I was enthralled by my correspondent's enlightening statement to me, and I spent some time trying to figure out where my spirituality was. Eventually I concluded it was not a particular location or animal in which I found the sacred — it was more the concept of the wilderness, of Nature itself as iconic of the sacred, as where I could feel closest to and one with the spiritual. I was searching not for an old bearded guy in the sky (or any other concrete or material object), but rather for a deific concept, a non-reified sacredness that wasn't anthropomorphized, and did not insecurely demand worship.

Furthermore this iconography of the sacred was one where my "worship" was of some value; like the Hindu deities, we were in a relationship of mutual support rather than a hierarchy of obligation and guilt. True, the actual sacred concept did not need me — perhaps could not even see me — but I could beneficially tend its iconic representation here on earth. Effectively, there was the sacred, the wilderness as its icon, and me — just me — as intertwining elements within a breathtaking, dangerous beauty which would continue to grow and evolve without me, but which I could also revere worthily.

In my attempts to describe this sacrality, I find myself once again struggling with a sorely lacking vocabulary. Interestingly, however, this time I do not feel robbed of agency, as to me words are effective and beautiful means of communication — but for me they also mentally solidify a concept, giving it weight and depth and breadth.

Therefore I find myself thinking were I able to effectively describe the sacrality and spirituality of the concept for which I iconically use the wilderness, I would have somehow made it smaller, more understandable by a little human mind, less… omniscient, somehow. I suppose it goes without saying that I'm a believer in the old saying: "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." I don't believe in an outside god or authority figure to safely tell me what to unthinkingly do and how to live, and I emphatically do not believe in a deity which is small enough for my mind to easily comprehend.

Current Implications of Revelation

Even before I was consciously aware of my personal sacrality, I'd conceived a tremendous lack of impressedness with the secular commodification and reification of the materiel connected to the major organized religions. The corporate-sponsored, status quo-enhancing "faith" industry always made me wonder if people really thought about the implications of their actions. Wearing a cross while abusing someone, or having a prayer bumper sticker on your car while you drove like an aggressive maniac seemed incredibly counter intuitive to me. The sale of indulgences had proven the downfall of the monolithic Roman Catholic Church — how could this be any different?

Consequently I started viewing advertising in particular, and corporations in general, with a highly jaundiced eye. I also fell into the habit of actually looking at what I was about to purchase: considering whether I really needed it, or whether it was simply going to fulfill a perceived want.

Economically speaking, this led to my spending less as I strove for a simpler, less cluttered life. It is only due to life emergencies, or when I've allowed myself to listen to the lure of advertising, that I've had financial issues such as credit card debt. Otherwise I pay off the entire monthly balance (dare I say it) near religiously; I find there's something very satisfying emotionally about having little to no personal debt.

My refusal of marriage and childbirth caused me to effectively deny the lure of the entire "wedding mafia" (with all its supposedly necessary socially proscribed one-upmanship) and baby products industry — which I suppose also includes the next eighteen or twenty-five years of required attendant anxieties and debt "for the children!" My preference for finding my Self in the outdoors meant I had a very inexpensive, personally rewarding hobby I could indulge almost any time I wanted. Further, there were immediate physical rewards as well: the exercise was good for me.

Conclusions

All the above were relatively quotidian effects of my personal realization of the sacred. On a deeper level, I find myself realizing both the ecological and the spiritual implications of my chosen beliefs. I feel it is through preservation of the wilderness that we not only maintain and cherish all forms of biological diversity, in all their wonder and beauty — but we also help grow and heal our own hearts.

If we are to effectively have pity for those in need, to aid the helpless and to feed the hungry, then we need to find it in ourselves to do so across species. Thereby I feel we will most effectively learn of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all life on this planet — perhaps in all the universe. The wilderness is more than a producer of oxygen and fascinating Discovery Channel programs — I believe it cleanses our souls, when we listen, as well as it cleanses the very atmosphere we depend on.

Spiritually speaking, the implications of my religious beliefs are inextricably intertwined with the beliefs themselves: it is through self-examination I find my Self in the "all-ness" of the wilderness which iconically represents the interconnected "One" to me; it is thus through discovery of that Self that I start to grasp my interconnected oneness with all, thereby sharing and growing in my/our greatness and joy.

It is therefore incumbent upon me as a spiritual entity striving for enlightenment to accept this personal/social encouragement to continue seeking out my own way; to always persist in my searching for gnosis. That search for gnosis is a love and a joy as great, in some ways, as it would seem the discovery itself would be. I find myself in the wonderful position of enjoying the entire process so much that I'm not entirely certain whether that itself is the secret, hidden discovery of achieving enlightenment. I'm not worried, though — I don't think this journey will ever truly end. Either way, both life and I win.

Works Cited

Allen, Paula Gunn. 1986. The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions. Boston: Beacon Press, 1992.


Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 1972.


de Saussure, Ferdinand. "Arbitrary Social Values and the Linguistic Sign." Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings. 3rd ed. Charles Lemert. San Francisco: Westview Press, 1993. 160-169.


Durkheim, Emile. "The Cultural Logic of Collective Representations." Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings. 3rd ed. Charles Lemert. San Francisco: Westview Press, 1993. 98-108.


Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1928. (No longer in print)


Gross, Rita M. Feminism and Religion: An Introduction. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996.


Jung, C. G., et al. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. London: Vintage Books, 1989.


Mitter, Sarah S. Dharma's Daughters: Contemporary Indian Women and Hindu Culture: Contemporary Indian Women and Hindu Culture. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1991.


Bible Gateway. 1995-2008. International Bible Society: New International Version. 9 December 2008


Pagels, Elaine. Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity. London: Vintage Books, 1989.


Roscoe, Will. Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998.


Spong, John Shelby. Living in Sin?: A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality. San Francisco: HarperOne, 1990.


—–. Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture. San Francisco: HarperOne, 1992.


Torjesen, Karen J. When Women Were Priests: Women's Leadership in the Early Church and the Scandal of Their Subordination in. San Francisco: HarperOne, 1995.


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