Many months ago W remarked on the crucifix that my mother often wears. It is an elegant and simple cross and W decided he would like to have one as well. A week after W started begging for his own crucifix mom casually mentioned to me that she had purchased a cross for W. “Nothing expensive! Don’t worry!” I had a pretty big reaction.
I asked her to not give it to him. It wasn’t so much that I was worried he would break or misplace the necklace, but I didn’t want him to wear something so significant and not know what it was. A cross isn’t a charm, it means something. Unless he knew what it meant I didn’t want him to wear it.
Mom completely understood, but brought up the point – how will he understand what it is if he doesn’t go to church?
Church. Right. The place I have managed to avoid attending for quite a while. I used to be a fantastic church goer. The best! I started to have problems when I moved to Alabama to take care of Millie. There were two Episcopal churches in town. One was the typical “downtown” church with a rigid traditional service, and one was the kind where people wore blue jeans and someone strummed a guitar. I’ll confess that I like a downtown church service because of the structured ritual of it. There is something comforting about going to a church and knowing that it will be familiar because of the style of service.
The issue, however, is that not every downtown church has a progressive Rector. The Rector at this particular church preached some pretty unsavory sermons and I started to have this realization: people who wear the cross don’t always follow the teachings of the man they are preaching about. In the small southern, bless your heart, kind of town I was living in, I started to realize some of the biggest assholes wore the biggest crosses.
As I was having my panic attack over religion I was also coming to terms with what it meant to be a caregiver. I certainly had no idea what I was in for when I first moved in with Millie. I felt overwhelmed and terrified daily. All of my foundations were shaking. Then came infertility.
I felt completely alone.
Over the years I have done some healing inside and have felt more at peace at an individual spirituality. I believe in God and I believe in kindness and humanity. I also respect the personal beliefs of others.
So last December, when W wanted to go to church, so he could learn about the cross and Jesus, I realized I needed to let that happen. Regardless of my feelings about “the church” – I had formed my opinion based on life experience, but I knew my feelings were malleable. I owed it to W to have his own personal experiences with faith and church.
Mom started taking W to a sweet church in our new neighborhood and they both enjoyed it. The church is deeply connected to the community and is very active in giving back and outreach. They hosted a day of service on Martin Luther King, Jr day and I went with W to volunteer in the kitchen. Everyone was very warm and genuine and I loved seeing how comfortable W was in the environment.
A few weeks later the conversation of baptism was brought up. W, my mother, and I were invited to have a conversation with the Rector of the church. I was a hot mess about this. Not about W, but about ME. I suddenly had all of this guilt like I had been doing everything wrong and that the Rector would scold me. Of course I was wrong. It was a delightful conversation and I felt comfortable in explaining where I was with my faith. It actually felt like a relief to say it out loud.
And now, in a few weeks, W will be baptized, because it is what he wants. I am proud of him for being curious and for listening to his heart. This boy continues to teach me so much every day.