Editor’s note: Gil Rubio is my cousin, the youngest of three children born to my Aunt Lupe, my godmother and oldest sister of my late mother, Theresa. He is someone I admire for his devotion to family (and by that I mean everyone in the extended Flores family), his musical talent and the goodwill he radiates. Look for more guest bloggers throughout the year.
By Gil Rubio
My friend and co-worker often sneezes at work, to which I promptly reply “Bless you” … to no response.
It came up in casual conversation one day that he is agnostic, one who believes it impossible to know if God exists.
“Is that why you don’t say thank you when I say bless you?”
He just looked at me.
I told him that he doesn’t have to believe as I do to accept a blessing from a friend.
What is the harm in the blessing, or saying thank you?
Again he just looked at me.
It’s kind of like the guy who doesn’t wave “thank you” after you let him cut in front of you in heavy traffic. Except, I may not let that guy in again … but I will continue to bless my friend whether he responds or not.
Why do we have such difficulty believing in a Higher Power, a Greater Spiritual Being, a Creator … God.
Is it because we want to believe we can do no wrong?
Or is it because we fear the consequences of being wrong?
If there is no such thing as God, then why has Man throughout the ages had a need to create Him or them?
Somehow it makes people nervous and uncomfortable to think of God or Jesus.
Yet we readily believe in Jason or Freddy Krueger who raised from the dead to do evil.
We shy away from mentioning God or Jesus, yet we say “Oh, my God”, and curse using His name. We sing countless popular and famous songs and don’t notice that they not only mention God or Jesus, but are deeply spiritual in their message.
I think the problem lies in confusing Faith, Spirituality and Religion.
Faith is the belief in the unseen.
Religion seeks to explain Faith.
Spirituality is the understanding that some things are sacred and Science seeks to explain the inexplicable.
It is entirely possible to have Faith without Religion, and, as we have seen, it is possible to have Religion without Faith. Religion is man-made, and much like the Laws of the Land, can be well-written and well-intentioned, but it is the people who interpret it and “enforce” it that ruin it. Like the Laws of the Land, Religion needs to change with the times to be relevant to the age we live in.
Faith and Spirituality come from within.
Although my Faith is born of the Catholic Church, I don’t believe in the entire doctrine of the church, but my Foundation of Faith remains.
My Foundation has cracks in it, and yet it supports my “house,” which has seen the furniture changed and rearranged. In fact, I have remodeled my “home” with a different floor plan.
Yet the Foundation of Faith remains the same and is with me always … with or without the church… or the building.
The air is unseen and yet we have Faith that it exists and will be there for us every moment of everyday. We can’t give it away, keep it from someone else, buy it, sell it, put it in our pocket, or even hold it or see it.
Yet we believe in it.
It is Life itself.
Spirituality tells us that Life is Sacred.
It is a gift from God.
Science will explain it with something like the “Big Bang Theory.”
But if we were to keep incessantly asking like a child, “Where did that come from?”…
What would the final answer be?
Do we really need to know the answer to everything?
Why is it so hard to believe that God created the World?
Why can’t we believe He created the atom to have a “Big Bang” and develop life as we know it?
To a Supreme Being, maybe 700 Million Years is but 7 Days!
Is it that hard to believe we have been blessed with life, it is sacred and we should be grateful?
Is it really that hard to believe that we should respect and love each other as Brothers and Sisters?
Is it really that hard to believe that we should protect the One Planet we all inhabit?
I know that I’ve been given more chances than I deserve, and for some reason, I’m still here.
I’m not foolish enough to think that I am invincible or that I have tricked fate.
No, instead, my survival has only humbled me to the majesty of The Lord, …The Great Spirit, …The Creator.
How can I be anything but grateful?
I don’t expect anyone to believe the way I do, and I could be totally wrong.
But when I leave this physical plane, with what face would I greet The Lord?
I hope that I can look upon His beautiful face with nothing but gratitude in my heart, rather than hang my head in shame as if I didn’t know.
Because I believe in God and all His gifts and blessings, and that life is sacred …
That is why I wish His blessings on others.
As I write this, my dear sweet cousin has given birth to a baby boy after a difficult labor, and a dear old family friend has passed away…
Even though none of them believe as I do, I know they will all graciously accept my wish for God’s blessing upon them.
Perhaps that is as it should be.
Gil Rubio lives in Seaside, California. He is operations manager at a printing business in nearby Monterey. He teaches 5th grade catechism, serves as an English lector and leads a bilingual choir at the church he grew up in. He is also the leader of Red Beans & Rice, a blues-inspired, New Orleans-influenced band in its 22nd year with 6 CD releases to its credit.
He says: “The loss of many loved ones and the near loss of everything I’ve ever worked for, all in a very short period of time humbled me into reexamining what I believe … and subsequently finding my faith again after many years.”
Copyright photograph: Fred Arellano