This I believe in God, yet it’s taken me to the age of 50 to say it in my heart. I knew He was always in there, but the words, “I believe”, were words I was suppose to say.
One of my earliest memories is of a tiny gold cross I wore around my neck. It was given to me by my Godmother at my baptism. I only knew it stood for Jesus, my friend who loved me for the Bible told me so, the song went in Sunday School. To me He was my protector. If I held that little cross, things would be okay somehow. I knew He was watching. That I believed.
Later came the rituals, the Jr. Choir, the Confirmation, the memorization of prayers. This was all rote, a series of steps I was suppose to do to be a good Episcopalian. There was the “Jesus Craze” in the late 60’s. The revival of Young Life, the popularity of Jesus Christ Superstar . I would listen to the double album set for hours, rocking in front of the Magnavox console with giant headphones on. I “clicked” with Mary Magdeline at the time. I suffered her pain, expressed her love for a God made man. I knew I believed, but could I say it? Writeit? The Jesus Freaks of the time were like lepers to me, scary, weird. My dorm room at Nursing School was filled with “Smile Jesus Loves You!” “He will care for you”, “BELIEVE!” and various written quotes from scripture. Of, I believed, I just didn’t want to let on to anymone that I did. When I later lived in an apartment, I would secretly enter a church on my walk home, pray for forgiveness and pray in gratitude, for I believed.
Then came the years when I was on my own. Church became a faithful friend, always there, taken for granted, only noticed on birthdays and holidays. Yet I believed. I believed that patient’s soul was released after suffering. I believed in God’s power of forgiveness at a sinners deathbed.
It wasn’t until we had a child that I became acutely aware of my longing for my boy to have a relationship with God. We began attending a Presbyterian Church and our son was eventually baptized there. I glowed with pride as he sang, “Yes, Jesus Loves Me” in front of the congregation on his baptism day. Yes, Jesus loves you, yes, yes , yes I would think. Later it became uncomfortable to worship there. While people were praising with hands held high, they were plotting a secret mission to replace a minister I dearly loved. Was this a belief in Jesus forcing them to do this, I wondered? Why wasn’t I struck with the spirit that forced them to raise their hands in praise, shout in tongues and have the uncanny ability to understand scripture on a much deeper level ? I felt left out somehow, thankfully almost, like the lone 6th grade girl who hasn’t started her period.
So I returned to my roots in the Episcopalian church. The prayers were somehow comforting to me. Our son was made to endure the same service, prayers and confirmation I was at 13. There was no hand raising praise in this service, it was a stretch to greet on another with “The Peace” before Holy Communion.
But I believe. I believe when I see hundreds of glacier lilies bowing in prayer to their God the sun, their sweet faces rotating as the sun crosses the sky. I believe when I see the thaw of the snow pack in the Cascades, the slow awakening of life again. I believe when I see the intricate patterns in nature repeated in the pool eddies, the ice melts, the lichon and moss. It’s in this I see the face of God looking right at me, and for that I am very thankful that I believe.
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