I've spent a lot of time this summer hiking and camping with my rather adorable boyfriend. Besides a few mosquito bites and sunburns, this has resulted in some great memories of us traipsing up steep, densely forested trails, crossing streams, lying on the beach holding hands (occasionally on a nude beach, which gives a surprising sense of freedom and relaxation) and flying our outrageously large rainbow-colored kite in the strong coastal winds we have here. Looking up at blue sky and motionless clouds made of cotton somehow adds to the feeling of wholeness and closeness. At moments like these I feel truly content.
This feeling of wholeness and peace is purely secular, but it feels religious to me. (Sometimes we went for outings on Sundays, but I suspect that's unrelated.)
Maybe it's because my right to have a simple afternoon of outdoor fun with my boyfriend is a hard-won privilege. You appreciate what you've had to fight for more, I think. Maybe it's because my sense of wonder and transcendence has been transferred from religious thought to my relations with other people and a general appreciation of the magnificence of the natural world. Maybe it's because my boyfriend's sweetness, innocence and (I'm not too proud to admit) beauty make me happy.
If wickedness never was happiness, then I know that this cannot be wicked. There is nothing more healing than looking into his beautiful brown eyes and saying "Ai shiteruyo." (You Japanese missionaries should know that one.)
I don't claim to have all the answers, especially when it comes to anyone other than myself. But for myself, I'll take the simple pleasure of camping over the stress and worry of church any day. Hands down. No contest.
I find myself letting go of the last grains of bitterness I have carried around for a church that did me no favors as a young person. (Exchanging stories with fellow MoHos has been a great help in this.) I get the sense that we are all trying to do what is by our lights right, whether in the Church or out, whether in a mixed-orientation marriage, celibate or with a lover.