Losing My Religion (1 of 5)
I remember as a young child I used to join religious processions. Once, when I was around 5, my mother couldn’t go for some reason but I insisted in joining a procession being held around the town’s church during a festive season. She sent me off with a little basket of flowers to join other little girls also bearing flowers.
Along the way, not surprisingly, I got lost (still happens to me today even with a map in my hand). It was probably just around a corner but I couldn’t find my way. By the time I saw the long line of people marching in the procession, they were on their way back to the church. It wouldn’t have mattered as my mother explained later but, already self-conscious at that age, I felt too embarrassed to join them at that point. Hesitantly, I turned around and somehow made my way back home.
Of course, my mother was none-too-pleased. Not only did I miss the procession, I also came back without the basket of flowers in my hand, which I gave away to a stranger. My giving nature was evident then.
My parents were steadfast in their belief but they didn’t practice it to the extreme. And I never heard them make disparaging remarks about other people with different beliefs.
Once, two American Mormons attempted to convert us to their religion. My father enjoyed discussing religion with them and welcomed their visits a couple of times. In the end, he told them he was happy to stay as a Catholic. My father always said all roads lead to the same place.
With just myself as company, I’m a person who can sit still for hours and not get bored. I have a knack for ignoring all the noise around me and lose myself in my thoughts. I’m also not a nag. However, somehow as a child, I was both very impatient and a nag. I exhausted my parents’ patience for my insistence on leaving the church before the mass ended.
One day, to placate me, they promised to leave after the choir had sung its 3rd hymn or song. BIG mistake. From then on, when the 3rd song came on, that was my signal to start nagging them incessantly to let us go home.
On my 10th birthday, too busy with housework, my mother sent me off by myself to church not far from where we lived and gave me a new red dress to wear. Although never been fashion conscious, I’m very picky with the type of material I wear. The dress was pretty but the outer part felt rough on my skin. I wasn’t happy. Not only because I didn’t want to wear the dress, I also didn’t want to go to church.
While my two older brothers were probably playing in the neighbourhood as usual, enjoying themselves, birthday girl was sent off to go to church. I dragged my resistant, resentful self to church.
Inside, I sat next to a young female. While she noticed I was alone, I noticed she had a pretty face. She saw I was fidgeting. I volunteered the information that I was out of there after the 3rd song. She was very nice to me and tried to convince me that I should stay till the end.
As she was bent on making me stay, I was bent on leaving after the 3rd song. With my parents not there to prevent me from leaving, no one else could make me stay after the 3rd song. On cue, as soon as I heard the piano started playing, I jumped away from my seat in case the woman grip me by the hand and don’t let me go. I saw the disappointed look in her face, but I was intent on not staying any minute longer.
Over the years, there was always this pressure not to miss mass on Sundays. Everyone always trying to make you feel you’re upsetting God for not doing your weekly sabbatical duty. As I grew older and got used to going to church most Sundays, while still not appreciating it, I started to bear staying past the 3rd song and until the complete end. Sometimes, I even sang along! Picture me singing along with the choir and parishioners during the 3rd song and not feeling the urge to bolt!
Don’t get me wrong. I find peace and solace in chapels or cathedrals when it’s quiet. Living then in a tropical country, the heat, the crowd which often spilt out into the streets and the noisy distractions used to bother me. During a priest’s sermon, those times when I made an effort to listen, it often didn’t tag at my heart.
I believe in the power of prayer. I was sometimes amazed when something I asked for happened at exactly how I wanted it to happen. And during the lowest point in my life, when I felt abandoned by everyone except for a loving few, Mother Mary was my constant companion and praying the rosary and novena were my refuge and consolation.
However, one day in the early 90s, I started on a long, gradual and lonely journey to take on the road less traversed of soul searching. I read copious amounts of books, including the bible, and indulged in even more introspection.
And then about 12 years ago, I made a conscious decision to stop going to church altogether. But it wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy going to church, or I lost my sense of gratitude for two revered beings who I turned to the most during my hour of deep need.
There were 4 reasons that prompted me to question my faith. (To be continued)
Next topic (a funny one): My [censored] moments.