One of the simple pleasures, the whiskey in the coffee, of a life after religion is that you find yourself with free time on Sunday mornings. This perk shouldn’t be underestimated; it’s a portion of time that once was under the sole ownership of your congregation as dictated by God himself, where you were ordered to subject yourself to servility and masochism under the guise that the universe exists with you in mind. So once you wake on the first Sunday morning after having made the choice to quit driving yourself to that building every week, you find that you’ve gained more than time. You’ve gained an opportunity.
Whereas the beauty of this perk shouldn’t be underestimated, I hesitate to stack on more gravity than is necessary to what one should do with this time. Because that’s part of the point – it’s yours to do with as you choose! Most of us likely find sufficient reason to be happy with this time just so that we can sleep in a bit, then wake up slowly so that we can have a leisurely breakfast while catching up on news. Maybe it’s the day of the week where you really decide to go all out on breakfast, mushroom and spinach omelets with freshly grated hash browns, or maybe you’re more into pancakes or waffles?
It’s pretty easy to simply send this new free time into the tight grip of banal minutiae, and I confess that’s what I typically do. This is time to do really whatever you want, so by all means do so. But I propose that perhaps it’s not a bad idea to look back on what Sunday mornings were once about for you, the previously devout, and to consider reclaiming the time in a similar fashion, only now with humanism as a central philosophy. What do I mean by this? Well, many of us had been told for years that this was the optimum time to express our spirituality, and we did so by listening to drab readings from the same book each week followed by a bitter snack of cheap wine and stale crackers. Is this really the best way to express one’s spirituality, or sense of the numinous or transcendence? How about waking up early on Sunday to go for a walk in the crisp morning air instead? Especially if you live in a rural setting, taking a few minutes to reconnect with nature is always a great way to unwind and get a brief sense that you are in fact part of something greater. After all, we share DNA with all the trees and creatures that surround us.
As for me, last Sunday I gave meditation a serious try for the first time. I won’t write in any detail my experience with it as I don’t have a strong enough grasp on the process to explain it properly, but suffice it to say that it was a peaceful time where clarity of mind seemed genuinely possible. I confess that I haven’t been keeping up on it very, ahem, religiously, but I fully intend to continue practicing meditation.
And even if it isn’t a daily practice, perhaps it should be at least weekly. And Sunday morning seems a pretty good time to do so.
So how about you, dear reader? Those of you who have left the religion of your family, what do you like to do with your newfound free time that was once committed to attending church?