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in the air…

“If this Orthodox thing doesn’t work out I’m going to have to become an atheist,” I’d said. My conversation partner was taken aback. “Why an atheist, why not an agnostic?”

And I realized then, in that moment that I didn’t really mean what I had said. Perhaps, I meant that I’d give up on denominations or organized church or the whole system of religion but I didn’t really mean I’d become an atheist and this was an important distinction.

I cannot deny that I believe in God, in some grand Creator. I cannot deny that I have always believed in God, always known some presence apart from the air and the sky, the animals and the other breathing people around me. Sometimes I feel that if I could just slow down long enough without falling asleep I can stretch out my hand and feel, touch, breathe Him; more than the air, more than the sky, more than the animals and the other breathing people around me.

So I will not become an atheist today and maybe not tomorrow. That’s about as far as I can see. I know that something would have to die in me for that to happen. Maybe it’s a fantasy, a dream, a hope that would have to die. Maybe it is something important, maybe something disposable. It feels important, it feels necessary, it feels vital. I don’t want that part to die, that is all I really know.

And so I’m more careful now with my words because every time I threaten to move to Canada if the elections don’t go my way or every time I threaten to throw out toys that the kids don’t pick up or every time I threaten to become an atheist if Orthodoxy doesn’t “work out” then I lose a little something. I lose the ability to be here in this moment and work it out I think. I lose the present tense in an attempt to defray the present tension.  The funny thing about that present tension is that it never really goes away. It might stop blowing in a gale force here and there but it’s made of air and the air remains, regardless of quality or volume, it remains.