We must have our own version of a higher power.
I find mine in the silence of snowflakes
hushing over a city,
or a divine moment like entering into fragrant woods
stippled by sunlight.
I, too, crave rain,
when the mist kisses my skin,
until I feel bathed like a newborn baby.
I’m a sinner willing
to be baptized again by a new God,
tears couched in raindrops.
Other times, sun’s heat penetrates me,
cicadas buzz like electric currents in the air,
energy jolting, or better put, power resurging,
singing a hymn that I am
not a low hum but,
oh, so much more luminous
than I once believed.
-inspired by Jeanne Wagner’s “Fanlight”
This poem is for people like me, who no longer (or perhaps never did) have an unshakable belief in God. Specifically, the “Capital G” God of organized religion. I was raised Roman Catholic, but my faith was chipped away by religious dogma. I mean no offense to anyone who follows this, or any other, faith tradition. A part of me feels envious of those who live with such certainty. I know that this is the definition of faith, this belief in something unknowable, but I simply do not possess it. Lack of faith presents a problem for those of us who realize that following a spiritual path is our only hope for recovery from a self-centered disease like alcoholism and/or addiction.
I find my proof of a higher power, if not a specific God, in the beauty of the natural world. How can we not help but wonder at the mystery we sense when we wander outside? It’s late August, and the tiny green berries on the “Beauty Berry Bush” have begun to turn purple; the invisible hands of its internal clock move mysteriously towards Fall. I recently saw a hummingbird visit the bright red blooms of the lantanas in my flower pots, sipping nectar from dozens of clusters as it hovered, its wings beating so fast they were nearly indistinguishable. The cicadas rip like buzz-saws all day long and then hand the baton to the crickets when the sun sinks. At night, when the crickets chorus so loudly, most of us don’t think to wonder about it at all— but, there must be millions of crickets chirping to generate this cacophony. (And did you know that only the male crickets are able to chirp, all in an effort to woo females?)
I don’t have to sit in a church pew to know there is spiritual energy in the universe. For me, these small miracles are enough to bring me peace.
In the throes of my disease, I felt both worthless and hopeless, but this is no longer the truth. Today, I am free to be present for these moments in the everyday. When I notice the patterns and the beauty in nature, I am aware of the space I occupy — I’m part of this world, no more, no less. This is my hymn — I hope it helps others to find their own.
2 thoughts on “Hymn for Agnostics”
This is gorgeous. I love the way your prose flows seamlessly from your poetry: both are rich with natural rhythm. I can still hear the cicadas!
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Thanks, Anjali– and thanks for reading!