I never know what I’m going to write here. I shoot off from one thought and before I know it, I have a post.
Today, right now I’m thinking about God. Gosh I think about God a lot.
I’m not super Holy. I’m just regular. Sometimes I’m questioning; sometimes I’m seeking; sometimes I delight in just knowing. Sometimes I think my faith could move mountains and at times, I don’t think my faith could move the tiniest grain of sand.
This relationship started as a young girl.
Our family; we were church every Sunday people. Every Sunday morning at twenty minutes to nine, the nine of us, with our freshly polished shoes marched mostly two by two the few blocks to get to mass. We never missed. And every Sunday morning we sat, third or fourth pew from the front depending on if that other large family got there before us.
I used to keep my eye on the “crying room”. It was a much tinier room, set off to the side of the main church with a large glass window and a speaker system so that you could still see and hear the sermon from inside it. It was where a young family might sit with a new crying baby or little kids that were just plain unruly so that there would be no distraction to the rest of the congregation. Oh how I missed that room, where one could run wild and free, crawl under the pew or slide across the hard oak on your belly whilst singing “Sons of God”.
We were a pretty churchy bunch. It was weaved into our everyday life. So much so, that sometimes, on a rainy Saturday afternoon, we might play church in our upstairs bedrooms. We would take the statue of St. Joseph and flip him upside down to expose the hollowed out stand that he stood on. It made for a perfect little cup- like the ones that held the communion. Sometimes we snuck a few potato chips to place inside as the host and we would line up and receive potato chip communion.
Sometimes, at night, I practiced being Mary by putting the neck of my bathrobe over my head and letting the rest of the cloth drape down my back. I would glide around my room with my hands flattened together and pointing up toward my chin like I had seen in every artistic illustration of a holy woman.
I worked at the church too, with my older sister. We folded bulletins on Saturday mornings. It took hours!!!! My brothers were altar servers. I wanted to be an altar server but at that time- no girls were allowed. I just wanted to ring that bell, the one they ring just before communion.
Then there was a segment of time where we use to say the rosary after dinner, in the living room, before we could go out to play hide and seek. I don’t remember our following that ritual for longer than a summer. I just remember it was hot in the house and my knees hurt. My guess is it must have been a tough summer and we all ended up on our knees. We tried to speed through it while the other kids on the block, the ones that didn’t go to church were yelling “honka” as they prepared to start their next game. All I could think was “those lucky pucks” and as I moved my fingers along the beads of the decket, I would close my eyes tight and pray “Please dear God, make this rosary end soon and help me to find a good hiding spot when I get outside.”
I was pretty good at church, I mean in the, knowing all the hymns and reciting all the prayers and responses sense. Sometimes, I secretly competed with the priest, to try to finish his sentence before he did. I knew all the Sunday moves as well , walk in, find a pew, genuflect, slide in, kneel down, bow your head, rise from your knees and sit down, stand up, sit down, bow your head, stand up, kneel, stand up, shake a hand to your right and one to your left, kneel down, stand back up, walk in single file to the front of the church, turn around and walk back to your seat, kneel back down and watch everyone walk up and do their turn. It was sort of like the “cha cha slide”
After awhile, it becomes automatic.
Then, as I grew, something began to emerge, a deepening I guess, that extended itself not from sitting in the third pew from the front but from some place within.
I started searching for that something. At that point it was just a gnawing.
As a young girl just entering high school and still amped up on my confirmation, I joined the church choir. Filled with spirit, I sang loud and proud….and was asked to tone it down a little. I was filled with happiness…which did not thrill the rest of the choir. I couldn’t figure out why everyone looked so miserable while they were singing “Joy to the World.”
Too much giggling was not the quality they were looking for. Church choir at that time was some serious business!!!! And this girl just wanted to have fun. Thus, my gig with the choir was short lived.
I wondered where I should direct my energies, where I might fit.
It was also during that time that I was considering being a nun. Yep, it’s true!
I figured, surely someone could use a happy one. I mean, there seemed to be a shortage of them based on my grade school music teacher, the crabby Sister who made me stand in front of the class for over an hour while she chastised me for wearing hip huggers. It’s not like I was exposing my midriff, I had on a long turtleneck. Sister Sassafrass could see the ridge of my waist line through the shirt and thought it too risqué!!! I was 8.
Then there was the nun of my grade 4 class, who punched me in the arm because I had not opened my spelling book to the proper page. She was also the one who instructed the class about concentration camps and likened our class to one. There was, within it a “free group” that was allowed to go out for recess and use the washroom when needed. The rest of us had to hold it. What!!!!!
That was not a joyful nun!!!
I thought I might be of good use here; that it might be a good idea to inject some fun into being a nun.
But how was I going to join the nun hood with “fired from church choir” on my resume?
Sometimes I rode my bike up to the waterfront not far from where I lived and milled around the front of the little iron gated grounds of a big house- that I had heard housed nuns. I thought if it was my calling, a mother superior would sense my arrival and open the door and say, “come in, child.” My hope was that I would belong somewhere.
That didn’t happen. The gnawing continued and I never saw one nun enter or leave that building.
I was extremely curious about God and what He/Her was and what He/Her meant to me and what did I mean to Him/Her. I was tossing around the idea that my calling might be to live a life in service.
Then, one day, I overheard someone talking about venial sin and mortal sin.
Crap- there’s more than one, I thought. I had to look into this.
I snuck the family bible up to my room and started looking in the glossary of terms. From there, I comprised a beginners list of venial sins- sort of a “not to do” list.
I needed more examples for clarification. So I started asking questions, beating around the bush, if you will……. “say Jimmy, if you were going to commit a venial sin, what exactly would that be? “
“ How ‘bout a mortal one?”
So I took my little notes of research, completed my list and then…..
Then I checked them off, one by one.
Did that more than once!
Thinking about doing that!
My not to do list turned into a “$h!t, there’s nothing left that I haven’t done list”
As far as the mortal sins go, that list was harder to put together. It was just so vague and anyone that I asked didn’t seem to have a clue as to how to define one. Basically, I understood those to be the: you’re cooked! Toast! Grilled! Sautéed with jalapeño sauce!, writhing in a fiery agony for all of eternity, pack your burning inferno resistant bag sweetie, hope you like the heat, type.
And it plagued me that I did not have that list, no data, and no definitive guide to just what would be on that list. I didn’t know if I had done any of them. I was terrified.
Thank God, we didn’t have the internet then, I’m telling you, if you are even remotely human- there’s something on that list for everyone. I’m telling you, you’ve probably done one of them. Don’t look it up- you’ll freak out.
Anyway, based on my venial list, I did not feel like I was a good candidate for nunhood let alone saint hood.
Besides, I really wanted to kiss a boy. That would definitely throw a monkey wrench into things.
That was it. I figured I wasn’t good enough. I was a boy crazy heathen.
So, I tucked my unworthy tail between my legs and never returned to mill around the big house with the iron gate on the waterfront again.
That doesn’t mean that I turned away from God. I think at that moment I turned closer toward him and the path I was supposed to be on. It wasn’t always clear and I certainly did not wear a halo, but everything led me to here so I have to be grateful for it. Isn’ t life just so cool!!!!!
I don’t knock church. I still go from time to time, sometimes I still compete with the priest to finish his sentence before he does, especially if he’s speaking reeeeeeeeally slow and I’m a little amped on my morning coffee. It’s probably immature but it’s an old habit!
My quality time with God? I spend my quality time with God, alone in my room or in my car or sitting under a big oak tree or on my front porch each night while I watch the summer sun set. I’m aware of His/Her presence when I hear my children laughing, or a stranger smiles at me or I connect with a friend and we open up about what part of the journey in life we are on. I feel His/Her presence when I hear the truth. I feel God around when I am living my highest moments and even when I am screwing up royally. I feel that presence when someone shares their journey or their faith with me. I’ve had the greatest conversation with people of all faiths; Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jewish. Although, I had an experience once when the Jehovah Witness came to the door and when I started talking, they left in a hurry!! I still don’t know what I said.
It doesn’t matter. All of us are walking towards the same road. We’re just taking different routes to get there. Looking for that something “out there”? You won’t find it. You won’t find it in a club, or a group or I’ll even go so far as to say, you won’t find it just by entering a church every Sunday and singing the hymns, and chanting the phrases. Not unless, you look within! Then you figure out- you belong. We all belong!
Posting two songs- just because they are beautiful and make me cry like a wee baby!!!! Both are by Josh Groban. The first is by Josh Groban and Charlotte Church.
My fave. This one used to make my Dad cry!