Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Lazy Sunday?



When I was a little girl, my grandmother took me to church on Sunday mornings. It was not unusual for me to have a sleepover with my grandparents on Saturday nights. I loved it. Her house, a sprawling ranch style home, decorated in 1970's Vegas chic and located in the illustrious, sidwalkless, "I have arrived"suburbs, was always full of sparking trinkets and glorious food. She used to make me jello and whipped cream parfaits that seemed impossible to create, but my grandmother was even able to add different flavors for the layers. That woman was no joke when it came to luxuries.



My grandmother is Catholic. So was everyone else she ever truly loved. I mean really Catholic. Everyday mass Catholic. Babies not baptized go to hell Catholic. Homosexuality is disgusting Catholic. Really. Shut UP, right? When I speak of church here, you can go ahead and visualize all the Catholic stuff that goes along with the concept. The incense, the statues, the bells, the beautiful edifices, the stained glass, the altar, the choral loft in the back, the ritual. Catholics have it all. It is a great religion, as religion goes. For the most part, Catholics leave each other alone. Put your money in the basket every week, preferably with you parish envelope that has your parish number on it, and they just mark you "present." It is relatively easy to pick and choose what parts of the dogma to buy into. But not for my gram, she bought the whole store.


Attending church with my grandmother was a sacred event. A mystery. A treasure. I would snuggle next to her mink coat, searching for mints or gum in her shiny pocket book. She loved me. She loved being with me. Having me with her, in that place where she was so at peace, was icing on her cake. She stroked my hair, pulled me in tight, whispered explanations of what was happening, what the priest was saying, and how important faith was. I would listen quietly and not fidget (too much) because her breath on my face smelled like peppermint and perfume, and her hair was always short and perfectly coiffed, and it tended to brush against my cheek as she spoke to me. The fact that she would chance upsetting the 'do' moved my heart. It still does.


Now that I am grown, and have children, I try to go to church as often as I can. The rules dictate attending mass once a month and make a confession once a year. I tend to break those rules by making confession as often as possible(free therapy), and getting to church a few times a month.

I like to hold my children close and smell the tops of their heads. I like to hush them and let them rummage around in my big bag looking for something to eat or play with. I like the time it gives us to just sit still and be close to one another. It has very little to do with faith.

Sometimes I get lazy. I want to spend my Sunday in my house on my couch reading the paper or watching my favorite show, CBS Sunday Morning, on TV.

And so what of faith? Where does it fit in? The peace that the hour in mass gives me is important, and the sense of community and stability and even history that it gives my children is priceless. But do I believe in God? Am I a follower of Jesus? Honestly, I don't know. I like to think so. I like to think there is a God looking over us. And I love the idea of a prophet.

Yesterday I didn't go to church. I planted flowers in my garden and I wrote a little more on my new novel. I played with my kids and I brought my grandmother over for a grilled hot dog. I would like to think that if it is all true...God, Jesus, etc... that my choice to put my hands in the earth and nurture my girls, as well as the woman who nurtured me, would be a choice that would please them, those Gods of mine.

* Another Dreaded Repost. I wrote one today about Catholicism, but pulled it down. I'm still getting to know this blogging world. Is it like regular society... where we get to talk about everything EXCEPT religion, politics and money?*

25 comments:

  1. Suzy,
    I stay away from politics, personally, because I really don't know enough about it. Religion, I studied it before ever realizing and finding Faith-and church has nothing to do with faith..in my true and HONEST opinion. Faith has to do with taking those steps to follow without knowing where those steps lead.
    When I gave birth to my oldest daughter is when I think I finally believed in God.

    I applaud this post, really I do. You evoked memories I don't truly have (make sense? made me be there as a child digging through a fabulous smelling grandma's purse). I believe it is a beautiful example of your writing. :) If someone doesn't like what you say in the blogging world-it's okay. I wouldn't get too terribly offensive, but I love how eloquently you expressed your opinion here. I don't think the point was to trash Catholicism, but to explore your faith, history, etc.. If others don't see this, it is their tragic loss.

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  2. This is a cool exploration of spirituality and religion.

    One of my WIPs is set in the 80's in a Catholic High School. Part of the story is the mc exploring his beliefs.

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  3. Thanks guys! I am actually enjoying going back and editing these posts. I sure used to be wordy!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  4. You evoked memories I DO have, except it was my mother, and the coat was beaver.

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  5. Oh man, what a great post! And now I'm super curious about the first one...

    Love this line: "For the most part, Catholics leave each other alone," because it touches on one of my absolute most-noticed things about religions.

    Let me just say it again. Great post.

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  6. Your post reminded me of what is great about religion. Too often these days, religion becomes a battle of ideology, a set of rules to try to impose on the larger society, or precepts by which we can condemn everyone NOT at church. It's great to hear you talk about family at church. It warmed my heart.

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  7. It is YOUR blog. It is the place for telling your own truth.

    I thought the piece was lovely.

    Shelley

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  8. Suzanne,you've no idea how this post brought back memories for me.
    Your words are so powerful- this time they crossed continents and time lines. I was back at Mass here in the 60's, with, not my grandmother but my mother. Every Sunday, 7 of us kids and 2 parents, all scrubbed up, 18 shoes polished on Saturday night worn proudly to the top of the church on Sunday morning. Still I remember the smell in the church, and on the odd occasion that I visit, it has not changed. Each year, on Christmas Day, I wish I could be in that seat with my family, but it's just too far, in every sense of the word.
    I've stepped away from religion now, but still believe in God, or Good. But I see where you're coming from , and agree that a lot of what you describe is very good. If only they wouldn't shove it down our necks, and if only they lived up to their words and vows.

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  9. I can't go to confession anymore, the priests get too upset.

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  10. There do seem to be unwritten rules about blogging but for the most part, I ignore them. I try to stick with honesty and sincerity and you do that well and often. I come here because I love the stories, I love the words, I love you. Be you and I will always be here.

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  11. That was a beautiful way to honor God and your family, and this amazing earth he created!

    What a lovely post!

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  12. I enjoyed your memories of your grandmother. I hope, in day-to-day life, I inspire just enough of the unusual to stick in my children's minds and help them fill their treasure box of memories.

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  13. i love this post. I read it in your archives a while back. I think you should go ahead and post whatever you want about religion, money or politics. I love listening to how others think. That's what makes my world interesting. Different people with their own thoughts. Some of your believes came through a bit in your book (I think) and I was totally intrigued. Break the rules girl. Post whatever you like on the hard to touch topics. I'll read ya :))

    I am not Catholic, but I know some wonderful people who are. :)

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  14. Did someone say lazy???? I'm in! Seriously, though, I like your reposts. I haven't read them before, and they have been great. As for faith and all the other ya-da-ya-da-ya-da, well, I think God sees what is on our hearts, and that is what matters. Good people do good things, right?

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  15. I loved this post! It was so genuine and beautiful. I'm so impressed that you would GO TO CHURCH for peaceful time with your kids. Church with my kids is anything but peaceful! It's an hour of craziness (keeping 3 kids 5 and under sitting in a pew is nearly impossible) and every week I have to remind myself why I'm there.

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  16. I grew up in an all Catholic town. We were the only ones without gray smudges on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday. They taught catechism as a regular subject in class. This was a public school. But I have only fond memories of growing up in this community, being embraced by this community. I'm still not Catholic, but I have attended mass and the beautiful rituals always soothe my soul. Reading your post gave me that feeling of peace and that's always welcome :)

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  17. Ah, i just love reading anything you write. I'm (strongly) of the opinion that you can write whatever you want, as long as this blog has your name on it!

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  18. It's your blog and you can write anything you want -- especially when it's written well.
    :-)
    Pearl

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  19. I think bloggers blog because they have something to say about...whatever. This blog is beautifully written, no matter what the subject, and that's what keeps me coming back.
    By the way, thanks for your comment on my post about friendship. It really helped me.
    karen

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  20. This is a beautiful post. I've never been raised with religion and I'm not quite sure what I believe, but I think it's wonderful that while some people allow their faith to take over, you use it as a way to be close to those you love and remember someone who loved you so dearly. I was also my grandmother's special girl, being the only girl grandchild out of seven kids, and the way you described your time with your grandmother made me really miss mine.

    I've passed an award on to you at my blog! :)

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  21. Hi,
    Just wanted to let you know there's an award for you on my blog on Friday,
    Blessings,
    karen

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  22. All!

    You are always so supportive. Thanks so much for you comments. And awards too!

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  23. This is a very sweet post. :-) My grandma is also intensely Catholic. I'm not Catholic at all, though I would for sure say I'm a Jesus follower.
    I loved the details in this and the gentle tone. :-) Thank you for sharing it.
    (I came here from Julie's blog)

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  24. this is about your amazing ability to paint pictures with words.
    and it is.
    keep writing.
    the hell with rules.

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  25. Beautiful, as always. I wouldn't worry about staying away from politics, religion, and money--your readers will welcome your take on these subjects. You're a fantastic writer, so say whatever you want!

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