I'm telling a story about my church experiences this week. It's been an interesting journey and it's been good to look back and remember. There are two sides, of course, and since I'm only sharing mine, some names and identifying information have been changed. Look for Part 2 sometime this afternoon.
In some ways, I've always been leaving church. I don't remember my first baptism, the priest sprinkling water on my forehead as family watched. There are pictures, of course. Infant me with my parents and godparents at the front of the church. My parents left Catholicism sometime after my brother was born. I was a few years old.
I don't remember the transition between sitting through Mass and being passed off to a Sunday School teacher. I don't know when I realized Catholic roots had started it all. The Rosary and prayers at extended family gatherings, wedding and funeral masses- all these were and are a part of my life.
A charismatic church attracted my born again parents' attention. Children gathered for Sunday School in a basement of speckled brown tile. We hovered around flannel boards with Bible characters and learned about Daniel and the lion's den, Jonah and the whale, Jesus feeding the 5000. I waved my arms and legs to show I was one of Father Abraham's many sons and so were you.
My parents played guitar during worship and I loved seeing them up there. Sometimes I would sit in that front left pew, my legs dangling while I copied the pastor's projected illustrations into my small notebook.
Church was good. Safe. Happy.
We went to church in the morning and often the evening. We also spent time with friends from church, gathering at homes. The kids played while the grown ups fellowshipped. I can't think of my childhood church without remembering these families and their influence.
One summer night, we came home late from one such gathering. Mom pulled me aside and told me about what the families said about magic and its evil nature.
Care Bears were magic. I owned one. Mom didn't tell me what to do but the decision was easy.
The garbage can sat outside our house, ready for Dad to take it to the curb. I hugged my double heart emblazoned Care Bear one last time and dropped it in the trash.