This was probably created in late May or early June 1963. Possibly September. I am somewhat shocked at the writing and spelling — I was at least 6 years and 9 months old. I think kids these days are more advanced — or I was behind at nearly 7. My drawing ability never improved much.
Growing up we rarely went to church, and when we did it was painful for me. I was extremely shy and the Sunday school kids seemed to be mean.
My parents tried to make up the lack of religious education by giving me Bibles over the years. First a tiny book full of Bible verses, at least one that I memorized. Then a huge illustrated Bible whose drawings alternately fascinated or horrified me. They also gave me a regular King James bible and a Living Word Bible.
I am not sure how old I was when I decided to pray for the soldiers in Vietnam, but when I told Mrs. Wewell, our next door neighbor, she said that I should pray for her instead. I did and the next day her beloved dog was killed by a car. When I tried again a few months later, her hand was caught in the ringer of her old ringer-washer, making that hand useless for the rest of her life. So I quit praying, certain that God misunderstood my requests.
I discovered C. S. Lewis’ Narnia in my teens. I considered them my favorite books for a very long time but knew no one else who’d read them, although eventually my British boyfriend, Jeremy, read them too and loved them as much as I did. I guess I knew they were based on the Bible at some level, but it didn’t bother me, nor did it make me religious.
Fast forward to 1996 or so. We’d bought a new computer and one of the first things I did was look up C. S. Lewis. I joined an email list called Mere Christianity where people talked about Lewis and all of his books. Among the other members was C. S. Lewis’ stepson, Doug Gresham, who invited me (and my family) to his Irish retreat when I mentioned I was trying to believe. Other members also tried to give me advice on how to find faith. A few sent me books they’d written.
Something clicked in my head and I felt that maybe, just maybe, it had all worked. That I was now among the faithful. I recall looking at my students in a different way, even feeling I could see their souls on one occasion. My one-time teaching assistant at work belonged to the LDS church and we’d have long conversations about faith.
Also about this time Dean was taking the kids to church because he felt they needed a religious upbringing. And also to be able to tell his mother that they were getting a Christian education. I didn’t accompany them very often, but sometimes I did. It turns out the congregation thought I was Catholic and that’s why I rarely went to their church.
This lasted about a year and the feeling of having faith, of believing faded and eventually went away.
I think that part of my search for religion and faith was assuming that when I died I would need a minister or some religious official to officiate at my funeral. I’ve since realized that is not the case and it’s definitely made me breathe easier that I don’t have a church. Or faith in a supreme being.
I’ve had some blips now and then and even started a blog about it just after my father died because at that time I guess I still hoped to eventually find my religion. But not now.
…in no particular order…
- My sense of humor — it is quirky and sometimes dark.
- I can still see the world through a child’s eyes and can be childlike (more often than adultlike, I fear)
- My cooking. I really like the food I make, at least most of the time
- My writing. While not as good as some, I feel that I write well and it is something I love to do.
- I like how I set out to ensure my kids became readers and they did. I have no doubt it had a lot to do with seeing me read, having me read to them and talking about books with them from a young age.
- The Illinois-shaped birthmark on my inner right calf.
- I treasure my values and the fact that I continue to strive to be a better person, morally and ethically, all the time.
- I like that I have an open mind about many things, except maybe certain foods — like I don’t want to ever (knowingly) eat a bug.
- I like that I can identify more birds than the average human.
- I like that I raised (okay, helped raise) two outstanding humans. When I dismiss it as genetics, they both assure me that it was much more than that.