Lately, I’ve been pondering the forces that define our lives.

How much of our human experience comes from the stories we tell ourselves? What about the stories our parents told us as we were growing up -–as we were trying to figure out how the world works and how we fit in?

Does the way we live our lives in various roles define us? Mother, father, daughter, son wife, sister, neighbor, volunteer.

Our views on spirituality; do they define us? What of the organizations we give or don’t give our time and money to?

How do our dietary choices define us? How we treat our bodies. How we treat others: two legged and four legged beings alike?

Surely both our accomplishments and failures are defining.

The way we care for our corner of the earth; what does that say about who we are and what we value? Whatabout the size of the carbon footprint we leave?

The story of my life includes a chapter or two about religion. I want to share a page of that journey with these opening words. It’s not all that unusual. My Presbyterian parents defined themselves and their lives through their church. They are rather religious with the most recent count of Bibles in their home in the double digits. I respect their views and, in a way, admire their faith. Fortunately for me, they accept and respect my non-religious leanings as well.

Growing up, religion didn’t quite resonate with me. Attending college and learning about world religions and philosophies opened my eyes and mind. I questioned the Bible stories my parents read me and those I read in Sunday school.

About the same time, another major shift happened: I started questioning my dietary choices and realized how big of an influence growing up in the middle of America shaped my choices. I decided to stop eating animals, with better health being my prime motivator. Over the years, that choice evolved to also lessening my impact on the earth. It evolved into caring deeply about how animals are treated particularly on farms for our culinary pleasures.

For half my life, I’ve defined myself as a liberal, agnostic vegetarian. Not exactly your typical Midwestern girl.

Now, I also define myself as a humanist and proud member of the St. Louis Ethical Society.

On Sunday, June 28 please consider joining me at the 9:45 forum that I’ll lead about sustainable eating with a focus on eating locally, seasonally and healthfully for self, our planet and all living beings.