Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Light From Above

The Harbour Tank, MacDuff Aquarium.    

I have had a non-conventional journey on my path to spiritual enlightenment (so to speak). I was raised within a fairly laid-back Catholic family, where you had your Holy Communion etc. because it was the done thing in keeping with family tradition, but had you asked anyone in the family what it all meant there would be a rote answer or blank faces all round. I don't mean to have a dig at my family-it's just how things work in a not very religious yet ancestrally traditional familial group. You don't want to offend anyone, so you do the necessary but haven't a clue what it's about (or care very much).
I took religion to heart. I was fascinated and quite studious about it from quite a young age, but still didn't get the answers I was looking for, despite avid searching. I asked many. The parish priests, the convent nuns (who I had a great relationship with, wanting to be one of them at one point), other people in my church group..nobody seemed to know anything concrete that they could back up, and that really annoyed me.
So when I was 11 and my best friend started speaking to me about Bible teachings I pricked up my primary school ears. She carried a small Bible in her backpack. She knew where to locate scriptures. She could back up her words with biblical evidence. And she was only 12.
This got me thinking. How was this possible? She was just a kid, like me...but she knew the answers. There must be something more to her religion, I reasoned, so much to my family's distress, I began learning more and understanding more. I was getting more information about concrete biblical teachings in a half hour with my friend than I got in years of kneel-stand-pray-sit-kneel Mass attendance. It wasn't just "this is what we do because it's just the way it's done"..it was "this is the truth because here in the Bible, God says..". Answers. Answers. Not just tradition based on shaky teachings. So I researched and found my own, non-hand-me-down faith from then on with years and years of Bible study, despite quite harsh opposition and persecution from friends and family.
I was baptized at 18, when I was old enough to know my own head :) after taking myself out of the Catholic religion. And I truly, truly believe everyone has the right to do so themselves. Why would you accept a passed-on religion without the facts? Why would you deem yourself a certain religion just because your parents are?
My belief system has since altered again, as I found more facts to resonate with me, so my approach and mindset were slightly altered again.
Today my 4 1/2 year old daughter brought home a school pupil questionnaire with a question asking what her religion was. I wrote "she is too young to have decided yet :)". And it is what I believe to be true.
I can tell her my thoughts, or show her how to look for answers when the time comes to question, still have a family value system in place, but she is her own person. And a true, solid faith in my eyes is worth so much more than a hand-me-down faith I know very little about.

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