I remember my long walks with my mother. We lived with one grandmother and we would go and visit the other grandmother across town. Upon the death of my grandfather, my parents moved in with my father’s mother and I stayed with my mother’s mother as it was close to the school I had already started. Thus we would often walk from one grandmother’s home to the other and to pass the time, my mother would talk to me. It was on these walks that she would impart the wisdom of the twenty-something that she was at the time.
One one of these walks she imparted the wisdom passed on to her by the brainwashing of Soviet Union: there is no god. Religion is for quacks and for feeble minded, it is the opiate of the masses. This made sense to me and thus I often saw kids in kindergarten who would wear a cross or make the cross from head to chest and shoulder to shoulder, as somewhat confused. I understood that there was no god, I couldn’t see him or feel him and all around us was just nature.
I was this way through my teens and twenties. Feeling smug as an atheist and yet, something at some point began to change. I realized that we don’t know everything, that there are things we don’t have explanations for and that it is not out of the realm of impossibility that G-d exists.
I also realized that I had called on to G-d many times through out my life in stressful moments. I remember praying to G-d when I was in a hospital as a ten year old, sick with Hepatitis that had spread through our town and having been a bed-wetter, I prayed each night that I would not wet the bed so as to avoid the ridicule of other people in the ward. I remembered the times on planes in heavy turbulence, praying to G-d and thus I knew, I could not deny irrationality of something I already did. During my travels I had many instances that seemed impossible, become possible. So many events, almost choreographed. I knew when I was not following my heart, my life felt empty. It was as if I was walking on air and when I travelled in the direction of G-d’s bridge, I was never falling.
I had seen atheists and knew that many of the worst killers in history were atheist. I saw what happens when people think of themselves as the highest form and lack imagination of a possibility of a creator. It seemed egotistical to be an atheist and something that is devoid of imagination of possibilities, given all the wondrous things around us.
Thus, the other night, as I was headed home from a book signing by Colonel and Astronaut, Chris Hadfield, a man who had been to space, who has seen the stars and felt the space, I was listening to Radiolab about explorers of the deep sea that I began to grasp strongly my need for religion and G-d. It was the episode of the explorers, finding nothing in the Arctic waters. Traveling for seven time-zones in a ship with a robot traveling along the bottom of the ocean, searching for life near lava vents and finding nothing. Mile after mile, day after day until ice crept around them, stopping in their tracks. This was where they dropped the robot and found the oldest living organisms. Think of this, for weeks they travel to a spot that nature itself stops them where they find the birth of life? Some can see coincidence in this, but I choose to imagine a certain pre-ordained destiny that is maybe false but beautiful.
As the holidays approach, let us think of the miracles that brought us here, that allowed us to survive and that made all those perished, serve a greater purpose. No life is useless, no person is without value. Let us thank all that is for our ability to live another year, to come together and celebrate the birth of all that is, that let us be here, see it, understand it and celebrate it.