I’ve been reading lately about various polls that question Americans about their religious affiliation. Evidently, the number of people who say they have “no religion”—that is, they don’t associate with Christianity, Judaism, or any other mainstream religion—has been steadily growing, and now constitutes up to a third of the respondents. These people—the so-called “none’s”—when offered alternatives, choose to call themselves atheists or agnostics, which, of course, is bemoaned by the leaders and practitioners of America’s recognized faiths.
What strikes me about all this is that apparently our choice here is seen, by the pollsters and probably by most of society at large, as either mainstream religion or zero religion.
The term “religion” derives from the expression, “to reconnect.” Religion is a way of remembering, and re-remembering, the essence of who we are as spiritual beings. How discouraging that our only alternatives in modern-day America are either to declare ourselves as conventional believers, or wayward non-believers, in relation to life’s deepest, most beautiful quest!
Exactly what are we being offered here? Shorn of qualifiers and excuses, we are either to believe in the absolute truth of an all-powerful male god up in the sky; or to live as if everything around and within us is bereft of meaning and purpose. In other words, a dualistic, patriarchal monotheism, or a juiceless, empty skepticism.
Is it any wonder that many of us want something different?!
Many Earth-connected people use the word “Pagan” to describe themselves. Over the centuries, this term has evolved to refer to those who venerate anything from the early Greek and Roman gods to the land itself; and, in any case, it comes with a boatload of baggage. As a devout country neighbor of mine once asked me, fastidiously trying to show neither pity nor contempt: “Is it true that you worship trees?!”
My own simple recounting of my path has become to say something like: I believe in and work to attune with the indwelling Sacredness expressed through the Green World of Nature both physically and spiritually.
In short, I follow what I and many people I know have come to call the Green Path.
The Green Path is rooted in Nature, yes—but, crucially, it sees “Nature” as inevitably comprising ourselves as well as the world around us. The Green Path is equally interested in the Creation and in the Creative Forces that are continually giving birth to it. We see these forces as immanent in the land and within each of us, and know them to be always evolving, always renewing and returning.
It’s actually amazing how, in the last couple of millennia, the bulk of humanity has been blind to this most obvious and appropriate spirituality, when it’s been right in front of us all along. Why wouldn’t we study, honor and celebrate this living Earth that not only shelters and feeds us, but offers us beauty, harmony, wonder, belonging and fulfillment every day in every place? Why do we need to bow to an aloof male god up in the sky, or cultivate a jaded, indifferent disbelief, either one?!
Many people insist that we need religion, or at least an accepted ethical system, to inspire us to be kind, caring and magnanimous. Others point to the vital sense of supportive community that religions offer. To all this, I say, let’s look around us! The biocentric web of life on our planet is showing us every day that balance, generosity, mutual thriving, inclusion and diversity are the keystones of life. What else do we need to know and emulate?
We know that the ancestral traditions of the past, all around the planet, were based in a Green Path of their own. This path, however it was expressed in its particulars, recognized and co-created with not only the life-giving properties and beings of physical Nature, but also the many spiritual beings that co-inhabit the Green World with us. This entire way of perceiving, behaving and believing is still alive within us and calls out to be expressed through our practical and spiritual lives.
I will continue to explore and affirm the Green Path in all its aspects, in this blog and the book I’m writing, and in my everyday life. I bless all of you in your own explorations!