My father ruled our home and my mother did everything she could to keep him happy. Because he hated to be kept waiting, she and I never dawdled, delayed, or dragged our feet. We moved through our lives at home with a no-steps-wasted precision and a deep, abiding respect for time.
I’m phobic about tardiness and the fear of keeping someone waiting makes me rush just about everything I do. I thought about this today as I was folding laundry. Hurrying is my default mode and when I realized that I didn’t have anything on the schedule after the laundry was folded, I consciously slowed down. Some folks need to be told to step it up; it’s just the opposite for me.
One way I slow myself down is by appreciating the details of the task. As I folded the laundry, I focused on the feel of the fabric — smooth t-shirts, nubby towels, fuzzy socks — and the neatness of my gestures as I folded the items and placed them in the hamper. I learned this attention to my actions by exploring Buddhism. Mindfulness. Being here now. These concepts were as foreign to me as the actual practices of Buddhism — the formalities of sitting, walking, breathing, chanting, listening. The concepts are still useful long after I stopped the practices.
I believe that’s how religion works for some of us. The practices are the means to a spiritual end, however one defines it. For me, the end is loving kindness, another concept I encountered in Buddhism, but one that appears in all the religions I’ve ever heard about.
Over the past quarter-century, I’ve done a lot of searching for the God of my understanding. Recently, I’ve given up the search. I’m content today that I understand the purpose of religion, a deity, a church, and that I can get to the spiritual end without resorting to anyone else’s means. It’s a relief to acknowledge that while I am awed by the Creation, I don’t care at all about the Creator.