Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Praying Atheist

I was raised by left wing, devoutly atheist Jewish parents from the Bronx. (If the NSA is reading this, not to worry. After their heyday as union organizers in the 1930's, they became quite adept at Capitalism and my childhood in no way bore a resemblance to the proletariat.)

As a first grader and bona fide progeny of my relations, I actually refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance in the daily homage required by our public schools. Besides, I thought everyone was praying to something scary; “two witches stand” under a flapping red, white and blue flag unfurling in the gusting wind. Only years later was it revealed that the words were “to which it stands,” a decidedly more benign language.

I didn’t find my own path until age 19, although I wasn’t looking for anything. “It” found me. My mother had taken me to Chichen Itza, home to spectacular Mayan pyramids, as my college major was anthropology and mom was terribly education oriented. Never did a hint of gossip escape her lips; every word she uttered was designed to bring logic and clarity to life on planet earth. She was a wonderful woman who never indulged in the pleasures of a group of girlfriends, whose chitchat could be detected humming through the telephone wires encircling suburban bedrooms like vultures over their prey.

Mom was also a trusting soul, as she allowed my inner rebel to ditch the organized tour of the pyramid site and set off on my own. Relief. The tourists straggled out of the area to lunch on tortillas and such, never noticing that a certain 60’s girl in a miniskirt had gone missing from their midst. I climbed the steps of a magnetizing pyramid and stood perfectly still at its great height, with no one to talk to…an aloneness foreign to me except as a toddler when my college professor mom was at work teaching and I was left with a non-nanny.

In this stillness, the jungle rushed to the foreground, strangely silent yet deafening in its presence; a wall of intricate green plant patterns hiding another vibrant wall of growth extending into the foreboding zone.

A translucent column of light descended from the sky and entered the crown of my head. As it continued traveling down my body, filling every cell with tingling energy, I got “high” for the first time in my life. As this predated psychedelic experiments and I had never smoked pot, it is entirely attributable as a mystical experience.

Years later, I learned that I was standing on the pyramid considered the most sacred in the Mayan world. Small wonder. And this is how I became the atheist who prays to the omnipresent energy of creation. God is not a Him, but even if God were a separate entity, the feminist in me would never accept an all pervading force as male, as that would mean the female had been cast out, an error of omission with long-reaching consequences.

The energy that connects us is potent, alive, transparent, and real. It is not owned by any one of us but is the collective property of all living things. It is not outside of us looking down from on high. It dwells within us and between us, leaving no space unoccupied.

We are one connected being.

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