This weekend, I celebrated the Day of Atonement per my religion's traditions. I fasted, which allowed me to contemplate my errors and omissions to seek forgiveness for them, while staying at my optimal buck-fifty weight.
Part of this holiday felt a bit lonely. I'm one of those people who goes for the entire service, while a multitude of others arrive late, depart early, or just stay for "the important part." Granted, the service lasts all day, with a 2 hour break, but that's the whole purpose of this holiday.
I am not judging those who do this. Some have small children or elderly relatives. And some just don't choose to do it because it's way too long and boring. Everyone's got circumstances we don't know about, and everyone's got opinions. This is America, and nobody can force you to practice, or not practice, any religion. So be it.
Aaaaand now that I've gotten the "Oh Squad" off my back, here's my point:
Deep down, I think that for every one of these folks who is decidedly apathetic or non committal, I win. For every smart-ass agnostic who impugns his own traditions, I score. And for everyone who complains about how much they hate being there, my loyalty grows tenfold.
It's really not so different from the positive reinforcement we runners share - even if you don't PR, you've beaten the loudmouth who sits on his bottom and never exercises. Even if you didn't train properly for a race, you've beaten those who never trained. And even if - G-D forbid - you had to walk part of that race, you've beaten those who didn't move.
So I'm patting myself on the back for my efforts, and congratulating those who did likewise. Hopefully it gained me the forgiveness I sought, but I can't speak for Him who makes that call.
To be honest, the specific religion I practice is dying. The need that prior generations once had for it is not there, and the enthusiasm that once sustained it has been redirected. Membership in houses of worship continues to decline, and the institutions themselves either merge or close.
Until it happens, all I can do is keep whatever traditions I can, and incorporate them into my life the best I can. That way, I'll feel no regrets when the doors finally close, except that I'll no longer have a race where I can place that highly.
So maybe I'll just have to fill that void with ... you'll see. ;)
DISCLAIMER! The above post was not intended to malign, besmirch, cast aspersions against, pass judgment on, or to devalue anyone who elects not to attend religious services, or elects to selectively attend them.
Keeping this disclaimer in mind, feel free to comment. With insight and maturity, I hope!