My word for this year was serious, but now I think it should have been journey.
I've only recently reconnected with my faith. A few years ago, my grandmother passed away and then my aunt. They were both 99 and 95. They had had such wonderful glorious years on Earth. They were the original suburban farmer's. Raising most of their own food on quarter acres of land in the middle of the 'burbs of Chicago. Canning, baking,preserving. The meat they ate was either hunted or fished by my grandfather. All that life they raised every year as the food grew from the ground and in all their years with life cycles and life and death, first as hungarian tenant farmers', and then suburban farmer's, and they were agnostic.
I was shaky in my own faith and so it made me wonder; How can a woman who has lived that long in life believe that once you die that's it? You go in the ground and compost is your only legacy, your only reward? For some reason, that revelation shook my entire faith existence and for a few years, I was actually ambivalent.
After years of having been raised in a Roman Catholic church; for a moment my eyes were opened to the possibility that this was all there was. The light grey sky above me and the dark grey road in front of me. The revelation hit me while driving home one day and suddenly I felt so small and so uncertain. Suddenly there were no rules to life and I floundered. It made me feel scared.
And so alone.
It was easier not to think about it, but deeper inside, I craved. I felt hungry, or thirsty, I just couldn't put my finger on it. I had thought about going back to church because it was what I wanted for my children and my family, but never really gathered the courage to make that step.
I hemmed and hawed for along time about what to do, all of the time this deep ache inside from a place I couldn't name. I wanted there to be more, but for some reason I was more afraid to believe than not believe.
Just before Christmas this last year, I took my children to church. It was a run-of-the-mill 5 o'clock service, but when I went up for communion and knelt at the bench, the minute I took the wafer and the wine, I felt as if some one had given me a cool drink of water after days in the desert. I felt tears come up through my throat and burn behind my eyes. My only thought was, I should have been doing this all along, why did I stay away?
Suddenly my eyes were opened once again. To all of the good things in life. To all of the possibility and growth that faith brings. My walk isn't alone any more and it was such a heavy burden lifted off of my shoulders. To everything that He's given us in the dirt in the ground, and the air, and the sky.
And suddenly I wondered... how can someone who was so intimately connected to the earth and all that God has provided not believe in His existence?
My friend Jeanne told me, "When you use the talents that God has given you, you honor Him." I truly believe that, but on the same point, isn't honoring God also taking care of what He's given you? Your body, your family, your Earth? When you give a child a toy and he ruins it, how can you not feel anything but disappointment? The chemicals we use, the poison's, the waste and trash and plastic. How does this honor God to ruin the beautiful thing He's given us?
I think that is a part of being eco-conscious, organic and earth friendly. Respect for what we've been given. It's a connection that even an agnostic might have to agree with.
Every time I think about my Aunt and Grandmother and wonder what they have discovered and hopefully for them, it was a pleasant surprise.