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December Reflections


Would it surprise some of you to know that I am not religious? Not even a little. This is easily attributed to my religious upbringing which was restrictive and literal in its biblical interpretations and became, for me, a focus of hatred, repugnance and rebellion. There was no drinking, no dancing, no movies, no swearing and, of course, no sex before marriage. And many will confirm (myself included) that my dance moves suffer to this day. There was also little room for self-expression unless you got up during a prayer meeting to testify how much you loved the Lord. Pile on top of this the teaching that we were born sinners and the only way to be forgiven was to ask Jesus into our hearts and plead his forgiveness, and, well, can there be any wonder that I wanted to walk away?

The positive, however, is that all these falsities: the threats of eternal flames of hell and the dependency on the Bible as the only Word of God, all these things served and drove me to seek far beyond such confining and limiting beliefs. Of course, for me leaving was anything but an easy path. There was much anger and hatred along the way. There was even (and it causes me to shudder to think of it ) the chance that I could have chosen to remain unchanged. I could still be one of those individuals who approaches you, Bible in hand, and asks you if you know Jesus. Why and how can I say this? Because I know the herculean struggle it took to leave the comforts of these teachings. It meant leaving my parents, my siblings, my mentors, my church and my religion and I did not want to do that. I did not want to step out on my own because of the insurmountable wall of comfort around them which, at that time, felt real and palpable. And, if I guessed wrong, there was now the prospect of the eternal flames of hell looming in the background like a lit match over a gas can.

Today I stand apart from these upbringings. I still love, pray, read, contemplate and wonder but a new, fresher dimension has been added. I still use terms like God, Lord and heaven, but these words have taken on a cleaner, more expansive air. 'Heaven' is a place of the heart and must be sought in the here and now. 'Lord' is an honoring of something that feels greater than myself and 'God' is a humble and awed admission of the unknowable. I am spiritual, but not religious. And if I'm filling out an application that asks me to declare whether I am Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, agnostic or other, I simply write and put a checkmark next to my handwritten note that states: I am my own religion.

"I am my own religion,

I cannot other be,

when in my heart

and in my soul

there lives the Truth of me."

K.R. Halverson



Doctors tell us that we should get 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night in order to maintain health. I disagree. I typically wake up 2 to 3 times a night and can't recall the last time I actually slept for a solid eight hours. Maybe never. Of course, as a teenager going to bed late and getting up late was a badge of honor. In truth, however, I have always been an early riser and, to the aggravation of some late risers, I wouldn't change it for the world. Thoughts come to me, realizations run through me and they all seem to live at the edge of time between sleep and waking. So, waking up in the middle of the night is like a bonus when I can actually walk the precipice of dimensions and balance on the edge of worlds. I have grown to respect these moments. Of course, the warmth of the blanket has power and the temptation to go back to sleep is strong. But very often the beginning of a poem will come or the start of a memory and, if I remember to write it down right then, when I finally wake in the morning it not only has the freshness of that 3 am moment but, often, has accumulated the additional force of a snowflake becoming a snowball.

It is magic.

K.R. Halverson


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