Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Holy No

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," dispensing free advice and then paying you to take it since 2005! We're closing in on another anniversary. Oh my goodness, so much has happened since then!

Saturday afternoon, Heir and Extra Chair and I went to the local PETCO to pick up a foster kitten. I had asked the lady who runs the cat cages at PETCO to choose a kitten for me to foster based on personality and not on looks. Let's face it ... except for those naked monstrosities bred for cat shows, there's no such thing as an ugly kitten.

As the cat lady was boxing up my new charge, she and I got to talking about kitten fostering. If you go back into the archives of this blog, you'll see no end of cute kittens that I bottle-fed. I'll bet I raised more than 75 kittens (and lost about 20). But I dropped kitten care when I went to work full time. This kitten I'm raising now is a special exception. It's just too much work.

Too much work. When you work all week and come home dead exhausted, it's a rude and thoughtless deity who expects you to volunteer your weekend hours to some religious cause.

For 15 years while my daughters were young, I martyred myself to the United Methodist Church. I helped with the children's choir, and the Sunday School. I donated baked goods to sales and deposited money in the collection plate. I listened to hundreds of sermons, and I don't remember a single word of any of them.

The kitten foster years were just as hectic. The kittens were always hungry, or messy, or sick, or hidden under the furniture. Their coop had to be washed. Their box had to be disinfected. If it was a big litter, all of this needed to be done twice a day. Looking back, I don't know how I did church or kittens. Sometimes I was doing both simultaneously.

Then I decided I was in the wrong praise and worship team. I joined a Druid Grove, and we all hit it off like age-old pals. We got together eight times a year. Wouldn't you know, even that turned out to be too much, not only for me but also for the other members? Last year we re-united for a Lughnasadh ritual ... and we haven't seen each other since.

Briefly I joined an ADF Grove that is convenient to my home. But if I couldn't muster the pulse to be a Methodist, I sure didn't have the chops to keep up with this Grove. Their rituals lasted whole weekends and were outdoors, camping. And the financial output was similar to the UMC, in other words, a reach.

I have learned that it is holy to say no.

The young girl who handed me the foster kitten had the tired eyes of an over-worked church lady. I said I had given up fostering in 2008. She said that was about the time she started. Now she co-runs the shelter. It's an enormous responsibility. Cats come, and cats go, and all kittens start to look the same.

Holy no. This woman has a husband and a job. And she's at PETCO on Saturday, in the middle of a beautiful spring day, volunteering.

We set aside time for the worship of our deities because we want Them to know how special They are. We may be exhausted, we may have too many obligations, but here we are, because our deities require of us devotions.

How about this? How about it if worked the other way around?

There are bored gods who feel the love when we lie in bed on Sunday morning talking to our spouses, then amble down to the kitchen for a cup of tea. There are bored gods who accept as worship our decision to take a walk, to take a nap, to haul in firewood or shop for groceries. These are the deities who love us not for what we can do for them, but for what we do for the people we care about. These are the gods of the holy no.

I work hard, and on the weekend I'm tired. The bored gods love a hard worker.

I love my husband and daughters, and I want to spend time with them. The bored gods love devoted mothers.

I need to be completely lazy sometimes. Thank goodness the bored gods don't see sloth as a deadly sin, but rather as a healing practice!

The moral of this sermon is simple enough. Gods and Goddesses don't make demands. Other people make demands. Be sure the voices you're hearing are your deities. Have the holy no in your tool kit and use it.  Otherwise, trust me on this, you will some day regret joining a praise and worship team that once looked so promising but is now torturing you with high expectations.

I want to thank the bored gods for giving me this time to write a blog post while talking to my parrot.



I don't like organized religion, even if it's mine...The Goddess knows I put trust and faith in her and that/s all she asks.

Mary J. said...

I loved this and its message. I learned a long long time ago that if you just say 'no', people have no comeback argument for that. Don't ever give excuses, just say 'forget it.' :)

Lucretia said...

A simple "No" can be the holiest word in the world. And REAL deities understand that, as They know what it's like to be bombarded with requests 24/7. So thank you for this post, Anne, and may you totally enjoy your "No" time with "no" reservations!

Anonymous said...

I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful and RIGHT this is!

--Lavanah (who is having trouble today with the various requirement of google/gmail/etc.

Anonymous said...

I believe some of it is that as we get older, we don't have as much energy -- this is why the natural order of things is that one has children when one is very young. We lose the energy very gradually, so we don't notice it, but it makes a difference. When you did all that volunteering, you had the energy for it. Now, your concerns are different, you have different energy for different things. One gets less physical and more spiritual as one gets older. One knows more and has better perspective. You know what's important.