Monday, March 29, 2010

I've been feeling down lately. There has been more nastiness going on in my extended world. Why oh why do people have to look for reasons to exclude other people? And what gives you more reasons than you need to exclude someone? Religion, of course. Every time it happens, I feel as though I've slugged in my soul. How do you get away from it? Or how do you become immune to it?

On a much happier note, my daughter and son-in-law are here. It looks as though my daughter will be staying and looking for a job. As soon as she finds a job, her husband will be moving here; he is currently a long-haul truck driver. They were planning on moving here by this summer anyway since my daughter will be starting school again in the fall, but if she has a job, it will be much easier for her hubby to quit.

My beautiful daughter and handsome son-in-law. I love them both so much. Isn't it wonderful the way families grow?

My two oldest, beautiful daughters (actually I have five beautiful daughters). Sisters and best friends. I do feel proud and accomplished. Plus, I really like them. A couple of wonderful young women.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Out With the New...

and in with the old. I have been known to get rid of new items in favor of old ones. New items don't have stories. They're empty. They have yet to be handled by human hands, used, adored or even disliked. I much prefer 'things' that have been used, that have memories. Even if it's something I picked up at a thrift store, and never knew who owned before me, I can still fill in memories with my imagination. I have quite a few things that belonged to my mom and dad. There are many items I let slip through my fingers after my dad died. At the time I thought I was avoiding issues, but I so wish I kept some of them. But who knows. Maybe they are now sitting on someone's shelf who appreciates used items with spirit.

My mom and dad had this bowl for as long as I can remember. Perhaps they used it in the restaurant they owned at the time I was born. I have vivid memories of my dad eating popcorn out of this bowl. This is the bowl he always used for his sourdough pancakes, and it is now used for my sourdough pancakes.

My dad's grill. My newer grill burned out, but his old grill still cooks up a good batch of pancakes.

And we will eat the pancakes on plates that belonged to my parents on a table that was in their kitchen. This is the table where my parents argued over the crossword puzzle every morning: mom always got it first so she could get her few answers in before dad finished it up. This is the table where I ate the last dinner my mom ever cooked. This is the table where I sat with my dad, crying, the morning after mom died.

See what I mean? They have stories. They have memories. These are sacred items.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Coming Out....

There's one message board I visit daily. Mainly, it's a place for me to discuss curriculum. In addition there's a general forum where people just chat - sometimes pleasantly, sometimes not so pleasantly. I would guess the breakdown on the board is probably 80% conservative Christian, 10% the other kind of Christians (not fundamentalist, more liberal) and 10% non-Christian. It's not a religious board, but since it's for homeschoolers, that's the reality. The secular homeschooling population is quickly growing, and it's likely that representation on the board is more than 10%, but not everyone posts regularly so it's hard to tell.

Recently there has been a flood of religious posts most of which end up getting closed. I think the moderation is a little strict, since we're all adults, but it's their message board. In the past, in religious threads, I have identified myself as a Catholic Christian. I've also been involved in discussions where I've talked about my journey. Yesterday, someone asked non-Christians (Pagans, Buddhists, Wiccans, etc.) to talk about their beliefs. Well, I did it. I posted about the quiz I took and little about how my belief in 'God' has changed over the years.

That might seem like a little thing, but it was a huge step for me. It was with anxiety and some fear that I clicked submit. It's not at all unusual for the 'louder' of the conservative Christian group to jump in and, not discuss, but argue. It goes without saying that they are absolutely, without a doubt, right, and everyone else is wrong, so having a enlightening discussion is a forlorn hope. Just to say I'm feeling rather proud of myself right now. One step at a time: first, be honest with yourself and branch out from there.

One other thing. Last night we went to another parish for Mass (due to the main road being blocked heading north). The pastor of this parish has the reputation of being the most liberal priest around - with our regular pastor coming in second. The main point of all this is: I loved his sermon. In all my years I had never heard the parable of The Prodigal Son explain in such a way. I felt full of love when I walked out. Even more than that, I felt so full of love and felt so sure that God is Love that I even went to communion which I haven't been doing for some time. I'm going to quit here before I start talking about something that will depress me.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Forward Progress

A year ago there was a poll posted on a message board I visit. It led you to where you can complete a survey, and it will match you with the right faith according to your beliefs. I remember struggling with the questions – my finger tapping the mouse nervously, moving the pointer between the ‘right’ answer and my answer. In the end I chickened out and clicked the ‘right’ answer. When I completed it, I clicked submit, and what do you think? I passed the test. Yes, it was a test for me: to see if I could be faithful in my answers even when my mind was in total doubt. It matched me to Roman Catholicism 100%. The next was Eastern Orthodox.

This week this same survey popped up in a thread I was involved in. I clicked over there and stared at the questions. I was nervous. I think my clicking finger was shaking. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and clicked. This time, not the ‘right’ answer, but my answer, from my heart. Moved on to the next question and did the same. It wasn’t easy. I felt cold all over. Is this how a traitor feels? But I did it and clicked submit. My eyes were squeezed shut because I was still afraid to see the verdict. Would I pass or would I fail. Or would I be able to recognize failure as my own personal victory? I opened my eyes slowly, and there it was before me. My feelings were all over the place. There was no going back. I must move forward. So I will publicize it. Tell the truth to the whole internet world, which is relatively safe, since my entire internet world here consists of a handful of people. Braver than I was a year ago.

100% - Neo-Pagan
98% - Liberal Quaker

And at the very bottom…

Eastern Orthodox and
Roman Catholic

I think they both had around 2%.

So, what do I do with this? Neo-Pagan? Hmmm. I know some very nice Pagan people on line. This helps. My favorite sister-in-law is a liberal Quaker, and I don’t think there is a nicer, more compassionate, respectful person walking the earth right now. Okay. Pretty good company so far.

This time I was honest, or as honest as you can be with multiple choice answers that don’t quite pinpoint you. Still, it wasn’t the answer I wanted. You see, I want to answer the questions honestly, from my soul, but I want the answer on the bottom to be on the top. But it doesn’t work that way. If I’m honest, I don’t get the result I want. To get the result I want, I have to ignore my heart, my mind, my reason. Is that what belief and faith amount to? So I felt sad.

Then I felt happy. I had passed a big hurdle. I had passed a personal test. It took courage and resolve and faith. Faith in myself.

I’m moving forward.