Describe a memory or encounter in which you considered your faith, religion, spirituality — or lack of — for the first time.
Photographers, artists, poets: show us FAITH.
I went to catholic school for twelve years. When I graduated from high school, I went to university to get away from catholic school, only to return to finish the last two years in a place that had become familiar to me (after all, I’d spent ten years of my life in it) though I never would have admitted it then. But I never got my degree because I didn’t take the catholic courses required for graduation, and when I did, I failed them because I wasn’t exactly a catholic.
But I wasn’t of any other religion either.
My mother was never religious – even though she bought the encyclopedia version of bible stories and I loved looking at all the photographs. My favorites were the stories about Esther and Joseph.
When we went to church, she stood outside, telling us to go to confession and take the eucharist – though she never went herself. I later learned that she wasn’t exactly allowed to do those things because my father had divorced her.
When I was sixteen, my mother remarried and my stepfather was a Mormon – another strike there to her catholic faith in the eyes of the catholic church. So she converted to Mormonism and became a bishop’s wife when my stepfather helped build a new church (and became bishop) and this was something my mother enjoyed because she was actually somebody for a change, not just a persona non grata and had to stand outside the church to attend mass.
At the same time, I dated a Seventh Day Adventist’s pastor’s son, who coached me through two full years of Monday ‘family nights’ with the mormon elders who’d come to the house to try to convert us, my mother’s children. For every claim the elders spouted at me, I had an answer from a Seventh Day Adventist point of view. After all, I had taken all the classes required to be baptized into the SDA religion, but when it came time to do it, I balked.
I wasn’t going into a religion for a boy. And I never did.
I remember how one of the mormon elders told me that I was the devil and I laughed. I wasn’t going to be cowed to become a mormon either.
I lost my faith in organized religion then. Before I turned twenty, I wanted only to do good and do no harm, and let that be my religion.
When I married my first husband, we had a civil ceremony and never had a church ceremony – something people say cursed our marriage. When I married my current husband, we went to Las Vegas to do it, but his parents insisted on a catholic wedding to seal the deal in the eyes of God. When I never did anything remotely indicative that I was actually planning a church wedding (because I wasn’t), they paid for the whole thing and planned it for me.
They wanted that guarantee that in the eyes of God, this marriage would never be dissolved.
One of my favorite movies is Stigmata, a movie about an atheist hairdresser who develops the wounds of Jesus (stigmata) after receiving a rosary owned by a deceased priest who himself suffered from stigmata. The movie attributes its message to the Gospel of Thomas, believed by certain people to be the true words spoken by Jesus while alive, though the catholic church considers it heresy.
One of the quotes that struck me was this:
Jesus said… the Kingdom of God is inside you, and all around you, not in mansions of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood… and I am there, lift a stone… and you will find me…
And so I find that there is one greater than you and me, and he is found everywhere.