My best friend in elementary school was Catholic.
I was a bit envious.
I envied Saturday afternoon church and a relaxed dress ‘code’.
I envied First Communion dresses and drinking wine in second grade.
I envied the mystery of her church…dipping fingers into water when entering the sanctuary…touching knees to the floor before entering the pew…signing the cross…kneeling on little benches…and the flat little communion wafers.
But truthfully, I was also confused…do I sit or kneel or stand? Where were the words and the music to the responses? What was up with all the ‘Hail Mary’s’? And why was The Lord’s Prayer stopped thirteen words short? (Or fifteen once I became Lutheran?)
I also felt like an outsider. Especially when my friend and her family would go up for communion.
Perhaps because of this, I came to appreciate my own church and the comforts it provided…the predictable structure of the service…the dark wood and the stained glass windows…singing the Doxology…Sunday school…and yes, even wearing my Sunday church clothes.
Twenty years ago, after much soul searching, my husband and I left the Methodist church that we had been members of since birth (me since birth, the hubby since he was about two) and became members of a Lutheran church (for those who care, Missouri Synod, which, until I became Lutheran, meant absolutely nothing to me).
We traded once a month grape juice and bread cubes for weekly wine and wafers (not the reason we left…just in case you were wondering) and singing the Doxology for reciting the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.
(Essentially, we traded John Wesley in for Martin Luther.)
Since moving to Georgia two and a half years ago, my husband and I have been searching for a church home. And I am struggling. While I am open to new traditions, I miss some old traditions.
And I am troubled by messages about right ways and wrong ways and only ways.
It’s not difficult to understand why some are turned off by religion. The hypocrisy. The scandals. The rejection of science. The judgements.
People hide behind religion or use it selfishly.
And bad things happen. All. The. Time.
Some view religion as a crutch for the unintelligent and weak.
My faith encourages me to ask questions and to find answers. My faith gives me strength.
I am at peace. Not because my life is perfect and I don’t have struggles, but because believing in something bigger than myself gives me hope. Provides perspective.
I know without a doubt I am a better (not perfect!) person because of my faith. And I don’t mean compared to others. I mean compared to who I would be without it. My faith encourages me to be better. To do better.
Something to Eat
by Bianca Zapatka
In the need of some comfort food? Look no further. I didn’t think I was a fan of polenta, but apparently I was wrong. My daughter and her BF cooked this up for dinner last weekend. It was delicious. Love the texture. Love the umami taste. They did use pepitas instead of pinenuts, but otherwise followed the recipe to a T. I would definitely put this in my top 10 recipes.
Something to Read
by Yaa Gyasi
You may remember my recommendation of the book Homegoing, also by Yaa Gyasi. I loved Transcendent Kingdom as much as, if not more than. It was that good. Then novel delved into issues of mental illness, race, and the conflict between science and religion. There were so many times I caught myself rereading sentences and pondering them. This is probably the best book I have read this year.
Something to Ponder
When you’re an artist, it’s because there’s something inside you that you can’t keep from spilling out. Maybe it comes in the form of sentences, or a grand jeté, or a stroke of a paintbrush. The end result can be a million different things. But the seed, it’s always the same. It’s the emotion there isn’t a word for. The feeling that’s too big for your body. To show someone your soul, you have to bleed. People who are comfortable-people who are content-they don’t create art.Jodi Picoult in The Book of Two Ways
I’m sorry this is late. I’ve been trying hard to stick to a schedule of weekly publishing, but I’ve just been out of sorts lately. I am grateful for this past weekend though. Sunshine and mild temperatures made for great hiking. I really did need to get out and enjoy nature. Definitely helps my mood and energy level. At any rate, it is done. Hope you are all doing well!