About me · faith · Reflection

A very personal post (about religion)

One topic I usually avoid discussing is religion. My avoidance isn’t really because I don’t want to get into disagreements with people or because I’m uncomfortable with the topic, but because it’s such an intimately personal topic for me. My religious journey, it seems, is ever-ongoing. So why am I writing about it right now? Honestly, I don’t know.

First and foremost, I am Christian. I was “saved” as a child in the Baptist denomination, then belonged to a non-denominational church with a bib overall-wearing pastor while growing up. As a young adult, I fell away from church attendance. The 9/11 attacks, though, brought me (and a lot of other people) to church again. I became a member of the United Methodist Church then and was so happy there.

(Sidenote – my father is big into ancestry and all of our ancestors were Roman Catholic. As a result, I grew up traipsing around the grounds of Saint Meinrad Archabbey. My father had a deep fascination with the Catholic Church despite the fact that he was Methodist.)

Anyway, I moved around a bit as a young adult and eventually had to leave my UM church behind because I left the state. Once I settled again, I met and fell in love with the man who is now my husband. He was staunchly Catholic. There was no budging on this and he made it clear that if we had children, they, too, would be Catholic. Because I always had a healthy respect for the RCC, I began exploring the idea of conversion. This led me to the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) and eventual baptism into the Catholic Church. For four years, I was utterly happy within the RCC. I grew in my relationship with God more than ever before. I prayed the rosary, had a special affinity for the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, participated in Eucharistic Adoration, and even developed and ran my own blogging site about life as a Catholic woman and wife.

And then… something changed. I can’t pinpoint what it was, but it seemed to change at the same time for my husband. We were happy in the Catholic Church where I was baptized, but once we moved back to the city I had lived in long before, we became weary. I honestly believe it was because each and every week, the homily, instead of being about topics to help us live our lives better as Catholics and Christians, was all about abortion. Week after week, the mantra was “abortion is bad, abortion is terrible, we must stop abortion.” Regardless of a pro-life or pro-choice stance, it got old. As a married couple unable to conceive, this weekly lecture became tedious. My spiritual well slowed to a trickle and eventually ran dry. So we’d go to a different church, only to have the same thing happen. I was no longer being spiritually fed. I was no longer feeling Jesus in my life. The prayers became nothing more than rote mumblings before they stopped completely. And then I walked away for good.

One Sunday afternoon, approximately 6 months after we stopped going to Mass, my husband said, “So tell me about these Protestants.” We talked for a while and he told me that he’d like to attend a service. Because I know him and what he likes, I took him back to the same United Methodist Church that I’d belonged to ten years before. He instantly fell in love. In no time at all, we were Methodists. I removed my rosary collection, took down our crucifixes, removed our holy water font, stopped my reading of books by Mother Angelica, and we left the Catholic Church. We ignored my mother-in-law’s declarations that we were hellfire bound and found new spiritual life. Three years later, we’re still members of the UMC. I’m free from the things I never really found comfort with in the Catholic Church (confession to a priest, the heavy emphasis on Mary, the heavy focus on abortion at the expense of absolutely everything else going on in the world) and find myself moved to tears by the amazing sermons of our gifted pastor.

I say all the time that I don’t miss anything about the Catholic Church but that’s not entirely true. The music was reverent and beautiful. I was never more at peace than when I sat in total silence for an hour during Eucharistic Adoration. I miss my intense passion for reading all things about the RCC, volunteering with religious orders, and spending time talking to nuns, who are among the bravest and strongest women I have ever met. The thing I miss most, though, is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. One particular version of it is done in song and it is among the most beautiful prayers I’ve ever heard. Recently, I decided that I was going to start praying this again, whether I’m Catholic or not. The bottom line is that I’m Christian and I find immense peace and comfort when praying it. It calms my tired soul when nothing else seems to work.

So all of this leads me to the video posted below. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy in prayer is too beautiful not to share with those who might find comfort from it, regardless of the church they’ll attend on Sunday.

Chaplet of Divine Mercy in song – EWTN from Ralph J. Pensiero on Vimeo.

About me · Holidays · Home · Reflection

What happened to the magic?

A few weeks ago, I was excited about the upcoming holiday season.  With a new job in a company that is heavily focused on the holidays, I thought this year would be different.  The last few years, I have preferred for December to just skip by and leave me be.  Due to family issues, Christmas wasn’t joyous or even fun; it was simply uncomfortable.  This year, though, I decried my negativity of Christmas pasts and decided to jump in feet first.  I remembered the magic of the holiday season and I wanted it back.  I burned a CD of Bing Crosby Christmas music (because hello?  He OWNS Christmas) and happily tossed it into the player of my car.  I was greatly looking forward to the grand displays of lights that I would easily see since I drive home from work in the dark now.

About five days after my exuberant start to the Christmas season, it started to wane.  I realized that my heart wasn’t in it like I thought it would be.  I wasn’t listening to the Christmas music and paying attention to anything on my drive home besides watching out for drunk drivers.  Tonight, we watched A Christmas Story  (favorite holiday movie ever) and took Roxie for a walk at 2am and I noticed that there weren’t any Christmas lights twinkling in windows or lit trees glowing against the backdrop of gossamer curtains.  And then it made me wonder – where is Christmas this year?

I remember Christmases as a child. From the time I was 8 until age 13, the majority of my holiday seasons were spent inside my parents’ jewelry store.  I remember the Santa’s village that my dad built out of wood and decorated to put in the window.  I remember Mom playing Bing Crosby on the stereo and going to stand out in the street so that I could hear “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” blaring through the outside speakers as I watched the residents of the town bustle by on the sidewalk.  Mom’s big, gorgeous Christmas tree that stood in one corner of the store, beautifully decorated.  The scent of cinnamon candles.  The sound of the polisher as Dad finished sizing a ring that would end up on some lucky woman’s finger on Christmas morning. The sound of crisp wrapping paper being torn from the roll.  My brother and I watching the little mouse that peeked out of the pockets of the advent calendar that hung in our mom’s office, our eyes heavily focused on the number “24” because we knew that was when the magic really happened.

During that same time, we lived in the country outside a tiny town with nothing but a Revco and a grocery store for shopping.  Anytime we needed anything, we had to head to New Albany or Jeffersonville or even Louisville.  I distinctly remember bundling up in my winter coat and climbing into the backseat our Chevy Celebrity for a trip to Service Merchandise or Target or, if we were really lucky, a trip to the mall to go Christmas shopping.  Afterwards, we would wind our way up Floyds Knobs to look at all the Christmas lights and stare out over the twinkling lights of the Louisville metro area. My teeth would chatter with excitement.

And then, Christmas Eve would come and the jewelry store would close in time for us to pile into the car and head to Corydon, where we would gather with my Dad’s family.  “Santa” would always visit, wearing the same threadbare suit my father had originally purchased in the 1960s.  Every year, it was toted out by an uncle or a cousin and we all got a present from his bag.  Every year, the suit looked a little worse.  The material was starting to unravel, the beard nothing but a few spindly threads of white fuzz.  Then, once we’d had our fill of holiday cheer in the form of my dad’s odd family, we’d climb back into the car and make the hour drive home.  By then, it was late.  My brother and I usually slept on the way and went to bed as soon as we got home, but we rarely slept on Christmas Eve.  We always camped out in my bedroom and would force ourselves to get two or three hours of sleep at most, then wake up at 5am and stare at the clock until 6, which was the designated time that we were allowed to wake up Mom and Dad and then dive into the living room to see what Santa brought us.  There was always evidence of Santa, too.  Half-eaten cookies.  A sooty boot print left in front of the fireplace.

So many memories.  So much magic.  

I started this post wanting to know what happened to all that magic but I think, over the course of writing this, that I found it.  It’s not gone.  I haven’t lost it at all.  It’s simply not the same as it used to be, but it’s there.  And in my memories, I find that the magic is still as strong as ever.

Reflection · Writing

Nostalgia and whimsy and…. travel trailers?

Superman had Kryptonite; I have nostalgia and whimsy to bring me to my knees.  And it strikes in the oddest of ways.  I can’t predict when I’m going to be caught in the headwinds of fanciful dreaming – it just happens and sometimes it lasts for days on end.  I woke up this morning feeling moody and exhausted, but once I got to work, I settled into my new, much more private and quiet office (which I just moved into on Monday), popped in my earbuds, turned on my iPod, and called up the playlist of some old friends.  Okay, so I don’t actually know Jim and Marian Jordan, who played Fibber McGee and Molly on a radio show of the same name from the 30s-50s, but I feel like I know them.  Honestly, I’ve been listening to the 800+ episodes I have for so many years now that their voices are comforting to me.  When I can’t sleep at night, I listen to a few of their shows and they lull me to sleep.  When I’m stressed to my very limits, their voices help ease me into a quiet calmness.  They make me nostalgic for a time I never lived through and for things that I couldn’t possibly experience during my lifetime.

Today was one such day where, after listening to Fibber and Molly for most of the day (in between an endless stream of needy employees parading in and out of my office), that sentimental feeling stuck with me.  I came home, fixed supper, and then Tim and I got Roxie ready for her walk.  We went down my favorite little stretch of road in our neighborhood.  Lined with trees and horse pastures, it reminds me of the solitude that my country-girl soul misses since we live within the city limits.  I began telling Tim about my hopes to someday own and restore a vintage travel trailer to use as a writing office. I want to plop it right in the middle of a field, maybe near a big old oak tree. We actually owned one a few years ago but it was just too far damaged to be restored without costing us an arm and a leg, so we sold her (a 1971 New Paris Traveler that I named Gracie) to someone who could restore her.  Even though Gracie is gone, my dream for a travel trailer isn’t gone.  I can practically hear the plunking of the raindrops on the metal roof as I sit inside, sipping on tea and tapping away at my laptop.  This strong desire to get a travel trailer right this very nanosecond led me to tincantourists.com, where the classifieds, filled with pages and pages of adorable travel trailers for sale, invoke such strong stabs of whimsy and longing inside me that it almost hurts.  I mean, here are just a few samples from what is currently for sale on that site.

HOW CAN YOU NOT WANT ONE, TOO???

Anyway, as my Friday night wanes into a 3-day holiday weekend that’s supposed to be filled with rain and relaxation, I hope these gushy, dreamy-eyed notions continue.  They usually lead to creativity and a feeling of lightheartedness – both of which I need right now.