I’d never planned to talk about religion here. In fact, I’d planned to specifically avoid it. No matter what you believe, if you believe, if you fervently don’t believe, someone else believes something else and may be bothered by what you think.
You know what happens when you set a thought like that.
You end up talking about religion. And not the way you think you will.
I am not a skeptic. I have seen things myself that can only be described as miracles. The mechanisms by which those miracles occur are the meat of what makes people sensitive on the subject, because everyone is sure they know. I will not challenge that belief if you have it, and if you are skeptical even at the mention of the word “miracle,” you are entitled to that as well. Degrees of religion, flavors of religion, non-religion are not the point.
At least in that way.
Because here’s the funny part about religion. When I had to cancel a utilities appointment due to a family illness, the customer service rep kindly told me that she’d pray for us.
And it made me feel better.
I know her religion is not my religion.
But it still made me feel better.
The biggest skeptic in my family has been collecting prayers, categorizing them, keeping stock of which religions have been invoked, counting them and keeping them close. I can honestly feel a metaphysical unity among faiths wishing us well, wishing us hope.
And it’s from there that we need to view religion. Does prayer change outcomes, or help influence outcomes? The answer to a question like that, to borrow the phrase, is “above my pay-grade.”
But I do know that the statement itself, “I’ll pray for you,” is not about my belief and your belief, it’s not an assertion of righteousness, it is a confirmation of a basic connection of humanity, even between complete strangers. “I’ll pray for you” means all of us, the believers and the skeptics and the nonbelievers, we’re all in this universe together, and we wish one another a less difficult passage.