My name is Sharon, and I’m a pantheist. My God is as vast as the Cosmos. It isn’t just about love, but runs the gamut of emotions and behaviors, “bad” and “good.” It’s about ticks as well as bluebirds, and hurricanes as well as gentle spring rains. But don’t get me wrong, love and forgiveness and compassion are vital. How could I think otherwise when I believe everything is connected and every creature has as much right to be here as I do? How can I be less than a warrior for justice for humans, other animals, the planet? Humans aren’t the only creatures to need love and touch to live and thrive and grow. Scientists tell us we’re made of star stuff…..think about that, stars! What more motivation do I need to try to act magnificently and morally and ethically? A supernatural being made up by the ancients doesn’t and simply can’t serve me nearly as well any more, and in truth, not at all.
It hasn’t always been easy to come right out and say that I don’t believe in the supernatural god that most of my family and neighbors believe in. Some people have fallen by the wayside because of my choice. I live in the rural south. God and church are important down here to community and family life and all the seasons of people’s lives. But is being a pantheist really a choice? To me, it doesn’t feel like it is. Technically, yes, I chose to join a pantheist group fifteen years ago, but being drawn to it, being immediately touched by it, being captivated by all that it is, I feel those things chose me rather than the other way around. I was Christian a long time ago, but I’m no longer that same person. I just know I can’t go back to those old ways and beliefs even if someone tried to make me. I can no more believe in needing to be “saved” by a sacrificial lamb on a cross than I can fly, regardless of the number of times a preacher shouts it from the pulpit. Saved from what? A hell I don’t believe in?
The American Humanist Association (which many Pantheists belong to) has a slogan “Good Without God.” I like that. I don’t need a supernatural god in the sky keeping a record of my good and bad behavior or the threat of eternal damnation to live a life of integrity, honesty, and authenticity. I don’t need a supernatural god to remind me to be nice, courteous, or helpful. I do believe it’s up to us humans to discern our purpose in life, to give it meaning, to behave ethically. I do consider myself religious or spiritual, though, in the way of connecting to that something bigger than me, that something that inspires awe and reverence, in the way of seeing everything as sacred because life itself is such, in the way of celebrating and marking days like solstices and equinoxes, births and deaths, and participating in traditions.
My god speaks to me in the sweet smell of honeysuckle wafting through my window as I write this, coming in on the gentlest of breezes, but also last week when the lightning and heavy rains caused power outages and fallen trees. I can hear birds and the whir of a lawn mower in the distance. I never actually have to leave my house to hear and smell and see and feel delights that my god offers, though, of course, there’s so much more as I venture down the road and on to other places and people and experiences…..like an emergency room where things were whirling around for me as I nervously waited for test results, and people in green and blue uniforms were scurrying to make people feel better or at least give them answers, and equally in the sweet smile of my granddaughter as she says, “I lub you, Mimi.”
My god is vast. I stand in awe of the universe. I don’t want to compete with others on the size and power of our gods, though I feel some religions have boxed theirs in. Mine can never be. We are in different places, however that came to be, whatever mechanism within our brains and hearts is at work. I want to practice compassion and fight for justice so that all creatures live in safety with full bellies and warmth on cold days, able to love their families, that all people can find their purpose and live a life of dignity and self-love instead of loathing, and I want to share the God I see and experience through words and pictures of everyday life, how truly extraordinary it is, and how often we pass it by looking for that big super thing we think is going to be better and give us goosebumps. Looking at the mountains in the direction of South Carolina right now, getting a hint of wood smoke from down the road someplace, seeing the japonica bush almost up to the bottom of the window, these simple things give me goosebumps, and I’m just glad to be here to experience them.
My name is Sharon, and I’m proud to shout from the rooftops that I’m a pantheist. My God is as vast as the Cosmos. My God, indeed, is the Cosmos.
copyright (c) 2017 by Raindrop Ridge Press