. My outfit has already been picked-out: grey slacks, dark maroon button-up, and a long, light grey tie.
I’ll have to wear my boots. They are the only article of footwear I currently own. They are not too bad-off. I’ll need to wipe some dirt off them. make sure I lace them up good & tight. They are charcoal work boots.
I will, as always, remember to say my “Yes, mams,” “No, sirs,” “Pleases,” and “Thank Yous.”
I’ll remember to open the doors for the ladies.
I’ll remember to keep myself open.
It’s going to be a Good Morning.