Archives for category: Religion

>Sometimes all we need is a little reminder.

Today I figured that I would leave you with a couple reminders as to why you should thank God. These photos were taken today at Anna Maria Island, Florida. Anna Maria is one of the few beaches left that is still unspoiled- there are no hotels, no massive parking garages, no noise but seagulls and waves, and very few people. Ever since being introduced to the island by some friends a few years ago, it has always been my little piece of Heaven, and giant piece of sanity on the west coast of Florida. Some days, you would swear you were in the Bahamas when the light hits the water juuuust right. At low tide sandbars appear half a mile out, and you are able to walk all the way to the sandbar and collect sandollars and starfish. People pull up their sailboats and regular boats to the shore and enjoy a meal and tropical drinks at the infamous “Sandbar Restaurant.” In celebration of 2 A’s in my first grad school classes and the end to a long first semester, I headed to my Heaven with my sister-in-law in tow. Today was filled with sunshine, smiles, floating, swimming, lounging, mango coladas, grouper sandwiches, crabcakes, and shelling. These are the things in life that make me most happy and bring me back to childhood (minus the colada!). By the end of the afternoon neither of us wanted to leave; needless to say we’ll be back in a few weeks from sun rise to sunset. It was a well deserved half day of relaxation, and a great reminder of all the beautiful gifts that God gives to us on a daily basis. We just have to open our eyes and see it:

 
 

 
 

>Ahh religion. The basis of centuries of wars, genocide, and… well… debate.

I’m not here to tell you what to believe in or who to pray to; just to discuss some current issues I’ve been coming across in my own life. It all began this past Sunday when we were kindly invited to a celebrate a Christmas service with my husband’s cousin and his wife at their church. I’m 100% open to attending services of other religions and learning about their beliefs and traditions. My husband was supportive to the idea as well, and so we accepted the invitation to spend some time with them and have a delicious dinner afterward.

The service was beautiful. It was a chilly winter night and we were in a small chapel in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The sounds of piano, violin, guitar, trumpet, and the voices of angels filled the air. We had numerous readings and a meaningful ‘meditation’ on the day’s gospel. I sang my heart out and even participated in their version of Communion. We ended the service with candlelight to ‘Silent Night’ and as we left, were greeted with welcoming parishioners who were delighted that we had attended. During the ceremony, I noticed that my husband, lets call him Em, did not want to partake in the Communion. Instead of prodding any further- I let the rest of the night go on and then waited until we were alone to start my questioning.

On the drive home, we perused the topic of religions and I dared to ask Em why he didn’t go up for Communion. Em replied that he, “Never felt worthy enough,” for Communion at any service he’s ever been to. He went on saying that the people who partake in Communion he felt, were those who truly deserved to; those who spent countless Sundays at church and hours reading the bible. He then proceeded to say that he wasn’t sure how he felt about this ‘God’ that we have been taught about since we were introduced to Christianity. He said that he didn’t really know if there was this one being named ‘God’ who made all of us, for what reason he did, and did religion really give us an excuse to sin and repent. He was confused at how all of our mistakes could magically disappear just by going to church.

He had some valid points, and truthfully, I had been in that position many a times, and even to this day I still question my religion. I attempted to pacify his racing questions by telling him that the idea of questioning whether or not there was a ‘God’ was the basis of faith. Faith is literally taking a leap of faith. No one has the answers and so we believe in this ‘being’, as a reasoning for us during our time here on earth. I then proceeded to say that just because one goes to church on Sundays doesn’t make him or her sin-free. One has to truly deep down in their heart be sorry for wrongs and willing to turn things around- and then actually go and make those changes happen. Em understood, but then continued to say that he didn’t feel comfortable in many services and really hasn’t found a religion he can truly relate to. I don’t know why, but initially it kind of bugged me. I mean, I married this man, thinking he was of Christian faith, and under the impression that we would be raising our children as such. Sometimes God is such a central and necessary figure to have in marriage. Many times when life gets rough it is some where for many couples to turn to- whether it be to Allah, Buddha, or Lord God himself. I had to tell myself to calm down and try to be understanding. So… I asked him for a favor. I asked Em to start researching religions, and learning more about them so that he could find where he felt comfortable. Some place where we could share in our God together and build our family around it, so that when the world falls apart around us, we still have each other- and him.

Em agreed to do some researching and I’m sure you won’t hear the last of my religious posts. I know its a hot topic and many people get steamed over religion- I mean- look at the history of the world. Isn’t that enough evidence of heated believers and non-believers? I can identify with Em on a lot of religious issues- especially in my own faith.

Having grown up in a home where my father was Jewish and my mother a Roman Catholic, I was exposed to both and had my own choice to make. I attended Sunday school and taught some classes as well. I used to appear at mass each Sunday and was involved with church carnivals and the like. Then I grew older, and wiser, and maybe a little bit more tainted from things I began to see in the world. Images of children dying with cancer or heartless terrorists blowing up innocent people… I would often wonder- how could MY God allow such horrible things? I then began to think, does God really care if I attend church every Sunday, even if I still believe in him the same? Is it truly necessary for me to tell my sins to a Priest in order to be forgiven when I can tell God myself in my prayers each day? Is it absolutely necessary to be married in a church when I can marry my husband in our favorite place and still love him and God just the same?

Obviously, not all aspects of Roman Catholicism appeal to me, and so I pick and choose what exactly I believe in. Regardless, it still feels like home to me, and I still call myself a Catholic. I do however have to say that my interest in Judaism has been sparked. Maybe it was my exposure to the religion while growing up. All the fond memories of finding the matzah or maybe the excitement in lighting the menorah. It is the basis of my own religion and I have so much to learn about it. I’m sure that some more research with Em will give us much more knowledge and understanding in order to make a decision that the both of us are comfortable with. I’m hoping that sometime in the near future (as in before we have our children) we have found a home and our God together, so that when hurricane winds blow- our foundation can still stand strong.