A Deist on “The Way”

Deist Pilgrim

Unlike my awesome Cuz, I am not a Catholic. In fact, I’m not even a Christian. Yes – I do realize the pilgrimage to Santiago is to the Catholic cathedral in Santiago!  Yes, I will be attending a Catholic pilgrim’s mass, and getting my Compestela for spiritual reasons.

Now, there are as many different deist “theologies” (for lack of a better word) as there are Christian, so this is simply my chosen take – but it is vanilla as far as deism goes.  I believe in a higher power, I believe in some kind of afterlife, I believe we are meant to live by the Golden Rule, I believe that by doing this we develop our souls to comprehend this higher power and the afterlife set for us.

I also believe that this higher power, we’ll call it God to simplify things, has given us everything we need already (we do not have to ask for anything from God): it is our job to find what is already there.  I also believe that prayers are for thanksgiving.  I do ask god for wisdom, but I don’t honestly expect divine intervention.

I believe in the “crap happens” theory of life and do not think God will intervene for the better or curse us for the worst.  I do not believe we are “sent” to a Hell – but I do think that if we do not work on our souls we will not be able to comprehend God.  If you’ve read The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis you’ll have a pretty good idea of what I think about heaven and hell in a metaphorical way – and why we shouldn’t sin. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it!

So, where am I going with all of this?  Well – I suppose to explain my take on my pilgrimage.  I mentioned in my first post about laying my burdens at God’s feet.  Why would a deist feel the need to do this?  It’s not as if I believe God will actually be accepting my burdens, or lifting them off.  I believe God has already given me all the tools I need to handle my life, to heal, to forgive and ask for forgiveness.  So again – where is the need to go on a pilgrimage?  Shouldn’t I be able to use all of God’s gifts now, here, today?

Apparently knowing a tool is in your toolbox doesn’t mean you know how to use it.

I enjoyed working with a therapist for two years at one point in the recent past.  I could emotionally vomit without feeling bad about doing it!  She turned 80 the second year I was seeing her, had five kids and 12 grand-kids, had been a military spouse.  She was an amazing mentor!  Many tools in my toolbox were mastered, but not all of them – I don’t think this learning process ever ends.  It is why we are not (or shouldn’t be) the same person at 45 that we were at 25.  She also introduced me to EMDR.  Short version – alternating rhythms, lights, or touch between the right and the left side of the brain while actively thinking about a problem helps our brain make new connections and find answers.  Walking is one of the oldest and most effective ways of creating this right/left brain dynamic.  Walking in nature adds even more, and walking itself improves brain chemistry.  All good.

I considered something like the Pacific Crest Trail   or the Appalachian Trail but I am not physically capable of carrying the gear needed to through-hike the wilderness (side note – read or watch Wild if you haven’t already).  On The Way I will not have to carry cooking gear, a tent, or even food (beyond some snacks).  I’ll also be walking in the footsteps of thousands who have sought a connection with God.  I’m a lover of history.  I feel a deep connection to the past while at the places where history took place.  I look forward to seeing ruins, feeling the wear of hundreds of years on old stone steps in ancient cathedrals, imagining the lives that ran their course before mine.

My hope is that by challenging myself physically, stripping my life of distractions and all but the basic possessions, and using the EMDR techniques I learned, I will be able to master a few more of the tools God gave me.  Perhaps my load will be lighter.  Perhaps my soul will be a tiny bit more prepared.  At the end, in a cathedral built to glorify God, I can stand in exhausted peace with other searching souls to send up my prayers of gratitude in Santiago.



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