Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Church of Oprah

I came home yesterday, opened my mailbox, and found the latest edition of Oprah’s, O Magazine. Purely seeing the cover of this monthly compilation instantly releases dopamine into my system. I can hardly wait to pull up a deck chair and dive in….What would Oprah and her staff have this month to enlighten the women of this world?

I often quote things I’ve read and cut out articles of interest to paste in my “inspiration” book (you didn’t doubt I had one of these, did you???).

This month, the damn magazine cover might as well have read, “Rebekah Anne, flip immediately to page 300.” “ARE YOU ON THE RIGHT COURSE???”

I’ve referenced the fact before, that I was raised in a very Catholic household-church every Sunday (death itself being not an excuse to miss). My parents, no longer of the clergy, forgot when they traded in their habits and robes, that poverty was no longer a daily requirement.

The eight of us walked (or those of us that could—some were babies) single file down the long aisle of the local Catholic church. You could watch parishioners lips move as they counted just how many kids were in this family? (Apparently, the chastity portion of their vows was thrown out the window.) As the oldest, I always got stuck in the middle of two of my younger siblings expected to help in keeping everyone accounted for.

I went through the motions, recited the Our Father, knelt when I was supposed to, stood when I had to…here’s the thing.

I never got much out of it. (P.S. In the above mentioned church, the below commentary would be labeled as “Blasphemy”-please skip if you know what “Pre-Vatican II” means.)

The sermon, oh god, why? I’m convinced to this day that before someone can lead any group-they must take at least one class on dynamic public speaking. I can’t believe any god would allow someone to speak on his behalf without some enthusiasm.

For that hour, each and every Sunday, through my childhood years, my thoughts consisted of:

-Hope we get donuts after church, I’m starving. (For those of you not Catholic, you must fast one hour prior to receiving the body of Christ.)

-The observation that my father was the loudest singer in the joint. (His voice literally reached the heavens-and across the street if the church doors were open.)

-My sister would not sit still and twisted and contorted her body into all sorts of shapes.
-Great people watching here. Why is she wearing white shoes with black pantyhose?

-Please let Mr. Cute Boy, give me the sign of peace. (Again, a church ritual, halfway during the mass you greet those sitting around you with a handshake and a whispered, “Peace be with You.”

Ok, you get it- Church, in this way, did not get me any closer to anything divine.

In my own church, you do not find God. He is always with you whether or not you like it; he is that little voice somewhere between your head and stomach that guides your choices.

My parents believed that the “Lord, will provide.” I’m thinking its more like, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” He’s not a genie and won’t magically pay your bills. He won’t grow you back a lost arm. He’s that moment of clarity, the one where you feel all is content with the world. He’s the one that wants nothing more for you than you want for yourself.

My theological beliefs are currently based on; (To those literary soul mates of mine, self-help book junkies, shameless book references below)

-Taoism (to just be) The Tao of Pooh
-Conversations with God (God speaks to you in your own voice, he doesn’t judge, there is no hell, he only wants to experience himself through you….)

-My own parents teachings of love and inclusion---(“Do all things in love and you’ll never go wrong.” AND “Everyone should be welcomed at the table.”)

-Two word-Authenticity and Acceptance (my proverbial Holy Grail(s).)

-O, Magazine (which articles are often my version of a well-rehearsed, relevant sermon.)

So in my church this week, the summary of the sermon (ala Martha Beck-the voice of reason…)

-“A joyful life isn’t about others. It’s about the brightness that is associated with being alive. Your path to it is through anything that replaces thinking with pure flight, pure joy.”

-“Some days the work will go well, other days badly. You will find your mission eventually, if you Do.The.Work.

-“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. You playing small doesn’t serve the world.”* Susan Greenwood

So there you have it; believe what you wish. Be curious. And always, always, always put Love first.
P.S. The photo-yes..Me, first row second from the left. Please note two things... A.)Really did have two hands in 1982 and B.) Of all the girls, my dress was the longest. It has since been turned into our family's baptismal gown.

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