“Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.” – G.K Chesterton.
I was raised Catholic, as the seasoned reader may already know, and spent about fifteen years in Catholic school, going to church every Sunday with my family and every other Friday with my classmates. Around age 25, I completely dropped the “act” I’d been running since I was fifteen and first saw the quote above. I’m not saying that one quote changed my outlook on things…it just gave voice to an opinion I could not find words for.
I remember being young and telling my Aunt Ka, a Sister of Mercy, that I wanted to get married at the Botanical Gardens because it was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. She told me that I couldn’t, that I was Catholic and therefore had to have a wedding inside a church…I could have the reception outdoors, though, she claimed.
This concept was a hard no for my ten-year-old brain that wanted what it wanted when it wanted it. I had been taught, almost daily, that God was in every living thing, including trees and grass and sunshine. So why on earth did I need to CELEBRATE in front of statues of dead people, under a roof made by man? It was nonsense then; it’s nonsense now.
I had a friend get married a while back and a priest came and did the vows, outdoors. But it wasn’t an “official” wedding, according to the church. The priest was just blessing them. I thought maybe someday I could do something similar to appease my Catholic family…I was not yet telling my mother I was done with the whole shebang.
By the time I did get married, she was well aware of my opinions on the Church, and we butted heads a little. She wanted some Christianity in the ceremony, and I had to keep reminding her that my husband was not a Christian, and all that would be weird for him. Not to mention, I wasn’t feeling it either. In the end, I got married in a little gazebo, outdoors. The readings were all literary, the music was secular, and the officiant was my uncle who got a license online. My mother won in the sense that I allowed her to say a prayer before the meal. I was cool with her doing that because she mentioned Ka, who had passed by that time. But that was it: one prayer. That’s all the God I invited.,
But he was there, you see.He was in the trees and sun and grass and breeze. Nature, that is where I believe God lives.
On Saturday…in the beforetime…I caught a giant fish in the Buffalo Creek. It was a smallmouth, but there was nothing small about it. I don’t have a picture. Mark snapped one, but I accidentally deleted it. Just believe me when I tell you it was a monster. I fought the thing, hard…I’ve never really fought my fish before; usually I am far stronger. This guy gave me a run for my money. When I finally flopped him onto shore, I felt immense pride. Mark helped me unhook him, and I thanked him for the challenge and sent him back on his way in the stream. Then I went home, and the world changed.
So, on Sunday, after the events, I was getting a hankering for prayer. I’ve been arguing with my ancestor’s spirits as of late, over this mess with my mother. One of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho, said that “Praying is talking to the Universe. Meditation is listening to it.” So, I figured, why not try a little listening? I’ve ben talking so damn much.
I went back to where I caught the big fish. All I caught that day was a pumpkinseed, but it was still worth it to sit there and look and listen. I saw God all around me, from the fish in the water to the no-see-ums buzzing about to the big tree with all the fishing line and old bobbers caught up in it. I watched the water of the creek lap upon the rocks and focused on the word “Peace.” I needed peace.
On the way home, I remembered it was Sunday and thought of church. I had the same feeling then that I had when I was a child leaving Mass. Yes, when I was small, I was relieved that the sitting still and being quiet portion of the day was over, but I also always felt that feeling you get when you visit am old friend. Also, I always kind of felt it hearkened the start of a new, fresh week. A clean slate.
That’s when I realized: I go to church ALL THE TIME.
Fishing is church for me. That might sound ridiculous, but where else would I rather be on a Sunday morning? And every time I go, every time, I think of God. I didn’t even realize it until I examined my thought pattern closely this past week. I tend to remind myself of God in nature whenever I fish.
Now, no, I no longer believe in a stereotypical Christian God in the sky…I think God is more of a universal fabric, with an understanding that we have not yet evolved to know. Yet…I find God in the sky, because I find him in the earth, too.
Where do you find God?
Anyway…that’s just the thoughts running around in my head right now. That’s all for today. Happy Thursday!