astonishment

Sam and I were confirmed in the Episcopal Church yesterday morning. It was quite the occasion-it coincided with the Bishop of Idaho’s annual visit, so we were able to be confirmed by him directly. It would have been just valid had the priest done the confirmation, but it added something extra special to it to have Bishop Brian do it. Sam is an Acolyte as well, so he had the extra privilege of helping the Bishop with Communion-pretty amazing for a 13-year-old boy.

It has been a journey for both of use, getting to this place where we both wanted to make a commitment to this church, or any church. Our past experiences have made us a little hesitant to ascribe to any particular religion. Also, for Sam, the desire to please Steve and make him proud has created an additional struggle for him; Steve is Mormon, and I think Sam has worried that Steve would be happier if Sam chose to embrace the LDS religion. Maybe that is true, inasmuch as we all want our children to believe in the same things we do, but still-I think Sam was worried needlessly.

Not that it matters in the long run. I am so grateful that each one of my children gets to have their own experience with religion. We talk about God, and each of them has experienced different religions, and each, in time, has come to their own decisions. I have a non-believer, a believer who doesn’t at this time identify with ANY religion, and an Episcopalian. My husband is a Mormon who believes very strongly in his own church, but is willing to acknowledge that it is not right for everyone. What an amazing, wonderful mix we have!

For me, though, this is intensely personal, this decision. I have been attending this church and doing some studying on my own and what it all boils down to for me is love. We are commanded to love one another, period. Regardless of race, religion, economic status, sexuality, ANYTHING, we are supposed to love. Although it is a struggle sometimes, because I like to judge my neighbor just as much as the next person, I know that I am supposed to love people in the way that Christ loves me-that is, wholly and completely, simply because they ARE.

You have to love a Bishop who quotes Mary Oliver. After our brunch yesterday (where he had all of the children-coincidentally, most of them are mine or have some connection to me, which I think is a big part of why we have been so embraced and loved here-fresh blood, you know?-climbing all over him and shrieking during the meal and he would just smile indulgently), he gave a little speech and then said that all of Christianity can be summed up in these words by Mary Oliver: Pay attention.Be astonished.Tell about it.

So I will tell you this. I am astonished every day, by the beauty that shines through no matter how horrible things can feel. I know that when I pay attention to everything that is around me, I am astonished by how often grace is bestowed me, how merciful my God is. And I am trying to learn how to tell about it, without fear. this is my life, and I AM astonished.

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