I grew up with religion.  We went to church.  We celebrated Easter and Christmas.  We read the children’s Bibles that Aunt Nettie sent us.  We recited one prayer before dinner and another before bed.

What we did not do was discuss these things.

Given my curiosity level, this is a bit odd.  I’ve always asked questions but I don’t remember asking anyone about their faith.

That said, I did notice the signs of faith around me.  We were the only Protestants in our Catholic neighborhood.  We moved in when I was two and I harassed my parents endlessly, wanting to know why we were the only people without a blue lady (the Madonna) in our yard.  Everyone else had one and I wanted one too.

I don’t remember that harassment – my mother told me about it.  And I don’t remember being discouraged to ask questions about Faith.

But I did grow up thinking that it was deeply personal and private.  Maybe it was even something that nice people didn’t discuss.  It was just that private.

Fortunately, I went to college.  I had classes with students who were Muslim and Hindu.  Later, when I worked for the university, I worked with a professor who was Jainist and another who was a Baptist minister but who studied Buddhism in Thailand.  A third professor grew up Mormon but converted to Catholicism.  Maybe it was because this was the anthropology department or it is simply the nature of universities, but it was OK to discuss faith.  Over take- out, I barraged my Muslim friends and room-mates with questions. Between us and even in the office, these discussions were ok.  Out in public, not so much.

Then my son was born and we moved back into the area where I grew up.  It has changed a lot.  Still largely Christian, it is no longer almost entirely Catholic.  In grade school, my son has Muslim class mates.  He knows kids who are Wiccan.

He also has my curiosity and he has it bad.  He asks questions about everything, including Faith.  We go to church.  We celebrate Easter and Christmas and we discuss faith and prayer, not only ours but that of our neighbors.  He asks questions.  Some I can answer.  Sometimes we find ourselves in the pastor’s office or chatting with a knowledgeable friend.  We find books.  We visit religious sites.  I find people who will talk with us.

My son has also been key in exploring my prayer life.  When I saw a job opportunity calling for writers to compose prayers, I was going to let it slide, but my son encouraged me to try.

“You pray all the time.”

“No, I don’t.  I whine at God.  That’s not the same.”

Fortunately, my son has a grand dose of stubborn.  He helped me realize that I do pray although I’m not comfortable doing it in public.

It was something I had not discussed with other people.  I don’t know why, but aware of it at last, it is something I have started asking other people about.  I’m even part of a prayer group now.  In addition to praying together, we discuss how we pray, why we pray and what seems to work best for each of us.

It is this discussion that Ruth, Lori and I want to duplicate here in our global neighborhood.  An open dialog about faith and how we practice it through prayer as we reach out to that which is bigger than ourselves and that helps us be better than we could ever be on our own.

Why not get a cup of coffee and join us?

–SueBE

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