2 min

A man of faith

I have re-emerged sure of my convictions

Credit: Xtra West files

I am not a religious man. Not in any traditional sense anyway. But I’ve always been attracted to religious communities for reasons I’m only now beginning to understand with any clarity.

When I was a wee lad I wanted to be a Catholic monk. Not because my family is Catholic but because of the romantic portrayal of various monastic communities in classics of film and literature. For a time I was able to separate out values that conflicted with my own, in order to be inspired by the values that seemed to nourish me.

As a young teenager I transferred my fascination for Catholic monks to Buddhist monks. For a good long time I was convinced that I would join an order somewhere/anywhere and devote my life to all that monks devote themselves to. When my hormones kicked in and began operating at full capacity, I realized I could not commit myself to the life of a Buddhist monk without first experiencing love and sex. Sex and love. So at about 18, love became my religion and community my holy grail. As with Catholicism and Buddhism, I believed I’d be better prepared if I did my research. Once again film, books and this time music, were my inspiration and my teacher.

I ventured out into the world with all the enthusiasm my heart and hormones could muster and I began to worship. Gradually I discovered that practicing all I’d learned was going to be a lot more challenging than I’d first conceived-especially because my rigid, almost dogmatic, adherence to my interpretation of love’s canons seemed to alienate me from my peers.

So from altar to altar I moved in search of a house of worship I could call home, only to find the gap was widening between my faith and my practice. Only to find I’d been betrayed by my movies and books. Only to find my convictions were weakening and with that my commitment to my quest. Eventually I became a non-believer. Well not quite, but I had become cynical enough that I had very little hope that what I searched for was even possible in this realm of men.

But then I spent some time in a kind of ascetic’s retreat and re-emerged certain of my convictions and invigorated by faith. Convictions that define who I am, convinced that what I want is good for me and does no harm to others. And faith-tempered with wisdom and vulnerability-faith that I am not alone in wanting what I want. I am not a religious man. But I believe that when you lose faith you sacrifice hope, so I am a man of faith.