I recently had conversations with a couple of people who no longer identify as Christian. They had previously been card carrying members of the Christian tradition, including Bible college or seminary and now would identify as atheist or at least not Christian.
As someone who continues to identify with the Christian tradition and who is deeply enriched by practises and wisdom from the Buddhist tradition, the spiritual journeys of these friends and colleagues have prompted me to reflect upon my own journey, which I might say, provocatively, is one of progressive atheism.
By progressive atheism, I mean a journey of letting go, stepping aside from the God, I thought was the place holder for divine reality to something else.
Last week , my husband and I had the opportunity to spend a night at Chain Lakes campground on Highway 22x. The morning was so windy, even parked and sheltered by shrubs and trees, our white box of a camper felt more like a boat on a wild ocean. Swaying and pausing.
Bundled in a winter coat with my dog on a leash (to keep her from flying away?), I went for a walk and was bystander to a double rainbow; one where I could identify the exact spot where the rainbow touched down on either end!
It seems to me that the progressive experiences of God, I would identify with, are like the rainbow . . . seemingly so solid, inspiringly laced with a legacy of hope, beautiful, a magnet of attention and yet as the sun, wind and rain continue their never static play across the surface of the earth; the rainbow fades . . .what was seemingly concrete dissipates, what was the star attraction fades.
And what remains?
Everything . . . the crazy, white, wild clouds; the sun moving amongst the trees waking up the gold leaves; the grasses bowing, layering and lifting up their thin yellow, green and red stalks as the wind presses down and suddenly releases.
So much more, so much bigger, more mysterious, and dynamic – the entire sky and edges of the earth as far as I can see and everything that happens between them. Who knows, perhaps the rainbow is only there to get my attention?
It makes me stop long enough to see so much more.