My father, on the other hand, is 72 and looks like he's 92 and in poor health. His cardiovascular system is bad: he has atrial fibrillation. His arterial condition is bad: he has atherosclerosis. He has spinal stenosis. He had several smaller strokes before the large one that left him handicapped, although no-one caught them. These strokes are destroying his cognitive abilities. He still knows who everyone is but, for instance, can't remember the name of the town that I've lived in for the past 7 years. He is getting progressively worse and while I know that nothing can be done to make him better, it's hard to watch. I was brought up believing that when someone is hurt or ill, we pray for them. This is a pleasant idea in theory. But once I started seeing all the problems with the religion I was brought up with (Catholic) I began to shy away from it.
I don't mean to make it sound like I think prayer is stupid. Some people are comfortable with it and Larry Dossey, a medical doctor, has written several books on the helpful healing energies generated by prayer. This isn't prayer associated with any particular religion, just prayer with intent. I studied Dossey's theories while I was attending a Unitarian church. My problem with Unitarian churches is that it seems like from the perspective of a lot of today's Unitarians, if you have spiritual beliefs you are treated like an uncivilized, back-asswards bumpkin. I'm not an atheist either, so I guess I just can't win.
I think things go better for me when I turn to some sort of higher power, though. I feel at sea when I try to go with a cut and dry atheist kind of belief system, which doesn't work for me, although in the long run I actually believe that all things are scientific and a part of nature. Some of them simply can't be proven by science as we know it at this time. Ghosts, for instance, and higher types of spirits such as nature spirits and angels. Which may be the same thing, angels being a different kind of nature spirit associated with the etheric realm. Deities in this sense are also natural. They were referred to by the late metaphysician Al Manning as energy transmitter spirits. While Al went way out in left field on occasion and one of his former wives who is also a metaphysical practitioner, said that she was sure he was dealing with spirits but was fairly certain they weren't actually deities, I like his description of powerful energy transmitter spirits and I like to give credit where credit is due.