There were other religious influences. They say kids are like sponges. I don’t particularly like that analogy, for a number of reasons. But suffice to say Bob and Square Pants, and just leave it at that. I do think kids possess naturally open and insatiably curious minds though. More like bottomless toy boxes that always have room for more. Or the magicians black hat. Rabbits and endless chiffon scarves. Doves and other wondrous things extracted with ease.
At least that was how my young mind worked. Still does.
One of my favorite things to ponder as a child, and to this day for that matter, is God. Such an infinite subject. I wanted to know Him/Her. I wanted to know me. Where I came from. Where God came from. If God made me then who made God? I thought about that so much it made my head spin. Still no answer. Will I ever know?
Little back story. When I was six my oldest brother met the love of his life and the woman who would become my sister-in-law. They were engaged for four years, which at the time seemed like an eternity to me. Truthfully, I think it seemed like an eternity to J as well. We both had our reasons. I was very young and she was eager to be a blushing bride.
During those four years my brother, who once smoked unfiltered cigarettes and drove a mauve Harley Davidson, wore his black Italian hair slicked back like John Travolta in Grease and had a chipped front tooth, became a Catholic. He did it for love. I can’t think of a better reason. My sister-in-law played an instrumental role the conversion, which was a good thing. The entire family agreed. It transformed my brother’s life, gave it purpose and made him happy, beyond his wildest imaginings. That was my first introduction into the awesome power of God. I was a firsthand witness to a metamorphosis so rich and profound and eternal. Undeniable. Love taking action. All these years later, it still exists.
Even though by then, The Old Man, Ma and I were attending the Lutheran Church every Sunday I still felt kind of bad. Not quite good enough. Compared to St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church that the other two Musketeers attended and Corpus Cristi Catholic Church, right across the road for God’s sake, that my brother and sister-in-law were members, the Christ Lutheran Church seemed somehow second rate. No one I knew went there. What did they know that we didn’t? Why were the other churches up on Red River Road and ours was down on Walkover Street? It seemed we couldn’t get anything right.
Furthermore, the Christ Lutheran Church was full of Finlanders with blonde hair, pale skin and weird accents. The Old Man fit in nicely, being a Finlander, but my painfully shy olive-complected Italian/English mother and I were misfits. Strangers in a strange land. As Jim Morrison so aptly put it, “People are strange when you’re a stranger.” That’s predominantly how I felt the entire time I attended Christ Lutheran Church.
I stopped attending when I turned 19, the year of my emancipation from organized religion. I was very disorganized after that.
I didn’t know it at the time but I guess it was also the year I became an “Other.”