The first time I heard about “God” was through the sins, lies, and truths of my mother.
It was my mother who brought us to the House of God decked out with plush pews, golden massive crosses, and stain-glassed windows. Alongside a majestic pipe organ, she sang passionately in the Church choir in long, flowing, and satin-silken robes. She taught me how to bend and pray on my knees, clasp my hands together, sing “Jesus Loves Me,” and made me believe that if I was good enough that good things would happen to me. With black eyes that looked deep into my innocent soul, my Mom said to me, “Remember that your father and I had no one when we came to this country. The only people who were ever here for us when you were so sick were these Church people who prayed so hard for you. God is always here for you. No one else. God is watching you.” I learned from my Mom to have faith when times were tough.
Rather than comforted, I was scared. God was always watching me. Could I ever live up to the saintly American name “Mary” that my parents gave to me and God who was watching me? I remember wanting to ask my Mom years later after one health obstacle after another, “Why are bad things happening to me with my health when I followed all your rules to be so good? What did I ever do in my life that was so bad? Is God watching now?”
The first time I learned about science was from my father. He was immersed in the world of facts, science, and experiments. It was my father who told me of such terms as gene expression, resveratrol, and molecular biochemistry. After my mother left, we all stopped going to Church, and I wondered if we were all going to hell as a result. With black eyes that looked deep into my soul as a little girl, my Father reassured me, “Mary, as long as you do good things because you want to then this is all that matters.” I learned from my father that there were facts to make logical decisions.
I did not understand God. Who was God? Where was He? Why was there all this pain and suffering to endure in this world? And, why me with health stuff? At 8-years-old, I diligently began to write to God every single day in my very first multi-colored paged “Hello Kitty” diary. I wanted to understand myself. Mostly, I wanted to understand God. For over ten years, I wrote to God. Every single day, I put pen to paper to tell God about my day, my worries, my fears, my joys, and all the little things that seemed so big and unending when I was so young. Yes, God was watching me, but how come I couldn’t see or watch God? Did God really understand me? Could I ever understand God? Was he really a He? Maybe he was a She? Were there heaven or hell? Sinners and saints? Was there a devil and were people born evil? How could He let bad things happen like world hunger, shootings, and poverty? How come God seemed to let good things seem to happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people or people who never did anything wrong, but always seemed like something was going wrong? How come we turn to God when we are mainly in need and just as quickly and easily blame when things are at its worst rather than when things are really at its best?
People ask me what religion I am. I will be the first to admit that I turn to and think of God more when times or tough rather than when sailing on smooth waters. I reflect deeply on my own personal faith and journey that involved my religious mother, my philosophical father, and meditative Stepmother. I think of the atheists and agnostics I have met. I realize that faith and facts, philosophy and spirituality, chants and prayers, and crosses and rosary beads have laid the groundwork for me to conclude that I do not know what religion I am. All I know is I have faith and believe that there is some higher power watching over ad will take care of myself and my loved ones. All I know is that it feels good to believe than to not and never believe. The power and process of faith is such an individual journey for each person that manifests from the roller coaster ride of life.
What has your spiritual, scientific, or religious journey been like from your life experiences? What is your faith? What do you think a soul is? And, what happens to someone when all faith is lost and seems like it can never be restored again?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,