When I was a kid, my secular and academic family would hike on Yom Kippur. As non-observant Jews, we created some rituals around some holidays, but they fell away over the years. Yesterday, I returned to the hike and took myself to the Boxford State Forest.
I like the idea of reflecting on atonement and forgiveness. I’m not a forgiving person and I am suspicious of those who claim to be forgiving — much easier said, than done. In theory, I understand that forgiveness is freedom. In my rare better moments, I’ve experienced that freedom. Most of the time, I wonder what forgiveness would feel like.
I did not sort out forgiveness yesterday; but I did accept the woods as my temple. I got to unplug from all the noise (including this unbearable presidential campaign) and observe this holiday in a way that resonated as authentic and true to my history and beliefs.
Since my little “school” dalliance, I, personally, feel that I can’t trust, or join, any organized religion. Humans are too fallible, too irresponsible with power. We are too easily intoxicated by it. I’ve seen too many religions being used as excuses for abusive behavior (including evangelical “Christians” justifying their support for a presidential candidate who has repeatedly demonstrated himself as a serial sexual predator). The hypocrisy is too much for me. It makes me furious.
If I want to connect to God, I can simply walk out my front door and watch the leaves change colors, or the sunset paint the sky.
I’ve spoken with many ex-cult members who call their experiences spiritual rape — including my “school” mates. Yes cults are spiritual rapist – taking advantage and sullying the best in their members, much like the misogynist pig who is trying to bully his way into the Oval Office. I still don’t know about forgiveness; I do believe, though, that it’s possible to reclaim and heal your spiritual or religious practice, what ever that may be.
“School” claimed that we humans are born soul-less. Without “school” — allegedly — we remain soul-less. Never fear, though, you can manufacture a soul if – and only IF – you sign the dotted line, hook an I.V. drip into your bank account to feed the queen’s retirement funds, til death do you part, disregard your family, friends, thoughts, emotions, needs, hopes and dreams for the illustrious “aim” of recruiting others who will do the same. If you prop up her staged presentation of “evolved woman”, you, too, might, manufacture a soul (no guarantee) . If you don’t, you simply live out your days as an empty shell. “School” gropes spiritually, whereas Drumph grabs and gropes with his tiny hands — as proclaimed proudly in the audio tape released last weekend.
Yep, folks. This is the “school” version of spiritual rape and every cult spins a different tale, but perpetrates the same violation. So for ex-cult members, reclaiming your spiritual practice is a crucial aspect of recovery; when a predatory group hijacks you — mind/body/heart/spirit — it’s important to reclaim every facet of your true identity. No outside “source” (as Robert used to call “school”) can dictate your relationship to God.