Span (Next to Last)

I don’t know how it felt to her, but from my point of view this—way back in December—was one of the bravest blog posts I’ve read.

Churches have been important to me—as communities, as places for questioning and reflection and discussion and activism—for most of my life. Reading, thinking, and writing about religions was essentially my job for many years (as a student and graduate student), and exploring spiritual life has been high on my list of occupations for many more years than that. My closest friends often end up being people of deep faith.

But even after all that, I’m not generally someone who prays. At Ingrid’s day care, they sing Blessings on the blossoms / Blessings on the roots / Blessings on the leaves and stems / Blessings on our food before lunch, and that’s lovely. But when it comes to saying Dear God, Thank you for this day, and by the way could you also please help me keep from screaming at my daughter this evening, I normally can’t quite get through it. I get tripped up somewhere around the word God.

Except. Except for sometimes lately. Since Iris was born, I have been praying sometimes, without even intending to. Even though there is nothing I can firmly say I believe that would account for prayer—let alone a response—being possible, I have been praying: Help. Help me be good enough for them.

That’s scary to say: I’m doing something I don’t understand. Even scarier: Sometimes—not always but sometimes—it seems to work in a way that I can’t even pretend to get. One minute I don’t have any peace, or patience, or compassion, and then, suddenly, I do.

The cliché is that parenting changes us. This, though, I did not expect: My children are driving me to religion.

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3 thoughts on “Span (Next to Last)

  1. You know, the more “consistently faithful” often find ourselves praying in just that way. It feels primal to me somehow, these desperate one-word prayers, mantras, whatever they are. I pray a lot these days, rarely in the expected places, never, say, kneeling by the bed. But when I was on bed rest in the hospital, I couldn’t pray at all for a bit. I read the Psalms a lot, and could identify a lot with the pleading, heartfelt prose, but no words of my own came. And then one word: help. I said it to myself over and over, and finally, as that really did seem to help, more words came. I’m so grateful for that experience, because I’m more able to pray in the way and under the circumstances you describe now.
    FWIW, I will never try to lecture you about your soul or any crap like that (I’m not sure I’d know much about that sort of thing with any certainty anyway), but there are a lot of people who attend some type of religious service or are part of a religious community that aren’t certain about what they believe. There are a lot of places, my own church included, where doubt is accepted. You know what’s right for you, and I totally respect that, but do know that you’re always welcome to join me, and always welcome to talk about faith stuff. I also truly value having friends who don’t think just like me on all kinds of issues.

  2. Interesting. I tend to agree with Eva, but I sincerely and wholeheartedly admire the comfort many people get from churches or religion, even though I don’t get that comfort from them myself. (Heck, I couldn’t even let go of my skepticism enough to make hypnobirthing work for me.) But for my money, whatever brings you help and succor when you need it is a good thing.

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