mountain laurel |

Mountain Laurel and Thoughts on Faith

DenaJune 27, 2014

mountain laurel |

“If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there your hand will lead me.” –Psalm 139

One of the hardiest plants on our little mountain is mountain laurel. Mountain laurel is a bush with gnarly, winding limbs. Even the very small mountain laurel bushes look ancient. When they are not in bloom, they are nothing special to look at, but then each year when spring turns to summer — right around the time when the fireflies start to show — the mountain laurel bloom. Because there are so many bushes everywhere it is a most magnificent scene, like fallen snow in the middle of June. The bloom only lasts a couple of weeks, but while it is on, it is truly stunning.

For the first time in all of the years that we’ve lived on our little mountain, I managed to sneak away and photograph them in the early morning light. I walked up into our backyard after giving Roman his breakfast. He sat in front of the sliding glass doors and watched me all the while. I turned around now and then to see that he was still there. I would wave to him and a gigantic grin would come across his face and then he would hit the glass with his sweet, little hands in excitement.

It was a special morning, like all of our mornings, and I am grateful to have these photographs to remember it by.

mountain laurel |

mountain laurel |

mountain laurel |

mountain laurel |

This is about to get really deep, philosophical, and religious — so if you are not interested in my views on any of these things, I recommend scrolling quickly over the text below, enjoying the photographs, and heading straight to the last paragraph.

Faith has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s such a deeply personal topic that I struggle to write about it. Still, I’ve been feeling compelled to share as sharing always bring me clarity.

My faith is an enormous part of who I am. For most of my life, I’ve been been sure and firm in my faith. However, recently I’ve been feeling insecure and unfulfilled, specifically, by the ways that I am practicing my faith.

Because my beliefs are unconventional, this is difficult to explain, but I shall try. I was raised Catholic and attended catechism through high school. After receiving my confirmation and becoming an adult in the eyes of the church, I made the decision that church and organized religion were not for me. I found too many inconsistencies and hypocrisies in the doctrine. And perhaps, more importantly, my scientific and questioning mind could not accept that things were so black & white and that the bible — written by men — could literally be the word of God that we were all meant to live our lives by.

I spent a great deal of time studying human origins, anthropology, and geology/deep time (the history of the earth) throughout my education. Simply put, science and organized religion are disconnected. There are inconsistencies between the two that can not be explained no matter how one might attempt to twist them.

Finally, there are so many religions in the world, and I find it impossible to “choose” one and hold onto a belief that “my religion” is correct and all of the others are wrong. I relate deeply to elements of many of the religions that I have studied — from Buddhism to Taoism to Hinduism to Christianity and so on. How could I choose one? Why should I choose one?

Despite all of this, I am a deeply spiritual person. I have tremendous faith and an unwavering belief in God. For everything that science is, and for all of the ways that it does not connect with religion, in my belief there is no science without religion. For me, science can only go so far to explain the mysteries of life and once I reach that point, religion explains the rest. Further, I have witnessed miracles in my own life and with my own eyes that which science alone could never explain.

Up until now I have practiced my faith through personal, private conversations with God; meditation; and time spent in nature. In the past, these things have been enough to sustain me. However, recently that has changed. As I mentioned above, I am feeling insecure and unfulfilled in my faith. I have been praying more in the past year than I have in the past twenty years. My relationship with God, has waxed and waned over the years, but I feel closer to Him than I ever have before and I finally recognize that I need Him more than I ever have before. I also find myself being drawn to the Bible and the beautiful wisdom that it contains.

I want to feel understood. I want to have a place to practice my faith within a community rather than alone. I am not sure if such a place exists, but I have started looking and have found some possibilities. It’s a start — exciting, and also scary. I look forward to seeing where this path leads me.

mountain laurel |

mountain laurel |

mountain laurel |

mountain laurel |

Whether you’ve read this entire post or just scrolled quickly to this point, I thank you for your presence and your patience. I am not certain what has stirred up all of these emotions within me or started me on this new quest — but I know that motherhood and loneliness are two pieces of it. This post — the intersection of some beautiful photographs of flowers with a deep, winding conversation about faith — may seem odd, but nature always brings me to faith and faith to nature.

Before I close, I want to state that my thoughts here are intended to be completely non-judgmental. I believe that all people are entitled to whatever faith they so choose, and truly, I believe that all faith is beautiful in its own way. I genuinely believe that there is no right or wrong when it comes to faith. There should only be love, light, and acceptance.

Happy weekend, friends. xo

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Comments (10)

  • Gillian

    June 27, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    gorgeous, gorgeous photos! loved reading your thoughts on faith.

    1. Dena

      July 2, 2014 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks, Gillian. Your faith has always been inspirational to me and I am grateful to have women like you in my life to support and inspire me.

  • Suzy

    June 27, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    I totally get what you’re saying. I was also raised catholic (and Rob as well) and we even baptized Sam. But I struggle to feel connected to church because I am, like you, a person who opens their mind and hearts to other religions and science. We honestly don’t care for the catholic church by us, it’s stogy and so formal. I feel like an outsider. I often think about finding another church and exploring what they have to offer, but it’s scary!

    I really hope you keep sharing your journey!

    1. Dena

      July 2, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      I definitely agree with your comment below. I think that the “Catholic thing” is real and unfortunate. I think that a lot of people get pushed away from faith because of that very stodginess that you’ve described. I will definitely keep sharing about this journey and should have something to report really soon. 🙂

  • Erin

    June 28, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Beautiful photos, as always, Dena! Ever hear Ziggy Marley’s song “Love is my religion?” It’s one of my theme songs. XO

    1. Dena

      July 2, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      For a long time I told everyone that, “Kindness is my religion.” I still feel that way. I love that Ziggy song, too. So perfect. <3

  • trish

    June 29, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Love the photos so pretty. I too aling with hubby were raised cathoilc and have baptized our children but like you feel like something is missing. I would love to join a church with a Sunday school and more family appeal than the standard boring Catholic mass I am just to chicken but I just might!!!

    1. Suzy

      June 30, 2014 at 9:33 am

      It totally must be a catholic thing.

    2. Dena

      July 2, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      Thanks, Trish. I completely agree. I love the whole Sunday school vibe and that close-knit community atmosphere. I hope that we both find what we are searching for. <3

  • Kristin

    July 10, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Dena, I agree 100% with your intersection and limitations of science and faith. This is a topic that used to haunt me, it took me more than a decade to be comfortable with both.

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