I catch myself at times using the phrase "It's my new religion" as a joke or a flippant statement. The more I read about the depth of spirit and soul and just how sacred so much of life is the less I try to use that sentence. I use it not to be flippant or disrespectful but because I am excited to have found something that moves something in me, something that vibrates the very fibers of my being, waking me up to the moment I am in.
It all started in Japan (what doesn't!? AM I RIGHT!?) There is something about Japan as a whole that resonates with me, I can't put my finger on it. The longer I was there the more it hummed for me, the more the colors came alive and the streets sang the voices of the masses going about their day, doing business, taking selfies.
After I had been in country for four or five days I had the immense pleasure of taking the bullet train from Osaka to Tokyo. The train is modern and sleek on the outside but feels some how trapped in time on the inside. The large (insanely comfortable) chairs with their foot rests and tray tables beckon you to sit back, relax and watch the world go by at roughly 200 mph (that is 320 km/h for all you globally savvy folks out there). I sat in my chair, admiring Mt. Fuji, eating Onigiri (with avocado... I invented it, you are welcome to steal it) and I was perfectly content. Kaz, our 'man in Japan' as he was known, asked how I liked the train, to which I proclaimed, "I never want to travel any other way, I've found my new religion."
And just like that my new catchphrase came out.
That evening (or perhaps it was the next? who can say, I was so jet lagged it all blurred together) we went out for dinner to celebrate a friends birthday. We wandered through the streets of Rappongi to a teppanyaki restaurant (where they cook on the big flat grill right in front of you). We sat in awe as the Japanese chefs flipped and chopped and sizzled our food to perfection. Towards the end of the meal the prize portion was paraded out form the kitchens- a tray of glistening red kobe beef steaks. These cows are massaged daily, they have lineage, they have names, they live better then I do (seriously though) and I think that makes their meat as transcendent as it is. Upon that first, perfectly seared bite the world stuttered into focus and I woke up from my pre-kobe fog to the truth of living. Kaz, ever the man (in Japan), walked over to check on me and the girls I was sitting with to see how we were getting on. He rested his reassuring hand on my shoulder, perched his glasses into his shaggy rock and roll hair and asked, "so how do you like kobe?" to which I proclaimed, "Kaz, you have out done yourself! First the bullet train now this!? Kobe beef is my new religion!" He chuckled merrily, cracked a wise old smile and said, "for such a young girl you have so many religions"
I would like to say that is where it ended... but it's not.
I watched the documentary Cooked on Netflix while I was in Japan and then refused to shut up about. I was like the Cooked prophet walking around with my weathered copy of Michael Pollans book quoting passages on fire and air to people at random. Drew got so fed up with my endless yammering that he consented to watching the documentary just to get me to stop talking about it. While that was a great idea in theory it simply turned him into a convert (and to be fair he read the book before I did!).
What I have come to realize is that these things are not 'religions' in the traditional sense, nor should they be, but they do contain elements of humanity that I think help define how we are to be in the world.
I want to live in wonder (of the bullet train) I want to live tasting every experience and savoring it to the last morsel (of kobe beef) I want to share experience and be in 'communion' with my fellow human beings and engage the world we live in (which means connecting at a very base level with the food we are eating!).
There is another phrase I tend to say and it is this- We are the sum of all of our parts. We are not one decision but many. We are layered and complex beings and our DNA was designed to sing when we are living in alinement with our divine purpose.
I don't think my divine purpose is all that grand in the worlds eye, which is a very humbling thing to realize, but I think it is worthy all the same. I think my divine purpose is to love people, to care for them and feed them, to share in life with them, and be a generous listener. To write and wonder and LIVE.
This, I am sure, sounds very 'woo woo' to many of you, and that is ok. But, as Rob Bell is known to say, "Everything is Spiritual". Perhaps then, my proclamation of 'new religion' isn't blasphemy at all, it is simply an acknowledgment of the divine showing itself in every day things.
So what do you think? Have you ever had an experience that stuck with you? A taste which lingered on your tongue? A connection that felt, for lack of a better term, more real?
I'd love to hear your stories, share in the comments below.