I don’t know what I believe. I thought I had to know before I became a member of the Quakers. But I realised, upon becoming a member that I’m searching. I feel that I’m growing in that.
Once my daughter said, “Mum, you keep on searching, and I think you’re going still be searching right up to the moment you die.” And I said, “I hope that will be the case.”
In Dutch we talk about believing, or knowing: “geloven of weten”. I have a very deep knowing – whether you call that belief or not. I can just feel that life has a meaning for me. And although I don’t know the meaning, I trust it. I’m trustful in not believing. Maybe one day I’ll know. Maybe not. I don’t know.
If I do have a belief…I try to be a good person. Even when I don’t feel well. If I’m tired or something happens then it’s much more difficult for me to be kind and helpful.
Ever since I was very small I always asked questions about everything and I never got answers. Because I was too young, or because it got a bit tricky. My parents would tell me it’s not the time. I was always looking for things that didn’t come from the Dutch Reformed church. I was forced to go to church because if you didn’t go, it became such a big deal to the pastor.
I remember one experience when I was sixteen at Catechism, I read something about how those that don’t know Jesus Christ will end up in hell. I don’t know the exact words. But I just said, “how is that possible?” I thought, “how many Chinese are there? How many Indians are there? How many aboriginals? There are more people on earth who are not Christian than who are.” And I thought, “will all these people end up in hell?” And I’m always looking for this inclusiveness. So that was my first step. And then I felt lost. And I went on to a number of different churches – looking.
And then I was in Switzerland at a protestant church at Easter. And Easter for me was always a happy time – a time for second chances. It’s gay and it’s spring. And the pastor spoke only about sin. Even after I still went to church because I didn’t know differently.
But then I quit it altogether. And I explored Buddhism and all things like that. And I realised that I’m a product of Christian society. And so I don’t reject the bible, but I realised that we should read any book or religion by asking, “is this correct for me?” And without telling others whether it’s correct or not. And another thing is that I don’t want to be told what to think. Maybe that comes from my childhood. I want to find out for myself.
Sometimes I have quotes from the bible. And they inspire me. But it can also be a quote from a book. And what inspires me most is when I’m in a Quaker meeting and people tell me of their experiences. That inspires me. And I don’t have to agree or disagree. They’re all looking for this ultimate spiritual energy or whatever you call it. I think people inspire me. When I look at someone talking about what they believe, I see their face change. And that’s what I can register.
Sometimes I lay in bed and say, “I wish I could believe in a God”. How easy would that be?
Instead of a picture of me, I’d like you to put a blue sky. Because blue…I once lay in hospital for a fortnight and the only thing I had was a window and I looked at the sky. And the sky was blue for a fortnight. And that helped me through. Through the pain and insecurity and everything. And even now when I see a blue sky, I find myself just taking pictures of it.
Recently I was thinking that in Christianity, they have God the father, but ancient people talk about “mother earth”. So I wonder if there is a conflict between the two or if they’re complementary.