My family was never really religious.
We were a mixed family, Catholic and Assembly of God.
Both had strict dogmas that prevented them
from marrying outside their faiths, so, of course,
that is what Mom and Dad wanted to do.
They succeeded. The Catholics won, though. My dad
attended catechism classes so he could marry my mother.
I only learned that recently. They were married at the church,
not in the church. They married in the priest’s rectory,
and only my mother’s brother and his wife attended to witness.
I used to say I was raised miscellaneous protestant. Going to church
was a big effort for my parents. They wanted us to go, yet neither
of them was particularly religious. What is it about the Catholic
church that makes so many young people turn away?
They wouldn’t let us go to Catholic church, but they let us go
to every protestant church any of our friends invited us to.
Vacation Bible School, summer camp, all holidays were spent
going to church with someone else. Until I hit thirteen.
A minister at a non-denominational chapel I had attended
wanted to baptize me. I was afraid to tell my parents until the morning
of the event. They refused to let me go. That cut it for me and churches.
Even when my mother had bouts of going to the Methodist Church or
the Presbyterian Church, I refused. I discovered I had opinions of my own.
Too many of the pastors I talked to couldn’t answer my questions, they
simply said, “You have to accept it on faith.” That is when I knew
those people were no smarter than me, and didn’t have all the answers.
It jaded me. I decided to study everything from anybody.
Later when I married, I converted to Catholicism and had a Catholic
wedding. Years later, I studied Sufism. When I married again, I converted to
Judaism. My husbands felt it was important for me to be like them,
so I played along. I always saw the truth behind all religions, and I studied
every one of them deeply, from their own scriptures. It never bothered me
to convert. I saw the unity behind all the forms. The same truth
illuminates them all. I studied Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism.
There are isms for so-called non-believers, too, like Agnosticism.
Pantheism. Scientology. Rosicrucianism. Universalism.
Today I am happy to let people be what they want to be, believe what they
choose to believe. I accept the annoying southern behavior or assuming
that everyone is a Christian. Every doctor’s nurse I see, every grocery clerk,
even in fast food drive-throughs or bank lines they smile and nod and say
“have a blessed day.” They see my white skin and friendly smile, and assume
I am like them. It used to baffle me why they would do that.
Then I gave up worrying about it. Today I am happy to hear someone say
“I’ll pray for you” or “Praise Jesus”. I don’t actually care, but I always thank them
and say “I need all the prayers I can get.” That usually satisfies them, and
it doesn’t commit me. I say it sincerely. It makes my life simpler, and in truth,
don’t we all need all the blessings we can get? And so it is. Amen.