Sunday, January 23, 2011

Faith, hope and love and difficult conversations

Given that this is a food blog, I don't write about religion much.  But a couple things happened in the past week that made me want to write about my faith.  I guess I should say I am a devout Catholic....although since I don't fit the stereotypical image of one, sometimes that mantle is difficult to wear.   For example, I swear a lot, I am a strong supporter of womens rights,  I am a scientist and not prone to look for miracles, etc.   This past year,  I wasn't finding my usual inspiration that I normally get from church.   I was starting to wonder what is the point of it all?   In fact, I was starting to feel a little persecuted about my faith - constantly trying to explain why someone like me would even go to church was wearing on me.  My carpool partner is Lutheran, and she is dating a Catholic, and so every morning, I am put in the position of having to defend my faith while she tries to reason out all sorts of things about her Lutheran beliefs and Catholic beliefs.  Then, like many people these days, a woman in my book club is dabbling in Buddhism, and so anything that is Christian is fodder for her criticism.  (example: her recent facebook status update:   "Faith, hope, and love" is overrated. Going with "tolerance, patience, and compassion" instead.).  I guess even among Buddhists, there is no one more outspoken and sure of their faith than the newly converted.   As a result, every book club meeting discussion usually involves me having to defend my faith in some way.  I am getting so very tired of it.   My kids don't want to go to church anymore and it's a battle every week to get them in the car.  We have a new music director at our church and so we have more new cantors than we did in the past, so my opportunities to sing at church were reduced.   All in all, church wasn't cutting it for me anymore.   So I just decided to pray about it, and a couple miracles happened.     I prayed for compassion, patience and tolerance, even though I am not a Buddhist, I figure that those things are the way to faith, hope and love so why not? 

Then, all of a sudden, I heard the song "Hey Jude" on the radio and it reminded me that I can play that song on the guitar and if I want to sing more, maybe I should dust it off and play it.   There are more oppotunities to sing than just at church.   I'll do that before today is out - I aksed my old guitar teacher to hold me accountable to that.   He just facebooked me to check in.   Then, at the end of the last book club meeting, one of the women confided in me that she loves the Catholic church and wants to come back to it and wasn't sure how.   I told her she could start coming with me.  Then, my neighbors dad died and I was asked to sing at his funeral and the music selected was very touching to me, and I got to sing with a new accompanist who was great and fun to work with and offered me some new insights on singing.   The Catholic funeral is such a beautiful ceremony....there wasn't a dry eye in the house when our priest sang  In Paridisum. Then second edition of a book I totally adore arrived as a gift from one of the authors I became friendly with (thank you Sheila) - it's called Difficult Conversations - How to Discuss What Matters Most.   This book was life changing to me when I first read it years ago.   It dawned on me that I have been avoiding some difficult conversations and it was time to read it again and start anew.    

Granted, these little miracles weren't the lightning bolt signs from God I was looking for...but St. Terese reminds us that we need to work for God's love  "little ways".  Yeah, so what if our Catholic devotion to the saints seems odd to many.   I'm grateful for the little miracles this Sunday morning.


Terri said...

A very nice post. Defending your faith at every contaact must be so difficult. People can be so rude. I am happy that you find joy in your faith. The joy is all that matters.

Kathy W said...

Hugs, MK! I feel the same way at times. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. As a full-time Catholic theologian frequently stuck in similar binds, it was a great encouragement in my day!

noëlle said...

Hmm, based on her comment, I can't help but think that the "Buddhist" is losing sight of the tolerance and compassion she preaches. If someone is truly practicing faith, hope and love, they're not going to differ much in their outlook from a Buddhist striving for tolerance and understanding.

A couple of mutual friends of mine went on a date a while back. Discussing the date with my female friend, she said she could never date the guy because he told her he reads the Bible every day. Now, this guy is so low key, and never tries to advertise, preach or convert anyone, that I hadn't even known he was religious. I couldn't help but call her out on the fact that if he had said that he meditated every day, or read Taoist teachings or whatever, that she wouldn't have had any issue with it.

With our wedding coming up this fall, I am getting a lot of questions along the same lines, "why are you getting married in church", etc, and I agree it is trying, I'm glad to hear that you got some needed encouragement though!