In a few weeks, another year will be drawing to a close. 2017 was pretty good for me. In my little world, some somewhat significant things happened: my family finally met The Handy-Man; I moved into my own place after living with roommates for four years; I started volunteering at ReStore (Habitat for Humanity); seemingly every other friend of mine had a baby…which, in and of itself, does not have a big impact on my life, but it is a not-so-subtle reminder that we are growing older, being propelled into a new phase of life where many of us become parents, aunts, uncles, and friends of little ones’ parents.
It’s been a year where I have learned — and am continuing to learn — some of those lessons in life that, for me, are not “common sense.” I am learning that I can’t keep everyone’s photo on my fridge door. I am responsible for certain parts of a relationship, not the entire thing. Sometimes I have to back away and stop caring so much. I am learning to let go of the things that leave me feeling cold and dark, and to go towards the things in life that offer warmth and light.
It’s been a year of a few firsts — my first Christmas tree, my first dental fillings, and my first time watching and loving King of the Hill. There have been a few little surprises this year, like making a new friend or two, and learning that it’s really difficult to grow long hair. I’ve had the chance to enjoy some of my favourite things: hanging out with The Handy-Man, books and more books, hours-long phone calls with my friend in Victoria, and the chocolate peanut butter crunch bar at Cactus Club Cafe.
And, looking back on 2017, it’s been a year of some significant moments in Tania’s Journey Out of Religion, Year 7.
Early this year, two of my family members (on separate occasions) asked me, “So…why exactly aren’t you a Christian anymore?” This is a huge step from making assumptions and praying intensely for my soul, without actually consulting me about matters related to my soul. Wow. The conversations were brief and somewhat vague, but still — that was big!
In April, I went to the church that I’d attended for most of my life. Prior to that Sunday, I hadn’t stepped foot in the building for over two years. But in April, it was my aunt and my uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary, and I wanted to be at the service for the presentation of their anniversary plaque. The whole experience of being at church again left me feeling a bit empty and disappointed, but mostly indifferent. As well, I couldn’t help but think that I am doing fine without it now (except in the brief moments when the nostalgia and sadness of it all still overwhelms me). That church and all the memories will always be part of my life, but I’m not lingering so much anymore.
In June, the Living Without Religion discussion group turned one year old! Even though I’m not always in the mood to go to the meetings, by the end of the evening, I am usually very grateful that I went. My heart and my mind expand as I sit in the midst of fellow thinkers, doubters, seekers. Years ago, I would have expected my 33-year-old self to be leading a cozy Bible study group on Thursday nights. And yet, despite how this is not a Bible study group, we’re still there to do many of the same things: grow, learn, become better human beings. My life is richer because of that.
This past summer, we had a KASHA picnic. In October, we had our second annual Cheery Gratitude Day dinner. Festivus will be coming up soon. And as these things become part of my life, I am re-gaining a sense of community and belonging. I’ve met some wonderful people at KASHA events and also out there in the rest of the world. My eyes have been opened a bit more, and I’m more curious about everything, it seems! I feel a bit braver and stronger, and I’ve learned that it is, in fact, possible to survive and do well out there.
I usually start looking for the next year’s calendar in November, so by now I’ve had my 2018 calendar for a while. It’s still mostly blank except for my next year’s work schedule and a dentist appointment in June. We’ll see what the the rest of the year brings with it!
So, KASHA members and others who come across this site, may your Christmas season be filled with warmth and light and all good things, and best wishes for 2018!