The Zen of Everythingâ„¢, Day 5: Making life more like church

extraordinary Before you atheists go running for the hills, or at least the greener pastures of more skeptical blogs, know this: I have never been much for organized religion.

In fact, the introductory essay to what I'd assumed would be my first book, How I Pulled My Head Out of My Ass (A Skeptic's Guide to Self-Actualization), is all about how church, or my indifference to it, made me realize that I was different from the other ducklings. (In a meta-way, it also became about my realization that it's really, really hard to write a book, but that's a lesson for another day.)

Church, as realized by the band of whitey-white Catholics in my hometown, was but an anemic facsimile of what I now believe CHURCH should be: a time/place for getting down with what's important to you that's different from the everyday, but similar enough each time you return that it provides a useful and consistent context for holding yourself up to the light.

So the physical space of "church" can be Joshua Tree or your tricked-out new age altar or 42nd and Broadway; conversely, you can create a practice, zazen, gardening, pinstriping, that puts Church inside of you.

From whence cometh this brilliant realization? From a book about branding mentioned in a post about questions on a blog about presentations. Questions one consultant asks of prospective clients, which we might do well to ask, period:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • Why does it matter?

Even if you, like me, are not one for religion, maybe especially if you, like me, are not one for religion, it's worth remembering that returning to the same, simple touchstones can be of value. Because in the absence of absolute authority, where can you turn but inward? That space is Church for the rest of us, where we go to reflect and recharge and pray.

And in that Church of You, how do you pray? Well, you've got to sort that out yourself, but I think an excellent place to start is...

Lesson #6: The language of prayer is the question.

xxx c Image by .michael.newman. via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.