Friday, January 8, 2010

The Year of Death...and Thoughts on Religion

When my son was 5, I found he was suddenly SO fearful of death. He didn't want to die. What did it mean to die? Where would you go? A hundred questions that I didn't have really good answers for. Well, actually I thought I had good answers, but nothing I said would reassure him that all was well. He was in a near panic whenever his mind rolled around to the ideas of death and dying--and it happened frequently. I tried to reassure him that we would be together for a long, long time and that he was so healthy, surely he would live to be 120! "120??! I don't want to die at 120! I don't want to die ever. I want to be with you." Oy.
But it got me to thinking about how he looks at death/dying and also just what my thoughts and beliefs were on the subject--AND where religion plays into that. I wanted to tell him of a lovely place where all good people will go when they die. Something wonderful to look forward to. But I wasn't sure how much I believed of it myself. Do I really believe in God, or Jesus or a place called Heaven? I know I want to. I think there is some higher being or force which I'll call God, but I'm pretty sure Jesus Christ was a very influential man with a great message for the masses. But THE son of God? No, I don't think so. I think we are all the children of God--who or what ever that is. There must be a great intelligence that creates such wonderful things in nature, with such obvious order, balance and purpose. To me, Nature is where proof is that "God" exists.
My parents came from families where religion was not a big presence--except how to avoid it. My father's father was not welcome in the Catholic church due to impregnating his girlfriend. Back in the 1920-1930's in Holland religion ruled most behaviour in some way or other. He never lost the need to cross himself before doing something potentially dangerous or risky, but he disliked the church--and sent that message to his children along the way.
My mother's family didn't follow any religion either--the family used to be some sort of Christian faith, but fighting between Catholics and Protestants and trying to rule their respective followers with fear turned off my mother's father so much that he turned his back to all religions.
I went to a few churches with friends as I grew up and didn't really find any one of them that impressed me as a place I needed to go. Again--yelling at the congregation about how they are all sinners and need to repent--a total turn off. I felt I was a good girl and tried my best most of the time. I didn't need some stranger to tell me how I've sinned and I can't help it.
T has asked me a few times if we can go to church on a Sunday. I'm not sure where this idea came from. Probably someone at school. But I'm OK with that. I found a church with English services offered (they have Spanish and Chinese in the hours after) 9:45 AM every Sunday. I think it's a Christian faith, but one place is as good as the next when we're just shopping. So far, I haven't found the energy to get dressed and out the door in time. But we will. Soon.
I feel the need to teach T about faith. It can be a lifeline in times of trouble. Something bigger than yourself to hold on to when life strikes you down. But part of me thinks I'm just telling him a story to delude him so that he can pretend (and really believe) that Good will prevail and God has a plan for each of us. It doesn't feel too different from what I'm doing with believing in Santa Claus. To believe in something magical and amazing and have your wishes come true. The feelings and memories of times with family during the holidays--that right there can sustain a person during some dark days. And if that can help my precious boy during his long, long life then I'll do it.
I sort of envy those that have such a strong faith in their God or believe that Jesus is their savior to return one day.
For me, it's a process.



You can convert to Judaisam...The Rabbi doesn't yell at us about being sinners....We just absolve ourselves of all our sins once a year and then spend the rest of the year celebrating holidays that involve a lot of eating and drinking!

cmay said...

Hmmm. That sounds inviting! :)
I'll consider it.