Tuesday, February 7, 2012
I don't think I have ever believed. I can remember my CCD classes (what did that stand for? they never told me) and thinking that there were these ideas I was supposed to learn about, and you know how it goes, you have to go through all the motions that demonstrate you learned them, until you grow up and can drop the act. Well, I don't think I thought about it in quite those words, but that was the vague and muddy idea. It never felt real in a deep meaningful way, but only like another set of facts(?) to study up on like geometry or Greek myths. It was a compartmentalized discipline, sequestered to Sunday mornings in the Italian neighborhood but never reaching the Saturday afternoon rollerskating rink. It was not a part of daily life or family life. Never discussed. And I felt nothing lacking. I can remember the eleventh grade retreat, and old church ladies in a panic over me catching a ride there with some boys in my class - what if you're in an accident, what will people think? What should they think? I rejected confirmation, and the priest I discussed it with expressed appreciation for the fact that I was actually reflecting on my faith and not going forward unthinkingly. Later, in pursuit of a Catholic wedding I went searching again with more focus. I revisited the steps in earnest and tried to believe. I looked again to see if there was something that had been missing. What made a Catholic wedding meaningful? It was always only about the pageantry and ritual. Oh! I see it was drama. Old theatre. Ritual and pageantry do have meaning, some universal some individual. The symbolic acts so familiar give us opportunity to pause, reflect on our guiding principles, on our needs, on our failings and successes. The pageantry helps evoke our imagination and inspiration. It need not all center on a magical myth. To have cultural meaning, I mean. But why do those who believe the strange tales think something is wrong with me? Why do they want to fix me? The illogic of many beliefs seems as clear to me as the tree outside my window. Clear. Real. Obvious to my open eyes. Yet, not uncomplicated. I do not disrespect the faiths of others, but I think they are illusions. I am still constantly moved by the art inspired by faith, and yet I l look elsewhere, to the world, for my inspiration. Who did I pray to when I was in the hospital in Colombia, I was asked. I didn't pray. I focused my determination on getting well and I worked hard towards it, actively. I take the same approach with my artistic work and my ethical living. My thanks are not offered to a god, but to the people to whom they are due.