The day that I had the epiphany, that ‘ah ha!’ moment after reading Eric Weiner’s article in The New York Times, I got to thinking about when this whole thing began. Not the world beginning, that big bang thing or whatever it was that started what is commonly known as life. I’m talking about something far more personal. I’m talking about my life with God – and when that all began.
I wish I could say it started in the womb and that I had these primordial memories of being in heaven and sitting on God’s lap, but it didn’t. Or if it did I don’t remember so that doesn’t count. The best I can recall is that this ‘relationship’ (and I use the term loosely, at least in this context) began in elementary school.
Little back story. Until this juncture I don’t recall being from a terribly religious family. We celebrated Christmas (with presents under the tree and a turkey with cranberry sauce) and Easter (with ham and scalloped potatoes, new shoes and an awkward photo op.) But we also celebrated Thanksgiving (with mashed potatoes, turkey with cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie instead of presents), and Birthdays (no turkey, no cranberry sauce, no pumpkin pie but a galaxy of presents for the special one of the hour.) So throughout the year there were many celebrations and it was hard to tell which ones, if any, had religious affiliations. It was confusing at best, given the abundance of delicious food and divine presents attached to every one of these celebrations that took place at 204.
Anyway, my best guess is ‘it’ all began sometime in early elementary school when I hooked up with S and T and we became the three Musketeers, a nickname coined by T’s father, who was the manager of the local movie theater. It could have been worse. We could have ended up the Three Stooges.
They both went to church, as did many of my other classmates. I did not. This made me feel bad. Inferior. Flawed. Unworthy of God’s favor, whatever that meant. To not feel bad, or worse yet, to not be a blemished cursed sinner I approached my parents with the notion that we go to church. At least this is what I recall. I probably didn’t. It was most likely their idea, but this is my take. Besides, I’m too old to have clear memories, and that was a long long time ago. But we’re talking about God and He/She forgives the forgetter.
Of my parents, oddly enough, it was The Old Man who had the closest connection to what would be considered organized religion. He was a Finlander and there was some sort of ancestral connection to Lutheranism. Ma may have been Anglican as a child but that affiliation was long gone and best forgotten. Her connection to religion was unorganized, I suppose. So off we went to Christ Lutheran Church.
Thus began my indoctrination into the Christian faith.