With the holiday season coming to a close, I spent a lot of time thinking about religious and spiritual practices. I grew up in a Baptist home with two parents who sought to create a religious and spiritual foundation for their children when it was not modeled for them. I have fond memories of wearing coordinated dresses with my sisters, my mother braiding our hair the night before, my baptism and singing in the choir. I participated in vacation bible school, community events and even went to a summer camp that I originally loathed, but learned to love. Through the years I had the privilege of learning about various religions and observing different practices. I remember taking a religious course in college because I was intrigued by what eventually taught me about religious sensitivity and tolerance.
As I became an adult I became more appreciative of the example they set. I have witnessed the trap of religious intolerance and righteousness. I witnessed how it sustains the divisiveness in our own homes and communities. I have observed the religious rhetoric used carelessly by people who don’t actively practice what they preach. Seeing people lie, cheat and dishonor others while believing that confession and the Eucharist dissolve all sins as long as they sit in the pew the following Sunday. I have had to question if I am practicing what I believe and that exploration has been a humbling one many times.
When I became a mother, I had to give critical thought to how I wanted to model Christianity in an inter-faith home. I stumbled with the ambiguous space that religion and spirituality hold for so many of us while knowing that I wanted them to have a foundation to choose from for themselves one day. I wasn’t oblivious to the challenge, but I found value in modeling tolerance, respect and sensitivity. I sat in a Catholic church with my family for many Sundays because my path to God wasn’t based on the location. My experience of a higher faith is that our relationship provides invitations to worship in a variety of ways. It doesn’t have limits or rules.
I don’t have all of the answers and I hope I continue to ask questions. I believe that one of the lessons I hope to teach my children is that there is value in asking questions and finding their own way into the answers. That will serve as the foundation for their own relationship with a higher power. That is the religious empowerment that I was taught and hope to instill in my own children.
You won’t find me in a church pew every Sunday and no (gasp alert), I don’t feel that I am obligated to show up and sit in a church because it’s a religious holiday. I believe you can have a relationship in a park beneath the blue clouds, in the private moments of your car and anywhere you permit (and need) it. I believe acts of service, living with integrity, honorable character and an empathetic heart carries as much value as the rest of it. I hope that if I can teach my children anything it is that who they are and how they carry out those tenets matter more than the forum or method they choose to carry it out in.
In Love & Truth,