I’ve never felt a tangibly aching love of religion. For me, it’s always been a quieter relationship, like the love of my parents, I guess. I know that it is always there for me to fall back into and I don’t necessarily need to have its presence glaring in my life to know that it exists for me. It doesn’t need to pulse through my veins—I’m content with it just hanging in the back of my head somewhere.
For some people, worship and religion is more like the love of a significant other: boiling fervent affection, complete with sweaty palms, constricted throat, and dizziness. This seems pretty hardcore to me; being sixteen, dealing with religion, which is essentially a passion for abstractions, is already difficult enough to comprehend. I’m not saying I like things to be black and white—I’m old enough to understand that life is like standing under a fountain of flowing black, white, and gray. But as a teenager, real Love with a capital L is strange (though not impossible) to find in the hallowed halls of high school, so the foreign idea of fostering such a love for an unknown being is more plausibly Byzantine to understand, let alone to swallow and accept. Strong affection is difficult for me to describe in words. It feels like breathing out ground glass and breathing in expectation. It feels like cinderblocks struck with thunder, dropping and thumping in your chest. It feels like a collection of nerves in your every fingertip and hair and toenail is being lit on fire. It feels like rich frosting and a car door slamming on your hands, and your favorite yellow sweater, and the tickle of grass, and stubbing your toes and teeth on metal, and diving into icy lakes, and breaking a wine bottle over your head.
I admire how much my parents love each other, but do they feel this way about their respective faiths, or is the quietness of worship hereditary? For some people, the Lord is a sweeping ballad that professes sanctity at high volume. I prefer to see religion as a hushed little acoustic number, buzzing by in the background. For priests, true love and Jesus intersect at the same spot. Jesus, one might say, is a priest’s ultimate love interest, their entire world, their Rushmore. Perhaps religion finds you in the same way love does, or something like that. I can feel some kind of spirituality seeping into me, some greater picture being put together with every life event like another piece in the puzzle and while it may not have been love at first sight with religion, it may be the kind of love that creeps up on you, which, incidentally, is love all the same.