Monday, January 24, 2011

What does God know?

In today's Daily Om article, Finding our Own Paths, it says,

"As we awaken to ourselves and to life, we will become more attuned to what is right for us. The universe speaks to all of us through infinite channels, but we each have our own frequency. Others may share what worked for them, but only we can decide what truly makes us feel inspired, awakened, connected, fully conscious, aware and alive. Whatever our path, it is perfect and is meant especially for us."

When I was a little girl, going to church on Friday evenings to help my mother 'do the flowers' was a special time for me. She was part of the Catholic Women's League. I was a little six year old eager to be a big help in keeping the flowers fresh around the altar. I would help carry the vases to the kitchen, carefully laying the flowers out on a towel, picking through them for those that could be saved, discarding those that had lost their bloom. It was the job I least liked. I didn't want to be the one to decide between life or death for the flowers. I wanted to save them all.

I remember the church was quiet, the swish of my mother's dress loud in the silence. Our footsteps muffled by the red rug as we walked down the aisle. I worked hard on remembering not to skip. It's not nice to skip in church, my mother admonished me. I worked hard to speak in a whisper. It's not nice to talk out loud in church, another of my mother's admonishments.

I worked hard at just about everything when I was a little girl. I worked hard at school. I wanted my marks to be perfect. I worked hard at my prayers, "It's the only way God will hear you," my mother said. I wanted my mother to love me and worked hard at being like her. She spoke with her hands. I learned to fling my hands in the air, using them as punctuation marks, swinging them about like tiny white doves fluttering in the weather vane of my emotions. I worked especially hard at 'being good', but that seemed to be a losing proposition.

"God knows," my mother would sigh after another of my transgressions. "God knows."

Does He know how hard I'm trying? I would wonder. Does He know? And then I'd fall again and tear the knee out of my new pants or fight with my sister or refuse to eat Chicken Noodle soup, which I detested.

I asked my mother once if God really had time to worry about the goings on of a ten year old. Was he all that concerned about my not brushing my teeth, or making my bed, or brushing my hair 100 strokes every night? I mean really, didn't he have bigger fish to fry? Shouldn't He be busy somewhere else in the world? Putting out fires. Soothing storms. Stopping war?

Even at ten I could 'drive her crazy' with my flippant attitude, my constant questioning of what was what, my constant need to make sense of the world around me -- or just test its temperature.

It wasn't that I was trying to be bad or make her mad. I wanted to know. Everything. And, quite frankly, given my experience, being 'good' seemed to be so futile, so unachievable. Inevitably I'd do something to upset her and the tears would fall and she would cry, "God knows," and I would wonder, once again, What Does God Know?

But on those Friday nights, alone with my mother in the quiet of the vestry. Sitting on the hard wooden bench, my feet swinging, humming to myself as I flipped through the pages of a Hymnal, my tiny finger underlining each word as I slowly read them to myself, watching my mother as she knelt in front of a row of gleaming candles, head bowed, hands clasped tightly together, rosary clicking as each bead slipped through her fingers, her lips silently moving in prayer, I knew. God knows. It's we who sometimes forget.

My mother never let me forget she knew what God wanted for me. She didn't drive so we would walk together to the church if my father wasn't around to drive us. Outside, on the sidewalk, I could skip and run ahead. Though mostly she liked to keep me by her side, hand clasping mine. "Be careful," she'd say. "You'll get hurt."

It was, her watchword phrase. "Be careful."

Perhaps it is that I never took enough care. Perhaps my mother feared for me and in her fear could never understand my fearlessness. Frightened I would stray too far from God's light, she feared I'd become lost and never find my way back to His Love again. Or perhaps, she hurt so much she couldn't see there was another path, another way than to move cautiously, to watch every step fearful it would lead you away from God's truth.

I trusted the light. Never worried the sun wouldn't come up again in the morning. I wanted to run through life, to cut the ties that bound me to safety, to cast off fear and dance in the light of Love. I wanted to leave God to taking care of the world while I took care of living it up.

My mother wanted me to take care. To be careful. To keep God at the forefront of my mind, always aware of His need for me to 'be good'. Careful. Righteous.

My mother wanted me to tread the careful path. The path she knew that kept her safe in God's embrace, the only place she knew comfort.

I am no longer that little girl struggling to walk quietly and sedately on a red velvet carpet leading to the altar. I still love fresh flowers. Still fill my house with them whenever I can. And, I still hesitate to throw them out when their heads are drooping, their petals falling. I want to hold onto them. Hold onto the memory of their beauty filling my home with sacred wonder, a reminder of those quiet times, alone in a church with just my mother, and the God she loves so fiercely and completely.

Those Friday nights at the church have long since passed away. My appreciation of sacred space, of sacred time, of quiet and silence and contemplation has grown as I've grown into finding myself on my own path.

God knows. I could never do it like my mother, or anyone else. It was, and always has been, my sacred right to do it my way. To find what truly makes me feel inspired, awakened, connected, fully conscious, aware and alive.

No matter where I am in the world, sitting quietly, meditating, running wild in the garden, kicking it up in a dusty street, no matter where I am or what I do, I do it, In Love. Joyfully celebrating in this moment, the beauty and wonder of living it up in the rapture of now. A child of Divine grace. A radiant woman igniting joy in an enlightened world.


Ruth said...

Oh Louise, what a joy to meet you. Reading this post, the first I've read, of many more I trust, is wonderful in many ways. Your writing is pure pleasure to read. The you that you reveal is endearing, and I can relate to your story. My father was a Baptist minister, and my mother the music director/pianist. I wanted to be free too, to find spirituality beneath religion. But it took until after my parents were gone for that journey to truly begin in earnest. It's good to find another free spirit in you.

Claudia said...

this reminded me of a song i like muchly - "there's nothing you can do to make him love you more and nothing that you've done will make him close the door. because of his great love, he gave his only son - everything is done so you could come.."

nance marie said...

i grew up being taken to a methodist church on sundays. my father's family were of the methodist denomination. my mother was brought up in the catholic religion until she married my father.

i do not belong to any denomination.

i know that there are things about faith and belief that we would not agree on,

however, like you say... every one has a right to choose for themselves.

JTS said...

I was so much like this as a child, and even now... ever questioning, and seen as defiant and rebellious because of it, though I really wasn't. I just wanted to understand and to use my own mind to reason out what was right for me. I consider myself to be a person of strong faith and belief in something greater than ourselves, I am not churched, because it is not a good fit for me, and I am comfortable with that choice, despite those who would disagree.

M.L. Gallagher said...

Hello my lovely friends.

I so appreciate your dropping in to comment on this one -- I am comfortable with writing about my beliefs -- sometimes, it takes a big stretch to share my thoughts. and to find you here, accepting, understanding, chiming in with your ideas and thoughts, knowing we are all 'right', all okay with where we stand, or sit, or kneel... that is inspiring for me.

Thank you -- that little girl who loved to freshen the flowers -- she also thanks you. Your voices soothe and heal her.



S. Etole said...

divine grace ... it's what we seek isn't it

Arts web show said...

This is a fantastic write up here.
I was like you raised with the church in my life but i never really believed.
A church is not a fun place for a child, or maybe the congregation were just not very tolerant to kids. lol
That being said i would consider myself spiritual.
It was good reading this, it's always great to hear peoples stories

Anonymous said...

beautiful post sharie. i believe parents have to sprinkle the right seeds and nurture the seedlings, once they are matured they will find their own ways.

lots of love