Sunday, April 08, 2007

HE Set My Feet on Solid Ground

Partly Cloudy - Hi 93 Lo 68 for Baghdad, Iraq
Partly Cloudy - Hi 46 Lo 28 for Northern KY, USA

Song of the week: 40,
U2

I had just come back from the mall. I couldn't wait to listen to the album I had purchased--War by U2. I ran down to my basement bedroom, stripped the album out of the confines of the shopping bag, and then threw the bag on the bed where it landed on my Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls- wonderful over sized dolls that my grandfather had won in a raffle for me.

I carefully removed the plastic from the album. I stared at the angry boy on the cover- it's the same kid from their album Boy only a little older. What an incredible photograph. I should be so lucky to capture that kind of emotion on my 35mm Pentax.

I opened the album jacket and on the left were the lyrics to all the songs... ah... don't look... not yet... on the right side there was a black and white photo of the band-- the lighting was bleached and the edges were not sharp-- not quite a dreamy landscape, but the imagery emoted cold and barren emptiness... besides I couldn't really see Larry Mullen's face... I always had a thing for drummers...

I pulled the black vinyl disc from it's sleeve and gingerly placed that brand new album on my ultra cool Soundesign Stereo.... I sat on the floor and listened to the words as I poured over the album reading the lyrics ... looking intently at all the information given... memorizing all the names of the additional musicians and the producer of the album. Right or wrong, it was the first history lesson that gave me cause to pay attention--Sunday Bloody Sunday. I had been awakened to a world outside my own.

I look back and I am saddened that my nieces and nephews will not be able to experience music in that manner.... Art work on a CD cover is too small to appreciate and an iPod doesn't smell like new waxed cardboard and vinyl....

Ramble: (this is a long one... get your coffee...)

My journey into the Christian faith is probably more common than I think. As a child, I really wasn't exposed to religion of any kind- as an adult I can reflect back and I now realize that the adults of my childhood were dealing with their own demons and struggling with their own beliefs or lack there of. On occasion, my grandfather would take my brother and me to church when we were little. I think those were the times when he was trying to get right with God and out of some sense of obligation wanted to make sure we made it to Heaven too. I still have the little pocket New Testament Bible that was given to me by the pastor. I once went to Sunday school at my great grandmother's church. That was horrific. I was mortified and scared to death after that lesson- I must have been seven or eight years old. It was made quite clear to me that I was going to burn in hell unless I got right with God. On her death bed my great grandmother (Mamaw) spoke in tongues as had been witnessed by me as a child and it always freaked me out.

My grandmother never spoke about her beliefs. I know she was raised Episcopalian. I know she was baptized as such. The only story she tells dealing with faith was when her daughter died. My namesake died from Leukemia at the tender age of five. Unlike my friend Tony and his family, my grandmother's heart hardened and she became angry with God when the minister was unable to provide her with words of comfort and to make sense of her loss. I don't think she has ever forgiven Him for taking her daughter so soon.

One day when I was seven or eight we had a knock on the the door. My mother opened the door and it was two handsome young men in dark suits smiling and holding bibles. Yes, the Mormons had arrived and their timing was impeccable. We didn't realize it, but we were needy- not just for basic necessities, but for something greater. We were starved for something to fill our hearts and these 19 year olds on their mission trips explained that the Bible and the Book of Mormon were to be read hand in hand, that the book of Mormon was modern day prophecy set in America- that Joseph Smith was a modern day prophet of God. At the same time these two young men were providing sustenance for our souls they were providing much needed father figures to two young impressionable children - Terry and I. Being in the church, we found that to the Mormons, family is the most important thing. We all wanted that desperately. My mother was eventually baptized as a Mormon, but as we grew older we slowly drifted away from the church.

The following events are somewhat out of sequence since much of this happened in the same time frame. Please understand that I have left a lot out... in addition to LDS and Buddhism, I explored several Christian faiths. I stuck with YF because it was non-denominational. Also understand this was a short time span in my life, but the most confusing and volatile part of my adolescence--- wait I take that back.

In my teens, a knock came once again on our door. We weren't as needy monetarily. As a teen I was starving for something... And I opened the door and this time two handsome young men in dark suits were smiling and holding bibles ready to discuss the word of God. I let them in... after all, they were pretty cute and I knew they were either 18 or 19 years old... not that much older than me... Elder Brady was soooo cute. Elder Stephens was cute too, but not as cute as Elder Brady. Needless to say, I became involved in the church again as did my mother and brother. Slowly, my brother and mother drifted away from the church and it's teachings. I continued to attend. I would go with a girl named Laurie. Her parents were non practicing Catholics.

Simultaneously to me going back to the Mormon church I started attending a Youth Fellowship Group with the United Methodist church down the road from me. There, I met other teens (from my school and surrounding areas) that were rock solid in their faith. Their FAITH. What did I believe? I dunno....

In this same time frame, my mother asked me to attend a Buddhist convention in Chicago. She thought it would be fun. On the long drive up to Chicago I learned how to chant. I learned that you chant for others, not yourself. In this unselfish act, you make yourself open to having good things happen to you. Concurrently with this lesson I found out my actions in life good or bad will lead to similar results-- I do good things for others, good things will happen to me... bad things for others will lead to bad things happening to me--- yeah... Karma. I eventually learned about The Four Noble Truths - suffering, origin of suffering, the end of suffering, a path to ending suffering. Needless to say, To a teen looking to be unique and non conforming-- Buddhism seemed pretty appealing. As a side note, I met Patrick Duffy at the convention. Since I did not watch Dallas I had no idea who he was, but the other kids I was hanging out with were thrilled!

The church elders approached me and asked if I would take a trip with the rest of the Mormon kids to Temple in Washington D.C. I had already been baptized in the church. I was a tithing member... Anyway, we were to do baptisms for the dead- folks that died without the chance to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. This had to be spring break---maybe my sophomore year in high school?? I'll have to go look at the photos. The trip to Washington was a blast. Temple is extraordinary. You can not believe how beautiful it is inside. Moroni on top of the highest point... One of my friends on the trip explained the three kingdoms to me... telestial, terrestrial, and celestial. LDS believes that not everyone has been given the chance to hear the word of God. Those that die prior to hearing his teachings are provided the opportunity to decide where they wanted to go when we go to Temple and do the baptisms for the dead. We are baptized in their name... the dead have a direct ticket to the celestial kingdom if they so choose. The room where the baptisms are held is immense. You walk up steps to get in the water... as I recall everything was gold.... spectacular. I was submerged a few times in the name of various dead folks... One of the names was Elizabeth Taylor... The name struck me as funny... I pictured Dan Akroyd on Saturday night live doing his caricature of Elizabeth Taylor choking on a chicken bone. I knew right then and there this was wrong and it was impossible for me to take the name of someone else and be baptized on their behalf. I said nothing at the time, but upon my return home, I spoke with the bishop and it was decided that I would leave the church. I have never regretted that decision. I miss the folks in the church. Never will you find people that are kinder, never will you find people that are more devoted to their families.

I eventually lost interest in Buddhism too- I found it to be a narcissistic religion and as a teenager it worked for me... I simply stopped chanting and burning incense.

I continued with the Youth Fellowship group. One night while alone in my room for reasons that are known to only the Lord and me, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and I have never regretted that decision. I'm not the Christian I should be, but I do not deny God and I pray to him often. He knows my heart. Shortly after I accepted Jesus Christ and became born again... I quickly became a backslidin' Christian. I struggle to this day to be the Christian He wants me to be... but it is a struggle.


Happy Easter. He is risen.


Blogs and Links to Check Out This Week:

Thanks to Richard at Let Freedom Reign I have been introduced to The Right Brothers. Kimosabe, YOU are going to love them. Go visit The Right Brothers at their MYSPACE website to hear such gems as: In Luv With Ann Coulter, The List, Stop Global Whining and Bush Was Right.

Update: Ben and Noah bake Easter cookies and explain the meaning of Easter.

Housekeeping:

- added a link to some of the MySpace music sights I peruse.
- added some more blogs to Places I go

Psalm 40 **New Living Translation**

1 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
3 He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.
4 Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord,
who have no confidence in the proud
or in those who worship idols.
5 O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us.
Your plans for us are too numerous to list.
You have no equal.
If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds,
I would never come to the end of them.

6 You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings.
Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand—
you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.
7 Then I said, “Look, I have come.
As is written about me in the Scriptures:
8 I take joy in doing your will, my God,
for your instructions are written on my heart.”

9 I have told all your people about your justice.
I have not been afraid to speak out,
as you, O Lord, well know.
10 I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart;
I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power.
I have told everyone in the great assembly
of your unfailing love and faithfulness.

11 Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me.
Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me.
12 For troubles surround me—
too many to count!
My sins pile up so high
I can’t see my way out.
They outnumber the hairs on my head.
I have lost all courage.

13 Please, Lord, rescue me!
Come quickly, Lord, and help me.
14 May those who try to destroy me
be humiliated and put to shame.
May those who take delight in my trouble
be turned back in disgrace.
15 Let them be horrified by their shame,
for they said, “Aha! We’ve got him now!”

16 But may all who search for you
be filled with joy and gladness in you.
May those who love your salvation
repeatedly shout, “The Lord is great!”
17 As for me, since I am poor and needy,
let the Lord keep me in his thoughts.
You are my helper and my savior.
O my God, do not delay.

King James Version

2 comments:

Jedi Master Rob said...

Happy Easter and Happy Birthday. I never see Elizabeth Taylor without thinking about your baptism story.

Laura said...

Thank you for sharing your story, Cathy, it was a good Easter read.

Happy Easter!!

Best wishes, Laura