The gods of the steamy bath

comments 2
the godless side

That which has been the most difficult for me to replace from religion has been the peace, serenity, wholeness, other-worldly-connectedness I felt during prayer times and worship services.  Now that I no longer believe in the spiritual realm, it feels impossible for me to connect with that which I always associated with god.  I came close the last time I played piano (I wrote a blog about this months ago).  It was heavenly.  It’s been awhile though as we do not own a piano in our home.  So unless we are visiting my in-laws, a family that my husband daily wants less and less to do with, I don’t have access to those beautiful keys and thus that beautiful connection.

But my “quiet time” as I called it had filled up a remarkable amount of my time as a Christian.  It was my sustenance, my daily bread.  It healed and rejuvenated my soul, making me more pleasant and present.

But last night, I stumbled upon some magic.  Wanting to fight my headaches by easing some muscle tension, I took an epsom salt and mineral bath.  Just before I got in, an idea occurred to me.  I grabbed some candles, my cup of tea, my music-that-moves-me mix, asked my husband to keep the kiddos entertained for awhile, turned off the light, and slipped into the hot water.  I always saw scenes like this in movies.  Insanity lurks closely to the mind of any mom of two under two so I thought I could use some space and time to relax.  I’ve actually never done this before– the bath by candlelight.  It was incredible.

I started to notice old, familiar feelings returning.  Like a dear friend who left for war, never came home, and was thus presumed dead, so I had already grieved for a lost spirituality.  But, strangely, this scene mimicked my old spiritual life enough that it awoke my soul.  What was it?  Let me set the scene for you:

  • The sweet, hot aroma of a candle flame
  • Music that moves me.  Worship music (both that which others or myself played) had always been an immediate encounter with god for me.  Now, I see it as a pathway, though sometimes full of obstacles and broken bridges, to my inner self.  Music can be incredibly grounding and connecting.
  • The darkness of the room made the water’s surface incredibly reflective of the candle light and thus  difficult to see my body underneath.  It gave the appearance and feeling of myself disappearing, floating, becoming something other than just my body.
  • The temperature of the water relaxed my muscles, my mind, my thoughts into an almost melt-like state.  When I closed my eyes, I truly felt like the molecules that made up me mixed with those of the water.  It was very connecting.
  • The combination of the hot water in a cool bathroom, darkness, and reflective surface allowed me to see steam rising from the bath as the flickering candle light reflected off of the steam. Like fog hovering above early morning lakeside waters, it was eerie and gorgeous.  Lifting my hand out of the water, now warmed to the same temperature, I could see steam rising from my palm.  I then noticed steam would rise from any part of me that had been in the water and was now emerged.  It felt very symbolic of a spiritual encounter.  The water is the spirit.  The steam is my emanation of it.

I dried off, got dressed, and felt more relaxed than I had in months.  More present.  More aware.  And much, much happier.  Religious prayer, devotion, and worship no longer have the monopoly on the 5-sense encounters with ones inner self.  I just need to be more intentional with setting a true, real ambiance.

My toes in my candle-lit bath.

My toes in my candle-lit bath.

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The Author

I'm a closet atheist christian missionary. Paradigm shifts happen frequently for those who allow themselves to think critically about currently held beliefs and openly about new ones. I’ve developed the skill, or perhaps addiction, for change but the community around me is slow to catch up -- and would damn me if they knew where I stood.

2 Comments

  1. Lovely experience well described, thank you. There is something to “spirit” of human existence that isn’t sufficiently expressed in religion but somehow transcends our mere biology. Being outside religion and yet finding the same peace and experience you described has challenged me to reclaim and redefine my notion of spirit, of god, of emotion and bliss and meaning in human existence. I’ve purchased Sam Harris’s “Waking Up” curious to see what he says, to explore if there is something between faith and nihilism. My artistic self tells me there is. Now I’m off to purchase candles for a much needed, long ignored bath ritual 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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