Faith, Spirituality and Religion: Guest blogger

Gil Rubio: dynamic musician, devoted follower

Gil Rubio: dynamic musician, devoted follower

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.

Silence.

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?

***

Gil Rubio, far left, leads a bilingual choir at the Catholic Church he has attended since boyhood.

Gil Rubio, far left, leads a bilingual choir at the Catholic Church he has attended since boyhood.

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

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Faith, Spirituality and Religion: Guest blogger

  1. God bless you Gil Rubio. I have heard Red Beans and Rice many times and never knew you were George’s cousin. Though I am a Protestant Christian, I would consider you a brother in Christ. My relationship with the God who picked me up out of a hole of despair is rock solid. He gives me peace and joy. I truly feel sad for those who do not know this God of love.

    • Thanks for your comment, Mary. How cool that you’ve seen Gil and his band play. Small world, isn’t it?

      Wish I had the opportunity to see them more myself. I did catch them up here in Portland one year when they played at the Waterfront Blues Festival. Solid.

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting Mary!
      I like to believe that it doesn’t matter what we call our Faith, or even how we practice it … Just that we have it!
      Also, I hope that you will say hello next time you see the band!
      Thank you and God bless you.

  2. “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.” Absolutely. And cheers to employing a mystery box. I have one in my head for God stuff and parts of his Word. I drop questions and head-shakers in there often so I can carry on absorbing the wisdom and guidance I crave and was intended to have. Good piece, Gil and George!

    • Thank you for reading and commenting Elizabeth!
      Because Religions are man-made they often create God in our image and bend Him to our liking. Often, what we understand as Holy Words are used as weapons, rather than lessons of inspiration.
      Of course, we will have questions, but I think we have to seek those answers for ourselves in a one-on-one relationship with that Higher Spiritual Power.
      God bless you.

  3. This is a very thought provoking essay, in many ways I agree, but there are some thoughts that I have.
    Gil asks way we can’t just accept that God created … And. Stop looking or asking why. Yet virtually every aspect of our physical environment was and has been created by those that pushed beyond the limits of the time. They refused to accept the status quo. This can be both good and bad.
    Should we accept the flu virus created by God, or ask for the scientists to be blessed for using their God given intelligence to find the vaccine? By using the vaccine are we not agreeing that God is not always right and we do not accept the situation we are in?

    As for somehow accepting Freddy Kruger and the other guy, I don’t, never have, they don’t exist. Not a good example. Evil does exist but it is so much more complicated.

    To the civilian victims of the nuclear bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki I suspect they thought that we were pretty evil, to the families of the soldiers preparing to invade Japan I suspect they thought differently. 70 years after it will still be debated. This is an extreme example, I realize but is is a paradox that occurs all the time.

    As for having faith that air exists. It does, it has mass, volume and can easily be demonstrated is 5th grade science experiment. This is also not a good example of faith.

    The ultimate question, does God exist? I honestly don’t know. Should science keep asking the question? Absolutely

    • Eric. I’m so glad you’ve become invested in this blog. Lots of interesting topics and opinions, for sure, and your comments add to the mix. I appreciate the questions you raise about Gil;s essay and especially agree with your concluding paragraph. Nice to have a forum where we can read and react thoughtfully to each other.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting Eric!
      I understand and appreciate your thoughts.
      I think that over the millenniums that man has evolved and developed, we have achieved incredible things through Science.
      I also think we have perhaps inadvertently done a lot of damage as well.
      When we make ourselves orphans with no accountability or responsibility to others or the World we live in, we lose sight and a sense of the delicate balance of life we have been afforded.
      The Science that has created great medicines has also added chemical compounds to us and our World which has altered the balance.
      As we evolve more and new strains of disease and virus appear, is it God or Man?
      I don’t think we can assume it is God’s doing if we are not sure if He exists.
      We could go on and on, and the reality is that Man will always struggle with and against himself!
      My point in writing the piece was, that I care about my brothers and sisters enough to bless them with what is meaningful to me, for their well-being.
      They don’t have to believe or understand my Faith to accept caring love and friendship.
      Just be grateful.
      I hope you will not be offended when I say God Bless you.

  4. I have a 20 minute walk to and from Max every day, so I have a lot of time to contemplate life, the universe and everything else, maybe too much. It’s always dangerous to talk about religion and politics.
    I do respect and maybe envy Gil because he is so sure and confident in his belief and future.

    • Thanks again Eric!
      It IS dangerous to talk religion or politics …
      But understanding each other is paramount to us having any kind of harmony in our lives.
      I may be confident in my belief, but I am by no means sure of my future!
      That is why I start my day with a big bowl of Gratitude with No Expectations on the side!

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