It’s Father’s Day and a time to remember. Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of my father in the pulpit. You see, my dad was a Methodist minister until I was 7 or 8 years old. If you have never experienced such a thing, maybe this will help you to understand.
Imagine a small child dressed in Sunday clothes, sitting in a pew at church. She looks up and there is her daddy dressed in a black robe with a colorful “stole” or vestment hanging around his neck. He speaks in a loud and steady voice and EVERYONE in the church is listening. He speaks God’s words and in that little girl’s mind, he is just one step below God. He must be!
As a little girl this both thrilled me and scared me a little. After all, it’s one thing to know that God is watching and yet another to have one of HIS representatives living in your home. Nonetheless, those days in church left an indelible mark on me. I still find great pleasure in the structure, the ceremony, the music, and the order of worship in the Methodist church.
The music of worship was brought to life by my mom. She played the piano and organ in church and has both been in the choir and has directed the choir. Interestingly, I actually have two Methodist hymnals, one belonged to my biological mother and the other I found in our waiting room at work last week.
Many are likely to think that this made me one of THOSE preacher’s children. I tend to believe that we left the church early enough in my life that this did not happen. We were not as involved in the church after my dad left the ministry. We did, however, continue to attend church and whenever I visited my grandma, she would take me to her church, the Church of Christ. She taught pre-school Sunday School and I would help her, delighted with the fun that we had in the classes. We would sing songs, make crafts, and listen to stories.
Services at the Church of Christ were less interesting to me and they did not follow the same order of worship as the Methodists. Also, they had neither an organ nor piano, rather they sang a capella (in the style of the chapel). The thing that most intrigued me was baptism. In Grandma’s church, they baptized by total submersion into the baptismal pool. This was so foreign to what I knew from my Methodist experiences.
As I became a teenager, we stopped going to church as a family and I found that my spirituality sort of went into hibernation. I got busy with hormones and friends and did not think much about beliefs. This carried through into young adulthood. However, I became keenly interested in church in boot camp. In boot camp, the only time you could actually sit near the men was during church and if you attended Catholic services, you could actually sit right next to them. I am sure you can guess what I did. Yep, I attended as many Protestant AND Catholic services as I could!
I really did not think much about spirituality again until my early twenties. At that time, I decided to attend a two semester long parapsychology class at the local community college in San Diego. I learned about all sorts of things like numerology, “table tipping”, reincarnation and past lives to name a few. I found some of it intriguing and some downright scary. And then I got busy going to college for my BA in psychology and let my spirituality become dormant again.
In the 1990’s, when my daughter was old enough to make some of her own choices about religion, I returned to the Methodist church. We attended for several years and my daughter was baptized there. We found a home in the church and loved our pastor. However, as sometimes happens, he was sent to another church and we were not as fond of his replacement. We stopped going to church and I did not return until I became separated from my ex-husband.
When I returned, it was in search of peace and support. I never really found the right church and ultimately stopped trying. But something did occur during this time. I found that there was a reawakening of my spirituality. Since that time, I have grown into a more complicated and comforting set of beliefs. I remember trying to explain this to my father one day and he asked (partly kidding I believe) “You don’t wear a pyramid on your head do you?” No reader, I do not.
What I do is pray, believe in the power of God and humans and all living things, live my life knowing that karmic payback can be a bad thing, and understand that there are no coincidences in life. Everything has a reason and a purpose. Everything has a lesson to learn and a gift held within. I am not a powerless victim to random events and external forces. I have choice, I have power, and I have a sense of enlightenment.