In it’s five and a half years of existence, this blog has had a few common themes: love, loss, the search for purpose and my relationship with the unseen universe. It is this last topic that my mind has rested heavily on lately.
The day after Thanksgiving, trapped between pancakes and two hungry babies, my parents cleverly engaged me in an unescapable discussion of religion, of baptism and of faith. My father is convinced that now that we have a “liberal” pope in the Vatican that my faith in a Roman Catholic deity is restored. My mother grasps at the hope that she’ll see her grandchildren baptized as “some kind of Christian.” I constantly try to escape the conversation because it’s not an easy one to have with them. Or myself.
My journey in faith-matters is a tumultuous one. And where I’m at now–in my head and heart–is an odd place. The minute I think I’m happy in some state of being and believing (or disbelieving, as the case may be), something forces me to remember. A month ago it was the funeral of a friend’s mother. The Baptist preacher read scripture which is always oddly comforting at those times, even for a Catholic girl who never read scripture in her youth. And then he talked about being saved–something those of us raised Catholic have no clue how to handle. In those moments, all I wanted to comfort me and every one in that room was the beautiful and peaceful communion of the soul I have in the middle of a Catholic mass where the words are second nature and the breaths all occur at the same pace.
Say what you want about dogma, but there is value in knowing where the whole operation is going next.
So when my parents were coming at me with reasons to baptize the girls, I didn’t let their pleas fall on deaf ears as I have in the past. But I was far from convinced. I feel stuck. I don’t belong to any faith other than Catholicism and I can’t picture myself untying my allegiance to the good things that the faith has brought me. Things like having a logical argument even if you’re wrong, about the strength of good leadership (and what that means) and the need to do good in this world are all things that I got out of my Catholic upbringing. Of course, the Catholic Guilt and the backwards politics are things I could do without. Even then, I feel as if the Church oddly prepared me to deal with its own shortcomings in a logical way as long as that was confined to me.
The question of raising children in that matter is an entirely different equation.
What’s a girl to do?
For once, instead of going on tradition, blind faith or a gut feeling, I’m actually doing what I do elsewhere in my life and I am making a plan. I’m reading books about faith and the man Christianity follows in a more godly form. I plan on using this holiday season and then the time of Lent to investigate this. I’m searching my soul. I’m spending time on it. And resources. For once, I’m going to look at this like any other problem I face and do it head on…no holds barred, cage match style.
I may come out exactly the same. But at least then I can say that I tried.
My faith isn’t the hard part, oddly. I believe in simple things. In the power of the Universe to hold mysteries that we can’t fathom explanations for outside of religion because our knowledge isn’t there yet. In the solace of a repeated phrase or comforting hymn. In the strength of a collective group of people committed to social good. In baseball. In warm breezes and good cries. In the right song at the right moment. In the traditions that form our relationships with the world around us. And, yes, even with a rabble-rouser from Nazareth that saw fit to throw the status quo into turmoil…just not in the exact same way mainstream Christianity tends to box up the whole affair.
Maybe my investigation will bring me closer to a doctrinal faith. Perhaps it will drive me further away from organized religion. In the end, at least I’ll stop avoiding the internal question once and for all…or at least for now, reserving the right to revisit it when I choose.
If I can give my girls anything, it has to be the comfort that I made these big decisions for them with some modicum of analytical thought. If I can give myself anything, it’s the peace of mind that I didn’t give it the old college try.
Isn’t that what Jesus would do anyhow?