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


Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

What a lovely, heartfelt post, Momma. I wish you well, I wish you health, I wish you contentment. I wish you open mind, open eyes, and open heart as you walk on this new pathway. Peace be to you. Hugs.

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

This is very interesting. I find your spiritual journey and quest, so fascinating. Trying this and that; the feelings of self conciousness; falling asleep during prayers (I can relate..especially just before bed, lying down is dangerous, as the land of nod beckons me right away....kneeling is safer!)

I find it really interesting how all the elements you describe, in such a frank and honest way, including what impressions your husband may have had or society at different times...all these things have an influence, certainly.

I once knew a Buddhist..her answer to everything was "The universe..." hmmmm, not much of an answer; I personally need something more concrete....not so ephemeral....

It's a life long quest for most people....of learning, of surrender, of moving forward and pulling back.

You are a very intelligence person; your intelligence and eloquence shines through in your posts. I don't think you need to worry about putting off any readers; in fact, just the opposite; your writing draws me in!


Momma said...

B von B - Thank you, my dear. I can't wait to see where this all takes me.

Lavinia - Thank you for saying that. I know that there are a lot of people, especially in the states, who equate Christianity with right-wing agenda. I'm not looking for politics (though I'm a liberal because it seems right to me); I'm looking for answers. I'm looking for God.

Peace - D

Maggie May said...

Wow! & Wow again! I am really pleased for you! Well if readers fall away then they weren't worth having in the first place!
So just keep in there and let things happen.
I was raised in a Church of England type of environment & was Christened as a baby. It seemed very much like reading a liturgy with responses & things. Hymns were a bit stuffy, so its not surprising that I fell away from all of it & was quite cynical until middle age. It happened slowly........ then I just knew I had to get baptized & make a commitment.
It doesn't guarantee a stress free life but it is a relationship with Jesus & prayer works.
I don't shout it from the roof tops although I wanted to at first.
Anyway...... all the best & I wish I could hug you!

Cee said...

I wish you well Momma, thanks for sharing this. I love Lavinia's reference (above) to a 'life long quest', what we knew as children, or teens or even as young women is constantly being refined and tested and tried ...

Daryl said...

While I am not religious (except during the Jewish High Holy days) I respect anyone who has faith, finds comfort in that faith and doesnt insist I too must find faith.

I hope things continue to go well for you ... on every level.


Jay said...

You sound a lot like me.

My family were not at all religious. I remember being sent to Sunday School in a Baptist church at one time, more because my parents wanted time to themselves than anything else, but I don't remember learning anything much about religion or God there. My parents never attended except for occasional Easter and Christmas services.

My spiritual quest has been lifelong but sporadic. I too fell asleep during prayers. I attended various churches when I felt the need to connect in a better way with the Eternal, and I ended up with the Quakers, and joined the Society of Friends. I feel very comfortable with the Quaker faith and lack of doctrine and ceremony. I don't attend Meeting now, for a variety of reasons, but I still feel very much a Quaker at heart and still embrace the philosophy, and believe that there is 'that of God' in every human being.

I wish you well in your quest. There are many paths up the mountain, and the path does not end in this lifetime. We may wander off one, and choose another, but we get there if we keep climbing upward.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Hey, hon. I think that's awesome that you've found spiritual base that makes you comfortable and happy. I think that's what it's all about. I, too, have found many tenants of Buddhism that interest this lapsed Presbyterian but overall the faith is so foreign to me as a Westerner.

I'll probably find a Presbyterian/Episcopalian/Lutheran church that comfortably fits us. Until then, we'll see.

I'm so happy for you and your spirit! :-)

Don Mills Diva said...

Of course I wish you well Momma - you sound like someone who deserves all the happiness in the world.

Lori said...

I, too can relate to your quest. I've thought about posting about the changes in my religion and spirituality and overall belief structure but never got my "gumption" up. Now I think I will, after reading your marvelous post.
I wish you nothing but good wishes and tons of love and happiness.

Momma said...

Dearest readers:


May I just say that again? Wow. You have renewed my faith in humanity.

Maggie - I wish I could get that hug, girl. You know what I'm talking about here.

Cee - It is indeed a lifelong quest. This is a new phase.

Daryl - No worries. I won't be trying to change anyone but myself. I'm the one who needs to be the change I want to see in the world, to paraphrase a great man.

Jay - The Quakers fascinate me. If the roots I traced down about my paternal grandfather's people are correct, we started out as Quakers.

CMGD - When you need it, you will find it. I'm here to tell ya.

DMD - Thank you, sweetie. As do you!

Lori - I know that fear. I was really afraid of a resounding silence on my blog today. When I logged on after work? Here are all these beautiful responses!

Peace to all - D

Not Afraid To Use It said...

When my ESL students would argue over which was the "right" religious way, I would draw a picture of our school on the chalkboard. I would ask each of the students where they lived and how they got to school every day. Living in a major metropolitan area everyone had to take different freeways to get to our location. The end result, I would tell them, is that they all ended up in the same place. You could not tell the other person they were wrong in their directions because they all ended up at the same destination. As long as we are all traveling in the same direction and end up with the same result, does it really matter how we get there?

They couldn't really argue with that. Not to my face, anyway.

I have lots of feelings about your post. We'll have to have a good chat sometime. There's just too much to write.

Momma said...

NATUI - I like you more every day! You are one smart cookie - Peace - D

CrazyCath said...

I hope you continue in your peace - I am catching up on your blog and you did not lose this reader at all! Any reader you lose is not some one you would call "friend". I took a similar 'risk' (if that is what you call it) in a post recently, rationalising that whilst I would be obviously saddened to lose some readers, asking myself if they really are the readers I want if they are that shallow.

I am pleased to report that they are not.