I’ve been thinking a lot lately about religion–it must be my age. I’ve had a strange religious journey in my life. My earliest memory of church is of attending Methodist Sunday School on our Army post in Germany and singing hymns like “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” but I was really raised–sort of–in the Episcopal church, by parents who had tried out a variety of religions themselves–from the Methodist brand to a very secular Unitarianism–and ended up in the Episcopal church. My mother always seemed to choose her church on the basis of the quality of sermon being offered there (something she got from her father)–so we switched around a lot.
I remember when I was confirmed in the Episcopal church–the process that made me a real member of the church and allowed me to take communion–I asked the priest, who happened to be a very open-minded kind of guy, if I should worry about the fact that I was having to vow a lot of things that I wasn’t convinced I completely believed or accepted in my heart of hearts. He was a sweet, older man, and he said the important thing was to believe in the big picture and not worry about the details. He said this with such kindness and such acceptance of me that, right then and there, I believed: I believed in him, and, since he was such a good, kind, intelligent man, I believed in his religion. The power and virtue of his faith convinced me more than any of the creeds I was memorizing.
My husband and I were married in the Episcopal church by another wonderful man, Mr. Hadden. We didn’t know at the time of our wedding that he was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s, but during the service, he lost his place, and my husband and I had to coach him along, whispering things like, “Isn’t this where we are supposed to kneel?” We got pretty tickled–and I have always loved Mr. Hadden for smiling at us and even laughing a little along with us. He was another true Christian. (He eventually christened all of our kids in the Episcopal church–even our youngest who was so big–weighing 11 pounds and 11 ounces when she was born–that he almost dropped her at the altar!) Continue reading Jane on Finding My Religion