My spiritual cup and Christmas Spirit flask seem to contain only dregs, leftovers from years past. I've only been what you might call a practicing Christian for about 13 years. I wasn't born to it; I chose it.
I was lucky to run into the right people at the right time as well as the wrong people at the right time. My initiation into the faith was dramatic; I experienced full submersion baptism at a Baptist Church in front of a thousand people. But by the time they were ragging on my slacks for being "clothes made for a man" and scorning my lack of femininity, I made my escape.
I went to college and met Elizabeth who impressed me with her quiet and steady faith. Her knowledge of the Bible combined well with her shrewd judgement. She was the first person who sold me on Christianity without selling it to me. For that, she earned her place at the heavenly banquet.
I left college and went to an episcopal church with my Mom. We went through the catechism process together. I joined the choir and the organ committee. The priest was a converted Jew and a ph.d. His sermons were deep, memorized, delivered among the congregation. I learned how to get forgiveness and stop kicking myself.
When I married Doc, I had found a home church: wherever it was we were together. We prayed together before meals. I prayed every night before dropping off to sleep listening to the frogs chirruping or the frost crackling on the roof, depending on the season. If I listened hard enough, I could almost hear the creek.
Then we fled the countryside; having children changed our life beyond what we could have imagined, just like everyone said it would. In the city we were alone, but we had each other. Our time there contained the snowiest April in recorded history. Knee deep in the urban plight, I clung to my faith and took the first train out of there.
Now, we have a manageable house, we are close to family, we have a great neighborhood, and the children are out of diapers. It's the result of several well-laid plans that were designed with the help of prayer and good council. I should sigh a sigh of relief and rev up to soak up the season.
But I was feeling kind of empty and detached. Doc and I are ships passing in the night most evenings. We aren't sharing many meals, therefore we aren't praying much. I was feeling kind of sorry for myself, like maybe I was wrong to latch my wagon up to this particular fairy tale. After all, if God was loving and kind, why are all these people dying before their time? And why are people dumb enough to say things like, "It's all part of God's plan."? These are questions I am forced to consider daily, thanks to my pal, Hot Lemon.
After awhile, I ran out of reasons. I stood on the brink of kissing the whole idea of God goodbye. And I was granted a minor miracle: a few minutes alone with solitaire and iTunes. Getting time alone is a rare gift these days and I enjoy a good few games of solitaire; it puts me in a contemplative move. I turned on iTunes; I needed to hear some Dolly.
Love is in the water
Love is in the air
Show me where to go
Tell me will love be there ( love be there )
Teach me how to speak
Teach me how to share
Teach me where to go
Tell me will love be there ( love be there )
And then I heard this:
Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother,
and in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his holy name.
I bowed my head, humbled. This was my Grandma's favorite Christmas carol. I didn't know her very well; she emmigrated to Canada when I was very young. I remember very vividly sitting in a food court in a mall in Ottawa when I went to see her in 1994. We had gone shopping and we were breaking for lunch. Her husband Peter, was fetching napkins and Grandma and I had just settled into our seats.
O Holy Night began to float over our heads and my Grandma inhaled deeply. "This is my favorite Christmas song...'fall on your knees!' Isn't it wonderful?" She asked me breathlessly. She was a died in the wool Anglican and had a real joy around her faith. I was surprised by the simple happiness she shared with me. Often, when people talk about faith, they are trying to either convince you to join them or they have some other not so hidden agendas. This was either a moment purely lacking hidden agenda or my Grandma was one fine actress. I'll tell you, I'm not really sure to this day which it is, but I hope it's the former.
But the verse I quoted above, about being brothers to slaves I was reminded about what I really dig about Jesus: Righteousness, goodness. And why I chose the path I did, why I chose to believe. I received a reminder to fall on my knees and my cup and flask began to runneth over. I could blame Hot Lemon for this recent hot funk. Afterall, he is constantly questioning God and His existance. And like I said, I've run out of rebuttals. But he's done me a favor: he made me think about God, seriously, like I did when I was on the run.
I glanced into the abyss that is the universe and thought, I'll never understand, but I'd like to know for sure: Are you there God? I think I got my answer.
So I will kick off my holiday season believing again. I will keep asking how to speak, where to go, and will I find love. If you need me, I'll be out breaking chains.