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Sunday Night

I woke up this morning recovering from a dream in which I was late, missing my ID, and unable to remember where the after care program was that my son was in. The dream itself didn’t bother me once I was able to talk it out, but it is interesting how we use dreams to process that which goes on around us.

We are trying to find a school for our son. I had high hopes for this Catholic education. A place where Levi could learn more about this religion that I love than I grew up knowing. A place wehre Levi could grow with a small group of the same students in a nurturing, caring environment. That’s not to say he’d get something similar (sans the Catholic upbringing) from a public school — it’s just saying that’s what I wanted.

It’s become clear though, that the “regular” way in which we teach kids isn’t looking to be a good fit for Levi. It likely wasn’t a good fit for my husband either. They need tactile things. They need to touch. They need to explore. Sitting at a desk reading about life doesn’t teach them about life. Me? I can ponder, wax philosophical, and consider ideas until the cows come home. They need to jump into it. Knee deep. So, where can we find a school like that? And, if we do fine one, how much will it cost?

I won’t home-school. I am not that kind of a teacher. I require different stimulations while the day goes on, and if I don’t get it — I won’t be my best for Levi and my husband.

So, I am… I have been… worrying about Levi’s school. I’ve been worrying about our involvement, or lack thereof. I’ve been worrying about what the next school will look like. I’ve been worrying about the next school’s expectations. I’ve been worrying about managing all the things I’m involved in with the future PTA. I’ve been thinking more and more about how unrealistic 40 hour work weeks are when I have a small person and his own obligations. I’ve been fantasizing about ways to simplify my schedule and stay in line with my own goals: educating people on the importance of a sustainable society.

And, I guess all that thinking translates into a dream. A worried dream where I discard some of my personal belongings, including convoluted Keds, tied in strange knots, and putting myself at risk (of identity theft and getting soaked since I also discarded my rain coat).

Thoughts consuming the night time processing = dreams.

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God: a Religious Query

Nietzsche. Thus Spoke Zarathustra: God is dead.

Today, Levi told his preschool teacher that he wanted to kill God. When I queried him much later, when we got home, about this, he said that an unnamed bad person said it first. I do not know if this person was a classmate or a fiction of his imagination. I do not know the context behind the statement, only that the teacher (in this private Catholic school) spoke to Levi about how that sort of phrase makes God sad and it’s not really a nice thing to say.

I relayed the story to my husband who had only sympathetic ears for our 4-year old. My husband is coming from the perspective that, first, we haven’t been going to church regularly. Second, [my addition], we don’t instill a strict Christian doctrine in this household. So, third, Levi is attending this school where it sounds like all problems are fixed by God.

I guess I was taught this growing up. I know many who hold these type of belief now. I also know many who do not.

I believe in God [the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth…]. But, I don’t adhere to the strict Christian dogma I’ve been handed down. I detest when people tell me what God thinks. I detest when people relate sporting events to God-like events. I detest when people blindly put their faith in … well … anything. How can we really know what God thinks anyway? So, how can we know that just because Tebow had a good pass at the 316 that it relates clearly to John 3:16? One is searching for symbolism that isn’t quite there.

So, at home, I loosely talk about God. I want Levi to make up his own mind. I find comfort in believing there is something bigger than myself. I find comfort in believing there is a resting place for my soul. But, I do not find comfort in guilt, brimstone, and fire. [It’s a wonder I willingly go back to my Catholic faith!] I want Levi to be able to think outside himself and find comfort there. I want him to have a quiet place, name it God or whatever, to ask questions his fellow humans won’t be able to answer.

I’ve read varied viewpoints on God, one that God is dead. It gives an open mind pause for consideration. “What if?” Rolls the words along the tongue. What if it’s all a lie? What’s wrong with considering that? What’s wrong with testing one’s faith? Isn’t it more important to be mindful of our day-to-day actions and keep those in perspective with how they hurt, harm, or help people rather than wonder if this being we can barely grasp exists? Or yet, pin every good thing on this being?

But, I am uncomfortable with my son saying he wants to kill God. I am extremely uncomfortable with my son saying he wants to kill anything. But, to kill God, this thing adults don’t even understand but yet we are trained to exalt screams blasphemy in my Catholic trained mind. He didn’t know what he was saying, but he has an inclination that it was bad. What is this good and bad anyway?

Oh Levi, Momma doesn’t believe God is dead. Levi, Momma believes we should respect God and the things we assume he created. And because we assume [s]he created all beauty, why would we want to kill that?

Logic, though, is just beginning. Faith is not logical. This is what my intro to philosophy instructor failed to understand or relay to the mostly religious class of 1998. And, four-year old brains are just starting to grasp logic.

What is becoming clearer, though, is that this private Catholic school, the school of my dreams, is not a good fit for our son. I’ve had the opportunity to confer with friends, increase ideas, and now reality sinks in: we will have to hunt, seriously, for another school for next year. The question begs: what are we going to do over the summer? Now is when I want Grandma and Grandpa around. But, then, we’d slide even more into interesting religious waters that neither my husband nor I want to navigate.

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Life: Not a Competition

Playing at the Park with Grandma
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

This too shall pass. This phrase is one of my favorite. Why? Simply because it’s true. It doesn’t matter what is happening at any given moment at any time at any event: This too shall pass. Good, bad, horrible, indifferent, great, exciting, fascinating – it all passes into history, awaiting a new day with new adventures. Finally ending in our own deaths where in a certain regard, it doesn’t matter because what’s done is done. In that sense, life is not a competition.

I believe in God for a few reasons. One is because it simply sounds like a good idea. There is so much in this world I cannot and do not understand. My feeble little human brain cannot wrap itself around all the crap we are dealt with in our lifetime. Life is not fair, and I have to have faith that there is something else better awaiting us just for my own simple sanity.

I came to this realization one night when I was in third grade.

I still had my own room. It, I recall, had a big bed. I was laying in bed, tucked in snuggly with the sheets and blankets pulled taught with their tight hospital corners.

Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Image via Wikipedia

I couldn’t sleep. We had moved again. Still no return of my father (he had left us 3 times, the last being for good). We were away from the place I knew as home: my grandparents farm. We moved downstate into my aunt and uncle’s apartment first. Downstate was like another country as far as I was concerned having lived only in the Upper Peninsula. The most recent move moved us out of my aunt and uncle’s apartment (yes, that was a tight fit – two bedroom apartment, 3 adults and 3 kids) into a (public housing) townhouse, across town, to another school. All those comforts of home were gone. I had gone to yet another school. I was, yet again, the new girl who couldn’t make any friends. At that point, I had lived in more than 5 different towns/cities and had gone to maybe 4 or 5 different schools.

I was in third grade. I was 8 years old.

That means one or two different schools per grade, at that critical age when you’re trying to fit in, figure out life outside of Mom, and get to know all these new “friends”, your peers in your community.

So, that night instead of sleeping, I prayed. I remember thanking God for what I did have. A house. My mom. My sister and brother. Food to eat. Clothes to wear. Church friends. I also remember thinking, if my real father couldn’t be there, at least there was someone I could call Father.

That, in essence, explains my spiritual beliefs. When we cannot get comfort from those around us, let us get comfort from something outside our being. I was raised Catholic, so I continue to use the label of God because this is what makes sense to me.

With my belief in God (and selling books door-to-door), I also believe that no one is dealt a hand with which they cannot deal. That is, you aren’t given something out of your means. Death, life, success, failure – it is all within our capabilities to handle the situation, and to survive.

Sometimes someone is dealt a very shitty hand. And, sometimes a person isn’t (to our eyes) – they might be born with what we deem to be a silver spoon. However, we all have terrible moments; and we all have good. I believe, I hope, that we are all given crap relative to which we can handle it, hopefully gracefully. (And sometimes not.) But, in the end, I believe we are given the ability to come out smelling like roses.

So, in effect, I believe that no hand is shittier than another. Just because someone only lost a loved one late in life, this doesn’t mean their trials and tribulations are less worthy of note than another if they were dealt with loss their entire life. Why? Because in this sense, life is not a competition. This part of life is where we need to lean on each other for support.

Regarding my own personal sob story, I can see the lessons and some of the reasons now, nearly 30 years later.

Naptime
My step-father, Chris, and Levi. Michigan, September 2009. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

It was actually a very good thing my dad wasn’t a full part of my growing up years. Sure, it sucked pickles while growing up, but it allowed my mother to remarry and for me to have a great role-model in my stoic, even-handed, kind, generous step-father. It grew my family, so we were five siblings growing up together instead of 3. We had enough for the starting line up in basketball. Nearly enough to fill all the bases in baseball (or softball). It broadened my awareness of what family is, now being a blended family with all these “STEPS”. It showed me a different culture from the Polish heritage I had only known. Stability reigned through to my step-father’s hometown, where we spent the rest of my growing up years, and now consider my hometown. I even began my college career at his (nearly) alma-mater, Michigan State University. I have my Aunt Betsy because of this sequence of events, the one who introduced me to 50 Ways We Can Save the Earth, the book I consider the fire that ignited my environmental-sustainable passions, what I feel is my purpose in life.

Life is not a competition because everything happens for a reason. Sure, argue that I tell myself this for comfort, a religious crutch. I won’t defend the point because with this comfort, I can sleep at night.

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