Religion as a Glimpse

The following is part of my series on atheism and faith.

The text below is largely based on a quote from, “A Room Called Remember,” an autobiography by Frederick Buechner. I’ve adapted it to clarify how I understand what he is saying about “religion.” Buechner, a Presbyterian minister, is one of my all-time favorite authors. In the tradition of Thomas Merton (the writing monk), he senses God in the mystery and humility of existence and experience of “other.” I’ve kept the term “Religion” though I might have used the term “faith,” or “God-seeker,” …as “religion” conjures up images of institutions and dogma.

We Catch Glimmers

“RELIGION” as a word points to that area of human experience
where in one way or another we come upon mystery
and feel the summons to pilgrimage;

…where we sense meanings so often overwhelming
that they can be only hinted at through contemplation and ritual;

RELIGION is the attempt to glimpse something that feels like a destination
but is always just over the horizon.

We are all more like mystics than we believe, or are willing to admit,
—life is complicated after all.

Through some moment of beauty or pain,
some sudden turning of our lives,
we catch glimmers of what the saints have been blinded by.

An atheist is someone who catches these glimmers,
and wants to believe that nothing deeper is possible.

Imagination is a human trait, a survival instinct,
and perhaps even a spiritual gift.
It arises from a sense of humility and wonder.
Imagining is what children do, and many adults have lost.

To imagine God is to humbly open yourself up
to the possibility that you are a child,
and risk discovering that the universe
has possibilities beyond your depth.

It is to glimpse the morning sky, and believe there is a reason behind such beauty.

It is not a weakness to believe there is a power behind the universe.
It is not a weakness to not to believe.
The issue is not weakness, but openness to answers we can only begin to fathom.

TRUE RELIGION is a humble journey of discovery, and self-discovery,
and openness to what may be discovered.

Neil MacQueen is a Presbyterian minister, blogger, software developer, and curriculum writer.

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