Monday, May 12, 2008
I think I'm channeling my grandmother
I've been a little content-challenged today, possibly because of allergies, which resulted in me knocking off work a couple of hours early today. But it could also be the reverberations of a couple of lines from a song we sang in church yesterday. They've been stuck in my head, singng in my heart, all day long. One thing has led to another with me, and I've ended up channeling my grandmother (see 92 Years Young for more).
You see, I only went to church once with my grandmother, at least as far as I remember. She belonged to a Church of God or a Church of Christ, one of those, and it was progressive in some ways. They had a full band, like the church at which I've found myself. But it was also fundamentalist (a dirty word these days). People got "the holy ghost" in her church. I was maybe eight years old when I went to church with her and witnessed a woman practically having convulsions. I got scared and clutched my mother's hand. She gave me that look - you know the one! - and I zipped my lips, which heretofore had been hanging wide open.
My mom promised never to take me back there, and she kept her promise. But my grandmother loved that church, and I'll never forget her big, toothless grin as she danced about in place and sang her little heart out. I found myself, yesterday, clapping my hands along with the music, singing, and moving with the music. My husband? Probably thinks I'm nuts.
I grew up in church, but I think a lot of what I did was by rote. I did what I was told, but I did love the music and the fellowship. When I grew up and moved away, church was over for me. I was grateful to be able to sleep in whenever I could (especially after the kids came along), and my hubby was definitely NOT a church-goer. Church had always been used against him as a punishment when he was growing up, so he will forever get bad vibes from the whole thing.
He was in a band, too, and it wasn't cool to be a Christian (or any practicing churchgoer) but I don't think that is what stopped him. I think he just didn't have any feelings about needing to go. So for many years, I've stayed away, too.
Then I began to experiment. I went to all kinds of different churches and dabbled here and there. I converted to Catholicism in 1994 when we were living in Seattle, because after our daughter began to act out and seem different (what we now know was the beginning of her mental illness), I thought maybe it was time for me to give the kids their first real glimpse of a spiritual life. Until then, I never thought it was that important. I figured I didn't want to "shove anything down their throat." Looking back, maybe they needed that. I don't know. I was (and still am in many ways) conflicted. Hubby was raised Catholic, by the way, but haphazardly so. I thought that we could form a united front if we were on the same dogmatic page. We had our daughter baptized as a baby (during which time she crapped big time in the ol' nappy), and then there was a looooong silence.
The Catholicism didn't last long for me. The kids weren't interested in going. Hubby definitely wouldn't go, and I just didn't feel it, you know? So I entered another long silence.
I have sporadically prayed, but I usually fell asleep during those prayers. My prayers were self-conscious and rare. I was always afraid hubby would find out and think I was a nut case. When the whole political movement of the religious right started, I completely backed away from Christianity. I didn't want to be associated with them. 'Nuff said. I don't want to start a war. I was adrift.
So I delved into Buddhism. The Dalai Lama is a wonderful leader and teaches peace and personal responsibility. I liked that. I started going to the local Tibetan Meditation Center and taking some intro classes to Buddhism. I listed myself as Buddhist on anything that asked. I thought I had found where I should be. But hubby's interest waned quickly. I was alone again in a religion (or rather a philosophy) that I didn't fully understand. There wasn't enough structure for me, and it took me a long time to realize that they don't teach you anything unless you ask. The Dalai Lama's answer? He thinks we should stick with the religion/philosophy in which we were raised. Boy, is that a different notion! Instead of wanting to convert people or bring them into the fold, he just wanted people to take a familiar road to peace and understanding. That made sense to me.
Eventually, my life became unbearable, what with pain, losses, my daughter's illnesses, and many other things that were out of control. I wrote my prayer here in the blog and then it sort of happened. I started seeing a physical therapist with great skills. I picked up a local paper and saw the advertisement for the church I decided to go to. I went over a week ago and again yesterday and immediately felt welcome. The wall I had erected to keep out my deepest inner feelings fell away. And it has gotten better every day.
I hope that I don't lose any of my readers by being so public with the feelings I'm having, but I cannot help myself. All of those things that pushed me away and kept me away from my beginnings for so long are revealing themselves to me, making their appearance and falling away. I don't fully understand everything that's happening, but I am going to just let go of any sense of control I think I have and just go with it. Like NATUI said in one of her comments, it could be that the feelings are all coming out because pain is being addressed and released. The pain could be related to these feelings, and vice versa. I don't know. All I know is that I'm on quite a journey right now.
Wish me well.
Peace - D