A few days ago I was sitting at lunch with some of my co-workers discussing reasons to get married and where one should have their ceremony. This discussion included two women and two men, three married, one engaged. The married man asked "why do people get married if not for financial or religious reasons?" This question sparked our discussion of reasons to get married and why people choose to get married in a church.
Financially being married may lighten your tax burden and for others it may make it heavier. For some financially it means more money to share and more ways to spend. And then there is religion. Religion can play a small part or a large role in creating a union and a ceremony. For some it may be a simple question on a first date and never spoken of again and for others it shapes a marriages foundation and helps build the structure. Or religion may only become a factor for the actual wedding ceremony and that is all.
Many may be subtly (or not so subtly) pushed in the direction of a religious ceremony because otherwise their family will never speak to them again. Others may desire to have a religious ceremony because it is the right thing for their soul to do. And some others may want a religious ceremony merely for the reason of no reason at all. And all of these ceremonies may or may not take place in a church one belongs to or be perfumed anywhere else, but a church. But as this topic was being discussed between three catholics and a protestant (what I was baptized as), I find myself tune out and realize I actually do not relate to this conversation at all or maybe I just have a different definition of religion and a church.
When asked what religion I was and what church I belonged to after everyone else seemed confident and secure in his or her beliefs, I froze for a few seconds, actually not knowing what to say (which is a huge shock because I always have something to say). But then I allowed myself to realize I wouldn't have the same answers as the rest and I was semi-ok with the thought. So I said
"My religion is believing in a higher power and an energy that exists through the mechanism of prayer and positive thoughts. And where do I go to practice this religion? Anywhere, but lately at Blue Chip Animal Refuge."
For responses I got one chuckle, one head shake with a smile, and one blank stare. Sometimes I forget I may not always be that relatable. And I am learning to accept being the odd-woman out or the one people can't always relate to because I know being accepted by myself is more necessary in my life than being accepted by others. And having clearly my own type of "religion" or my own beliefs is just that-my own. I get through some of my days on the mere belief my purpose on this planet is to rescue and nurture as many animals lives that my soul can hold (and that will fit in my bed).
Going to Blue Chip and focusing my energy on creatures who truly need all the love and care available allows me to pray to that higher power to give me the strength to not cry and fall apart, but be present and help. I may be a new member still to this type of belief, and I may not go every week or as often as I would like to, but I have found something I truly believe in and want to give my heart and soul to-something greater than me. When I visit Blue Chip I start with a struggle, knowing there will always be a new heart breaking story to hear or learn about another sweet animal without a home. However, I push through my visit on my hands and knees cleaning and praying and the heavy fog slowly burns off and I can see the sun begin to rise. I am given hope each animal will one day soon find the place it deserves, and I will continue to find the strength to keep me fighting this seemingly never ending battle.
So to me this picture of religion and a church is what works for my soul and my mind. I hope others have their own as well, no matter how different or traditional it may be in the sense of religion. A religion is a compilation of beliefs and practices to help guide us on this life journey. We can find these religions in an entity that allows us to pray, mediate, nourish our soul, and give our energy to something more powerful and more great than just ourselves.