About 5 years ago, while on my way to work for a meeting, I saw this small furry thing in the road up ahead. As I passed, I saw a tiny kitty's face looking up at me and some blood in the road. I pulled over, sure that I would have to watch this poor animal die. I picked the kitty up with my tshirt and moved her to the side of the road where she proceeded to get up and disappear into some bushes.
A woman had pulled up behind me and asked me what was going on. When I told her about the kitty she shrugged and said, "Well, I'd stay and help but I'm on my way to church". So I said, "Well, I think God would forgive you for missing church just this one time... I could use a little help here." But she just said "Sorry" and left. So after laying on my stomach, getting dirty, and missing my meeting, I finally wriggled my way into the bushes and fished the kitten out. I realized it was only her tail that was bleeding and she was otherwise fine. She fit in the palm of one hand- a tiny little thing. I took her to the emergency room where I found out she weighed only 1 lb and was probably only 4 weeks old. They amputated her tail.
Five years later I still have a beautiful tail-less cat. And I wonder if the woman is still in church looking for some meaning in her existence.
Now, I'm not out to bash religion, but I do have some serious issues with someone who manages to miss the opportunities they are presented with every day. Does it make sense to attend a formal ceremony where you talk about how you can apply the teachings of Jesus in your everyday life and then completely miss those situations when they occur? Why can't some of these people see God in the other living things around them?
I suspect the answer is that for many, church is something they do for themselves. They get to socialize and give themselves a warm pat on the back for having fulfilled their weekly moral obligation. Maybe they even like to get dressed up and make sure they're seen by all of their neighbors.
They make a show of it.
Yet when the real work of showing compassion, helping out your neighbor, or helping save an innocent life needs to be done, many of these same people feel as though it's someone else's problem.
I have a problem with that.
It's like living life at 35,000 feet. People study the "idea" of helping others as strictly an academic pursuit. I think this is what's turned so many people off to organized religion. I know it's what's turned me off. I haven't been to a church service for anything other than a wedding or a funeral since I was 18 and my parents stopped making me go. Does this make me a bad person? In the eyes of some... maybe. But I feel a connection to other living things in a way that I suspect most people don't. And I won't even try to put a name to my belief system because I feel that to name something is to diminish and confine it. Suffice to say that the extent to which I believe in God is that we all carry a part of God in us... from the tiniest microbe to the largest animal. God is not an external entity.
So rather than worshipping and praying, I'll take a shared laugh with a stranger, petting a cute dog, cuddling a kitty, smelling a flower, and studying the amazing ants that populate my world as proof that God exists. And if that's missing out, then so be it.
I think my cat agrees...