Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You Never Know What You'll Discover at the Zoo

Earlier this week I wrote a piece entitled "I lost god today in the Lincoln Park Zoo," anticipating it as my second installment in the Little Girl/Big City series.  I didn't post it.  I suppose it was either fear of judgement or a potential onslaught of comments aimed at saving my eternal soul.  Religion is a subject I rarely broach.  It makes people all bristly and agitated (generalization).  I was raised in a Christian household, but adopted deism and kept that fact to myself around the time I started college.  About a year ago, I thought about what it would be to attempt Christianity again.  I made a couple of attempts at understanding; but honestly, it just never seemed to work for me.  And for awhile I thought this meant I was either a bad person or completely religiously dense.  And Tuesday afternoon as I was walking through the Lincoln Park Zoo, I had a bit of a self-revelation, which was the above noted piece.  I'll never be a religious person, or even overly deist for that matter.  And that's okay.  Doesn't make me right, but it doesn't make me wrong either.  So, I'll go back to the belief system that works for me.  And if you aren't familiar with deism; in my interpretation and brief summary - There was a Divine Creator that provided man with the faculties of reason and compassion, then set the world in motion and walked away.  God does not play into the everyday, there is no divine plan to follow; you only have your reason, your compassion and you must live your life utilizing those abilities.  Prayer is of no consequence, you create your own definition of miracles, and god can neither be condemned nor praised in the affairs of humanity.  And with that said, I think I can now post the "I lost god" story and have it make sense.  Hopefully.  I expect a certain amount of disagreement, but that's alright.  But it's really more about understanding and peace than anything else.

I lost god today at the Lincoln Park Zoo.  Somewhere between the
Kovlar Lion House and the Regenstein African Journey, I realized
I could no longer pray.  It was neither a religious meltdown or
a convoluted pressure point of self-assessment.  Staring at the
African wild dogs, I just figured it was time to stop waiting
for the god of my childhood to rescue me and bring resolution for
every moment up until this fragment of time.

You see, god and I had always maintained a tumultuous relationship.
As a child, I went to church every Sunday- sang the hymns, memorized
scriptures, and prayed every night.  Or at least I tried.  But they
were empty, airy words and floated on a ceiling fan breeze.  Little
prayers sent for protection that never showed.  It just got black.
And there we stayed - god, myself, and every fear that faded numb
in the dark of forgotten memories and cold sheets pulled tight.

And the years passed in that state. He could not save me; so I put him
back as a lovely idea of peace and compassion dissolved over time.  There
he stayed, neatly perched between picture frames and empty vases.  Moving
with me from apartment to home to apartment.  Occassionally I'd talk
to him and attempt to find that quiet and forgiveness of self that
my more religious family and friends seemed to embrace.  But there was
nothing miraculous, no long awaited peace of mind, no knowledge shared,
no feeling of unconditional love - and I spent evenings questioning the
idea of god, throwing glass, and despising myself for not understanding
the mysterious ways of a savior.

I tried to bring him with me to the city.  Thinking perhaps, here, in
this space, the glory of the lord would finally make me lovely and loved.
And in my unguided journey through wildlife in near downtown Chicago, it
calmly occurred to me - it's not about god at all, it's about me.  And the
only way I can find a sense of completion is by trusting only myself.
I decide where these dirty feet want to travel, I decide what this even
dirtier mouth speaks, and I decide how to save myself without being at
the whim of god's blessings or dismissals.

I smiled for a little while and wandered on.  The only time I stopped
to look at a map was to find the seals.  Seals and otters always make me
exceedingly happy.  Perhaps if the bible had been as easy to navigate as the
zoo map, I would have found my inner sea mammal display earlier.

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