Church on Sunday

“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!

Doldrums

Today is a gloomy day. There have been a great many gloomy days lately, as mother nature rained down on us all spring long, bringing life to plants but also death to plans.  Now it is finally summer, and one would think those gloomy days are past, yet here we are.  As I type I hear the pitter patter of rain against the steel door and am reminded that I am depressed.

Only vaguely, the way I get when the weather is poor or during the winter when I haven’t seen the sun in days.  I can’t stand those times, the grayness seeping into my skin and making me shiver.  I write but I don’t want to, as is often the case on these gray days, when all I really want to do is curl up in bed with a book or lie on the sofa and watch television.  Today I am pushing myself to be happy, as M is here for a few days and I am determined to keep a smile on my face for him.  I am so proud of him right now, for personal reasons, but let it be known that he is an amazing and wonderful young man and I can’t wait to see the future that lies ahead of him.  But I don’t want to be sad around him.  So, this morning when I felt the world getting on top of me, I offered him a PlayStation remote and went out for a walk to clear my head. 

I passed a lot of gardens, as my street has several front lawns blooming with all sorts of plants.  I considered taking pictures, but the owners of these gardens likely would have objected to me traipsing around and photographing their hard work.  I heard a lot of birds, and lawnmowers.  I saw people on their way to work and school.  I saw garbage men filling up their truck.  I saw two ducks just hanging out on McKinley Pkwy.  I got some spell energy from a greenhouse on Wizards Unite.  I felt better.

I personally cannot wait until mid-July, when we head out on our first ever family camping trip.  Spending time outside always makes me feel better, and to spend three days with nothing but nature is something I am really looking forward to.  There’s still a ton of planning to be done and I am going to have to piece together supplies from various people, but I can’t wait to spend time with my parents, Mark and the kiddos out in nature.  Something about it takes away the doldrums, even if it were to rain on our little trip.  At least we would be together and could keep one another entertained. 

The drizzle is letting up, and the sun keeps daring to make an appearance, but no matter the weather I will try to keep a smile on my face, and look for the little gifts that the world has given me to get me by in the meantime.  Like gardens, and ducks, and the smell of air after the rain.   That’s enough to keep me going, today.

Green Thumb

Once upon a time, I lived in an apartment I refer to as The Dump.  We lived there for about two years and anything that you could imagine was wrong with it absolutely was.  The one little shiny spot however was that behind the garage there was a vacant lot.  This left plenty of room for our dog Buddy to play, and, after clearing away some of the brush, it occured to me one sunny afternoon that it would make a lovely garden as well.  So, I went out and got some 2x4s and built a little vegetable patch.  That summer, as Buddy raced around me, I grew squash, peas, beans, cucumbers, and strawberries.  I had never showed any interest as a child when it came to helping my mother with her garden, and it surprised me how much I enjoyed turning seeds into food.  I had always assumed gardening was not for me, and only started my veggie patch because I was out of work and needed something to do. 

I have the ability to grow food at this house, but haven’t tried it yet.  My neighbors are planting a few things and have promised to share the crop.  What I do now is tend the front garden, where I am growing purple salvia and bright pink peonies the size of a baby’s head.  Last week I rescued a dying gloriosa daisy and soon it will grow alongside them. 

Then, there’s my indoor garden, which I love the most, especially in winter when I’m dying to see something green.  First there’s my spider plant, who came to me in a tiny milk carton from an actress friend and now is a huge hanging pot with dozens of babies dangling from it.  There were more, but I gave one to each of my aunts, uncles, and cousins as Christmas gifts and still it continues to grow.  There’s my aloe plant, given to me after a show in a tiny painted pot, which massively overgrew it and now takes up most of the table.  I have a shamrock and superbells from my mother (the latter should really be put outside but I love looking at them every day.)  I have a pansy and geranium mix that I just bought, and a dieffenbachia I got for my birthday, along with an unidentified little pot of purple flowers.  There are poppies I’m trying to grow, and a spider plant baby that I hope will some day match its mama.

I remember being a child in my grandmother’s garden.  She grew roses for each grandchild; mine was peach-colored.  She had raspberry bushes and would let me pick them.  I think that was probably my first look at gardening.  In youth I didn’t think much of it, but as I have gotten older I appreciate it more and more.  I find solace and peace in the garden, and often have wonderful story ideas or surprising mental breakthroughs when my hands are deep in the warm soil.  It has become a therapeutic tool for me, and one that I never thought I would be using.  When I’m in my garden I’m thinking of my gram, and my mom, and all the wonderful bits of nature that I get to experience in those instances.  It quite literally brings me back to earth.

I need a bigger table.