My Religion Maybe
It’s time to explore the G-word. This post is about my journey. I have no desire to offend, or to challenge anyone else’s beliefs.
I identify as Catholic. Yet, Buddha seems just as true and good as Jesus to me. Pluralism is important to me.
Scripture can be a comfort. Yet, it’s been awhile since I’ve communed within the walls of a church. I’ve sent quiet prayers of hope and thanks His way. When it comes to faith, I’ve gone in circles throughout my life.
My Religion Way Back in the Day…
When I was three and four, my babysitter knew if my mom and I had been to church on Sunday. If we had, I would pull a living room curtain over a big chair, making a little sanctuary. Then, I’d bring another kid into my sanctuary and sing songs from mass to him or her. If we had not, no makeshift sanctuary was created.
In grade school, I started CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) classes. They were held on Wednesdays during the school year. A teacher told our class of 3rd graders that if we did not attend church each and every Sunday we should be buried with a stake of holly through our heart or something similar and horrible. I decided that CCD was no longer for me.
The following Wednesday, I locked myself in the bathroom after school and refused to open the door. I had Irish twin brothers (born within 11 months of each other). The youngest was only a few months old. My dad worked 3rd shift at IBM. After school, my mom had to manage the three of us alone. She was outnumbered and exhausted. I never had to go to CCD again.
My Religion Back in the Day…
In high school I read about transcendental meditation, Buddhism, and Hinduism. I even had a book on the worship of trees. Once I learned the word agnostic, I decided it fit for me. I wanted to believe that there was something beyond our understanding and felt no need to define it.
In college, I told one of my English professors that I thought I was an Agnostic-Catholic maybe… She was a lovely and most tolerant woman; and, she just smiled in response. Oh the things college professors must hear!
As a young adult riddled with anxiety, I felt the pull of Christianity again. My mom had decided Catholicism was not for her, so I attended an Evangelical church with her. I even played 3rd base on the church league softball team.
After I was married, my (ex) husband and I felt spending time in nature was more holy than spending time within the constraints of a building made by man. I thought it’d be a good idea to have my daughter experience a faith community without insisting on a particular religion. So, she and I began attending the Unitarian Universalist Church in town. It’s non-ecclesiastical. That means that Atheists, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Agnostics, Pagans, and more all commune together under one roof. The sermons were philosophical and celebrated the seasons of the year and of life.
A couple of years before I divorced, I found my way back to Catholicism. At my Grandpa Lynch’s funeral at Saint Francis of Assisi Church, I knew how to mourn and what to do. While it had been years since I’d darkened the door of a church, I remembered when to sit, kneel, and stand. I could sing the songs and do the sign of the cross. There is so much beauty in the ritual.
Other things encouraged my return. Listening to the Dalai Lama talk about it making sense to stick with and explore the religion you were born into, because in the end, most are the same. One thing I should make clear, is that it’s my memory of what I thought he said more than a decade ago. It’s possible that I am misunderstood the gist of his words. On Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippet, a guest of hers talked about how if we abandon a religion due to a disagreement with a part of it, the religious community loses its ability to evolve.
I returned to church and joined the choir. My (ex) husband was raised Catholic and attended mass with me a time or two. Elizabeth, my daughter, attended more often at first. Being in church choir helped me get through my first Christmas as a divorcee. That and volunteering for the Salvation Army helped me maintain a semblance of Christmas cheer.
I haven’t been to church since Christmas Eve of last year. I’m not so good at following the rules. Chris and I have lived together for a couple of years. When we get married, it will not be with the intention to procreate or to raise children in His name. Chris is not Catholic and he will not be converting.
I guess I’m a non-practicing Catholic. Or, maybe I’m a Catholic by culture and an agnostic otherwise.
It could change. Change is the only certain in life, right? Do your beliefs ebb and flow?
This post is part of a series inspired by Eat Pray Love.