I’ve often wondered if I am perhaps envious of those who can, with absolute conviction, claim to know and communicate with God. Their certainty that their choice of God is correct, and that all other choices are wrong, is both amazing and completely confounding to me.
As I watched a nun walk around the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres looking at its spectacular stained glass windows and many religious artifacts, I found myself wondering how it was she decided to become a nun. I wondered what she had given up for this life or religious service, but also what it was she gained.
The truth is, religion fascinates me. It’s at the core of so many acts of profound kindness, yet also some truly perplexing acts of cruelty. It’s inspired us to build beautiful structures, and at the same time destroy so much. I find myself challenged by the fact that faith, by its very nature, requires a remarkably open mind, yet few would put religion and open-mindedness in the same category.
For me, God is the uncertainty of everything, the mystery, the unanswered. To claim to understand the profound creative power behind everything is surely a ridiculous act of short-sighted human superiority for which we have little evidence to support such assertions. I would suggest that the fact that throughout time humans have ‘found’ different Gods, proves that our search for God is one that we can never claim to complete.
The creation of religions, with their rules, writings, and rituals, is surely evidence of the glaringly limited way we grapple with notions far beyond the understanding of our earthly minds. It seems to me that religion is the mechanism we use to dismiss anything that might challenge our faith. In other words, faith takes an open mind, and religion closes it.
See inside this cathedral using Google street view.