On the Road

In college, I really had an intense experience of questioning my relationship with the divine and with religion—especially the religion I grew up with.

During my first two years at university, I got up nearly every Sunday and went to both Sunday School and church service at First Baptist Gainesville. Nonetheless, as time went on, I started to feel very disconnected from my church attendance, and I very much felt like I was just going through the motions out of habit. On one morning in May, I had gotten dressed and gotten in my car. I had even driven to my church, and…I just couldn't go in. I couldn't park. It felt very wrong.

So I listened to myself, and I keep driving and listening to my Garbage CD. As I was driving down Tower Road, all the way on the other side of town, the song "When I Grow Up" came on and the following lyrics hit me as if from the Divine.

Don't take offense.
Better make amends.
Rip it all to shreds and let it go.

Even now, nearly twenty years later, remembering this experience still gives me the feeling of the floor dropping out and the world changing around me. In that moment, I felt as strongly connected to something bigger than me than I ever did at church.

After that, I went to church less and less. I still very much tried to be a dedicated Christian in the Southern Baptist tradition, but I became (or maybe more accurately, "I embraced that I already was") a mystic. It broke my feeling that I needed to force myself to be part of a group or a church to be "properly" connecting with the divine. Why would someone as introverted as me be required to do such a thing? That would just be cruelty.

I still feel that way. The truth, wisdom, the divine…Whatever you choose to call it, it can be found anywhere you happen to be. You just have to be open to it.