"Thoughts on the Indefinable" by Anna Shive

“I really levitated off the floor when I meditated,” a guest lecturer stated, shrinking into herself before a skeptical audience.  Those sitting around me cocked their heads or snickered. Contrarily, to my surprise, I immediately thought "Of course she levitated".

Growing up, I myself had been “slain in the Spirit” on a regular basis and “spoke in tongues.” Those experiences were real to me, just as hers were to her. But that did not make either of our experiences objectively true. I sighed, suddenly aware of my immense frustration with spirituality.

During my last couple months in Life Together, and especially after this particular lecture, I have not stopped mulling over the innumerable subjective factors that put magical experiences into motion: fears, desires, stimuli, persuasive friends, religious rituals, etc.—all of which are more than enough to generate dreams, visions, hallucinations, and/or even delusions.

As I work in interfaith organizations, I have been witnessing the variety of religious experiences—of how a Muslim’s spiritual life is just as “real” to her as a Christian’s experience is to him. I’ve observed that everybody seems to know who God is, through vacuums of culture and emotion. And I’ve realized that those who assume to know God “better” than others have premises that are weak at best.

Having been confounded by these thoughts over the last couple months, I have recently confessed to myself: I’m not a Christian anymore. I’m Agnostic.

Since admitting this, I have found more peace in my thoughts: I no longer constrain my experiences to the cultural lens of Christianity; I no longer feel the ever-present guilt about not “seeking” enough; and I no longer feel threatened by beliefs that are not my own. I’m realizing that everybody “levitates” somewhere between the mundane and the magical.  And instead of searching for magic I cannot find, or wallowing in my own humanity, I’m learning to be comfortable floating in the unanswerable middle.