I was raised in the Catholic church. I completed every age appropriate requirement as dictated by THE CHURCH. I didn’t ask questions. I didn’t wonder. I just put on the suit of beliefs I was handed like a good girl. I didn’t feel like a good girl. I broke some of the rules. Then, when life happened and natural consequences would surface, I was certain that God was exacting his toll for my broken rules. This was a conversation that would play again and again only in my head.
When I moved to Houston during student teaching and my first two years as a teacher, going to the Catholic church was a source of information (I went to the Spanish mass to absorb), community (some of my students were there as well), and comfort (within these walls was the only place in Houston that felt like home; resembled home). This was all really helpful for a wandering soul so far from her family.
When I moved to Kansas City, I was ready to wonder about all of my questions. Is it okay to be a “cafeteria Catholic”? to pick and choose what you agree with? That didn’t feel quite right. So I went searching…I went to a very beautiful Christian church in a very expensive part of town. I was curious…who can know if it was more class curious or spiritual curious – probably both. It was an evening service in the little side chapel. There were drums. This felt odd. They got in a circle and held hands for communion…that felt strange too. Before I left, an older gentleman leaned over and whispered in my ear if I had been raised Catholic. I felt a surge of panic…I’d been found out! I didn’t belong here! I said yes and asked how he knew that. Turns out I made the sign of the cross after communion. Go figure – everyone doesn’t do that. I did sign a guest book when I went in. During the following week when I returned home from teaching, I found a loaf of bread at my door with a thank you note from the church for visiting. This was equal parts creepy and kind. I felt a bit hunted, but at the same time I was living alone in a very expensive apartment, so the loaf of bread was appreciated!
Not long after that adventure I met my husband, and he was Catholic and his family went to the church a block from where he grew up, so I threw back on the suit that began to feel uncomfortable for the sake of new love and belonging. It was ok for a while. After children arrived, my concerns began to surface again. They had not been baptised. Now, I don’t believe you go to hell if you haven’t experienced this, but I do very much believe in parents committing to guiding a spiritual path, creating community and support, offering experiences. We were so overwhelmed trying to figure out what this parenting thing was all about for a 4 month old, 18 month old, and 4-year-old all at once, the idea of getting everyone to church seemed impossible. I do realize people do this all the time, we just were figuring everything out at once and that didn’t make the list. Each stage with the boys seemed more challenging than the one before it and the idea of introducing them to a nursery or sunday school class when they already went to daycare all week just seemed like a bit much. Beyond daycare while I was working, we did not leave them with anyone else the first year that we had them. A whole year with no break other than the office. This might not have been the smartest strategy.
I digress…imagine that! As the kids got older, I began looking for a diverse church community with a very strong children’s program. Mr. Z. didn’t really get it. We’re Catholic, he said. You worry too much, he said. I disagree. By now, I have inquired into many different church settings. All the while Mr. Z sits home and practices Catholicism…in his closet? I’m not sure. The preschool where BB goes is in a Methodist church close by. They have a wonderful vacation bible school the kids love to attend in the summer. We could try there…I just hate visiting with people in the aisle before the service begins. This might be a weak reason. They do have a lot going on for children. While I sit and ponder, another holiday season is upon us, and while I love 25 days of Christmas music and holiday specials on TV every night, I feel a need to help my children experience holiday celebrations from other beliefs as well, have an awareness of what is going on in other parts of the world. What church will we go to for Christmas? This is a good question. While I struggle with choosing the RIGHT community to support and foster our children, I am inadvertently choosing NO community for our children…rather large sense of urgency around this one friends!!