Thursday, July 9, 2009
Finding a Spiritual Home to Raise Baby
Teresha: I have struggled with the concept of religion and church since I was young. I was the type of child that asked questions...lots of questions. My curiosity often drove my family and teachers crazy because they frequently did not have a good answer to my inquiries. This was especially true when it came to religion. Most of my mother's family are Seventh Day Adventists, and me and my siblings would attend an SDA church with our grandmother when we visited for summers. What I remember most is that we weren't permitted to watch television from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday and going to church on Saturday for hours on end while other kids watched cartoons and played in the streets. Why? My mother was a Jehovah's Witness for a few years when we were very little. I recall suddenly not being allowed to celebrate birthdays or holidays anymore and having to give up certain toys that were deemed devilish by the elders. Why? Life in the Kingdom Hall was particularly hard for a six-year-old who was already dealing with her parents' divorce. So my first memories of religion was that it equated to a lot of rules, rigid regimens, and restrictions. By the time I entered high school, I had enough of "church." Friends would invite me to their place of worship in hopes that they could save my soul from certain damnation. I would go, but always left feeling unsatisfied. I began seeking out spirituality in other forms and wrote my senior paper on Transcendentalism. My English teacher gave me a copy of The Celestine Prophecy and my suspicions of organized religion was intensified. In college I decided to give church another try when I started dating my future husband who was raised Catholic. We started attending service at a Methodist church where I first learned about grace and free will. I liked these tenets. We married in a Methodist church and were members for many years. Then my foundation was shattered over a dispute between the outgoing pastor and the church board over leasing the annex to a gay youth organization. When we moved to Dallas last summer we visited several churches, but I need more than scripture readings and singing hymns on a Sunday morning. I want open dialogue and community engagement. I also want to raise our daughter (and any future siblings) in a spiritual home, but I don't want our child(ren) growing up resenting religion like I did. I had almost given up when we were referred to a small, non-demonitional church that met at the recreation center in our neighborhood. Church in the Cliff is casual, welcoming, progressive, and interactive. On the Sunday we visited, the message and discussion was about body prayer. We actually practiced yoga-inspired prayer! Yesterday we attended Wednesday dinner at member's home where we fellowshiped over Ethiopian peasant food and talked about fasting using Jesus' 40-day lent in the desert after he was baptized as a central theme. When the time came to go home, I was making mental notes for Sunday's service. Damon and I talked all the way home about the topic. Isn't that how "church" should inspire its congregants? I have a good feeling that we are home.